Empty-nesters Build Tiny House to Travel the USA

24 March 2020 in leafhouse, Tinyhouses

During my holiday in the USA, I was fortunate enough to connect with Robert and Julia, the couple behind Tiny Living Living Large. I found their story compelling: empty-nesters selling their suburban home to travel the Lower 48 in a knock-out tiny house. Their goal is to find a more permanent residence while on the road. And from our lively conversations, it became obvious they were both brimming with excitement by the adventure that awaited them.


The tiny house itself, hence the name “Tiny Living Living Large,” does not hold back, especially on size. It’s about 300 SQ FT, with a goose-neck that connects to their truck bed. The truck is large enough to house their smart car, which will be used to zip around local communities.

Custom Kitchen

Gorgeous custom kitchen with premium appliances

Julia and Robert wanted to design the tiny house around comfort and entertainment, to make the kitchen the heart of the home. To do this, a deck extends from under the tiny house and large bifold doors open to connect the kitchen with the outside world. It’s the perfect set-up to host a small gathering of friends and family. The kitchen also boasts premium appliances and all the amenities you’d expect from a conventional house such as a freezer, stove, and dishwasher. The custom white cabinets and stainless steel countertops complete this cohesive contemporary design.

Utility Closet

Modular staircase and electric system with Tesla batteries

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of my tour was their utility closet hidden by a sliding staircase. Robert described this as the “brains and guts” of the tiny house, where the Tesla batteries, converters, and anything electric was wired through. I was floored to see the Tesla batteries from a Model S rather than Tesla’s Powerwall. Robert explained how it was easier to work with Liam O’Brien of Kilawatt Consulting to connect the vehicle batteries than with Tesla directly.

Modular TV Stand

Modular TV stand connects the kitchen and livingroom

To expand on the modular and comfort themes, Robert and Julia designed a “shuffling station” for the TV, which allowed it to move freely from the kitchen to the living space above. Additionally, the small details of this tiny house, such as the spandex that stretches and covers the wires of the TV, demonstrate how much intention, creativity, and whimsical fun go into designing a space.

Modular Workstation

Modular workstation transforms into bar-top

Because Robert and Julia both work, they needed a space to work while inside the tiny house. For Robert, whose background is in computers and technology, this means a modular workstation that extends from below the TV. And after working on the TV-turned-computer, the workstation can collapse into a bar-top for drinks.

The Loft

Spacious, cozy, and light-filled loft

The loft is one of the most important aspects of a tiny house. It needs to offer enough space, light, and comfort for sleep and relaxation without taking up too much space for other interior features. That balance is crucial. Julia and Robert designed a loft with ample headroom, a queen-sized bed, storage, and space for a workstation. The windows illuminated the space, creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere.

Craig Dinwoodie is an artist and poet who is passionate about housing futures and planet Earth. He is a graduate of Allegheny College, where he studied English Literature and Environmental Ethics. Craig believes future innovations in housing play a pivotal role in both combating the climate crisis and economically unburdening people. His mission is to explore how our engagement with new design systems and materials can connect to a broader and more complex ecological ethic. You can find him in Shanghai China for now, probably at a cafe reading or writing.