Shalina Kell is a graphic designer, a maker—and now she can add "tiny home builder" to her resume. The single mom lives with her teenage daughter in a lovely, light-filled 350-square-foot tiny home in Sacramento that she built and designed herself.
Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design
Just a few years ago, she was renting in the Bay Area and feeling squeezed by her prospects for future homeownership. "The rents just kept going up and up," she explains. "I really always had a dream to build my own house, and so when I came across the tiny house movement it all just kind of clicked for me."
Kell learned about tiny homes via Pinterest and British reality home shows, however she was also influenced by her contractor father—and she had dreamed of building her own house since she was a little girl, back when her idea of the perfect playhouse included stud walls, insulation, electrical, real windows, and a "real door with a lock on it."
When the time finally came, Kell was fortunate to have access to her father's arsenal of tools and space on his land to build. She embarked upon her project in June 2015, and by July 2017, the mother and daughter had moved into their very own tiny dream home.
"The fact that my forever dream to build a house was a possibility at this point in my life feels unreal." —Shalina Kell
Kell also notes that she wasn’t exactly the ideal candidate for tiny house living—she cites Mari Kondo's philosophy as helping to make her downsizing dream a reality. "We had a lot of stuff, and narrowing it down did take some time and mental energy. I never had the intention of becoming a minimalist, but there was undeniable freedom in simply letting go of anything that didn’t bring me joy, or that I wasn’t using."
Shop the Look
Now Kell wants to share her joy with others—she is making her tiny house plans available via an e-book that will be available on her website, Her Tiny Home, in the Spring of 2019. "I hope to inspire those who have their own dream of living in a tiny home and need a little push in the right direction," she explains.
The e-book will include floor plans, electrical plans, side elevations, detail drawings, and her notes. It will also include her own personal story, including information about her design and build process, materials, and how she saved money throughout the project.
"My goal in building my tiny house was to provide a peaceful and comforting space for my daughter and I to call home while gaining some financial freedom and more time together," says Kell. "We’ve already reaped the benefits with less financial stress, more traveling, and the joy of coming home to a house that I own that’s customized especially for us."