A Brother-Sister Duo Craft a Tiny Home in Hawaii With a Half-Pipe–Inspired Roof

Reunited after their mother’s passing, Ellie and Dan Madsen pool their skills to build a 260-square-foot dwelling that embraces Big Island living.
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"I love knowing that every detail that goes into our homes serves a purpose and will be used and appreciated," says Ellie Madsen, who cofounded Paradise Tiny Homes, a design-build company on the Big Island of Hawaii, with her brother Dan Madsen. "We are designers, carpenters, artists, and all-around positive people," Ellie explains. "We do the majority of the [design and build] work ourselves."

Oasis Tiny House, clad in teal-painted plywood and a metal roof that's pitched in the front and curved in the rear, was designed and built by Ellie and Dan Madsen of Paradise Tiny Homes in Keaau, Hawaii.

Before Ellie and Dan joined forces to design and build tiny homes, Ellie managed properties in Montana, and Dan lived on the Big Island, where he operated a skate shop and a printing business—and still does. "The skate shop and printing business sometimes pull me in other directions, so working with Ellie has been invaluable," he says. "She’s so dedicated. I went to Europe for a couple of weeks, and she was able to finish out the interior on her own, and it turned out great; I think we kind of need each other."

The pitched portion of the roof creates a high ceiling and an airy aesthetic in the living area, where large windows, including two half moon windows, facilitate plenty of sunlight. 

According to Ellie, part of what brought her and Dan together in business was the recent passing of their mother Barbara. "I left Hawaii seven years ago to manage rentals in Montana, and this brought me back," Ellie says. "She left us a home. Dan and I moved into the house and started collaborating and creating." Dan sees their creative collaboration as a kind of tribute to their mom. "She was always down to talk through ideas," he says. "I think she would be proud."

The curved portion of the roof provides added headspace for the loft-style bedroom. "I really like the bubble windows along the storage stairs," Dan says. "They match the curvy aspects of the house, and you can put your head inside them and see 180 degrees."

The brother-sister team don’t take on definitive roles in the company, but they bring different, complementary skills. "I’ve worked lots of construction and carpentry jobs and gained experience along the way," Dan says. "And it’s cool to see what Ellie has picked up from working property management and development on the mainland." Ellie is business-minded, but she’s also creative. "I definitely took charge of the interior and will continue to play a large role in layout design," she says.

An elongated kitchen window ties the interior to the outdoor deck and bar area and the landscape beyond. 

The design Dan and Ellie devised for Oasis Tiny House is one they’d be happy to live in. "We built it the way we’d want it if we were to live there," Dan says. Clad in teal-painted plywood, the house is outfitted with a partially curved roof, a bump-out window, high ceilings, an outdoor bar, and a shower that juts out over the trailer's tongue. "They’re design [features] that maximize space," Ellie says. And preserving space is right up Dan’s alley. "For me, the most interesting part of designing and building tiny homes is the size restriction," Dan says. "You’ve got to really get creative with those limitations."

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A Hawaiian mango wood counter and shelving add texture and warmth in the bathroom.

A skylight and live plants in the bathroom shower supply the feeling of bathing outdoors. 

The partially curved roof allows for maximum headspace in the loft-style bedroom. "The idea of the curved roof came from years of building backyard skate ramps," Dan says. "It kind of resembles a half-pipe." On the interior, shiplap-style plywood walls lend texture and warmth, and in the living room, two large, half-moon windows placed together in the shape of a circle flood the space with natural light and mark the exterior of the tiny home with a playful aesthetic. 

Dan and Ellie connected the tiny home to the outdoors by creating a large deck and an outdoor bar area with a live-edge mango wood counter on the front facade. A large kitchen window ties the interior to the deck and the landscape beyond. Guests sitting at the outdoor bar can be served through the kitchen window. "People in Hawaii essentially live on their lanais because of the moderate temperature," Dan says. "Lanais are key parts of homes in the islands, and they’re even more important in dwellings with limited indoor space. We balanced functionality with aesthetics the whole way through."

An outdoor deck and bar area with a mango wood counter and a massive window create an indoor/outdoor living experience.

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Project Credits:

Design and Construction: Paradise Tiny Homes / @paradisetinyhomes

Structural Engineer: Dan Madsen, Paradise Tiny Homes/@paradisetinyhomes

Plumbing: Seth Lux

General Labor: Hunter Hays

Interior Design: Ellie K Design

Electric: John Werner

Carpentry/Framing: John Bradford, Cheyne Bradford


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