This Oregon Company Crafts Exceptional Tiny Homes Starting at $40K

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Hunkered down during a week-long snow storm, three couples hatch a plan to build purposefully designed and expertly crafted tiny homes under the moniker Tiny Heirloom.

In early 2014, Portland, Oregon–based brothers Jason and Zach Francis were building traditional, stick-and-brick homes while their brother-in-law Tyson Spiess, who was at a career crossroads, had developed an obsession with tiny homes. The three young men got together and decided to embark on a little side project. They bought a trailer frame, backed it into Jason’s garage, and got to work. Midway through, they asked their wives for input on the interiors, which helped turned their tiny house into a cozy, modern home. 

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Tyson and Michelle Spiess, Brianna and Jason Francis, and Zach and Hannah Francis relax with their children.

Tyson and Michelle Spiess, Brianna and Jason Francis, and Zach and Hannah Francis relax with their children.

"We ended up going with a high-end, craftsman design style which was the first of its kind in the tiny home world," says Jason. "The photos we shared across blogs, magazines, Pinterest, and local and national news spread like wildfire. We were caught off-guard with all the attention, and it made us realize that we had created something that many people need and want. So we decided to set up Tiny Heirloom, a company with a mission to provide purposefully designed, high quality, tiny homes," says Jason. 

Though the company was officially incorporated in May 2014, the crew agrees that Tiny Heirloom was, in fact, born in in February 2014, when a week-long snow storm brought Jason and his wife Brianna, Zach and his wife Hannah, and Tyson and his wife Michelle (Jason's and Zach's sister) together in Tyson’s old house outside of Portland. Shut in because of the bad weather, they enjoyed hot cocoa and home-baked cookies, and had their very first Tiny Heirloom brainstorming session. To date, Tiny Heirloom has built 60 fully customized tiny homes, and are currently working on another eight. They’ve also recently launched their Signature Series models, which they are very excited to share with the world. 

"I think what sets us apart is our ability to fully understand and capture our client's vision for each specific project, then execute it accurately no matter what their aesthetic preferences," says Tyson. "After we show our clients their finished home for the first time, we get a lot of responses like 'Wow, it's like you truly know me!' That's definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process."

"I think what sets us apart is our ability to fully understand and capture our client's vision for each specific project, then execute it accurately no matter what their aesthetic preferences," says Tyson. "After we show our clients their finished home for the first time, we get a lot of responses like 'Wow, it's like you truly know me!' That's definitely one of the most rewarding parts of the whole process."

Since they launched their company, the crew have used lessons learned from past projects to improve their process. "Efficient use of space is probably the biggest area we’ve been improving on," says Zach. "When attempting to fit all the functions, features, and necessities of a 2,000-square-foot home into 200 square feet, you have to get really creative," he says. 

The three couples behind Tiny Heirloom enjoy a meal together.

The three couples behind Tiny Heirloom enjoy a meal together.

Client service and communication is another aspect that has improved as the company matured. Explains Jason, "Building a standard-size, fully custom home takes a lot of moving parts, attention to detail, and great communication. Try doing it all, but with a fraction of the square footage, double the number of regulations, and in a quarter of the standard construction time for a regular house, and you’re left with a recipe for disaster."

Thankfully, they've developed systems and processes to capture their clients’ vision, needs, and wants without bogging the clients down with too many decisions. "We've honed in on the pain points for our clients over the last four years, and have optimized our design and build process to be really enjoyable and effective," says Tyson. 

Have a look at these eight spectacular little homes that they've built. 

1. Breezeway

The facade has a valley-shaped roofline, and is clad in standing-seam, 100-percent recycled steel, and tight knot cedar tongue-and-groove siding.

The facade has a valley-shaped roofline, and is clad in standing-seam, 100-percent recycled steel, and tight knot cedar tongue-and-groove siding.

The kitchen walls are lined with reclaimed barnwood. LED accent strips were installed behind wine racks to add a rustic-yet-sophisticated element to the design. Automation is woven into the design with linear actuator TV lifts, and touch-activated storage door openers. 

The kitchen walls are lined with reclaimed barnwood. LED accent strips were installed behind wine racks to add a rustic-yet-sophisticated element to the design. Automation is woven into the design with linear actuator TV lifts, and touch-activated storage door openers. 

2. Artist's Retreat

This tiny home has a fully tiled shower and a traditional staircase leading up to the master loft. An additional guest loft is accessible via a metal built-in ladder.

This tiny home has a fully tiled shower and a traditional staircase leading up to the master loft. An additional guest loft is accessible via a metal built-in ladder.

A handcrafted, fold-up dining table/desk made from walnut with white oak inlays, and a built-in reading nook with storage, make good use of space.

A handcrafted, fold-up dining table/desk made from walnut with white oak inlays, and a built-in reading nook with storage, make good use of space.

3. Home of Zen

This house has an exterior of black panels and clear-grain cedar tongue-and-groove siding, and a rooftop deck that lets its owners enjoy the outdoors.

This house has an exterior of black panels and clear-grain cedar tongue-and-groove siding, and a rooftop deck that lets its owners enjoy the outdoors.

Upon entering the large glass French doors, one enters a living room with a spa-like bathroom to the left, and a drop-down galley kitchen on the right. A table and chairs slide out from the stairs to create a dining nook.

Upon entering the large glass French doors, one enters a living room with a spa-like bathroom to the left, and a drop-down galley kitchen on the right. A table and chairs slide out from the stairs to create a dining nook.

4. Rocky Mountain Home

This vacation home for a family of four in the Rocky Mountains has rustic reclaimed hardwood floors, and salvaged beetle kill pine boards on the ceiling to complement its rugged mountain setting.

This vacation home for a family of four in the Rocky Mountains has rustic reclaimed hardwood floors, and salvaged beetle kill pine boards on the ceiling to complement its rugged mountain setting.

Inside is a spacious home office, a built-in dining table and living room, and a kitchen with a large copper sink and white cabinets.

Inside is a spacious home office, a built-in dining table and living room, and a kitchen with a large copper sink and white cabinets.

5. Modern Mountain House

Modern mountain cabin aesthetics inspired the interior design of this tiny home.

Modern mountain cabin aesthetics inspired the interior design of this tiny home.

The spacious living room features a fireplace and a remote-controlled, automated TV lift that slides upwards from the living room up to the master loft. 

The spacious living room features a fireplace and a remote-controlled, automated TV lift that slides upwards from the living room up to the master loft. 

6. Tiny Home Big Kitchen

Built on a gooseneck trailer, with a facade of 100-percent recycled steel and flat-pack siding, this ultra-modern tiny home is perfect for frequent traveling.

Built on a gooseneck trailer, with a facade of 100-percent recycled steel and flat-pack siding, this ultra-modern tiny home is perfect for frequent traveling.

A custom fabricated netted bridge connects the master loft to the rest of the second story. A playroom for the kids is located at the front of the trailer.

A custom fabricated netted bridge connects the master loft to the rest of the second story. A playroom for the kids is located at the front of the trailer.

7. Rustic Farmhouse

This three-story tiny house has a rooftop deck with a bar table, and large windows that bring in much light.

This three-story tiny house has a rooftop deck with a bar table, and large windows that bring in much light.

A spacious secondary loft is fitted with a large skylight, and is accessible via an alternating tread staircase that doubles as a bookshelf. 

A spacious secondary loft is fitted with a large skylight, and is accessible via an alternating tread staircase that doubles as a bookshelf. 

8. Tiny Adventure Home 

Thanks to the rock climbing wall on the front facade, the Tiny Adventure Home allows the owners to practice bouldering whenever they like, no matter the time or place.<br>

Thanks to the rock climbing wall on the front facade, the Tiny Adventure Home allows the owners to practice bouldering whenever they like, no matter the time or place.

There is a built-in dining nook with a custom walnut dining table and two benches that can fit up to six people. When mealtime is over, the automated table can be lowered at the push of a button to create more lounging room. This space is also large enough to fit a king size bed.<br>

There is a built-in dining nook with a custom walnut dining table and two benches that can fit up to six people. When mealtime is over, the automated table can be lowered at the push of a button to create more lounging room. This space is also large enough to fit a king size bed.