At Home in Arkansas: Why a small home? Was it about space or environmental responsibility, or a combination of the two?
Homeowner Lyndsey Lewis: I actually get that question a lot and it’s more of a combination of the two reasons. I was living in a traditional home in Maumelle. It was very nice and I liked the neighborhood, but I had an entire upstairs floor that was never used. I also work a lot and wanted a home that I could really enjoy when I was there, rather than constantly worrying about maintenance. In this house, I can do an entire deep clean in just an hour. When it comes to environmental responsibility, I believe in living with what you actually need, not what people think you should have. I wouldn’t consider myself to be an extremist by any means, but I do think it’s important to be responsible. Building a home that will last for years to come and that meets eco-friendly standards is a big part of that for me.
It seems that tiny houses are becoming more popular and prevalent as people look to simplify the way they live.
Actually, I didn’t know anyone that was doing this and, in fact, a lot of people told me I was crazy! When I made up my mind about the project, I began doing research online and found Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which has plans for houses that are all less than 900 square feet. I chose the Whidbey plan, which has two bedrooms and a loft area, to give me room for growth if I were to have a family in the future.
You must have had a lot of green knowledge and construction know-how to get the project going.
No, I was pretty naïve about a lot of the practices before I began the project. I wasn’t sure what building green entailed and really had no idea where to begin with construction. I found my builders, Bret and Jen Franks of Bret Franks Construction, through the Arkansas Home Builders Association. From there, things fell into place. Bret immediately got it, never questioned my want for a small house and helped me every step of the way. He also really understood the look I wanted and started to talk about beadboard walls and small details in one of our first visits. His wife, Jen, even helped to find some of the salvaged pieces that are in my home now. It was very much a partnership between all of us and I couldn’t have done it without them.
While you do have all the amenities one would expect to find in a larger home, there had to be some considerations made for the space.
Certainly, there were a few. In a small home you must make good use of every inch of space. My plan originally had a larger master bedroom, but we modified it to create a bigger closet that really helps to keep me organized. Bret also built recessed cabinets into the bathroom walls to give me more storage for toiletries.
In the kitchen, the plan called for a smaller fridge, but I was able to get a model that still has an icemaker. I love to cook, so we put in a gas range, but went with an Advantium oven, which meant there was no need for a microwave. The banquette in the dining area not only offers seating, but also has small cubbies underneath the bench for extra storage.
Is there anything you would change about the house now that it’s complete?
No, honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m in love with my house! Everything is perfect from sitting in the front room working and watching cars drive past to the monthly $56 electric bill. I love being here.
It’s not just your home that follows green practices. You’ve also made good use of your lot.
Yes, the backyard has become one of my favorite places to be and I spend a lot of time there. Having the fenced-in yard also gives my dog more room to play since the house is smaller. Since I love to cook, I put in raised beds and planted a vegetable garden. I also have two chickens that live in their own little henhouse out back. It’s amazing that I can live here in the city and be able to fully experience all of this. I think it’s a huge part of leading a responsible life.
We hear there’s quite a buzz in your neighborhood about the project.
Yes, you wouldn’t believe the number of people who stop by when I’m outside. After several impromptu tours back in the spring, I decided it might be fun to host an open house and I had close to 90 people come out. They’re surprised and intrigued when they see the way the home is set up and how I have all the amenities that you would expect in a larger home. Many of the same people who questioned the project in the beginning are now big fans.
Builder Bret Franks Construction, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 680-1238, bretfranks.com
Landscape River Valley Horticultural, Little Rock, (501) 821-4770, rivervalleyhp.com
Landscape installation Natural State Landscape, Vilonia, (501) 514-0719
Architectural salvage Antique Warehouse of Arkansas, Botkinburg, (501) 745-5842, antiquewarehouse.com; Architectural Salvage by Ri-Jo, Mena, (479) 394-2438; Fabulous Finds, Little Rock, (501) 614-8181; Habitat ReStore, North Little Rock, (501) 771-9497, habitat.org
Cabinetry James Hardman, North Little Rock, (501) 960-8231
Fabric Rushin Upholstery Supply, Little Rock, (501) 376-3194, rushinupholsterysupply.com
Fireplace brick Antique Brick & Block, Little Rock, (501) 375-0060, antiquebrickinc.com
Fireplace insert Royal Overhead Door, Mabelvale, (501) 455-3667, royaldoors.com
Flooring McGowan Hardwood Floors, Little Rock, (501) 690-5646
Hardware PC Hardware/Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, blog.light-innovations.com
Light fixtures ProBuilder Supply, LLC, Little Rock, (501) 945-0113, probuildersupplyllc.com
Millwork E.W. Ray Construction, Inc., Jacksonville, (501) 681-9938
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Plumbing fixtures Arkansas Supply, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 375-7389, arkansassupply.com