Roadtrippin': Tiny house, big message

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU) - Hidden in the woods off an unpaved street in Fairbanks, Alaska, lies a small house.

A tiny house, as a matter of fact, about 20 feet long and eight feet wide.

The house, located on Mark Wipfli's property near the edge of Alaska's second largest city, is a miniature space with a big personality.

"I wanted to kind of set it apart from what a normal house, or other tiny houses, would look like," he said.

But there's a message behind these small walls, too.

"I thought, that is such a brilliant idea," Wipfli said. "The big (misconception) is feeling like you have to give up a lot of stuff. But I kind of feel like you’re gaining a lot.

"Not only is it comfortable doing it, but it feels like the right thing to do," he said. "Having a low impact, but improving the quality of your own life."

From the outside, the house that Wipfli has officially made a home is already set apart by it's appearance alone, painted in bright earth tones highlighted by cedar wood trimmings.

"Overall, the maintenance of this place is low," he said, "but I also wanted to give it a really unique look."

Details abound, inside and out: From triple-paned windows, to a composting toilet, to a tiny shelf for his iPad to live and serve as a mini-theater, the house has all the amenities of its larger counterparts.

"The great room, the main room," he said. "There’s a reading nook and sitting nook there, just to the side of the doorway coming in, so that’s open too, and then the kitchen is open, and there’s no dividing wall other than just the bathroom."

Every little feature has a purpose. And now, so does Wipfli's new home.

"I kinda did it as an experiment, but it’s turned out to be so comfortable," he said. "I really, really like it, way more than I thought I would."

And though the hand-built walls can't talk, this tiny house has a big message: Wipfli believes smaller spaces might even lead to a fuller life.

"It makes life so easy and simple, which gives you so much time to do things you’d rather be doing - other than maintaining big house or cleaning or doing whatever," he said, noting that it's freed up a lot of money for him, too.

As for the future, Wipfli said he plans to stay a while.

"I have no plans to leave it," he said. "I have no reason to leave it."

Video by photojournalist Ben Gauthier.

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