540 square feet to envy in Oregon

August 21, 2012 | By | Comments (11)
Sauvie Island House by Jessica Helgerson

Photographs by Lincoln Barbour

In Portland, a city where minimizing your carbon footprint is de rigueur, it’s no longer enough to simply skip the plastic and bike to work. The next wave of green living? A sophisticated take on Oregon homesteading, like this five-acre ode to self-sufficiency from interior designer Jessica Helgerson.

Settled on Sauvie Island—one of the largest islands in the Columbia River, just 15 minutes north of the city—the property includes a tiny 540-square-foot house, a greenhouse more than twice that size, beehives for honey, chickens for eggs and meat, an orchard, and space to make cheese using milk from a neighbor’s goat and cows.

Plus, the 70-year-old home—which was remodeled using only reclaimed materials—practically reads like a resource map of the state: Oregon white oak, planed and polished into floor boards; locally salvaged walnut, transformed into a dining table; and moss and ferns from the Columbia River Gorge, seeded into an insulating green roof.

I want her to adopt me.

Sauvie Island Tiny House kitchen

Reclaimed materials in the kitchen include a vintage range, table crafted from salvaged walnut, and floor boards made of Oregon white oak.

Sauvie Island Tiny House kitchen

An inviting backyard view from the kitchen.

Sauvie Island Tiny Home living room

A cozy living room with Oregon white oak floors.

Sauvie Island Tiny Home kids' room

The kids’ room.

Sauvie Island Tiny House bathroom

The vintage claw foot tub.

Sauvie Island Tiny Home front porch

The green roof, planted with local moss and ferns

Sauvie Island veggie garden

The family’s veggie garden.


  1. Junie Buck

    Why is it called a “claw foot tub” when it clearly has no clawed feet?

    February 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm
  2. Junie Buck

    Curious, why is it called a “claw foot tub” when it clearly has no claw feet?

    February 2, 2016 at 5:26 pm
  3. O casa superba de doar 50 de metri patrati – Case și călătorii

    […] sursa foto: aici […]

    February 2, 2016 at 2:39 am
  4. EileenMc

    Lived in an1100sq.foot/1bathroom house for 13 years with family of 4. It was cozy,comfy & kept our family close (literally) but, with teens it was not fun anymore. The tiny house movement is darling, sweet & eco friendly but seems a little like a hobby for the wealthy who already own a big fabulous house somewhere else…just saying;)

    February 1, 2016 at 3:58 pm
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  6. Trudy Emmons

    I live in a fairly large house, but I love the simpicity of a small,efficient,charming and well laid out home.

    October 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm
  7. Amber Goins

    I like this… but have same quesitons… master bed room is where? and what to do as the kids grow, appears to be boy and girl… can’t room together forever! I really want to know more please tell.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm
  8. Maria v Dalsem

    Do they live here fulltime, or is this just a weekend get-away home? And, where is the master bedroom -is it also the living room?

    September 24, 2012 at 8:43 pm
  9. Pam Prince

    I love Tiny Houses and Sauvie Island….Great combo!

    September 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm
  10. Soccermom

    We love the library/living room too!! With the cozy windowed reading nook!! I’m jealous.

    August 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm
  11. Nurse Frugal

    Wow…..I LOVE this place!!! So quaint and cozy! Love the reading/library area 😉

    August 22, 2012 at 1:28 am

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