Four Lights Tiny House Company



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Mark (Epu) Sowers, Alicia Feltman and Takeshi Okada are some of the best and most-talented people I know. Lucky for me they’re also the people I work with to bring you the Four Lights Tiny House Company. — Jay Shafer



Jay Shafer

I design all of our houses and furnishings, and I assembled the team you see here.  I love what I do, and I do what I love. 
Turn-ons: Truth, Love and Beauty as great design and as great people. 
Turn-offs: The lack thereof.

Mark Sowers

Design-thinker, user-insights nerd, and desk carpenter.  Mark is the bean counter who keeps fuel in the proverbial tank, so our Four Lights road trip can continue.  
Turn-ons: ridiculous humor, a design approach to making anything better, cooperative organizations  
Turn-offs: ulterior motives, power over common-sense & fairness, obviously-fake 'architectural' stone facades, deus ex machina movie endings.

Alicia Feltman

Alicia is the pixel smith, typographical witchdoctor, and CMYK mixologist for Four Lights Tiny House Company. In her spare time she gardens, cooks exotic meals, and tends her flock of chickens and children on her makeshift urban homestead. 
Turn ons: Challenging the status quo, Subverting the dominant paradigm, and playing the devils advocate. 
Turn offs: Lack of integrity.

Takeshi Okada

Drawer of lines and confidante: Intrepid traveler on two wheels, cryptographer, modernist, musician, and architect. 
Turn-ons: Outspokenness. 
Turn-offs: Willful ignorance and thoughtless consumption.

Posted by Jay Shafer — November 24, 2012

Comments

Lisa:

Thank you for continuing to innovate – I love that via RV certification both financing and insurance will become options for tiny home prospective owners. Are any of your new plans accessible with beds on the ground floor? I’ve suffered two strokes and loft beds can only be used for company in my case. I’d prefer a separate bed downstairs, even in the form of a bed-nook that’s used in a day-bed like fashion as opposed to a convertible couch-to-bed option (which can be difficult to set up and are often less than comfortable). I LOVE the “trailer park” concept and hope that many can be established, breaking ground and setting precedent for all of us around the country who want to freely live in tiny/ultra-small homes. Lastly, will the plans for the “trailer park” include alternative energy options, composting toilets, etc.?

December 11 2012 at 07:12 AM

Eva:

I designed my own tiny house with lots of inspiration from your work. Now I’ve lived in it for 1 1/2 years and it’s almost perfect.

Thank you for your work and looking forward to following your next steps.

December 11 2012 at 08:12 AM

Kera:

Congrats on your new company! I’m thrilled to see what you have in store for us.

December 11 2012 at 11:12 AM

Beth:

Hope your ideas and inspiration continue to blossom and take flight. Fifty years old and hoping to catch one of your workshops in the future to help realize the my dream of less impact on our earth like so many others have done with your help.

December 11 2012 at 12:12 PM

Keven Lively:

Jay,
The Marmara is striking. The “Shafer Shelf” gives it a bigger interior feeling.

December 11 2012 at 04:12 PM

Vanessa B.:

I am super excited to see this take shape. Congratulations to all of you!

December 11 2012 at 04:12 PM

jipsi:

SO pleased to see you growing in a new direction, while not forgetting your ‘roots’! Beautiful site, and, like your smart little houses, looks ready for a lot of wonderful new things to move into… ;-)

December 11 2012 at 06:12 PM

William Beasley:

Your Napoleon Complex is a terrific idea. Please keep us posted on how others might replicate it… there are plenty of us in areas far removed from Northern California, and the foreclosure mess has made property cheaply available in many urban areas that would be perfect for this. We’d like to know what dilemmas you face as you work it through, as well as what solutions and why.

December 12 2012 at 03:12 AM

Dave:

Superb to see you back in the game, but…. did you ever really leave?
Love your models, your plan pricing, and the shell option. Opens up a lot of possibilities.

December 12 2012 at 09:12 AM

Jay Shafer:

You know you people only encourage me. “Yes” on beds downstairs; “Yes” on documenting the village process; “Yes” on trying to provide alternative energy (gym with an alternator on every treadmill?); “Yes” on all counts.

December 12 2012 at 04:12 PM

Claire:

Jay,

Very excited about your village concept…. the new designs have great curb appeal…. All the best to you and your team….

December 12 2012 at 06:12 PM

Nathalie P:

Small houses with foundations? Wider small houses? Small house village? I’m thrilled, I cannot wait, I’m so excited! This is all SOOOOOOOOO promising Jay! Thank you for sharing your talent with the world & best of luck with the new company!

December 13 2012 at 04:12 AM

Melissa :

I was a huge fan of the Tumbleweed Tiny Houses but I instantly fell in love with Four Lights Houses! I am really excited about the houses being eligible for RV certification. I can’t wait to see all the designs!!

December 15 2012 at 09:12 AM

Grant Turner:

Jay I am greatly inspired by you. I currently live in 2500 sq ft with my mother,father and sister as well as my lovable bulldog Bella. I find new values to be self centered and focused on the consumption of goods. I am an advocator for tiny homes as well as green construction. I have construction experience and engineering experience due to a charter school that I go to. I am 16 years old and I have to thank you for everything you have built, because one day I dream of building and engineering tiny houses as you do now. THANKS JAY

December 17 2012 at 08:12 PM

janet sutta :

Hi Jay,
You ask “why doesn’t everyone live in a tiny house” and here is one answer.

I’ve been enthralled by your Tiny Houses for a long time and wish I could live in one, but I’m 75 and a loft bed is too problematic for me…two other factors get in the way too. I live in the northeast, upstate NY have a partner and am a practicing artist. We lived in California for a while and could work out of doors but now, for most of the year we can’t do that. I’ve designed and am building the next best thing which is a very small house, 612 sq. ft
The house has a center section, hallway and bathroom which separates the kitchen/living room, from the bedroom/studio. It gives two of us privacy and lets us keep working or loafing without bothering each other.

I’m happy with the design that I came up with, but am hoping that you will branch out into slightly larger houses. Your storage solutions are wonderful and I’m looking forward to the new furniture designs promised on the website.

Thanks for what you’ve done and for future works,
Janet

December 19 2012 at 06:12 PM

Dee:

Been following your work with delight for some time now. I have Multiple Sclerosis so lofts are out; but, I am crazy happy with my Murphy Bed. I have lived in 500 sq. ft. (studio in NYC) since the early 1990’s; and, it’s more than enough space for (at various times) two adults and a gutsy dog, or just me and the dog. I long to see someone put a Murphy Bed in one of your homes, is it do-able? Such a space saver. Looking forward to the compact furnishings section. Good luck in your new venture. Thanks for the inspiration!

December 20 2012 at 03:12 PM

Carol P.:

Looking forward to hearing and learning more about your Tiny houses and village concepts… I live in TX and there is alot of space for an undertaking of this kind…

December 21 2012 at 11:12 AM

Dawn:

Love, love, love this new idea! I’m a housing ‘eclectic’ having lived in variously a tepee, yurt, 500 SF English cottage, modern condo, a suburban ranch house and any number of nondescript apartments. The tepee and the cottage were by far the best, having a sense of place and atmosphere and aliveness that the others lacked. I’ve also lived in an intentional community for a year and found the enforced sociality a huge negative. I was expected to attend any number of dinners, meetings, gatherings, etc., with people I barely knew on moving in. For an introvert working odd hours, this was impossible and unnerving and would have used up all my free time. An RV park with little houses, all architecturally attractive, is an idea that will spread like wildfire, as will the idea of clustered housing with privacy. I can see current RV parks and trailer parks replacing their derelict units with ‘tiny houses’ and slowly switching over to something much more attractive.

Kudos, please keep us well educated on your dealings with the county, etc. Your documentation will make it so much easier for those who come after you. Our biggest hindrance may be building codes and county rules and regulations but as ground is broken, it will get so much easier. Every town should have these units just for homeless shelters, etc. So much more humane and socially forward-thinking than the alternative.

December 21 2012 at 03:12 PM

Carmen:

Loved the informative UCLA workshop and your presentation! I’ve seen many of the tiny house internet sites, and while I appreciate all the individual expressions of this concept, and especially the recycled materials approach, your aesthetic & practical design sense, the integrity/truth to materials and construction are exceptional. This tiny house concept just keeps getting better and better. All the best to you, dear Jay and Four Lights staff!
Some thoughts re Napoleon Complex after viewing the plot plan & photograph of the village model – the houses appear to be tightly spaced, even though the nice landscaping mitigates a little of this. I know the designers of the "most beautiful trailer park in the world " won’t loose sight of one of the main reasons why the tiny houses worked well from inception. They had lots of SPACE around them. The early photographs show tiny houses in more rural settings, e.g. fields, woods, water’s edge, on a dock etc. Ambient space is the appeal!! The residents of these beautifully designed but stocky little houses (craftsman style models) need light and air in the form of visual and practical breathing room, e.g. nice long? or green? views from within the tiny house. I would like to see more variations or individuality expressed in designs of houses so they don’t all look alike beyond being painted different colors! In other words, a mix of your various models of homes, alongside each other would add character. Also some of the houses in the inner loop may have trouble getting out if they needed to “move on,” (or will this be a more permanent type of complex rather than the usual transient style park?) Transiency brings with it some negative connotations. A more permanent set up suits my need to be a contributing part of a permanent community that’s vested in this higher concept of eco-living. Nothing impels a good idea quicker than believing in it, followed by the commitment to see it through, and then actualizing it. Am looking forward to your newsletters with updates re how things are coming along in Northern Ca. You’re an inspiration and a blessing to many, that’s for sure.

December 22 2012 at 10:12 AM

Brian Collins:

Jay, I love your Napoleon Complex concept. Can you tell me, where is this assemblage of Tiny Homes that you used for your picture for the Napoleon Concept page? Is it photoshopped, or does it actually exist somewhere?

I was actually talking with a planning and zoning representative and a small custom builder about this exact idea last summer; a small village of tiny homes with a central community building or outdoor area of some sort. I didnt get very far with my discussions,….the builder said it wasn’t cost effective and the zoning rep kept saying they required a minimum of 1200 squre feet (if within the town limits). There is LOTS of land available in the area (North side of Lake Travis outside of Austin, TX) and I see many lots for as little as $2,000. (no water or utilities). I am looking at retiring in the next 5-8 years, so I am looking at this as something to make my retirement more affordable, plus I like the idea of living with like minded neighbors. Looking forward to following this Projecgt as it moves forward.

Brian Collins

December 28 2012 at 06:12 AM

Brian C:

BTW, The Marmara is a beutiful home and I am very intriqued by the Craftsman/lodge look tiny home with the front pillars surrounded by what looks like river stone, framing the front door………Beautiful!

December 28 2012 at 06:12 AM

Connie Forbes:

Congrats Jay~ Have followed your concepts and continue my interest~ LOVE the fact that we have “communities” of the Tiny Home concept~ as always, Less is Always more~

December 28 2012 at 08:12 AM

Cynthia and Pat:

Have followed your work and the small house philosophy with enthusiasm and now am really excited about your new venture. Like some of the others above, I am looking to soon retire and have hoped to match my lifestyle with my commitment to leaving a smaller footprint. I’m so pleased to see your new design with plans for a bed downstairs – that makes smaller living so much more possible! I, too, am interested to watch other similar complexes pop up around the nation. I will watch for your newsletters for that news. The Napoleon complex would be especially attractive to me if there would be a structure where studio space could be rented by community members. I’m not an artist but I love re-purposing furniture and would appreciate space to continue that outlook for creativity. Thank you for stretching our thoughts about the possibilities of tiny living and for allowing us to keep informed on the development of this new endeavor.

December 29 2012 at 11:12 AM

Susan Swick:

Say YES to a murphy bed! My knees are ladder challenged.Hurry with small home furrnishings and components,I have to move soon and need ideas for a house.I plan to build my retirement home in the back yard.

December 29 2012 at 07:12 PM

Serena:

Love your idea for this Complex. Hope it materianlizes. All ready to move and and be the first in line.

January 01 2013 at 10:01 AM

Linda Ellis:

Thank you for your continuing commitment to small, intelligent design. I am excited to see your ideas for furnishings, and will be watching the evolution of the Napolean Complex!

January 05 2013 at 06:01 AM

Patricia Lynn Reilly:

Love The Napoleon Complex. Can’t wait to read about its evolving. Please no natural gas. Some of us are allergic to it and are challenged finding places to live healthily! Love your creativity, flowing in original ways. Keep us posted.

January 07 2013 at 08:01 PM

Ron Holzwarth:

I live in the middle of tornado alley, and tornadoes sweep by about every 30 to 40 years, and much more often out west. In a Tiny House, you’ll be dead, unless you have cover to run to.

Aren’t there any plans for Tiny Houses with provisions for a basement? Very little heat is lost from a basement, and the storage down there is wonderful. A spare bedroom would even be possible. I lived in a very small home, 440 square feet for years, and with a full basement, it seemed much larger.

Of course, this would only work with a Tiny House on a fixed foundation. I suppose it wouldn’t be that difficult to modify the plans, but without a basement, a Tiny House in Kansas wouldn’t be much more than a travel trailer to be used on weekends.

Ron

January 22 2013 at 04:01 PM

Denise:

We are looking into a village but not in America. We are interested in working on one in Ecuador. We are just starting our journey. I am excited to see more plans, it only makes our choices better and better.

March 07 2013 at 10:03 PM

Ramona:

How are you thinking about the climbing challenged amongst us? I cannot climb, but am very interested in what you are doing,

Is there a way to keep everything on one level without causing a problem?

p.s. I am somewhat claustrophobic, but good design can always deal with this, yes?

April 12 2013 at 02:04 PM

Karen:

Please consider space for (budding) artists to work/play and for an extensive grassy field for dog owners with tennis balls and their friends! (And it looks like dogs can’t climb ladders to sleep with their family.) Hope you’ll consider these for the Village..
Any way to visit Four Lights?… I live in the S.F. Bay Area. Is there a waitlist starting for the Village?
Thanks.

April 13 2013 at 09:04 AM

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