Living Large In Small Spaces - In Memory of Lin

This isn't the post I intended to write today. I had a little home all picked out -- photos loaded, text in process. I went to bed last night planning to get up early and complete this week's edition of Living Large In Small Spaces. 

But plans change.

An email from my dear friend Anita of Castle, Crowns and Cottages arrived today at 4:30 AM -- "Sad News" in the subject line. I'm thankful Anita braced me with those words for what was to come: our mutual friend Lin of a {tiny} cottage in the woods passed away on Wednesday. Cancer. (Oh, how I hate that word.) She was diagnosed a couple of years ago, went through treatment, and it looked like she had beat it. I remember when she discontinued blogging in 2016, writing that after having dealt with cancer she wanted to spend less time at the computer and more time living life. She opened an Instagram account to keep in touch. There she posted beautiful photos of her life in the mountains of Colorado. 

Lin was a kind, thoughtful soul who lived a gentle, creative, inspired life in a tiny home her husband and she built with their own hands. I was privileged to have her as a guest on Living Large In Small Spaces. In fact, Lin's home was the second feature in the series. She wrote a perfect piece about her home and life. 

I think it's fitting to honor her memory today by sharing her original post once again. My prayers are with her husband and family as they grieve the loss of this remarkable woman.


A {Tiny} Cottage In The Woods

It's my pleasure to welcome Lin of A {Tiny} Cottage In The Woods to A Joyful Cottage. 

I was introduced to Lin when she left a comment on one of my posts, and I've been reading her blog ever since. The creative, gracious life she and her husband live in their Colorado cottage epitomizes what it means to live large in a small space.  I know you'll enjoy what Lin shares with us today.


When Nancy invited me to write a guest post for her series, "Living Large in Small Spaces", I decided to not only share a little about the house and our building experience, but to also answer the question ~ what is it really like living in such a small home?

The Life We Imagined

In designing and building our 375-square-foot cottage, we had the opportunity to redefine The American Dream. Our dream was to live in a comfortable home without a mortgage. To live without credit cards or debt of any kind. We wanted to live surrounded by nature enjoying the days and seasons, and we wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, to be more self-sufficient, and to live life at a slower pace ~ enjoying each day to the fullest.

Building Our Dream 

We both had worked in software development and didn't have any construction design/building experience, but when the opportunity presented itself, we decided to take a leap of faith and just go for it. Building a house is like learning how to do anything else ~ it's just one sequential step after another. The first step was to draw up the plans, get the necessary soils, foundation, and truss reports, and obtain a building permit. Then it was research, research, research, purchase and load the supplies for the current task into the pickup, build, pass the inspection, and repeat until done.

~ building the house ~

The entire house would fit into the same square footage as our former McMansion master bedroom/bath. We built with many green options including an off-the-grid solar/wind electrical system, and it all fits within a small footprint on the side of a mountain, keeping the land that surrounds us wild and untouched.

Our house is open like a loft with an enclosed 5'x8' bathroom. The open floor plan and cathedral ceilings are visually uplifting, and when people visit for the first time, they're always surprised at how large it seems when they step inside.

The sofa can face the wood stove in winter or the French doors that open to the view, providing a place to relax, talk, read or watch DVDs. Furniture is arranged to suit the two of us, but can quickly be moved to accommodate six for dinner, or a larger get-together outdoors on the patio.

~view from the kitchen window ~

The kitchen is L-shaped and has an RV oven, 12-volt yacht refrigerator, and deep bar sink. No worries with the smaller appliances. I cook most of our meals at home and have made Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings in this little kitchen. The farm table multi-tasks as a desk and art & crafts worktable, as well as a place to prepare food and enjoy meals together. Often my husband is at his computer at one end of the table, and I'm crafting or drawing at the other end.

~ our eat-in kitchen ~

We decided on wall sconces for lighting to free up floor space from lamps and cords, and installed separate switches for each one to conserve electricity. The house is wired for both 12v and 120v, and we use the little 12v automotive light bulbs in the sconces. Windows all around provide natural light and passive solar, and blur the line between outdoors and in.

Just before moving in, we built a simple queen-size platform bed that lifts up to reveal queen-size storage underneath.

 ~ photo of the platform bed reflected in a mirror ~

We've talked about building wall-to-wall cabinetry with a murphy bed along the south wall, but after living a simpler lifestyle, perhaps the more elegant (simple and beautiful) solution would be to purchase a prettier bed befitting a tiny cottage in the woods and keep the armoire. We're still thinking about this one.

~ clothes and art supply storage ~

There are no rules when it comes to furnishing a small home. It does not mean that you have to live with just the basic essentials or go with a minimalist look (unless that's what you want). It means having enough. Enough of what you need to be comfortable as well as having the kinds of things that make your house a home. I love French cottage/farmhouse style with a mix of handmade and gently used items and a little touch of whimsy for fun. We still have some finishing/decorating work to do, but to me, that's the fun part!

A Gentler Lifestyle

My husband and I drive to town once a week to run all of our errands together, and then usually spend the rest of the week quietly at home.

 ~ I love to draw, paint, and craft ~

People joke and ask how can we stand to be together all the time in such a tiny house, and that question always surprises me. We've been married for 33 years and enjoy each other's company, so there isn't a need for separate rooms/spaces ~ just a respect for what the other person is doing. After living here, I find myself looking back and wishing that we'd raised our children in a smaller home.

True for Thoreau in1854, and Still True in 2014

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote ~
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
We couldn't agree more. Living simply in a small home opens up the opportunity to live a larger life ~ to have the time and financial freedom to be with and do what matters most.

Thoreau stayed at Walden Pond for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days. As of this writing (September 26, 2014), we've lived in our tiny cottage in the woods for 5 years, 9 months, and 6 days, and hope to stay here for the rest of our lives. This is home.


Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me to share our story. I look forward to reading about all the homes in this series, as well as following the progress of yours!


post signature

Although Lin removed her blog from the internet, you can see photos of her creative work, her home, life and darling grandbaby Otto on her Instagram account:


  1. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life and a beautiful place...

  2. Nancy, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. It sounds like she and her husband found a life of what made them happiest. Less stuff and more pleasure in the simple things......nature, good books and food shared with those they love. I will say a prayer of you and Lin's family in this difficult time.

    1. Thank you, Betty. Lin was a great inspiration to me. If it were not for blogging I never would have met her.

  3. I knew Lin, I had the opportunity to know her but not for so long, since she disappeared from Blogland, now I know why, alas! I really loved her and her so beautiful blog ... I'm really sorry, dear Nancy, sad and sorry given you've lost a friend, sweetie !

    Praying and sending blessings to you, Anita and Lin's family
    thinking of you with much love

    XOXO Dany

  4. Nancy, when I heard the news about Lin, I googled her blog earlier today to see if there was any bit of it left, to revisit and I came upon your original post and reread it. I am sure that I am not the only one who is happy some of remains here. She was a lovely lady and she will be missed. Hugs to you dear friend....

  5. I'm sorry I never knew her. Praying for comfort for you all.

    1. Thank you, Linda. Lin was a very special woman. You would have liked her.

  6. Nancy, I am so sorry: your tribute to her life is sweet and I'm sure she's smiling. It sounds like she and her husband found the perfect way to spend their last years together. Less stuff allows for a more contented and rich life . . . enjoying each other and the beauty of the world around them.
    Her family is in my prayers.
    Connie :)

  7. Such terribly sad news. She will be missed.

  8. She will be greatly missed. She really beauty to the world. I was hoping that you would run this again. Thank you. xoxo Su

  9. I'm so sorry I never met Lin or had the pleasure of visiting her blog...I just clicked on the link, and it is gone. She sounds like a lovely, precious lady. God bless and comfort her husband and all who grieve. SO sweet of you to pay such sweet respects to her here. :)

  10. Indeed a lovely tribute! It is always sad to hear about this but she is with her creator. She made a lovely place for her and her husband, the cottage looks beautiful. My condolences to her family.

  11. Hi Nancy
    I think that everyone including me that knew Lin loved her spirit and friendship so much. Lin was a gentle soul that loved the life she had. Rest In Peace sweet friend. You will be missed.

  12. Beautiful intention Nancy . . .
    kindness, tribute, memorial . . .
    Charming little place . . .
    And look at that tiny bird nest, eggs with spots and all . . .
    Happy Lin lived where and how she wanted,
    yet so sad her life has ended so soon . . .
    Thank you for your caring, and sharing . . ,

  13. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful friend. I never knew Lin or her blog, but it sounds like she did reach for her dreams and achieve them... and I so sorry for her family to lose this gentle soul too soon. I HATE that "C" word too and it is such a shame that it takes from this Earth such beautiful and sweet people.. way too early. It sounds like she was living such a quiet, gentle and perfect life... I wish she could have stayed here longer. Prayers to you, Anita and her other friends and family. Marilyn

    1. Thank you, Marilyn. The world of blogging is filled with many wonderful, talented and sweet people. Lin was just one of many, but she made a singular impact on my life.

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was a wonderful and talented person.

  15. Oh, dear friend, I am so sorry to hear that you have lost a sweet friend. I didn't know Lin but can see that she was a very special lady. Your tribute to her is beautiful. Thanks you for sharing her with us today. I will be praying for her husband and family.

  16. Her home sounds wonderful and so does she. I would have loved to "meet" her through her blog. It was so nice of you to do this tribute to her so we could get a little glimpse of her life. So sorry for the loss you are feeling.

  17. What a beautiful home and what a beautiful soul. I'm so glad you shared her post again in her memory.

    So sorry for your loss, Nancy. Sending love.

  18. Oh how sad! I'm so sorry for your loss. xox

  19. Nancy,
    I contacted Anita, to let her know of the passing of our dear friend Lin... Anita then informed me of letting you know and letting Penny know.
    I am so sadened over the news of her passing. The photo of her ink drawing next was gifted to me and I am sure she sent off copies that's just the heart Lin had. We went way back in blogging sharing ideas for her tiny cottage, paint tones and style techniques, knitting, and the birth of her premature grand baby birthed over seas.

    Not a moment since her passing my thoughts have not drifted to Lin and her humble life, living well in her tiny cottage. Lin was a beautiful soul, spirited by the beauty all around her. I am so taken with the beauty and grace you have added to her memory with honoring her in your beautiful blog post.
    Thank you dear for adding grace and beauty to the life she lived. Our beautiful Zuzu ( Lin ) and her " tiny cottage in the woods"



    1. Indeed, Lin did live well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dore. Hugs.

  20. I used to follow her blog and remember when she said she was diagnosed with cancer. Her sweet home she and her husband built, I loved reading about it and seeing the beautiful treasures she made. So shocking, so sad. God Bless her family


  22. Good morning dear friend. This post just got to my email this morning, and quietly, I can read every word, syllable, letter to the rhythm of Lin's thoughts.

    As I read her words, I couldn't help but reflect back on my own life with my husband of 35 years now, and the little house we also renovated at least 99% with our own hands. The other 1% we had a professional add on to the house.

    Sometimes, there are no words to speak of grief. I think her own words here of life, living comfortably and contentment are enough to remember how she lived and to remind me how I want to continue to live, with love being the first thing I focus on when I wake, and the last thing I do when I retire from this life.

    Bless you dearest Nancy.

  23. What a beautiful tribute for a lovely woman with a peaceful life style. What an inspiration.

    Love, hugs & prayers for her husband and family ~ FlowerLady

  24. So very sorry for the loss of your friend..not long ago I decided to check out your past living lg posts..I hadn't seen them I remember thinking this tiny house was 1 of my top 5 faves..if not top fave..she sure was accomplished at everything..not many have that wonderful talent of drawing as she and your husband..prayers for her family & friends..

    1. Lin lived the life which many of us only dream of. Thank you for praying, Wende. Hugs.

  25. Nancy so very sorry for your loss. I did follow her blog on occasion. A lovely little cottage God bless her and her family!

  26. Hello Nancy,
    I also became blog buddies with Lin. Later IG, buddies. I was in awe of her tiny theaters she created.
    Thank you for sharing this post again with us.
    Hugs and Prayers to family and friends,

    1. Lin's artistic ability blessed many people. Thanks for sharing, Carla. xo

  27. I'm so sad that such a gentle soul was taken far too soon. I didn't know Lin, but I feel like I do after reading what she wrote...about how and why she built her little cottage, how she lived her life with her husband and how content she was. It doesn't seem fair that she didn't have more time to enjoy it, and I'm sure her husband misses her terribly.

    Blogging can indeed bring us together in ways others cannot begin to imagine, and I'm sure your friendship was a tremendous comfort to her.


  28. I didn't know Lin, wish I had after reading her words and yours. I'm so sorry. Her passing obviously leaves everyone who knew her sad, wishing so much that she could have continued to live the simple but fulsome life she shared with her husband in that amazing home.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Nancy,

  29. I didn't know Lin, wish I had after reading her words and yours. I'm so sorry. Her passing obviously leaves everyone who knew her sad, wishing so much that she could have continued to live the simple but fulsome life she shared with her husband in that amazing home.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Nancy,

  30. I didn't know Lin, but your tribute to her makes me sad that I didn't get to know her before the "c" word came along. I can see how truly sweet and humble a heart she had just in reading her posting about the home she and her husband built. Will pray for the family as they grieve for this lovely precious lady. Hugs to you too Nancy.

  31. Just read about this over at Butterfly and Bungalow. So sad but a lovely tribute to her from the both of you.
    What a beautiful soul and marriage.

    1. Lin was a special woman. She is missed. Thanks for stopping by.

  32. This was a beautiful tribute to Lin. Her words are full of wisdom and were definitely worth sharing again.


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