Interview Q&A: Married builders reveal how 'anyone could truly live tiny'

For Tina and Luke Orlando, living small opened up their world to their true passions of mountaineering and having the option to live on and off-grid. Using their joint experience as engineers, this husband and wife team moved out west from Massachusetts to start Back Country Tiny Homes in Oregon, focusing on optimizing space and versatility.
We recently interviewed the Orlandos about their growing business and to get their insight into smaller living.
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Here's what they said:
What are you known for?
We offer tiny house plan packages, custom designs, and tiny house furnishings through our business. Our tiny house designs are known for their easy customization for both off-grid capabilities and pet-friendly options for every model.
What are the models of tiny homes you offer and what are the prices?
We offer our Basecamp model, which includes add-on packages for pet-friendly (Pet Partner), off-grid (Backcountry), and a combination of both off-grid and pet-friendly (Summit). Our plan packages range from $300-$340. Custom design cost varies.
What is the most popular model, and why do you think people love it so much?
Our must popular model is our Basecamp Backcountry. The off-grid options allow the homeowner more freedom to decide where to park and live in their house without being restricted by on-grid requirements. [We] are avid mountaineers and we find ourselves in the backcountry often. We know how valuable and rewarding it is to have your house, or tent, in the place that you love. Being tethered to an on-grid connection limits your available options. The inspiration comes from Tina's love of green technology as a civil and environmental engineer and Luke's respect for the environment.
What design features are you particularly proud of and why?
Both our roof deck and pet-friendly design make us proudest. It's rare to see a tiny house utilize the roof space [as] an additional surface area. In our design we provided quick and easy access via our bedroom loft to an additional living space on the roof, allowing the homeowner to live in the same house without having to increase their footprint. Our three dogs are family so it was important to carve out three additional spaces in the house for each of them without taking away from the aesthetic and sacrificing storage space.
A lot of people are building their own tiny houses themselves. As professionals, what would you recommend for them?
While we are both engineers, this was our first home building experience as well. The best advice we can give is be organized with your thoughts and pare down what your needs are to just the necessities. Once you have what your imperative needs are for living, assign tangible solutions within your house. For example, if you have a large amount of mountaineering gear as we did, ensure that your design is built around the storage that will be required to house your hobby. If it's not an imperative need, you will always find the space after. If this is your first construction project, we highly suggest volunteering or being part of home build prior to starting your own. The experience you will gain will translate into confidence which will set you on the right path.
What do you love, personally, about living in a tiny house?
We live in our Basecamp Summit model right now with our three dogs. The best part of living tiny is the freedoms that are available to you once you leave your large living style behind. From financial freedom to freedom to travel, we are no longer tethered down to one spot nor do we owe large utility bills. Instead, we can spend our saved money on experiences and travel which have brought us closer together as a family.
Name one secret about tiny homes that most would find surprising.
For Tina, the secret is that anyone could truly live tiny. In larger homes, the space is typically used inefficiently and much of the area is wasted. In a tiny home, every inch is optimized for utility, which allows for less paring down than is usually believed. By having items perform double duty and finding storage in areas you never thought possible, the adjustment period is null.
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For Luke, it was the surprise to find out that the right kind of composting toilet is an easy adjustment from using a plumbed toilet. No smell, very little maintenance, and it provides the freedom from having to connect to a sewer line.
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