Artist Jamison Hiner hand-crafted a sign on the wall of his artistic Omaha home that reads “Work hard, Love hard.” It’s a motto that he takes pretty seriously. He raises chickens; tinkers on cars, including a 1962 Corvair Van; runs an Etsy shop where he sells hand-painted vintage bus scrolls; and he built a tiny house that sits in his backyard. The attention his project received has even caused strangers to approach him and say, “Hey, I know you. You’re that tiny house guy!”
A web designer at Turnpost Creative Group, Hiner is a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design. He has two daughters and a loving wife. How does he fit it all in? “I guess I learn to stop time,” he says. “My wife is very good about letting me work on things.”
He is part of a social movement called “Tiny House,” where people downsize their living space, to dramatic effect. While a typical house is 2,600 square feet, most tiny houses range from 100 to 400 square feet. His vacation house is an economical 128 square feet and is adorably named “Thistle Dew Too,” inspired by a sign hanging at his wife’s relatives’ house in Missouri.
He began building it in the summer of 2012. Wanting to keep costs to a minimum, he cobbled together recycled materials from various sources. He used reclaimed materials from a farmhouse for the flooring, and he picked up the windows at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. Hiner built it to code with one exception—the walls are constructed of beadboard instead of drywall so it wouldn’t break apart on the trailer in its travels.
The cabin consists of a main space with a library, which he calls the “Great Room” because of its 10-foot ceiling. There’s also a roomy queen-sized loft bed, a kitchen with a mini-fridge, and a bathroom. He used energy-efficient LED lighting and set it up so it can run on solar power and batteries should he decide to bug out anytime soon. He constructed the shower walls with leftover corrugated metal that he got from his talented, interior designer mother. The composting toilet uses peat moss and wood chips to create a completely odorless environment.
To decorate the cozy space, he ordered artistic prints from Etsy depicting various woodland animals to give it a cabin feel, as if one just returned from a nature hike. A trippy fox with butterfly wings hovers over a picture of a bear and wolf curled up dreamily in a sea of stars. A whimsical white faux deer trophy hangs high above. The overall effect springs to mind nights around a campfire. Hiner has fond childhood memories of camping, and he wanted that same experience for his family—but on the cheap and only steps from the back door.
The family’s alternative to owning an RV, he says, “is way cooler. We can just take our cabin with us.”