Dee Williams

The Big Tiny : A Built-It-Myself Memoir

Average Rating:out of 5 stars
Walmart # 560247624
List Was $26.95
Out of stock
Delivery not available
Pickup not available

Sold & shipped byWalmart
Shop Now
"A personal memoir about downsizing and the author's experience building her own home and living the minimalist lifestyle"--

About This Item

We aim to show you accurate product information. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it.
"A personal memoir about downsizing and the author's experience building her own home and living the minimalist lifestyle"--Dee Williams’s life changed in an instant, with a near-death experience in the aisle of her local grocery store. Diagnosed with a heart condition at age forty-one, she was all too suddenly reminded that life is short, time is precious, and she wanted to be spending hers with the people and things she truly loved. That included the beautiful sprawling house in the Pacific Northwest she had painstakingly restored—but, increasingly, it did not include the mortgage payments, constant repairs, and general time-suck of home ownership. A new sense of clarity began to take hold: Just what was all this stuff for? Multiple extra rooms, a kitchen stocked with rarely used appliances, were things that couldn’t compare with the financial freedom and the ultimate luxury— time—that would come with downsizing.

Deciding to build an eighty-four-square-foot house—on her own, from the ground up—was just the beginning of building a new life. Williams can now list everything she owns on one sheet of paper, her monthly housekeeping bills amount to about eight dollars, and it takes her approximately ten minutes to clean the entire house. It’s left her with more time to spend with family and friends, and given her freedom to head out for adventure at a moment’s notice, or watch the clouds and sunset while drinking a beer on her (yes, tiny) front porch.

The lessons Williams learned from her “aha” moment post-trauma apply to all of us, every day, regardless of whether or not we decide to discard all our worldly belongings. Part how-to, part personal memoir, The Big Tiny is an utterly seductive meditation on the benefits of slowing down, scaling back, and appreciating the truly important things in life.


Blue Rider Press, Penguin Publishing Group
Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
Dee Williams
The Big Tiny
Publication Date
April, 2014
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.63 x 5.88 x 1.13 Inches

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(3.8)out of 5 stars
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 10 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Building a house 8.5 f...

Building a house 8.5 feet by 13.5 feet on a utility trailer doesn't sound like a major accomplishment. That is until you learn that an individual, not a factory, did so and lives there year round, all the time. Oh, and the builder is a woman, 40ish, with a rhythmically challenged heart and more zest for life than many toddlers. Dee Williams' story is about building her home and the transitions in life we all confront, and so, oh so much, more. It is a narrative of living beyond the limits, letting go, waking up courage that seems to nap more often than not as we wave thirty good-bye, and reaching for what could be better, if we make it so. She is inspirational, motivational and grounded in some basics of nature none of us escape, facts are facts, regardless of our age, income or the size of our dwellings. Her writing feels like you're sitting on the stoop of her Big Tiny Home listening to a story she'd rather someone else told but since you asked and remembered to bring snacks and beer.... So first, she gently warns you: "Learning new things doesn't always liberate you. Instead, it makes you wonder if your pants are on backward or the trees are holding the sky up-it makes you question all of your assumptions and conventions." And then she earnestly comforts you: "But the facts are the facts: I found a certain bigness in my little house-a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there's no place else you'd rather be." For me, the thought of more with less is not new. I raised and homeschooled six children in 980 square feet on a part time admin's pay, debt free except for the land payment. I don't really plan to build my own tiny house, though I do plan to modify a shed and live with everything in reach once the nest is empty. We have often joked about having our own little sheds surrounding a kitchen and family room that we share. If the economy continues to bob around like leaves in the creek, it may not be a joke. So, I approached this book with eagerness, ready to hear another woman's story. I was not disappointed in the gentle narrative of living big without the weight of stuff, finding there is peace in the silence and yes, a bit of fear too. Ms. Williams gives you enough to draw you in and leave you hungering for more, but she's careful to make sure it's *your* more, not hers and that is a difficult thing to do when you live an enthusiastic life. Her genuine humility prevents this from becoming a Diatribe of How To or else the universe will devolve into a vortex of sorrow. It is more of a Spiritual Treatise that assures you it is not only the especially awesome that could do something like this ... you could, if you want. Along the way, she tells you of her life, her wonderful friends, the world as she experiences it, the family that loves her, even on her bad hair days, and how needing to poop is really the great equalizer. She works, she shops; she loves, grieves and rejoices, fusses over cinnamon then helps her neighbors. Nothing odd about any of that, aside from the fact she dwells in what our society calls a tiny house and is brave enough to share how she journeyed from a three bedroom bungalow to 300 days a year of happiness. The other 65 are days where friends, family and co-workers nod and make sympathetic noises because everyone has Those Days. I gobbled this book in a few hours. I'm a ferocious reader. I will consume it again and again because it's that kind of book, little nuggets to ponder while the mosquitoes gnaw on you and then are gnawed on by the frogs and bats. Even if you live in a mansion, and never plan to do less, I believe there's something in this book for you too. A reminder that where we dwell can be part of our self-definition, but it is only a fraction of all we are, can be, maybe should be. It really is more about what we do with the other slices of ourselves that is infinitely more important. Dee Williams affirms that, respectfully and with exuberance that is most probably contagious. You can find out more about Dee Williams Big Tiny House at PAD Tiny Houses. There are photos and YouTubies there as well as additional information about building your own tiny house. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can read more of my reviews at PageTraveler blogspot dot come

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I got way more out of ...

I got way more out of this book than I thought I would. I expected it to be about a woman who decided to build a tiny house--simple as that. I've been fascinated with the tiny house movement, so I would have been happy if that was what the book was. However, it's actually a lot more about life than it is about constructing a 100-sq-ft living space. Dee Williams makes the decision to downsize and simplify after getting diagnosed with a heart condition. She doesn't dwell on that though, and part of me thinks she was meant for this lifestyle regardless of her health. She builds her house all by herself (the book doesn't get into too many details on the process, which might bother people who are reading the book as a how-to guide). And then she parks the house in her friends' backyard. The story is more about her bond with her friends, and Rita next door. It's about her loving relationship with her dog. It's about how she appreciates nature even more now that she sleeps under a skylight in her tiny loft. It's about focusing on what matters in life and questioning all the things that occupy and concern most of us. By the end, I was a little misty-eyed. I don't think you have to be into the tiny house movement to enjoy and appreciate this book. It's really a story about narrowing focus to what truly matters in this short life we get. Also, Williams has a great sense of humor and is actually a great writer!

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

ARC provided by NetGal...

ARC provided by NetGalley Dee William has a normal life. Job, home, car, everything else and things that she loved...or at least thought she did. But everything changed when she had a near-death experience and was diagnosed with a heart condition. And she was reminded that life is all too short and that she wanted to spend her time with the people and things she truly loved. Upon taking a close look at her life, Dee set her sights on her home and began wondering, just why she needed all of this stuff? And so she downsized. But not in the manner most people choose. Instead she built in 84 sq foot home by hand from the ground up. She now has more time to spend with her family, friends, and to head out on adventures at a moments notice. While some may think this sounds like a corny self-help isn't. What Williams has done is told us her story and helped remind us that it isn't the things in life that we acquire, but the people in them and that when it comes down to it...all we really need is a place to rest our head at night. While this has become a growing movement, its nice to see the story from one of its pioneers, who writes with heart and passion. Its a book that we can all learn a little bit from and enjoy. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I first heard about th...

I first heard about the whole 'Tiny House' movement/community a few years ago. Since then, I've been following blogs and sites, reading and day dreaming of a cosy little house of my own. Dreaming - as I think I would have a hard time downsizing. At forty one, Dee Williams had a life altering health scare. She stopped and took inventory of her life. And made choices. She did downsize - radically. Gone were the possessions and the 'big' house she had redone. Instead, Williams now lives in an 84 sq.ft. home she built herself. What she gained is priceless. The Big Tiny is Williams' memoir. I was caught up from the opening pages, eager to vicariously share her adventure and hear about her life. (And stop to dream a little bit myself.) We know that Williams is happy with where she landed, but she allows us to share her feelings and thoughts as she divests herself of a life's worth of stuff. ("It took me a long time to sort through the bookshelves.") Her writing is thoughtful, introspective and honest. She articulates what many of us have perhaps thought. How much is enough? We're with Williams as she builds and moves into her new home and changes her life, from ups and downs. I stopped many times to reread certain passages. Williams voices some excellent food for thought. "If more people understood how nice it is to have a sense of home that extends past our locked doors, past our neighbor's padlocks, to the local food co-op and library, the sidewalks busted up by old trees - if we all held home with longer arms - we'd live in a very different place." Dee Williams just seems like someone I would love to sit and talk to. Her sense of adventure, joy and 'why the heck not' attitude radiates from the pages of The Big Tiny. "I stumbled into a new sort of 'happiness", one that didn't hinge on always getting what I want but rather, on wanting what I have. It's the kind of happiness that isn't tied so tightly to being comfortable(or having money and property), but instead is linked to a deeper sense of satisfaction - to a sense of humility and gratitude, and a better understanding of who I am in my heart. I found a certain bigness in my little house - a sense of largeness, freedom, and happiness that comes when you see there's no place else you'd rather be." And me? I'm going to keep dreaming and poring over floor plans. You never know.....

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

I loved Dee Williams w...

I loved Dee Williams writing, she seems like a person I'd love to have as a friend or even have in my back yard in her tiny house. As a memoir it works but if you're expecting a how to guide as I was from the book description you may be disappointed.


Customer Q&A

Get specific details about this product from customers who own it.

Ask a question

If you would like to share feedback with us about pricing, delivery or other customer service issues, please contact customer service directly.

Policies & Plans

Pricing policy

About our prices
We're committed to providing low prices every day, on everything. So if you find a current lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we'll match it. See more details atOnline Price Match.

webapp branch
Electrode, Comp-e4e9147f-853f-4abe-91a7-ba4c788c480f, DC-wus-prod-a3, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-37.3.0, SHA-b3134fce56061453926ca6f342a65ac5c917ad96, CID-67d8045f-006-174a0e9e8d0fcb, Generated: Fri, 18 Sep 2020 11:11:58 GMT