Home sweet tiny house

Family bonds over the making of their unique project


Photo courtesy of Elise Nyffeler

While working on the frame of the house, junior Elise Nyffeler poses for a photo. The Nyffelers finished building their tiny house in November of 2019, a project they started in the Spring of 2018. “My family and I have enjoyed hanging out together in our tiny house, and sitting down with friends and playing games inside,” Nyffeler said. “I am excited for future memories we will make in it.”

Jenna Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Watching G-rated movies, sharing family meals together, playing board games and going on family vacations are just some of the “normal” things families might do to spend quality time together. For some families this shared time is far more than enough, for others, it’s not enough time at all. 

The Nyffelers, a family of six, are closer-knit than most. They continuously find ways to spend quality time together. Some of those include: going to church, playing ping pong, eating at Chick-Fil-A, going on vacations and going out for ice cream. 

However, one family activity draws more attention than the rest: their decision to build a tiny house together. 

 Father Reed Nyffeler had grown up watching his own father build homes and wanted to cultivate the same kind of experience for his own children. The idea for the Omaha suburban family’s project came to them from the popular TV show on HGTV, Tiny House, Big Living. The family was obsessed with the show and found it extremely interesting to watch as tiny houses were built. 

“My dad really wanted us to spend more time together with my grandpa to bond as a family,”  junior Elise Nyffeler said. “Besides just that we really wanted to be able to bond and relate over something together.” 

Quickly, the Nyffelers got to work on building their ideal tiny house in May of 2018. They rented a garage where they could work on it in all types of weather. Throughout the months they continuously spent time together as they hammered away on the frame, mounted the ship-lap, and completed all of the insulation. Everyone helped out, even second-grader, Everett Nyffeler.

While the family tried to do as much as they could on their own to finish the house, they would need help outside of their own skills. The electrical details, plumbing, interior/exterior paint, the roof and the cabinet installation were all finished by professionals and did not get fully completed until November of this year.

The mobile home includes the basics of a home. It has a booth table, basic kitchen, master bedroom, a bathroom with a shower and toilet. Instead of individual bedrooms, there is a small and larger loft containing a total of four beds with a catwalk connecting the two and loads of storage to tuck away items. It didn’t take long for family members to figure out their favorite areas in the compact space.

“My favorite area is the table because it is the most common place we hangout together,” freshman Ethan Nyffeler said. “We play games at the table and interact the most there, the lofts are cool, but we use them mostly for sleeping.”

As soon as the finished and furnished tiny house was sitting in their driveway, not a day or night went by that it stayed empty for long. During the Thanksgiving Break, extended family members got the chance to spend extra time bonding with each other in the mobile home. The family played many board games and had cousin sleepovers. Time was continuously spent together making memories in the charming living space. 

“I really think the process of our tiny house has helped to bond us as a family because we have enjoyed spending time together and picking out things together,” mother Dana Nyffeler said. “We were super excited to spend time in it, and there was a sense of family pride working hard and completing something together.”

When the tiny house was finished it resided in the Nyffeler’s driveway for a few weeks. While it was fun and convenient to have the house sitting right outside of their normal home to frequent whenever they pleased, the neighborhood homeowners association does not allow it to stay there. As of right now, it is undecided as to where the tiny home will permanently reside and what it will continuously be used for. The Nyffelers have planned to keep the home in the warehouse they built it in for the upcoming winter months. Once it starts to warm up again, they might move it to a trailer park during the spring and summer months.

“I’ve learned so much about this this and this, and how important family time is,” Elise Nyffeler said. “I love that we have a space that is just ours to do whatever we want in and we have a little stay-cation type of home.”

The $30,000 spent on the home does not compare to the value of lifelong memories the Nyffelers have and will make as a family inside of their tiny house. Overall, the building of the house has been a huge bonding experience as well as a learning opportunity.