Mother Earth Living

Your Natural Home

Creating a cozy hearth for the family

Add to My MSN

Tiny House: Innermost House: An Off-Grid Cabin in California

1/16/2012 10:59:30 AM

Tags: tiny house, tiny home, California, post and beam construction, lime plaster, cabin, off grid

Diana and Michael Anthony Lorence have been living in tiny houses for almost three decades. Motivated by their desire for a simple life that left them open to pursue inquiry and the highest truth, the couple has furnished, remodeled or built more than 20 tiny houses in the past 30 years. For the past seven of those, the Lorences have lived in the Innermost House, a 144-square-foot, unelectrified cabin in the coastal mountains of Northern California that epitomizes simple living.

Innermost House off-grid cabin 

Situated with a hill to its back, the home faces south. An open porch, sparsely furnished with two chairs, shields the front door. Inside, the tiny home is separated into five rooms. On the home’s east side, an 11-by-7-foot living room with a 12-foot-high ceiling features only a stone fireplace with a generous hearth, a wall of books, and two low chairs, facing each other so as to facilitate conversation. The west side of the home is divided into three rooms—a kitchen, study and bathroom—each measuring 5-by-3 feet. A sleeping loft, accessible by a wooden ladder in the living room, tops the three west rooms.

Innermost House living room aerial 

Innermost House living room 

Designed by Michael, the Innermost House was built using post-and-beam construction. The inside walls are finished with plain white lime plaster, while the outside walls are covered in redwood boards naturally resistant to rot, fire and insects. The Innermost House isn’t just off-grid; it’s completely unpowered. Having neither electricity nor an alternative power source draws the focus of the home toward the fire, which in the absence of an oven, refrigerator, hot water heater, electric lighting and heating provides for most of the couple’s needs. Diana warms water for bathing, and cooks the couple’s meals (in one cast-iron pot), over the fire. After the sun goes down, Diana and Michael supplement light from the fire with beeswax candles. Local orchard prunings that would otherwise be burned as waste provide the fuel for the fire.

Innermost House hearth and fireplace 

Of all the homes the couple has lived in, Diana says that the Innermost House is the best—and that living in it has changed her life. “We have always lived in small houses, but this one is the smallest and the best,” Diana told House Beautiful in an interview. “Here I feel all my loose and wandering thoughts are gathered up and made whole. It is an antidote to a world of distractions. It is a world unto itself. It is almost more myself than I am.”

Innermost House sleeping loft 
The sleeping loft is accessible via a wooden ladder that the couple keeps stored against a wall in the living room.

Innermost House kitchen sink 
Because the Innermost House doesn't have a refrigerator, Diana and Michael eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, in addition to nuts and grains. All of the couple's meals are cooked in a single pot, which helps keep mealtime simple.

Innermost House kitchen 
Although the home has running water, all water for bathing must be heated over the fire.

Innermost House bookcase 
Diana describes the books in her home as their link with the world and says that all of the books were carefull chosen so as to contribute something essential to the Innermost House.

Innermost House library 

Images Courtesy Innermost House 

Related Content

5 Housekeeping Tips from Mother Earth News, 1970

These tips mined from the second issue of Mother Earth News, published in 1970, will make your house...

Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Clean Enough

Wabi-sabi is never slobby, but we can allow ourselves to stop trying so hard and just appreciate our...

Living Off the Grid: Rebuilding Their Own Reality After a Wildfire

After a wildfire destroyed their off-the-grid compound in Colorado, Betty and Rolland rebuilt—better...

Your Fungus Gnats Are Showing!

Little gnatty flies smothering your prized houseplants?  Learn what they are and how to eradicate th...

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.