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Graton resident is ready for the national spotlight

Graton resident Jay Shafer, a pioneer of the small-house movement who until recently called a 96-square foot house on wheels his home, will be featured by Parade magazine this Sunday.

Shafer, 44, who designed and built the tiny house, is to appear on the cover of the magazine's annual How America Lives issue, pictured standing in front of the gable-roofed cottage.

“Thanks for reminding me, I've got to get that,” he said Friday. “That'll be great to see me on the cover, just like Stephen Colbert.”

(Representatives of Colbert, who hosts Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report” did not respond Friday to a question about the size of the comedian's home).

In point of fact, Shafer, now likely to become that much more the face of the littlest homes, has himself upsized. He moved a year ago into a Graton house on a real foundation.

The move was necessary to accommodate a growing family — his wife and an infant boy.

“I couldn't see three people living in a 100-square-foot house, even for me,” he said.

His tiny home, with its sleeping loft and complete kitchen, now serves primarily as an office, he said. His new house is 500 square feet, “not exactly palatial.”

Still, he is as firm a believer as ever in the virtues and advantages of small homes, he said, and he still operates Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.

Of late, Shafer said, “since the economy dropped off,” he hasn't had any orders to build or design the homes, which cost about $18,000. But sales of books and designs are booming.

“I think a lot of do-it-yourselfers are putting a lot of sweat equity into the houses so they can afford them,” he said.

Appearing in Parade, which is distributed as a supplement in The Press Democrat and newspapers across the country each Sunday, can only boost the profile of small homes, favored by adherents for their affordability, efficiency and lesser ecological impact.

“I'll take a megaphone whenever I can get one,” he said.

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