Big Plans for Tiny Houses

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Home Designer Brent Gibson is used to working in big spaces. Many of his homes are in the 4,000-5000 square-foot range or larger. But recently he turned his talents from macro to micro when he designed a tiny house for Pivot, an OKC community service organization that helps young people find their path to an empowered future.

Rising to the Challenge

“I’ve never designed anything that small before,” says Brent. But taking his talents in unexpected directions is nothing new for him. He originally trained as an artist and came to home design by accident, when his employer lost a draftsman and asked Brent to fill in. Largely self-taught, his classic, European-inspired designs proved popular with clients. He has designed homes for notable names like Toby Keith and Mike Gundy, and his handiwork graces many signature neighborhoods around town.

Along the way, many of Brent’s clients have turned into friends. He first met the couple who funded the tiny house, Gary and Diane Rumsey, when he designed their new home. Diane taught Brent to can pickles—he is now known as “the Pickle Man”—and Brent and his wife have shared many meals and get-togethers with the Rumseys. When Gary and Diane decided to sponsor a tiny home at Pivot, Brent was a natural choice to design it. He didn’t hesitate to say yes. 

Small Can Be Beautiful

The house Brent designed, which is under construction, is just 14 by 22 feet. Brent approached this project exactly as he approaches a full-sized home: He sat down with the Rumseys and talked about what would work best for the space.

“Every square inch counts for something,” he says. There’s a counter off the kitchen that serves as an eating area or a desk, eliminating the need for another piece of furniture. A skylight adds brightness and frees up wall space that would otherwise be used for an extra window. The space includes a closet and storage cabinets. Besides being practical, the home is attractive and inviting, with a small covered porch and front and back entrances.

A Safe Place to Grow

The home Brent designed is part of a tiny house community on the grounds of Pivot. Six houses are already complete, with twenty more under construction. The houses provide a safe haven for young people ages 16-24 who need extra support as they navigate the road toward adulthood.

The residents can access many services they need right there on site. The houses aren’t permanent homes, but there’s no maximum limit on how long tenants can stay. Pivot continues to be a resource for them even after they move out.

Along with the tiny house village, Pivot offers apartments, an emergency shelter, and many resources to support young people, from mental health services to educational assistance to a food pantry. “Our vision is that no young person should have to experience life alone,” says Executive Director Jennifer Goodrich. “We want them to know we walk beside them.” 

Brent is continuing his involvement in the project, designing a laundry room for the tiny house community and an office for on-site staff members. “I’m glad to know I have a small part in contributing toward someone’s well-being and happiness,” he says.

To learn more about Pivot, go to www.occf.org/ysoc

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