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Fearless Alumni: Lina Menard '13
Fearless Alumni: Lina Menard '13

Big ideas for small living

When Lina Menard was a child, she moved into a kitchen cabinet. She took out the pots and pans, and her dad installed a knob on the inside of the door. “It was my own little niche in this world,” she says.

That childhood affinity for small, cozy spaces grew into an adulthood interest in tiny homes and pared-down living that Menard has pursued through earning a Master in Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State and founding Niche Consulting, a sustainable design company that specializes in small housing.

As a tiny home advocate, Menard has spoken about living with less at a number of conferences, including the first Tiny House Conference in April 2014. She draws from her urban planning classes and her own experiences living in alternative housing — yurts, accessory dwellings, and tiny houses.

“The first time I lived in a Tiny House, I took with me what I thought I could fit,” she says. “It wasn’t terribly crowded, but I had a lot of stuff. I started thinking about what I really needed in my life and tried to be less materialistic and more intentional.”

Niche Consulting continues to generate interest, and Menard predicts the tiny house market will grow as more people look to smaller dwellings for financial, environmental and demographic reasons.

Rather than an apartment, “a detached tiny home is tied into the American dream of home ownership,” she says. “A lot of people want homes they can own themselves and build themselves, and tiny homes can fill that niche.”