Mallory is a tiny house dweller who lives in a stationary tiny house that she calls Mal's mushroom house. The house is beautifully renovated and has a fairy tale like theme and feel to it. In this conversation, we'll learn about the history of Mal's mushroom house and the interior renovations that Mallory did to the house, I was really surprised how inexpensive she was able to do these renovations for, using things like countertop wrapping, cabinet wraps, and creating an accent wall using trim board. I get Mallory to spill her secrets about where she actually stores her stuff and the challenges of living tiny. It's really fun, quick conversation, and I hope you stick around to hear about Mallory's tiny house lifestyle.

In This Episode:

  • Mushroom House 🍄: Mallory Rankin's unique stationary tiny house with a fairy tale theme.
  • Countertop Wrapping and Cabinet Wraps 🏠: Inexpensive interior renovations using waterproof materials to enhance the appearance of countertops and cabinets.
  • Finding Storage Solutions 📦: Creative strategies for organizing and storing belongings in limited space.
  • Enjoying Downsizing and Minimalism ♻️: Embracing a simpler lifestyle and being less attached to material possessions.
  • Cooking Challenges in a Tiny Kitchen 🍳: Limited space and lack of a pantry requiring creativity in meal preparation.
  • Embracing Solitude and Hobbies 📚: Adjusting to and finding fulfillment in the solitude of tiny house living.
  • Fascinating History of Mallory's House 🏰: Stories about the previous occupant and iconic fire truck parked in front.
  • Insights from Mallory 🗣️: Mallory's renovations, storage solutions, and the challenges and joys of tiny house living.


Links and Resources:


Guest Bio:

Mallory Rankin

Mallory Rankin

Mallory Rankin is a tiny home owner. She calls it Mal’s Mushroom house. Mal’s home is 500sq feet and a bubbly reflection of her personality.




This Week's Sponsors:


We spoke with John and Fin Kernohan from the United Tiny House Association, they have a total of three PrecisionTemp On Demand hot water heaters. PrecisionTemp professionally installed all three of the Kernohan’s water heaters and now they have an on demand supply of endless hot water. These units are suitable for any tiny lifestyle and are available for propane or natural gas.

PrecisionTemp is offering $100 off any unit plus free shipping when use the coupon code THLP. So head over to and use the coupon code THLP at checkout for $100 off any unit. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show.



FOTILE’s new two in one in-sink dishwasher is bringing convenience back into your tiny lifestyle. It's a dishwasher built into a sink and perfect for tiny house living. The efficient design saves cabinet space and fits perfectly into a standard 36 inch cabinet base, making it ideal for tiny homes. But it's not just about saving space, it is also about saving time and water with a quick 20 minute wash cycle, saving nearly 50% of the water a regular dishwasher would consume. FOTILE is offering Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast listeners a special extended five year limited warranty. Visit to learn more and purchase your FOTILE two in one in-sink dishwasher today.

Disclaimer: 5-Year warranty is exclusive for THLP listeners. To register, customer must register their product warranty on FOTILE website, and enter “thlp” as purchase channel to be eligible.


More Photos:



Mushroom House

Mal and her mushroom house



Mallory Rankin 0:00

I could see in a big house how it would just be almost impossible. And I would get so excited. I mean, I love to change it up. So having two different ideas going on in here is is ideal for me.

Ethan Waldman 0:13

It's like Barbie in the front mushroom in the back. It's kind of like, yes, exactly. I love that. Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast The show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyles. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 273 With Mallory Rankin. Mallory is a tiny house dweller who lives in a stationary tiny house that she calls Mal's mushroom house. The house is beautifully renovated and really has kind of a fairy tale like theme and feel to it. In this conversation, we'll learn about the history of Mal's mushroom house the interior renovations that Mallory did to the house, and I was really surprised here how inexpensive she was able to do these renovations for she use things like countertop wrapping cabinet wraps, and created an accent wall using trim board. I get Mallory to spill her secrets about where she actually stores her stuff. And we talk challenges of living tiny. It's really fun, quick conversation, and I hope you stick around to hear about Mallory's Tiny House lifestyle. I asked John and Finn Kernaghan of United Tiny House Association what they love about their PrecisionTemp hot water heaters. And here's what they told me.

John Kernohan 1:34

Hey, Ethan. This is John and Finn Kernaghan. With the United Tiny House Association. We organized time how best Oh, yeah, I guess we have a total of three PrecisionTemp On Demand hot water heaters. The thing we really like about these and folks know this, I think they pick this up on Finn and I, if we don't like something, you'll never hear us talk about it. So the two things we noticed that we noticed experienced immediately. They took painstaking effort to make sure that it was done right and installed. And so that was pretty cool right there. The other thing is the continuous on demand hot water that just ran forever without any fluctuations or anything. I can't imagine an application especially in our environment and our lifestyle of being the Nomad, transportable, mobile, tiny lifestyle. Where one of these units aren't good to us right now.

Ethan Waldman 2:35

PrecisionTemp is offering $100 off any unit plus free shipping when use the coupon code THLP. So head over to and use the coupon code THLP at checkout for $100 off any unit. Thank you so much to PrecisionTemp for sponsoring our show

all right. I am here with Mallory Rankin. Mallory is a tiny home owner. She calls it Mal's mushroom house. Mal's home is 500 square feet and a bubbly reflection of her personality. Mallory Rankin Welcome to the show.

Mallory Rankin 3:22

Thank you. It's good to be here.

Ethan Waldman 3:24

Good to have you. So since this is a podcast and people aren't necessarily seeing your house beyond, you know the cover image for this episode. Tell me about Mal's mushroom house. What's it all about?

Mallory Rankin 3:37

Okay, yeah, so my home is, it looks like a little almost looks a little fairy like it's 500 square feet. So really, when you walk in, you'll see my kitchen, my little living room. And then I have sort of like a loft feature for my bedroom and closet. So it's just kind of like a big room essentially.

Ethan Waldman 4:00

Okay, yeah. And so is there any like is there a basement or anything like that? Or is it just built it's built right on a slab?

Mallory Rankin 4:08

Nope, built right on a slab I do have a shed outside which is just big enough to really hold like my bike and I do have like an extra freezer out there and some extra storage for like my lawnmower and such nice

Ethan Waldman 4:24

yeah, I've always thought that like I feel like I could live in a really really extremely tiny house as long as I had like a decent sized garage to keep like bikes and or other outdoor gear in.

Mallory Rankin 4:36

Yeah, yeah, you gotta have you gotta have somewhere to put put your lawn mower because it gets out of control.

Ethan Waldman 4:44

So how long have you been in in the mushroom house and what was it like when you bought it?

Mallory Rankin 4:49

So I bought it a little over a year ago now. And it was probably a little expensive for the market but I bought it for $170,000 So, I was really just like kind of struggling to find someplace to live because it was just hard to rent these days, and I'm in Wisconsin. And so the person who had who was selling it, he had kind of remodeled it. It used to be more just of like, to my knowledge, it used to be more so like bones. And he made it made it livable. So when I walked in, they were everyone was like, well, the realtor and a couple other realtors were like, oh, you know, it's really probably just good for you know, one person and maybe make it an Airbnb, but I was like, Well, no, I need somewhere to live. So this is perfect. I'll take it. Yeah. Work for me.

Ethan Waldman 5:46

That's awesome. And it was this. Is this the first home that you

Mallory Rankin 5:49

owned? No, no, it is the second home. I've owned. So I downsized.

Ethan Waldman 5:56

Downsize? Yeah. What was your What was your previous home? Like?

Mallory Rankin 6:00

It was 1600 square feet. So it was it was pretty big. I think we had two bedrooms, baths, two baths, and two bathrooms, basements and chickens and property. And it was a lot different.

Ethan Waldman 6:15

So fairly, like standard. single family home. It sounds like, yeah, yeah. Yeah. What, you know, are you so now you're kind of living the tiny life? Has anything pleasantly surprised you that you've, you know, thought there was going to be a problem or a challenge that that you turns out that you you really like it?

Mallory Rankin 6:38

Yeah. So I would say the most challenging thing I've found is really not having a washer and dryer on site. Oh, yeah. That I think is probably the worst part. I mean, laundry mats, it's kind of fun the first couple times, but then when you can't afford to do $10 Per, you know, time you need to do laundry, it gets a little old. But honestly, I've always kind of, I don't I'm this kind of person where I don't mind doing things the hard way. So for me, it was kind of exciting. It's, it's still then kind of exciting to just, you know, use my smaller appliances. And I just go grab grocery shopping a little more, because my fridge is tiny and whatnot. But no, I really adapted well. And I really love it, honestly. But you do have to, you know, adapt to this lifestyle? Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 7:36

Is there anything that maybe was more of a challenge adapting than you expected?

Mallory Rankin 7:42

Let me think here... Hardest thing. Man, I would say just, I mean, I can't. It's hard to describe, I guess other than just saying like, I have like a mini fridge, like you would use in a college dorm room. So I have to get super creative with the space I have for just cooking. And, you know, I don't have like a pantry or anything. So I have to, not only does it just make it more challenging to do things like on a day to day, but I also have to, like prepare for that, you know, I have to go to the grocery store more and I have to. I think that's been the hardest thing for me. I'm like a big, like cooker and everything like that. So honestly, I would say that's the hardest other than that. I've really loved you know, downsizing, and I think as far as my own personal items, I've never been one to have a look like a lot. So or hold on to things.

Ethan Waldman 8:47

So I think I originally saw, you know, I found out about your house and you from a tour, a YouTube tour. And in the tour, you actually talked about some of the renovations and things that you did because the house you know, the interior is such so intentional. And it's like it's really got a theme to it. And so the first thing that I learned --- actually I love learning about new products that exist especially ones that like make it look like you have a new kitchen but was only like a couple bucks on Amazon. So can you tell me about like the countertop wrap and the the cabinet wraps? I didn't know those existed and it's just such a cool concept.

Mallory Rankin 9:26

Yeah, so honestly, I'm trying to think where I first learned this, but in my last home, I had wrapped the countertops because they were just, they were just ugly. I really don't love them. They were they were not my favorite color. And I was like ah, you know, I want to find something that looks like kind of like a fake marble type of thing. So I did this in my last house and it worked so well. So when I moved in here, I did it to the countertops again and just found ultimately you just really need to find something that's waterproof, which there are so many options on Amazon, by the way, but yeah, then I was like, Well, I don't really want to paint this beautiful wood that's underneath here for the cabinets, just in case someday somebody would like it. Yeah. So I was like, I'm going to try to do it to the cabinets as well. And I did and it worked awesome. I also use one that was waterproof, but it was just the material was a little bit kind of softer, if you will. I don't. It's hard to describe, but it's kind of a different material or materials more like a soft vinyl, I think. Okay, but yeah, it worked. Awesome. And it's very, it is a little time consuming. And you want to make sure you have like the little toolkit that you can get online as well to do vinyl wrapping. But, you know, it probably took me like all of two days to do. Yeah. So that's a really great alternative. If you're not trying to deconstruct your whole, you know, cabinetry

Ethan Waldman 11:02

yeah, I'm not trying not to mention, just like how expensive new kitchen cabinets and countertops are.

Mallory Rankin 11:08

Yeah, yeah. Everyone was like, Oh, you could just get a slab for cheap. And I was like, Ah, this just seems way easier. I'm not trying to do all of that. Yeah, yeah. Well,

Ethan Waldman 11:19

another fun thing that I saw on your tour was kind of the accent wall that you put in, in the bathroom in the living room. And he can you talk about, like how you built that?

Mallory Rankin 11:30

Yeah, yeah. So again, something I had kind of done in my previous households just for fun one time, and it was pretty easy. I mean, I would say I'm a do it yourselfer, in a way, but I just went and I bought like a tiny miter saw, like, so tiny, very light, easy to get around. And I just put it in the floor of my house. And I bought some like little trim boards from Menards. And I just measured it out, cut it to length, and I actually just hammered them on with the nails. And it was, you know, just a super easy, fun way to make it look super cute and like add something interesting. So I highly recommend it. If you're just trying to add some detail, you know, to your, to your room.

Ethan Waldman 12:20

Yeah. And so it's just, you know, you put that wood up on the wall and painted in another color. And then you've got this, like, it just really pops it's great.

Mallory Rankin 12:30

Yeah, yeah. I mean, in such a small space, you really want to make it look larger and make it look fun. And I felt like that was kind of the energy. So

Ethan Waldman 12:40

yeah, so I mean, every tiny house owner needs some storage space. You also mentioned the mansion, the shed, where else, you know, in this little house, are you finding ways to store your things,

Mallory Rankin 12:55

I have had to get a little bit creative with the small amount that I do have, I really don't. Again, I don't have like a pantry or anything. So I just keep a lot of fresh food around. But it's probably a little messier. In some areas. It's not as organized as one would think. But I like my closet. Everything that you can see I have storage even behind it. So I have like a lot of baskets and a lot of like little drawers. And I'm always putting things out in the shed that I don't need that are in or out of season. Because of course we have the perfect four seasons here in Wisconsin. So I'm lucky I'm able to do that if I don't need anything for winter, it goes out there and vice versa. So I do a lot of that. a lot of detaching from things you just really don't need ultimately.

Ethan Waldman 13:52

you know, I've found living in a small space that it really forces you to confront you know, any purchase even if it's something that you can afford. You really have to be like like literally where the heck am I going to put this thing when I'm not using it? Yeah.

Mallory Rankin 14:05

Yeah. Is that a want? Or is it a need? Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 14:10

Do you have any any future renovations plan any upcoming projects for the house?

Mallory Rankin 14:15

My next project that I really like to work on would be a stairway. What I have right now is a little scary. You probably see it if you look into my Instagram a little bit but, I'd like to do something more like spiral staircase ish. That just so it's safe. There's a railway all the way around. Yeah. Yeah, that's gonna be a big one. I was thinking maybe some outdoor space, like a like a patio or something. So I can you know, in the summertime I'm outdoors around my house if I can be so and I eat outside. I have a table and chairs outside so I do eat It's outside a lot. Okay. I'd like to maybe do some more stuff outside so I can, you know, have a little more of that living room space but outside. Yeah, yeah. And

Ethan Waldman 15:11

what about the mushroom theme? Where are you? Do you have an affinity with mushrooms? Or is it just the house itself kind of had this very fairy tale vibe to it?

Mallory Rankin 15:21

Yes, that that really is where, you know, that all came from. I've always been just, you know, I love the mushroom theme. I love mushrooms in general. But I just remember really, when I walked into the house, for the first time as my own, I just, I started calling it the mushroom house. So it just kind of adapted as that and everyone started calling that so nice. It really just kind of took off. But ultimately the the more like fun inspired colors is from like my grandmother. She had a Barbie Museum and I've just always loved yeah, I've just always like loved pink and Barbies. And so that's ultimately also where the like the kind of fun colors came into all of that. So nice. Yeah.

Ethan Waldman 16:11

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Mallory Rankin 18:51

Yeah, 100% I've I feel like even here, it's funny you go upstairs and that's more of where I have the mushroom theme. But and downstairs. I've kept it you know, pretty funky and colorful. So yeah, I could see in a big house how how it would just be almost impossible. And I would get so excited. I mean, I love to change it up. So having two different ideas going on in here is is ideal for me.

Ethan Waldman 19:20

It's like mushroom or Barbie in the front mushroom in the back. It's kind of like a mushroom mullet,

Mallory Rankin 19:27

exactly. I love that. So

Ethan Waldman 19:35

you kind of went from a standard home to a tiny home. And you know, the housing market is crazy. Like it sounds like it's crazy where you are is crazy where I am. But it sounds like you know you're you're saving some money pretty significantly on this tiny house. Do you have a sense of like, you know, what, what it costs to live there on a month to month

Mallory Rankin 19:55

basis? Yeah, so my mortgage is affordable. I'm probably with everything I'm right around. I'd say like 1450 on average per month. So that is extremely, I mean, probably competitive with if you were to be in an apartment. Yeah. And probably much less than most mortgages out there. So yeah. Yeah. That's awesome.

Ethan Waldman 20:23

That is pretty awesome. Yeah. What about, like, you know, anything that you've learned along the way that you like to tell people who are, you know, maybe interested in living tiny or interested in in doing it independently?

Mallory Rankin 20:39

I would just, I would definitely say, really tried to, like, have a hobby. And you know, like, yeah, yeah. It sounds so, like, so firm and extreme, but no, like, you really have to do you have to get used to being alone? And, I mean, because, truly, I don't really have like, the perfect space for one more. So even sometimes I'm like, Oh, do I want an animal or something like that, and I just can't, I can't really imagine having an animal as tiny of a place, you know, unless it were a fish or whatnot. But yeah, you know, just just to really be able to have fun in your own space and make sure you're able to get outside and do some other things, you know, really take a look at what the lifestyle would be like, you know, for you, you really jump in. But yeah, it's definitely worth it. I feel like it makes life a lot more exciting.

Ethan Waldman 21:38

Do you work from home?

Mallory Rankin 21:40

I don't actually i i work at an office. So that's, I guess, the best of both worlds. Really? I think that would be tough to work from home.

Ethan Waldman 21:49

And socialization out. Yeah. And were you like, I'm curious. Like, were you thinking about tiny house living kind of before you found the mushroom house? Or is it the mushroom house that kind of, you know, kind of turned you on to the idea of living tiny?

Mallory Rankin 22:08

Yeah, so actually, I've always wanted to build like, a really small a frame sort of house. So which I do still have a plan to do in the future. But so when I saw this house on the market, I was like, well, that's perfect. You know, I'm definitely gonna go for it. So, yeah, yeah. I have. Nice, nice. Okay.

Ethan Waldman 22:32

Because I, you know, it's I like to hear about people especially who are like maybe like reluctant, Tiny House dwellers who are then kind of like, oh, wow, this is great.

Mallory Rankin 22:42

Yeah. Never, I was never reluctant of, like, all in, like, immediately.

Ethan Waldman 22:48

Nice. That's awesome. And so it sounds like, you know, sometimes, like, for example, when I built my tiny house 12 years ago, I was like, Well, if I can live in it for three years, then I've kind of paid off. You know, my, yeah, the rent did you do you have or did you have that kind of like, well, it'll just be for like, three five years?

Mallory Rankin 23:06

Yeah, my, my thought process of like, well, once I find someone and I settled down, you know, maybe maybe life would look a little different. But for right now I'm, and when I bought it, I was just like, the focus is on me, this is a beautiful chance for me to like, be independent and do my own thing. And it's been such a fun experience to like, do this by myself. So yeah, that was kind of my mindset is once I settle down or find someone and ready to part ways with uh, you know that I will do that.

Ethan Waldman 23:41

Oh, no, no, that someone has to build like a thematically appropriate house next door, like mushrooms and like a pine tree, or like mushrooms and moss, moss tree house. To get to complete the motif.

Mallory Rankin 23:59

Yeah, that would be lovely.

Ethan Waldman 24:01

Nice. Are there any, like resources or YouTubers or people you know who you've followed, who have helped inspire you or teach you about you no tiny living that you that you'd like to kind of recommend to our listeners?

Mallory Rankin 24:17

Well, the tiny home tours channel, they really promote so many different people. Yeah, a lot of rigs for sure, like, on the go and stuff. But they do a lot of tiny homes as well. And I mean, just of course, just using different forms of media. Of course, like, when you're on Instagram, you can just type in tiny homes and you'll find and of course TikTok and YouTube and all of that. You can find just about anything these days. So you just really got to get on the web.

Ethan Waldman 24:49

Did they come and film that in person or did you film it and kind of submit the footage to them?

Mallory Rankin 24:55

They did. They did film that? Yeah, nice.

Ethan Waldman 24:57


Mallory Rankin 24:58

They did an incredible job.

Ethan Waldman 24:59

Ya know? It's really beautiful. And I'm sure it's it's brought a lot of a lot of people and interest your way.

Mallory Rankin 25:06

Yeah, I like a little bit. It's been nice to hear there's so many people who want to live this way. And they're curious how do you do it? So yeah, it's nice to be able to help people.

Ethan Waldman 25:16

Yeah, definitely any, any surprising connections or just people that you've met as a result of your unconventional housing?

Mallory Rankin 25:26

you? ya know, it's funny to see, my favorite thing was when the video was kind of being shared. On Facebook, I saw so many people commenting, like, that's the house that I like, grew up next to you know, and I always wondered what it looked like inside. So it's kind of fun to see people in my community now, like, realize that I live here. So that's been kind of the most fun for me is because I actually don't live. I'm not from the community that this house is in. I'm actually live. I'm from three hours away. Okay. Where I grew up. So people in the community, I feel like now they're like, oh, you know, I've had I've had someone be like, Oh, you're you you have the tiny home, you know, so it's like, that's cool. That's really cool. Yeah. Nice. It

Ethan Waldman 26:15

seems like it's a very recognizable house.

Mallory Rankin 26:18

Oh, my gosh, yeah. You can just be like, Oh, it's here. And they're like, oh, yeah, I know where you live?

Ethan Waldman 26:24

Do you know the story? Like, when was it built? Why was it built?

Mallory Rankin 26:29

So I know, some details. I know that it was built, it was built in the 30s. And the person who used to live here had like a big fire truck out front. So it was people would always say, oh, what's the house with the fire truck? And this fire truck was like, iconic in this city. I mean, people were like, Oh, the fire trucks gone now by the tiny home. And it used to like I said, it used to be I think just bones I don't. But I I've heard somebody always lived here. So I don't know if he just lived here. Like seriously, like a little, you know, garden gnome guy. Like, I don't know how he lived here. Just like, if it was mostly just bones people said it was kind of creepy. He lived here and it was very like, you know, it sounds like it just wasn't built out the way it is now. So I just am always curious. I wish I had more footage of what it looked like, a long time ago. But people have told me some very interesting stories. Nice. I never knew what know what's truth or rumor though. So?

Ethan Waldman 27:32

Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds like the house has maybe like a legend that goes with it. Definitely. Yes, definitely. Awesome. Well, Mallory Rankin, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. It was it was so fun to get to meet you and talk about the Mal's mushroom house.

Mallory Rankin 27:50

Yeah, thank you so much. It was fun.

Ethan Waldman 27:54

Thank you so much to Mallory Rankin for being a guest on the show. Today, you can find the show notes including a complete transcript, photos of Mal's mushroom house and the video tour that we talked about over at the tiny Again, that's Thank you so much to FOTILE for being the sponsor of this week's episode. I really appreciate their support, and I hope you check out their really innovative two in one in sink dishwasher. The link for that is in the show notes or on the show notes page at Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host Ethan Waldman. And I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

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