Poised with confidence, instilled by the charm his tiny houses cast on enthusiasts, Lou Pereyra, sits relaxed in the leather chair of his office, which is also his workshop. “It’s the case with most tiny house builders,” he says. “We’ve got the showroom here. We’ve got the office, and then we’ve got the production facility here,” Lou explains.
Spending his adulthood in factory construction, Lou was far from tiny houses and the concept of tiny living until in 2014 his son, Ryan, who spearheads the marketing of Tiny Mountain Houses now, presented him with the idea about tiny houses.
“To be honest, my first exposure to tiny houses is, I attended a show in Seattle, Washington. I’m not a big guy. I’m five feet seven and I walk in this tiny house and it looks like a cabin. Its cedar sided, cedar inside, little bitty windows, the countertops shallow to make room to walk down the middle of the kitchen,” Lou notes.
Lou recalls “climbing the ladder to get up into the loft and looking into the loft. I mean, it was like if you’ve ever been spelunking, you know, crawling in caves. That’s what it felt like. Dark one window at the end. It was claustrophobic. It was tight. It was horrible.”
“And so, my son calls me, hey dad, we got to start building tiny houses.” Coming from factory construction, this should be a pretty good end, and so it has been for the Pereyras. Initially, Lou recalls telling his son the experience of this trip inside a tiny house in Seattle. “It was dark and dingy and skinny and tight. And I felt claustrophobic. Nobody’s going to want those,” he said.
“No, but they’re building them and the business is good,” Ryan insisted and so Lou decided to build one of their own, which would try and better the missing aspects of the tiny houses they had seen. “And we built one. It was cedar siding. It was cedar inside, red roof, a little bitty porch. But I put granite countertops in it, stainless steel appliances in it. Fancy floor, nice fixtures, and nice finishes.”
In the same show in Seattle, where Lou saw his first tiny house ever; people liked the first build by his company – the Tiny Mountain Houses – an oxymoron: tiny being little, and mountain being big, and got a lot of attention. There was no looking back after that. The kick from consumer appreciation got Lou and co. into building another design.
“Initially my mindset was that the folks buying tiny houses were going to be the millennials; the younger part of the population, and that’s not the case,” Lou points out.
“I’m finding now that most people buying Tiny Mountain Houses, the decision maker in most of the houses that we build are usually a middle-aged woman, whether it’s for their kids or their parents or a loved one, it’s her,” he informs.
That’s not it, Lou explains that the folks that have bought tiny houses also include those who have retired. They want to “put the tiny house on their property and move into that,” rent out the big house or let the kids move into it. They want to travel in it and embrace the new change in lifestyle.
“The mobility factor, I think, really plays into it as well. I think when people start looking at it (tiny house), there’s a lot of positives in doing this versus what I was doing before,” Lou states, emphasizing on the fact that the tiny house movement is not going to slow down anytime soon. “It was a fad in a lot of people’s eyes pre-pandemic, but I think that it was a growing movement from a long time ago and will carry on for a long time,” he added.
“The second house I built was Castle Peak model, that was a 24-foot model at the time,” he tells. “I started experimenting, different finishes, made it more contemporary, I put a larger, taller loft inside. I put bigger windows in it. I built the Castle Peak, and we had HGTV featuring us in one of their House Hunter episodes,” Lou informs with great enthusiasm.
The interesting aspect of the second build was the introduction of “egress windows in the loft area” and it was built to certified RV code. This made financing the tiny house easier for people, and they “could haul it if they wanted to haul it themselves.”
After the Castle Peak, “the bulk of designs have been contemporary, have been high-end finishes, attention to detail, have always been a focal point for me. I really like the design element, I like experimenting with things, doing different things,” Lou narrates.
Design and utility are of course the mainstays of all tiny houses these days. When we asked Lou, how does Tiny Mountain Houses craft a niche for itself in the saturated market, he said, “Lot of the stuff is experimenting with and seeing what’s gonna work, what feels good, looks good, and what’s gonna be accepted in the marketplace.”
“I think that that’s a big part of what we do is ask questions. How do you live? What do you need? What’s important to you? I want to talk about how you cook, how you live, what your hobbies are? About your pets, you have visitors, you know, what is it? So, it’s kind of figuring out what that is for you or what that is for the family.”
The idea of Tiny Mountain Houses is simple, design according to what the customer needs, because comfort, craftsmanship, and affordability, all mean different to different people. “We do a lot of houses with flex space that can be what you want it to be. It could be a living room, it could be an office, a spot for your pet iguana or your bird, your cat or dog.”
The story of Lou Pereyra and the Tiny Mountain Houses is a perpetual one, especially because they are based out of the Northwest of the US – regarded as the epicenter of tiny houses – and are delivering to all parts of the country. Talking about the upcoming models, Lou says, “I’ve got a show in Northern California, and I’ve slated the Rainier tiny house for a display there. So that show is in mid-August, and hopefully by then we’ll have done all the fine-tuning and the video.” “The other house that we’re planning on displaying in that show is Mount Gabriela. And I think that that’s gonna be an awesome house too,” Lou concludes.