Salsa Box adds a little flavor to the tiny house movement


May 25, 2014

The Salsa Box tiny house, by Portland, Oregon-based Shelter Wise (Photo: Shelter Wise)

The Salsa Box tiny house, by Portland, Oregon-based Shelter Wise (Photo: Shelter Wise)

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The Salsa Box, by Portland, Oregon-based Shelter Wise, offers yet another take on very small-scale living. Completed earlier this year, and available to purchase from US$22,500, this particular tiny house stands out from the growing crowd with a build quality and interior layout that makes living in a 9 sq m (96 sq ft) space seem not only technically possible, but perhaps even appealing.

The Salsa Box was first conceived as a demonstration model to show workshop students what's involved in building a tiny house, and from there evolved into a purchasable product. As standard, the dwelling measures 3.5 x 2.4 m (12 x 8 ft), but there are also larger 4.8 m (16 ft), 5.4 m (18 ft), and 6 m (20 ft) long versions available.

It's built using FSC (or Forest Stewardship Council – an international non-profit organization that promotes responsible forest management) certified wood and sports a metal roof, along with efficient low-emissivity (Low-E) windows, which offer more insulation than standard windows.

Judging from the photos available, the Salsa Box looks finished to a high standard and comes equipped with a queen-sized bed that sleeps two, plus amenities such as an electrical hookup, a flushing toilet, an electric hot water heater, a combined shower and mini-tub, and a kitchenette.

There's a fair amount of storage too – though this has subsequently reduced usable floorspace to an absolute minimum and it's a very tight squeeze. Indeed, as is the case with all similarly-sized homes, living in the Salsa Box full time would require some pretty big lifestyle changes.

Shelter Wise informed Gizmag that the Salsa Box can optionally be rigged to go fully off-grid. The flushing toilet can be swapped out for a composting toilet, solar power can be added, and a water catchment system can be affixed to the roof.

The Salsa Box doesn't need a permit to tow as it can fit on a standard trailer, and if required, it can also be modified to rest on foundations.

Source: Shelter Wise via Treehugger

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

Looks great, how much does it weigh?


It weighs 3800 lbs with living roof and tows great, 5000 ib rated axle with 10 ply tires. Yes, there is some wind resistance. The model will out last any Artic fox or for that matter any mass produced RV that is lived in permanently 10 times over. It's main use could be as get away cabin for that family property, a full time resident in a back yard, an AirBnB, or it could be towed to your favorite camp spot. feel free to contact us at, we love your feed back!

Derin Williams

96 sq ft wow. That's treehouse material. What would the incentive be to pay $22k for something like this vs some of the travel trailers for about the same price range?

Northwood makes an Arctic Fox travel trailer that is insulated/all weather and the 23' version (184 sq ft) isn't that much more money than this and is much nicer inside:

That one has an enclosed/heated underneath so you don't have to add an aftermarket pipe heating system like Ultra Heat. A travel trailer would come with a lot of other things like clear, grey, and black water holding tanks, battery backup, TV, entertainment system, propane tanks, heating/cooling, a kitchen etc. that one is also solar panel and satellite ready.

Compared to some of the travel trailers out there this thing seems like an expensive shoe box. They did put vegetables on the metal roof though which is nice.


No, I have no desire to live in a hamster cage. It does not appeal.

Michael Williamson

I'm guessing this is not for travel. That much weight on a long single-axle trailer is not going to be safe or pleasant.

Not to mention the wind on the road.

It's a somewhat mobile cabin- not really a "travel trailer".


Nifty but not practical. Trailer homes on the market now cost less, have more amenities, are infinitely lighter/easier to tow and probably much higher resale with better durability and these ARE very appealing. towing this would be like towing the least air resistant brick one could design. Your fuel costs would be massive. Put it in one place permanently and your paying triple per square foot what a conventional home same size would be. Conventional homes cost approx. $70sf to build. (this is around $210sf) So for same $22k one could get a nice two or three room house of 310sf that would have appeal as a summer or vacation home. Do a conventional home from a build it yourself kit and do same 310sf house for under $10k. In other words.....nifty but not practical. (or appealing as the article suggests)

RH Bob
The first thing about hand built vs. commercial products is that owners usually build tiny homes that are easy to repair. Jim Sadler

ditto----all of the above. Something my 9th grade shop class might have done , 60 odd - years ago.

Len Simpson

I agree with most of the posters above. Virtually all these 'tiny' houses look not streamlined at all as though they would be a task to tow. I note this one can be built "off grid" but a lot are not. Did people start building these to get around 'caravan living' regulations in suburbia? Otherwise it seems pointless as compared to a good van or even a motorhome with a couple of bikes hanging at the rear.

The Skud

I'm glad there are people out there who are crazy enough to build things like this. It makes my life better just knowing they are out there.

I have to agree with several comments regarding the availability of commercial towable so that offer lots for the money. Probably not built as well as this but then again neither is my home probably. I would put in a curved shower rod and make the curtain do double duty, offer a little privacy fir the toilet and retain water in the shower.

Who says a queen sleeps two? It will sleep as many as the owner wants unless there's a weight maximum for structural reasons. Personally if it's my queen I will sleep alone...I like my space.

" electric hot water heater." ??? Hot water doesn't need heating unless it's not hot enough.

It may be electric but it's just a water heater.


Dr. Veritas

I always assumed these were the 'guts' of a house you put on land somewhere remote. Scrounge up some corrugated iron sheets and tree trunks for verandah living areas. Plug in a small generator when you're there.


All of you are just missing the entire point altogether! This has clearly been designed as an attractive guest house for someone's backyard, for their own guests or to offer as a weekend rental on airbnb. There are plenty of people who prefer these charming alternatives to hotel rooms when taking a vacation, especially if it's located in the backyard of a home in a highly desirable location where well-situated hotel rooms go for $250/night or more. All of this talk about how much roomier various RV's are, with the ability of "hanging some bikes off the back" are probably the same people who don't understand why many of us who live in vibrant cities buy smaller vintage homes with charm closer to the city core, so we can be near downtown and all that type of living has to offer. I've purchased two such homes in Austin TX over the past 10 years, and each time I sold I made 50% - 100% profit, while larger houses in the suburbs, with no character but lots of square footage, languished on the market for months or even years...or eventually sold below what the owners purchased them for.

The people who are interested in tiny houses are interested in the unique, they care about quality and sustainability, they are artistic people, and yes...they may not be like the majority of Americans, but they have money and want something that's out of the ordinary and attractive. You can go ahead and park an ugly RV in your backyard if that's what you want as the view from your kitchen window, or better yet spend $50k-$100k adding a room onto your house that you might get a few hundred a month for renting. But those of us who "get it" will buy a unique accomodation like this, that'll compliment our high quality and attractive homes, and be able to rent it to airbnb travelers for $100+/night, and we'll laugh at your uninformed and unwarranted bashing all the way to the bank. Oh, and if I decide to sell my home and buy another one elsewhere, I can easily transport this portable guest house and continue to make money on it for years after it's already paid for itself, or have a ready-made guest house for family visits in my next backyard. And no neighbor will ever complain because it's attractive and doesn't give off the typical "trashy RV in the yard" look.

No, models like this are not meant to be travel trailers. They're charming cottages that also happen to be portable. And not everyone needs hundreds of square feet when they're on vacation for a couple of days. Most people actually want to get out and explore where they're visiting rather than sit around in their room watching TV. If that's all you want to do, then why go on vacation anyway? I'll step down from my soapbox now...

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