Bloomington builder and IU alumnus to be featured on HGTV's 'Tiny House, Big Living'

On HGTV's "Tiny House, Big Living," homeowners document the building of their dream tiny house. On Feb. 1, one couple chooses local carpenter and IU alumnus Daniel Weddle to build the perfect home to fit their small-dwelling needs.

Weddle, the owner of Bloomington-based Carpenter Owl, got into the business by building his own tiny home three years ago, a space he used to practice playing the fiddle. Since then, he has built five mobile tiny houses, two travel wagons and three stationary structures.

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HGTV producers traveled to Daniel Weddle's Artisan Alley studio in Bloomington four times while shooting an upcoming episode of "Tiny House, Big Living." Photo by James Brosher, IU Communications

"I have an interest in parade art," Weddle said. "I want to help put whimsical structures out into society in hopes of sparking creativity or interest."

Weddle has had an eye for design and a mind for business since his time at IU. He has two bachelor's degrees, one in sculpture from what is now the School of Art, Architecture + Design and another in marketing from the Kelley School of Business. These degrees gave him the skills to maneuver complicated cutting projects and excel with business-tracking systems.

And now his work is about to get national exposure.

He was contacted by HGTV in fall 2016 while he was working on a different home. Timing issues led the show's producers to pass on that project, but when Weddle pitched "Honey on the Rock," a house aptly named for its hidden whiskey still, it was a perfect fit.

"The show likes to tout a home's special feature," Weddle said. "Prior to one of the production days the film crew leader asked the executive producer, 'What's the special feature?' Their reply was 'Everything.'"

The client asked Weddle, "What are the craziest things in your drawing books?" And that's how the home ended up with unique design details, like a second-story, outdoor bathtub.

Tiny house, big detail

The home is built around a family heirloom, a prohibition-era whiskey still with one recipe: Honey on the Rock.

Hidden inside a copper cabinet beneath a wood stove, the whiskey still is the secret heart of the home. A discrete passageway -- with a drawing on one side and a bookcase on the other -- leads from the bed loft to the top level of the two-story, 150-square-foot outdoor deck space, complete with a bathtub and built-in swinging table.

Mosaic tile flooring, exposed copper and a stucco shower accent the inside of the 140-square-foot home. In the three-sided bed loft, porthole windows flank two sides, and a 6-foot-long window extends along the foot of the bed.

From the top: The home built by Daniel Weddle featured on HGTV's "Tiny Home, Big Living," has a bedroom equipped with the three-sided bed loft, porthole windows flank two sides, and a 6-foot-long window extends along the foot of the bed; whiskey is still hidden in the copper cabinet beneath the home's wood stove; all of the light fixtures in the home are hand-cut. Photos courtesy of Carpenter Owl

One side of the roof curves into the other, giving the appearance of a wedge-shaped cutout in the roof, and in the main living space, an entire wall swings open and closed like the front of a concession stand.

At 13.5 feet tall, 8.5 feet wide and 27 feet long -- including the deck and hitch -- his work is small even for the movement, Weddle said. It took a crew of 16 members 16 weeks to complete the home, a build that should have taken 20 weeks.

All of the features on the house -- from the exposed wood work to the blacksmith detail to the hand-cut light fixtures -- were designed and installed by locals, as showcasing the work of local artisans is important to Weddle.  

HGTV producers traveled to Weddle's Artisan Alley studio on South Rogers Street four times this summer to film the build in action. Weddle described the process as "hurry up and get stuff almost done" so the crew could film each segment.

In early October, the completed tiny house was transported from Bloomington to a lake in Dillsboro, Indiana, where the client will use it as a vacation home. The "big reveal" was filmed on site.

Catch the full episode when it airs at 9 p.m. Feb. 1 on HGTV.