Growing up, one of my dreams was to become an architect. When I was a little girl, I drew elaborate house plans with dozens of bedrooms, bowling alleys, and movie theaters inside. I obsessed over Frank Lloyd Wright and his neat lines. I took an Auto-CAD class in high school. I loved The Fountainhead. I started playing The Sims just so I could create houses within the game. I drooled over million-dollar homes surrounded by ornate courtyards. I wanted big. Senior year of high school, I figured out I did not like math and my dream changed. I went off to college to study film-making and creative writing. Architecture took a back seat. My mind filled with splicing 35mm film and transcendentalism. This is where I fell in love with photography, was introduced to Thoreau, and briefly tasted sustainable living in an off-the-grid alternative housing option on campus known as the Homestead. Yet, I still had a dream of designing and building my own home in the future. Thanks to Thoreau and experiencing the Homestead, my ideal house shrunk in size as I now envisioned a log cabin in the woods with a giant stone fireplace.
Since then, I decided I just wanted to live simply in a small space and save all my money for experiences and trips. I wanted to be one of those people that was secretly wealthy — living minimally with a huge savings account. Why bother collecting stuff when I could use the money to see the world? The same mentality is what attracted me to the minimalism movement when I stumbled across it (“There’s a name for this mindset? I’m not alone? Cool!”).
I also discovered tiny homes and fell in love with them. For half a year now, I’ve been drooling over tiny homes. Tiny houses are homes typically under 200 square feet (think 8′ x 20′ with a loft), placed on a trailer. Jay Shafer has been designing and selling tiny homes for years. Drew and his wife are documenting their tiny home progress. Tammy Strobel and her husband will build their home this summer. Evan and Gabby are building a home now, a few hours away from me! The more I dived into the world of tiny house living, the more I discovered that dozens of people are living out their dream in a small home. My dream is to live simply and be active within the community and outdoors. Why bother with a large home and fill it up with stuff when I could downsize and truly live? Why keep paying rent for an apartment that doesn’t give me a return on my dollars? A tiny house is perfect.
This was originally hard to explain to my fiancé. He’s not completely on board with the simple living thing. He wants a small home too, but envisions a modest ranch home with a furnished basement for a large, flat-screen television and a garage to house all his NASCAR memorabilia and tools. After much persisting, my enthusiasm for a tiny home finally wore off on him a couple months ago. He looked up tiny homes on Google, found some videos of Jay Shafer’s home and said, “I’m in. I could do this!” Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear that!
We immediately dived into tiny home research. The past couple months, we’ve been sharing our plans with friends, family, strangers, and fellow writers and tiny home enthusiasts. Some people doubt our plans and think we’re crazy while others have been encouraging and excited for us. We have nothing concrete at the moment aside from browsing home improvement stores, some bookmarked websites, and sketches on papers. It is this lack of physical progress that gave me hesitation to write this post in case things fall through, but we re doing this! It will be our first major project as newlyweds and we aim to have it completed by our first wedding anniversary. Since our wedding is in October, construction of the house will hopefully begin early next spring.
Tiny house progress will be documented extensively over the next year as we explore the research, planning, design, process, and lifestyle behind the home. We’ve already made decisions on a few things (which appliances to keep, what kind of toilet we want, the ideal size of the home, what kind of stairs to build to the loft) but still have many burning questions (where to build it, to buy or rent land, gas or electric, how to make room for our pets and keep the place odor-free, etc.)!
I still want a log cabin. He still wants the garage. We might have this someday, after we’re lived in tiny house for a while. But for now, it’s time to focus on my biggest dream: designing and building my home. Or rather, our home.
*Photo by Peter DaSilva for The New York Times.