Interview With “Fancy” Tiny House Dwellers

Lately, there has been a lot of interest in what it’s like to actually like to live in a Tiny House Especially a “Fancy Tiny House”  So here is a interview we did for a Home Magazine a few month back with some additional questions and answers.

Tell us about the Tiny House concept. What defines a Tiny House? Are there any standard parameters a home has to fit into to be called a ‘Tiny House?

A Tiny House is generally any house under 500sq ft, it is made out of either wood like a standard house and can be either built on a solid foundation or built on a trailer to be mobile and moved whenever needed. The majority of tiny houses fall under 300sq ft and are built on trailers. The beauty of a tiny house on a trailer is that you are only restricted by road worthiness standards versus standard house building codes so you have more freedom of expression to utilize the smaller space. With that said, we used standard building practices and guidelines when building our house. We personally feel a Tiny House can be anything from a small fixed foundation house to a converted bus to a RV suited for full time living to the aforementioned Tiny House On Wheels.

 

What inspired you to build a Tiny House?

Several years ago we decided to scale back on our jobs and instead of working 12-14 hour days to make more money we decided to “downsize” our work load and focus our efforts and time to something that brought us more satisfaction: Our volunteer bible education work. By cutting down our work load it became harder and harder to afford to continue to live in the same area although we were much happier than we ever have been before. In order to continue doing what we loved we knew we either had to move far away or change the way we live drastically. We live just outside San Francisco and it is one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Affordable housing is really hard to come by and as the years go on our ability to afford the house we were living in was getting much more difficult. We knew that we had to figure out what to do soon and one night we came across a documentary online of a couple that was building a tiny house on a trailer and instantly fascinated we watched it. Right then we knew, this was for us, this was our solution! We have heard of tiny houses before when friends of ours mentioned it to us a few years ago but the kind they were talking about were under 100 sq ft and we thought that was crazy, but now seeing a much larger tiny house we knew this was something we could do!

 

Is this part of a process of downsizing in your life?

Yes, we have always desired to live a simpler life in order to not be so distracted by needless stuff. Even though we have only been married 4 years we have still managed to collect a lot of useless stuff that we didn’t really need in our lives. By deciding to live in a tiny house it helped us narrow down what things we needed versus what things we wanted. When you live in such a small space, everything you own you must interact with on a daily basis because you have no choice, your house is tiny!

 

What was your previous home like?

Our previous house was built in the 1950’s and it was 1300 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 1 bath plus a 2 car garage on a ⅓ acre of land.

 

Why did you choose to move to a Tiny House?

We wanted to truly simplify our lives and focus on what is more important in life instead of slaving away for more material items and a house bigger than what we needed.

 

When did you settle on the concept for your Tiny House?

It was pretty early on when we decided on the basic looks of our house and throughout the months leading up to building we tweaked and changed a lot of things as we put more thought into, We must have changed the floor plans a dozen times. We even mapped out the floor plans in our driveway using tape to see how we can function in the tiny space, Once we did that we could truly interact with the space and design accordingly.

 

Who designed it?

The beauty of the Tiny House movement is that there is so many great ideas out there so we used aspects from many different designs of Tiny Houses and Large houses and created a basic layout and went from there. We knew we wanted the kitchen on one end and the bathroom on the other. For the roof we always loved shed roofs as they create more interior space and from then we designed everything else to fit our needs and desires.

 

How long ago did you begin building?

We started building on november 12th 2014

 

What is your experience in the building industry?

I (joshua) have limited experience in the building industry but i have the ability to pick up things quickly and i understand how things work very easily. I am very experienced in welding, metal fabrication and working with anything mechanical.

 

What was involved in building it?

First we had to find a trailer, Since we have a lot of experience with trailers and we are also Manufacture Reps for 2 West Coast Trailer Manufacturers we custom designed one to fit our needs of the tiny house that was to be built on it. (For More Info On Our Trailers ) we also assembled a group of very close friends that were experienced in the building trades to help us during the building process

 

What challenges did you run into?

One of the biggest challenges we had during building was the bad weather and very short time frame we had to complete the job due to filming schedule and our ability to use the land we had for construction.

 

How long did the entire project take?

planning 5 months and the majority of building was done in 2 weeks, 5 weeks after of finish work.

 

At what point did the TV station in the US pick up on what you were trying to do?

They approached us during our planning stages after we purchased the trailer and were involved in the process until completion of the tiny house.

 

How was the process of getting your Tiny House journey filmed?

Stressful, crazy and fun. It was a great experience but once is enough for our lifetime. We filmed over 100 hours so during those two weeks it pretty much occupied your whole life and on top of that trying to build your house.

 

What do you love most about your new home?

How little time it takes to clean it and keep it organized. Also how cozy it feels, there’s something about a small place like this that is kind of whimsical feeling and even as adults makes us feel like we’re in a grown up fort. All while also being very practical to fit our specific needs. Plus we own it and can take it with us unlike our previous rental home. Its also a Tiny fraction of the price of a regular home!

 

What are some specific touches each of you decided on, – aspects of the Interior and Exterior that make this home a true expression of who you are, and your tastes?

Some of the specific touches that we love, starting with our most favorite feature…..is our 8’ accordion/bi-fold window. That really brings the outdoors in and opens the space completely. Its the first on a tiny house that we’ve seen. Next our floating stairs, those are made of steel and ipe and white oak woods. We loved the idea of normal stairs vs a ladder for a comfortable long term situation but still wanted to have an open feel. The floating stairs visually creates space in the room. Next the kitchen, a full kitchen was a must for us as was bar seating that extended from the kitchen under the accordion window. We love to entertain and make food and cocktails, So having a space to entertain in even though small, was very important. Which leads to the next, the outdoor bar top and deck. With the window open the two bar tops becomes a dining space that can sit 6-8 comfortably. The deck is another favorite with its long bench and additional seating for 6. Along with its storage on the front side, it is also portable and can be broken down into 6 sections for moving. Another feature we love and have not seen before is the barn door that is also a ladder. Its functional and for a bonus it looks cool. We needed lots of clothes storage, going tiny for us did not mean getting rid of all of our clothes. We have clothes that are needed on a regular basis for both casual and dressy situations and getting rid of most clothes wasn’t going to work for us. So having the in floor dresser in our master loft has been a life saver. Another feature is the cantilevers, they extend the two lofts by 2’ on each side. Making the sleeping loft feel much larger and giving plenty of extra storage for the second loft. Our overall style is rustic/industrial but still on the modern side. Some ways that look was achieved was with the metal stairs and the countertops that have a concrete feel to them. The dark exterior which we love! Also for the interior with the different tones of woods, between the stairs and the raw wood beams and dark floors.

 

Describe the features of your Tiny Home. How DO you get everything to fit into such a small space?

I think we answered most of the first part of the question in the previous answer. We did downsize a lot, but even so our house was built with quite a bit of extra storage solutions in mind. The built in floor cubbies holds all of our clothes that we previously had in our dressers and we still have room for more things. The second loft holds all of our hanging clothes, we have a 7’ long rod for clothes and shoe racks for our shoes. Its essentially our closet and Shelley’s area to do her hair and makeup. The kitchen is large as well for a tiny house, it holds all of the dishes we actually use and several drawers we designate for tools and random small cables and electronics, junk drawers. Everyone needs a junk drawer or two. The bathroom is a good size as well and has plenty of shelving for all our toiletries and linens. We also have a utility closet next to the refrigerator that holds a good amount of miscellaneous items such as cleaning items, more random tools for household use and jackets and boots and so on. The deck storage is great for outdoor supplies and some tools. We have a separate off road trailer that holds all of our camp gear. There is a separate carport that holds all of the mechanic and welding tools and is my little man cave.

 

How does it feel to live here as opposed to your previous home?

It feels great! We don’t at all miss the larger space. The plus of being in a small space is that it helps you better appreciate the outdoors and forces us to get out of the house and be more active! In our last home tons of time went to cleaning and maintaining it, making us feel guilty for getting out more since there was always something to do in or on the house. Being in a small space and getting down more to what we need has been so much more fulfilling then we ever thought it could possibly be. Having more time to spend on activities that we enjoy rather than spending more time away from home working to pay for that home we were never at to enjoy. And when we would get home…..we were to exhausted to maintain it. A simple lifestyle is so much more satisfying, we are rich with experiences and fun moments and making memories rather than rich with too many items.

 

Where exactly is your Tiny House located?

We are California Natives.

 

I noticed on your Website that you moved it to a new location. How do you go about purchasing a plot of land on which to park your Tiny Home?

We decided to rent the land for which to park the tiny house, We found truly amazing land owners that are really supportive of our desire to downsize and love the idea of tiny houses.

 

What was the total cost of building your Tiny Home?

it is a hard figure to calculate because we had so many volunteers help build our house and labor is one of the biggest cost in construction. Although it did not cost us this amount we have had estimates ranging from $70,000 – $90,000 if someone was going to hire a company to build one just like it.

 

Do you actually love living in a fancy tiny house?

We can’t speak for every fancy tiny house dweller out there, but we do. We have a simpler and more fulfilling life doing the things we enjoy.

 

When you lie in Bed, is the ceiling really 4 inches from your face?

Its actually 40 inches ( i measured )

 

What do you do if you need your space from one another?

Do what you would do in any sized house, Go outside! we have a outdoor space and a huge property so if we ever needed space we would just go outside. I (Joshua) have a carport which is my garage that i work on my car in or do my welding projects and Shelley has her area where she refinishes furniture. We rarely if ever need space from each other and we spend about 98% of the time together and we love it, we work extremely well together but we also know when the other needs a tad bit of space.

 

You still have some clothing and shoes and towels and all that jazz, right?

Yes of course. We have 7ft of hanging space in our second loft (which is the same amount we had in our 1950’s house. We have dress clothes, casual clothes and comfy clothes. I (Joshua) have 3 Suits, 2 Sport Coats, Jackets, 3 Pairs of dress Shoes, 4 Pairs of casual shoes, 2 pairs of boots, Hats, sweatshirts, lots of tshirts, shorts and 8 pairs of pants all of which are stored inside the tiny house in our storage areas. If i have that much clothes, you know very well Shelley does also 🙂

Oh yes, Towels, We have 8 Bath towels plus washcloths yada yada yada

 

Is your house really that clean all the time?

No of course not, we are human and busy people plus we have two dogs which love to mess things up! If i am going to take pictures for a magazine or a website don’t ya think we are going to clean up before hand? yeah we are…

 

Do you have privacy in your tiny house?

Yes, with our design and size we have lots of privacy, our Master loft is 12ft long and when one of us is downstairs and the other is sleeping in, neither of us can see the other, almost like we are in two different rooms. Plus there is a outside deck, a bathroom and a second loft which also provide privacy. We do have lots of windows (15 to be exact) and we are in the country so we have no neighbors for a good distance so we can feel free to walk around in our underwear and not worry about nosy neighbors peeking over the fence.

 

What about kids?

We have no kids, nor do we plan on having any. I have a large family with lots of aunts and uncles and they have lots of kids which i get to enjoy but i get to send them home when they are too much. If we ever had the desire to have kids, we would probably build a Tiny House Addition in the form of another tiny house.

 

Where is the bed?

Right there in the master loft, a King Sized Bed At That!

 

What about guests? Where do you put your guests? Can friends and family even visit you?

We have guest all the time, the difference with a tiny house versus a big house is you are limited on the amount of guests you can have at a time. (which we found out is a blessing, because at the big house we would have bbqs with 20+ people and we would just be running around all night cooking and cleaning and providing for our guests) Now we usually only have about 6-9 guests at a time and we have found that we actually get to socialize and we also ask guests to bring a dish so it lightens our load and we actually get to visit with our friends. So all and all we enjoy entertaining in a tiny house much better that our old big house.

If we have overnight guests, we let them sleep in the tiny house and we sleep in our Roof Top Tent on our Offroad trailer.

 

Do you just want to live out your life like a Wes Anderson character?

No Not really, I am not really a fan of his work…

 

Do You Have Any Pets?

Yes, We have a 5 year old Bichon-Poodle Mix named Freddie, A 2 Year Old Cockapoo Names June and our Outdoor Cat Olive. Having two small dogs has been easy in our tiny house. We have their bed in the kitchen that we close off at night using a Retract-A-Gate so it takes the place of the crate we used in our big house. They also pretty much come with us everywhere whether its for work or vacation.

Any Closing thoughts?

We do appreciate that our house is even considered a “Fancy Tiny House” so theres that haha! We have always been open about the pluses and minus of tiny house living and we will further share those experiences as go through them here on our website. We have been living full time in our tiny house for just about 7 months and we have loved every minute of it and it has helped Shelley and I to grow closer it has also freed up a lot of time in our lives and we feel much happier than we ever were before, who knew a Tiny House could do that?

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