LIVING LARGE

Words by Amy Woods
Photos by Jenn Dykstra

Five can fit fine inside a tiny home.

 
 

Most people are shocked when they learn our family of five lives in a tiny home. “How many square feet?” they ask for clarification. 

“Three hundred and eighty,” we repeat, and smile. 

I’ll be honest: at the start, it was hard for me to wrap my head around, too. I’d never have dreamed in a thousand years that I would live in a tiny home. But life often puts a spin on things when you’re least expecting it. 

An opportunity came up for me and my husband, Todd, to purchase some raw land, and we really couldn’t pass it up, although we’d just built a 2,400-square-foot house five years before and were quite comfortable there. 

But our kids were getting older, we wanted to try our hand at a more sustainable lifestyle, and we both wanted to take a leap of faith and try something completely new. 

The idea of exchanging a big house on a city lot for a tiny house on a big piece of dirt was both exciting and terrifying. I wasn’t convinced I could do it, but my hubby (who was convinced) arranged a tour in a friends’ tiny home in the hopes of winning me over. I thought I would feel caged in, but the tall ceilings and substantial amount of natural light were all I needed to realize we could totally do it.  

Once we had made the decision and signed papers on the land, we ordered a 36-foot trailer to build our soon-to-be home on and began the design process. My husband has a background in building, and we had three custom homes under our belts, so we were excited to take on this much smaller project. 

The place pretty well designed itself once we knew what we (okay, mostly I) really wanted: full-sized appliances! The kitchen became the main focus of the home, and everything was built around it. 

We created a loft space above the bathroom/laundry, where we built bunks for the kids so they could each feel like they had their own private space, and by “space,” I mean… well… I use that term lightly. 

The primary bedroom is reached via a short ladder from the kitchen, and the bed has storage underneath, making it the perfect place for out-of-season clothes and my Instant Pot. The bathroom/laundry is the most functional space in the house, with a ton of built-in storage for things like toiletries, towels, and kids’ socks, to name a few. 

Figuring out how to use each nook and cranny in a practical way was a good mental exercise for us, made possible by the beautiful custom cabinets we commissioned from Shoreline Cabinetry & Millwork. 

The process of sorting through items accumulated over 15 years of marriage and kids wasn’t an easy task, but it proved to be rewarding. We had to be extremely careful about what we deemed necessary for the tiny home and what items we could donate or place in storage. 

We only stored things we really loved or that had special meaning to us, and we brought daily-use items into The Tiny. 

Personally, I don’t miss anything from storage, except maybe my piano. 

It has been incredible to see how our perspective on “needs” has changed over the past year. Our spending habits are different now, and, with less in the house to clean and care for, it seems we have more time to be outside or doing things together.

Now, because I hope to give you an honest peek into our life in a tiny home, please hear me when I say it’s not always peachy. The settling-in months were very difficult, as we waited weeks to have water, power, and a flushing toilet.  

The changing of each season is challenging, as we struggle to reorganize the things we need and put away the things we don’t. There’s a deep longing for extra space that would allow us to invite more people in to share meals and our life with us. Summer months made this easier. 

The siblings have frequent spats about who’s not keeping their space in the loft clean. I have my own frustrations about how quickly the place gets messy and disorganized if we all don’t pitch in. And it drives everyone crazy that the ONE bathroom always seems to be occupied when we need it most! 

We’ve been using the tiny home as a temporary place to live while we get acquainted with the land through the seasons. By the time we design, build, and move in to a “normal-sized” dwelling on the property, our adventure will have lasted about two years. We’ve already learned so much. 

The biggest discovery of all is that we really don’t need as much as we thought we did, in terms of both things and space. As long as there’s a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and we’re together as a family, we have enough. We’re so thankful to be on this adventure together in this little space—no matter the square footage.




Category: Volume 28