Kristen and Dave want to live in a tiny house after their home was destroyed in a Colorado wildfire. After having the courage to return to the place where they lost their home and downsize to a 500-square-foot tiny house, we asked a few questions about their unique experience.
Why did you want to move into a tiny house?
After our house burned down, we planned on building a “normal” size house and spent the summer interviewing builders and making plans only to repeatedly come in so far over budget that it was depressing. Our exhaustion got the best of us and we put the entire idea of returning to our land on hold. Occasionally, we would browse online and look at different, smaller options. We started considering tiny homes but felt that we couldn’t go too small given our remote location, need for storage for a solar system, separate home offices and space two very large dogs. A tiny home seemed like a good idea for a vacation cabin so we started heading in that direction and came across Cabin Fever, a Miami based pre-fab builder. After playing with some designs, our dream began to become a reality. When we heard about Tiny House Nation, we became inspired to REALLY make the move to living tiny. We affectionately call our home a “Tiny Mansion” as at 500-square-feet, since we know it’s on the bigger side of tiny.
What do you love most about tiny house living?
We love the simplicity. After the fire, what we owned could fit in the back of our car. Over the two years since, we began accumulating. Things were given to us, we replaced things and pretty soon our closets started filling up. Consciously downsizing this time has been an amazing exercise. I love living without clutter and being aware when I am making purchases of what can actually fit in our new home. It’s a practice of awareness that gives us a sense of freedom. I love how cozy our home is – and I even love how, due to the size, we need to keep it neater than we normally would. We can’t pile things up and walk away as the pile is in the way of something! I like having only the essentials and determining what I can live without.
What surprised you the most about transitioning to a tiny house?
That our small offices really can work. They are 6×7 with vaulted ceilings so our storage goes vertically. I have to get on a stool to access the higher storage but it tucks things away that I am not working on now.
What was the hardest thing for you to give up when you were consolidating your stuff?
My dining room table. In our house that burned down, we never had a dining room table. We would eat standing up a lot or we would sit on the couch. For the two years in between, we had a dining room table and we loved sitting down to eat as well as spreading work out across that large expanse for projects. Now we are back to standing up, or sitting on the couch. We do have a super cool table by Resource Furniture that expands, so we have the option of doing that. But mostly we save that for guests as we don’t usually want to take the time to move all the furniture around to make it work. I also miss my closet. Before the fire, I had tons of clothes. After the fire, I had a nice wardrobe that I built over time. My old closet wasn’t big but it was GREAT! Now I have a small closet that doesn’t work quite as well. I’m getting used to it though.
What is your favorite design decision or technology in your tiny house?
The vaulted ceilings (20-feet-tall!) make the space feel much bigger than it is. We love our offices. Mine has the perfect setup for my writing. I can sit at my desk or on the day bed that Zack made for me. David had a Murphy bed that makes into a twin in his office and a very large desk. We both love the coziness but functionality of the spaces. We also like how open the kitchen is. Even though we have limited counter space, there is room for two of us to be in there working. We also love our sliding custom wooden doors with re-claimed wood from the fire area. I love all our storage shelves and the clever ways we store and keep stuff.
Do you have any advice for others thinking about taking the tiny house plunge?
Start downsizing now! Do a “fire drill” of your life and see what you would take if you had to flee. Then really consider what you REALLY need to hold on to. Be willing to let go of those keepsakes that you hold on to – and especially the boxes that stay tucked away in closets or in storage. Living with less really is more.