Can you imagine living in a tiny house? What about sharing your tiny house with your partner and a not-small dog? Miraculously, that’s exactly what Austin is doing.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hello, I’m Austin. I’m 27 years old, and I live in Gainesville, FL with my wife, Heidi, and our dog, Ruth. I love spending time outdoors paddle boarding, free-diving at the local springs, and playing board games with friends. I write about habits and perspectives that develop satisfaction with our lives at Create Contentment.
How did you guys first get interested in small-space living?
I have always had an interest in minimalism and efficiency. In school, I enjoyed checking out architecture books for ideas and designing small homes. It was just a hobby, and I never thought one of my plans would come to life.
When I was in grad school, we decided that we didn’t want to rent anymore and started looking into purchasing a house. We didn’t have much money saved up and hated the idea of taking on a bunch of debt, so our search was not very fruitful.
After a couple months of unproductive searching, Heidi asked me if it was possible to get a tiny house. I was so excited and immediately started looking into what it would take to go tiny.
Walk us through the process of moving from ‘This is something we want to do’ to ‘Now we live in a tiny house.’
From start to finish the process took about 8 months. I went through a lot of iterations on paper before coming to a final design.
The limited area forced us to decide what was most important to us in a home design the space around it. After finalizing the plans, I reached out to Dan Louche and his father at Tiny Home Builders. They completed most of the construction and did really great work as you can see in the pictures below.
Before moving in, it was hard to figure out what we would need in our tiny house and what we could give away. I was afraid to get rid of something only to find out later that I should have kept it.
Well, two years later I do not miss a single thing from the boxes and boxes of junk we gave away. The fears we had of letting go were utterly unwarranted.
What are the measurements and amenities of your tiny house?
The outside dimensions of our house are 8 ft wide by 23.5 ft long. The first story has about 180 sq ft, and the sleeping lofts add another 60 sq ft of kneeling space for a total of 240 sq ft. Oddly enough, the first thing people usually say when they walk in is “Wow, it feels bigger than I imagined.” Here is a short list of some of the features:
- Large outdoor deck with tiny dog house
- Open living area with storage couch
- Washer/Dryer Combo
- Two sleeping lofts
- Spacious kitchen with deep sink, oven, stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher
- Stairs with storage (the first step is our liquor cabinet ?)
- Standard size shower with glass door
You actually share this space with your wife and dog! How do you guys make that work?
Many people ask what my wife and I do when we are angry with each other and want our own space in the tiny house. Sharing a small space has definitely exposed our selfish tendencies, but also forced us to address the issue and work it out.
As a result, we have learned to be aware of our sinful nature and how to love each other in spite of them.
Seriously, we have a hard time keeping our 1,300-square foot bungalow from smelling like dog. How do you work that in such a small space?
Some days we would argue that we don’t make it work. Our house gets messy, and we are continuously sweeping up our dog’s hair. The small space forces us to clean up after ourselves even when we don’t want to. The upside – it only takes about 15-20 min to clean the whole house!
What are the challenges that come with living in such a small space?
After getting rid of more than half our stuff, we were surprised it was such a struggle transitioning into the tiny house. There were moments we even questioned if we had made a mistake. We did not expect so many little (no pun intended) changes.
Living in a small space helped me realize how messy I was before (my wife already knew ?). If we do not put things up after using them the house gets cluttered fast.
In time, we adapted to living in 240 sq ft. What seemed unnatural at first became second nature. We now love our home and have no plans of leaving (at least not until our family starts to grow).
Living tiny has allowed us to pay off debt, spend more time with each other, and focus on what is important in our lives. If we had not gone through the difficulties of starting our tiny journey, we would not have reaped the benefits.
What tools/websites/resources have helped you the most?
Tiny Home Builders has some great resources for people who want to build their own tiny house.
The guys at Minim have some smart ideas for small spaces.
I used Sketchup to model the final design so I could visualize the space in 3D.
What have you learned from this that ANY of us could apply to our daily lives?
You do not need to live in a tiny house to be intentional about what you keep in your life. Here are some tips to help you start.
Make a list of why you want to start.
At first, minimalism will not come naturally, so you need to know why you are getting rid of your stuff. Do you stress about the clutter, get fed up with the distractions, or are you just curious? This may seem superfluous, but trust me, knowing the why will go a long way in motivating you when it comes to the how.
One room at a time.
It is a lot of work to simplify an entire house after years of a consumer-driven lifestyle. Focus on one room at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Do not worry about the rest of the house for now.
Clear off surfaces.
Often we just set stuff down on tables and counters. We either do not know what to do with it or do not have the time to put it away. Give everything a spot or throw it away. You are more likely to use something if you keep it close to where you use it.
Do not focus on the numbers.
There is no rule of thumb for how many things to keep or toss. Just decide whether each item is worth keeping around and caring for.
Lots of minimalist advocates talk about bare spaces and subdued colors, but I think that misses the point. Not all of us are into the modern Scandinavian aesthetic.
The point of minimalism is to pare down your possessions so that you can focus on what is important. So put up some pictures of your family and paint the walls whatever color you want.
Rinse and repeat.
You have come farther than most. Be proud of the intentional effort to simplify your life and make more room for what is important. You may start to notice other unnecessary distractions that detract from your joy. Be proactive, continually assess your environment and remove the clutter.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Austin! Do you guys have any questions for him?