I (Alexis) was born and raised in the Midwest and met Brian while I was working as a park ranger for the National Park Service at Mount Rainier National Park. Nine years, many jobs, and moves later—we are settled outside Olympia, Washington. We have lived in our tiny house going on three years now, with no plans of stopping anytime soon! We have some serious financial goals we want to crush before we entertain changing our lifestyle. We don’t have any kids and don’t plan to, but we do have quite the menagerie of animals living with us: dog, cat, and five chickens!
I don’t remember the very first time I realized tiny homes were a thing, probably mindlessly scrolling Pinterest…however, after I learned about them, I was sold. A lifestyle where one focuses on intentional living, while having a small ecological footprint, and it’s cost-effective?! I was done. It took us about three years to make the leap from the time I knew tiny houses existed until I could convince my husband that we could do it.
I designed our home after seeing the hOMe model designed by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison.
Before figuring out what kind of layout we need, we spent some time in tiny houses and fifth wheels before we got serious about the design process. Spending time in these spaces helped us to figure out what we did and did not like.
Our building process was relatively smooth! We worked with Backcountry Tiny Homes, and they really made our vision come true. Having someone who could understand what we were saying, and then let us know how that would work in the space was so valuable. Not to mention, they lived tiny as well, so a lot of their knowledge in the process came first hand. It took us 12 weeks from start to finish to build our tiny house. We used mostly new materials. Our time and budget didn’t really allow for us to use repurposed materials unfortunately.
About the main idea behind the house design, I knew I wanted a full kitchen, as we make the majority of our meals at home, so in the course of a week, that’s a lot of cooking! I also knew I wanted to do laundry in my home (I HATE going to the laundry mat), and lastly, I knew what kind of roofline I wanted. Once we had a few things on our ‘must-have’ list, the rest fell into place.
Our home was one of the first ones I noticed that utilized beetle kill pine, which is this beautiful patterned and often blue-streaked lumber. It’s been damaged by bark beetles, so it’s useless to use for structural aspects, but it makes beautiful accent pieces for our ceiling and trim. Lastly, the 17 windows that we have in our home is pretty unusual. Most houses forgo windows for storage, but we were willing to give up some storage space for natural light.
We have storage EVERYWHERE! It also should come as no surprise that most things in our home serve dual purposes. For example, the floor in our main loft has hidden storage in it, and our staircase also contains storage and the small space in our bathroom we converted to a tiny closet last minute during the build.
Our favorite place of the house, aside from our awesome kitchen, I would say the windows. Being able to wake up in the morning, roll over and stare out the window is such an amazing feeling. Brian and I often joke that we basically built an adult treehouse.
Talking about privacy in our tiny house, we have one door, and it’s to the bathroom. I count that as privacy! Other than that, we live in a remote, rural location, so having neighbors peering into our windows isn’t an issue.
We can accommodate a singular guest. For example, my sister came to stay with us this summer. She slept in the adjoining loft, made full use of all our facilities, and even helped us cook some of our meals.
Because we did a build assist, our house was just over $40k. If we were to buy our exact home now, without helping to build it ourselves, it would be closer to $60k.
We were searching for a few months before we came across the land we rent now. We wanted somewhere private that would allow our chickens. We probably toured 6-7 properties before settling where we did. We love it because our landlord is very sweet, our dog can stay outside in his fenced yard, and it’s quiet, private, and safe. We looked at properties that averaged $500/month. We knew the landlord we currently have before we moved there, and we often swap chores for rent, so we get the friends and family discount of $400/month.
The downsizing process was pretty cathartic. I love purging! We still do it even now, usually a couple times a year if we feel like things are getting cluttered we’ll go through the house and get rid of stuff. It’s incredible how fast it accumulates even when you’re intentional about it!
The best thing about living in a tiny house is pretty much everything! I love only taking 30 minutes to clean my house. I love knowing where everything I own is. I love that it’s on wheels, and we could move with little hassle if needed. Mostly, I love the things it affords us to do: live intentionally, while paying down debt.
The worst thing about living in a tiny house is stinking winter. Each winter we make little improvements, so our house isn’t so cold, but it still sucks.
Because of this experience going tiny, we’ve been able to pay off over 30% of our debts in just two years by living this way. We have a savings account now, the freedom to move our house whenever we need to. Additionally, I also love that we live in a sustainable way. It makes me feel good to try to give back in any way I can!
If you are planning to build or buy your own tiny house. Stay in tiny homes, trailers, campers, etc. FIRST. That was huge in helping us figure out what worked and didn’t work in a home. Next, if you can, I would search for places to park beforehand. It’ll ease your mind during the building process, and you’ll feel more confident in your choice to live tiny.
Our house is 24’ long, 8.5’ wide, and 13.5 tall
Weighs approximately 12,000 pounds
Has 290 square feet of total space
Make sure to follow us on Instagram @living_the_tiny_dream