We wanted a simpler way of living and a plan to gain financial freedom faster than the traditional 30-year mortgage. This year, we will reach that goal since we will have our home called Tiffany paid off and gain an extra $1000 per month back into our pockets.
We bought Tiffany and built another tiny home on our new property called “Shellmate Island.”
Sam Cosner grew up in Iowa, and Tim Davidson grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. We moved down to Florida about six years ago and started dating about four years ago. We moved into a tiny house after a year of dating and have been living tiny for 3+ years now. Sam is a personal trainer and health coach, and Tim is a wholesale lighting rep.
At the time we wanted to move in together we were looking at normal houses as well as rentals, and nothing really fit on the path we wanted to take in life. Sam threw out the idea of a tiny house and how it fits a lot of the criteria we wanted in life, simpler, financial freedom, and low overhead. From there, we sought out home since we had 6-8 weeks to figure it all out before the lease was up. We found a place to park it, and sold probably 80% of our possessions and moved into our home with four medium-sized boxes.
Tiffany was bought instead of built by us since we were in a time crunch. She was mostly completed at that point. We added some custom touches for our cat and some other comforts of living and moved in. This home is a dollhouse of a tiny house. We couldn’t have asked for a better home that fit our style, and after three years, we really have made it our home.
The new home on Shellmate Island was really inspired by two things.
1) Hurricane Irma was our first serious hurricane in Florida and really put in perspective that if we were living here, we wanted something that would be safer for this situation. So the design of the new tiny house has gone through all major category five hurricanes with a 99.9% success rate, even though it has a stick frame. Just goes to show you good design is key for strong homes.
2. Living in Tiffany really helped with the design and layout of the home. I think there are a lot of clever and pretty pictures of tiny homes now, and although that’s great in itself, I think living in a tiny house really helped inspire the layout and function of the new tiny home.
I don’t think it was tough to figure out what layout we want since living in Tiffany for three years really allowed us to critically think about what we would do differently with a new structure, and this helped us see what was functional and what was excessive.
Only the building challenge that we had was on Shellmate to get contractors to take such a small job seriously. Especially in the construction boom in Florida.
It took six months to build Tiffany, and Shellmate tiny home took nine months.
In Tiffany, we have a wood tub made out of an old telephone pole. It was cut down into blocks and then put a poly coat over it to make it waterproof. At Shellmate, we took old doors and repurposed them as well as some furniture, etc. to help keep costs down.
Tiffany’s main design inspiration was a 1920 craftsman style bungalow. Shellmate is a modern beachy farm home
I think what makes Tiffany unique is the amount of detail that has been put into the home. The chevron symbols in the custom lights match the chevron symbols in the handrails. The barrel ceiling really helps open up space and make the home feel bigger than it is. It’s made with love.
What makes Shellmate tiny home unique is the octagon design of the home. Not only is this the strongest tiny house in the world, but it also gives a different kind of layout and design as it is rounder compared to the traditional rectangle. The space is mindblowing, it’s 328sqft, but it really feels double that with the layout and function of the home.
Tiffany has a ton of these, Oliver (our cat) has a bathroom under the stairs with his own cat door and fake grass to do his business. The couch ottomans double as chairs for the dining table. We most often use them to extend the couch to make more room for watching movies. We have a projector screen in the master loft in order to have a movie at night, and then during the day, we take it down to open more space throughout the home.
Shellmate tiny home has storage under the raised bed for all clothes and bed linens. The 6ft dining table folds down when not in use to open the space up even more. You can still move around comfortably with it up. There is also open shelving to utilize wall space is, which will provide massive space-saving for us. The couch also acts as a second bed for guests.
Our favorite part of Tiffany is the stained glass throughout the home. It allows the morning sun to splash color all over the home and at night is great to see with the lights outside. It really brings a warm vibe to our home.
Our favorite feature at Shellmate Island would be the polished concrete floors. It feels great on our feet during the hot days in Florida, and it’s satisfying since we would not be able to have this great look due to weight with a tiny house on wheels.
Tiffany can sometimes feel like a separate room with the projector screen up in the master loft. We utilize outdoor space if we want some privacy.
Shellmate definitely has privacy. The bedroom has its own wall and door which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but in a tiny house it’s mindblowing haha.
We have also gotten better at communicating with each other when we need some alone time. Everyone needs it, but we just have to be able to be upfront with each other and has been a great key to success in our relationship in a tiny home.
We can accommodate guests in Tiffany with the second loft over the kitchen. Right now, we use it for storage for our camping gear, but there is a twin bed over there. We had guests stay a couple of times, and we put the projector screen up for privacy.
Shellmates couch also turns into a bed for guests in the living room, and the home can accommodate 3-4 people for sleeping.
Tiffany’s asking price was $82k, and Shellmate was about the same.
Our tiny house is located in Sarasota, Florida
Tiffany is at a campground right now that is surrounded by huge oak trees with Spanish moss. We found this location on google and called them up and sold them on the idea of having a tiny house there and accepting other tiny houses as a new income to their business. It’s a nice quiet area.
Shellmate Island is a 1.5-acre lot located in Sarasota about 3 miles from Siesta Key Beach. It is surrounded by water; it has no neighbors with lots of vegetation around the property to make it completely private. We have mango, mulberry, avocado, banana trees all producing fruit throughout the year for some delicious snacks.
Our rent for Tiffany is about $500 a month and that includes water.
Shellmate has lawn maintenance and we pay for electricity and water. Just like owning your own land.
The downsizing process was pretty hard at times. Getting rid of sentimental items was the hardest. We sold a lot of our stuff on eBay and Craigslist to see what kind of money we could make off it and haven’t looked back since. We ended up moving in with four medium boxes and actually had more space than we thought. After hustling to downsize, if you ask us today about what we got rid of, we can barely remember what we even had.
The best thing about living tiny is financial freedom and the change in mindset on what the real difference is on someone’s needs and wants.
Family gathering around the holiday is always at someone else’s home, but it’s not a huge inconvenience.
If we started everything over, we wouldn’t change a single thing. We are big believers; everything happens for a reason, and there is a lesson to be learned from everything.
What are we most thankful for in regards to this experience?
I think it goes back to understanding someone’s wants and needs in life. We know that the things you can’t buy are friends and family, and we choose to make that a huge priority in our life. It makes us more grateful for what we have. Sam has also noticed that her anxiety has drastically decreased due to having less junk.
If you are interested in going tiny, start downsizing now in your life regardless of what you’re living in. You don’t need to live in a tiny house to do this, and it’s a great way to dip your toes into that lifestyle. While trying to figure out where to buy or a place to park, you will hit roadblocks, but it is possible if you push forward. If you need help, reach out to us, and we would be happy to answer any questions or help in any way!