Breaking from the rat race of a materialistic society, one young couple explores doing life differently in the tiny house they built (and now build for others)
Our story is quite simple and is all too familiar for some. We started out just like most newly married couples, racing to get ahead and begin our life together. We found ourselves slowly becoming caught in the ‘rat race’ of society.
The concept of owning things, slowly turned into things owning us and it became all too real — we needed a release.
We found ourselves working too many hours and losing touch with the things that brought us together in the first place. Our passion for adventure slowly turned into a passion for money. Our weekends went from climbing and mountain biking, to over-exhaustion and lack of sleep.
That is, until the tiny home concept caught our attention. Although it took a lot of thought and foresight —we were hooked.
My husband Oliver had been in the construction business for many years but he was looking for a change and wanted to feel inspired by his work again. I was teaching dance fulltime and had suffered a disk injury in my back. This injury pushed me in a new direction as a career in dance wasn’t any longer possible. With both of us ready for a change we got the crazy idea to build a tiny house (ourselves)!
Combining Oliver’s building experience with my design experience, we got to work. What started as a personal project, blossomed into a passion-filled business. We started the process of our tiny house build and simultaneously started creating a business of building tiny homes for others.
We wanted to use our tiny house as a show home to launch our new venture (and adventure) — which definitely prompted a mixed reaction from friends and family when we shared our exciting news. People thought we were crazy and other people were really excited for us. Many people could not understand the concept, but that didn’t stop us.
We knew this was what we wanted to do. Yes, we were definitely nervous as there is no handbook on ‘How to start a tiny house company, how to ditch convention, leave your big house and downsize’, but we were excited by the challenge. There were only a couple tiny house companies that we knew of when we started, but we didn’t care, we would rather be one of the first ones than wait till too many people were doing it. We were inspired to blaze our own trail.
Oliver and I loved nature and the outdoors and we knew we wanted to be the best at what we do, thus the name Summit Tiny Homes was born.
We were so excited about being able to design our own tiny house from scratch, exactly the way we wanted it. It was a lot of work and countless hours of research making sure everything was just right.
The biggest challenge about designing our home was finding a balance between functional and aesthetic.
I didn’t want it to look like a square box, rather a home with shape and character to it. I have always had a love for old homes with character, which was a big inspiration in the design process.
The design of our home is predominantly white mixed with light wood accents. The white really makes the space feel bigger and brighter. Windows were also on the top of my priority list as we are all about the natural light and seeing the nature around us. Once we finished our home we had to give it a name, so we called it ‘The Heritage’.
We have been living ‘tiny’ for over two years now without regrets.
The number one question we get asked is “Do you ever see yourself moving into a big house again?” The answer is no.
The small space of our home is so comfortable to us that the thought of a larger house just seems like a lot of wasted space, excess stuff and hours of cleaning and maintenance. If anything, maybe we would build another a bigger ‘tiny’, but we will see what the future brings.
Naturally we get a lot of questions:
“How do you entertain?” Well, Oliver and I never had people over much to begin with, living in our big house. When we do have people over everyone hangs outside around our fire pit. In a way it’s actually been a positive not being able to entertain in the house as we spend most of our time outside. And who knows, maybe it’s a reprieve for our guests as well…more time spent in nature.
“Is a tiny house easier to clean?” Yes and no. We used to spend a whole day of our weekend cleaning our big house and keeping up with maintenance, but now it’s only an hour or so. There is a compromise though. Yes, it may be quick to clean but the tiny house can also get messy fast. The biggest thing we had to learn is put every little thing away in its place otherwise things get cluttered quickly. It required us to be more intentional with what we surrounded ourselves with.
“What changes have you made in your lifestyle?” One of the biggest changes has been buying clothing. In the past we used to buy anything we liked without giving it much mind time. I mean, hey we had a big closet there was always room for more. Now we have a rule of one in one out, if we see something we want we have to simultaneously contemplate what item we are going to give away.
Quality over quantity has also been a big thing for us. We’ve come to realize that we definitely want fewer items that are quality, then a ton that aren’t. Home decor was my biggest weakness for purchases, but when you have a home that’s only 225 Square feet, you really don’t have any room for extra decor.
Another change for us was to contemplate our carbon footprint — our impact on the environment. Tiny living has certainly inspired many changes that we feel good about. Our garbage can is definitely small and it can get full fast, so we had to think about reducing our waste. Cutting down on buying food in packaging and plastic has been a huge step. Bringing our own containers to the bulk store has made a big difference in the amount of waste we produce. We also had to start thinking about the products we use by switching to natural cleaning products and personal items.
Some may call it down-sizing — we call it up-scaling the quality of our lives and our awareness of this beautiful planet we are leasing space upon.
This has moved from passion project to successfully building a business that fabricates quality homes that enable others to contemplate doing life differently. Please check out our Summit Tiny Homes website to learn more about our designs. If you’re a Best Selfer, I know that passion, purpose and planet matter to you. Who hasn’t daydreamed of a bit more simplicity and freedom?
You may also enjoy reading The Art of De-Cluttering: A Tiny House Creates a Surprising Catalyst for Expansion, by Kerri Richardson