Thriving In Tiny

Thriving In Tiny

For those that have been with us for a couple of years or more, you will know that Andrew, 12 year old daughter and I spent nearly 5 months living out of a 110sqft pop up tent trailer in Baja, Mexico two winters ago. You will also know that we not only had an amazing time during those months thriving in tiny, but that our lives were transformed in such a positive and significant way that we completely changed our entire relationship to housing and space.

Our focus since that time had been to find a piece of land to create our own homestead in a way that reflected our new view on space, housing, and family relationships. A few months ago we found our little patch of heaven. We definitely consider it to be our forever home.

BedroomWe are now living here full time and it’s hard to describe how right it feels to be here. Our land came with a 114 sqft cabin equipped with a queen sized bed, plenty of shelf storage for books, office supplies, and toiletries, a kitchen with a small double sink, double propane burner, storage for food, utensils and plates/glasses, and even a desk to work on. The cabin even came with a very small solar system that supplies enough power for a light, to charge our laptop and to run our modem for a couple of hours per day for internet.

Our water comes from a spring fed system that so far is more than meeting our needs. For a toilet we are using both a composting toilet system (17 gallon Rubbermaid bin with plywood platform and attached toilet seat) and the toilet in our pop up tent trailer (which we brought up to the property). Our 16 year old son gets the cozy cabin to himself at night while Gabriella, Terra and I sleep in the pop up, which feels like home to us. We ordered a Sunmar composting toilet and expect it to arrive any day now. I never thought we could be so excited about a toilet! It couldn’t come soon enough as neither of our current systems is great. Our camping hot water heater arrived a couple of days ago so the promise of hot water showers are within sight.

CabinWe purchased an off grid 600 watt hour per day solar system from and that should more than meet our needs for a good long while. We are also the proud owners of a Honda 6,500 watt generator which will come in handy when we begin construction of our intial structures (two 120 sqft tree house cabins for the kids and a 224sqft tiny house on a trailer for the main house). In a couple of years we will build our dream straw bale house (a 500 or so square foot home). The tiny home on the trailer will allow us to move our house around as needed to experiment with various home sites on the land.

The cabin is small but so far it’s worked out so well that we have hardly noticed its size. I do all of the cooking in it and the kitchen is well suited for us four (though a tiny bit more counter space for a cutting board would be nice for the long term). The other night we had five people in it (three on the bed, one sitting at the table, and Gabriella cooking in the kitchen) plus a dog and a cat and it was wonderful. Everyone was included in the conversation and it made for an engaged dynamic.Fun

Given our previous experience of thriving in a tiny space, we have been spared the initial struggles and withdrawals we had gone through in the first month in Baja. So the family dynamic has been extremely pleasant and from day 1, it has felt right to be here and living tiny again. The kids are both totally on board (though I will say that our 16 year old son has wanted to go into town to see friends more than we have been able to take him) and when we started talking about an internet satellite system being installed on the cabin, both of the kids cried out that we should not get wi-fi, or else they would just be on the internet at every opportunity.

We are all living with the rhythm of the sun, weather, and the land. On cloudy days, there is no internet because our solar sytem doesn’t have a chance to charge our battery and run the modem. On other days, we don’t get a cell reception up there at all. And when it’s cold outside (we’ve dipped to freezing a couple of times since we’ve been there) we all just have to bundle up and be as active as possible during the day to keep a chill from setting in.

KitchenMoving up to our new land, we weren’t sure what we would need so we held off on buying anything until we got up here and allowed the needs to essentially find us. It’s been a couple of weeks of more trips to town than we would like but it feels like we have great solutions for each necessity that has arisen (hot water, toilet, waste removal/trash, power, and internet). Now that the infrastructure is largely installed, we can move on to the next phase: building tree houses! Though it’s a lot of work and we will likely feel busy for a long stretch, it’s good honest work and it feels wonderful in knowing that the investment we make now in infrastructure will be used and appreciated for the remainder of our lives.

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12 Responses to Thriving In Tiny

  1. JULIE April 17, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    You are leaving my dream, I love all that I’ve read! Kudos to you!
    I’m married to a city boy, but I’ll keep dreaming though.

    • Gabriella April 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

      You never know…all of a sudden those city boys can get a hankering for something totally new and different. 🙂

  2. Chris May 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    So your two kids are living in tree houses on the property and you and your husband are living in hOMe? If I’ve got that right I’d love to know how old your kids are? How far away are their tree houses? Does having them in other structures take away from the closeness many tiny home owners love?

    • Gabriella May 23, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

      Thanks for the question! The first time someone asked that question it really surprised us bc we are so incredibly close as a family. But then when we stopped to look at it from an outside perspective we can understand where it may be hard to understand the set up. So, our 17 year old son goes to boarding school in CO for the majority of the year to play ice hockey. Our 14 year old daughter lives with us full time. hOMe is, well, home base. Everything revolves around it. Our daughter also has a cabin about 30′ from hOMe. She is home schooled and is extremely mature and trust worthy. Our day to day involves all of us spending multiple hours together since we all do work and schooling from home. She does her home schooling in her cabin as well as her art. She sleeps in there about 50% of the time and the other times in the lounge loft in hOMe. When our son is home it’s the same arrangement, though he sleeps in his own place nearly all nights. Compared to the majority of families we know, we spend easily 4-5 more time together as a family than others. Being able to afford a lifestyle that doesn’t cost so much money allows us to live off our own income. It works great!!

  3. Am July 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Will you be sharing with us the tree-houses?!?
    My son would LOVE that! Are they built yet?

    • Gabriella July 17, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

      Hi Am! We will for sure share images of the tree house when done. We don’t have plans for it at all but it’s all pretty basic construction. We’ll also show the attachment system we used for supporting the structure. 🙂

    • Andrew July 20, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      We are getting close to completion. We will post some photos soon.

  4. /bob November 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Re-reading this category of posts and this one brought a question to mind…
    Are you still thinking of eventually building a straw bale 500 sq ft home on the property?

    Also wondering…
    Is there more than one “tree house” for your kids? I’ve looked at the photos of Terra’s but didn’t see any other cabin. Is the cabin that was on the property originally still there?

    Curious. 🙂

    • Gabriella November 16, 2015 at 5:48 pm #

      Hi Bob! You know, we actually don’t think we will build a straw bale on our land. When we first set about all of this we thought our tiny house would be more temporary but as we completed the design and then saw how well we live in hOMe, we can’t think of any reasons to build another house to replace hOMe. Plus both kids will be off on their own in a couple of years anyways so our need for space will just continue to decrease. Paiute’s treehouse is also up in our tiny structure compound but as you noticed, we don’t have photos of it on our site yet (at least not very many). At some point we will upload some 🙂

      • /bob November 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

        That’s what I was thinking. From reading your earlier posts, and then the later posts seemed to imply that you found hOMe to be all you need. A testament to good design right there 🙂

  5. Grazyna Glasier November 22, 2020 at 6:41 pm #

    Hi! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

  6. Cesar Pavan December 13, 2020 at 8:41 am #

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

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