Ever since I became an entrepreneur and started connecting in with the this amazing community looking to change the world for the better it had been a dream of mine to combine my real estate skills with the entrepreneur community to build a village of inspiring movers and shakers. The idea was simple, for everyone to live in flow, to be constantly surrounded by amazing people and for conversations to naturally occur, ideas to happen and projects to proceed.
As a Real Estate Futurist I had been following the Tiny House movement with fascination, yet it didn’t appeal to me to go tiny myself, not until I thought of it in the village concept. I had experimented with a coliving space for nomadic entrepreneurs in Bali and it wasn’t quite the vibe I was looking for, but a Tiny House Village for people who wanted to demonetise their living so they could spend less time working to pay the bills and more time working on projects that mattered definitely got the heart beating with excitement.
Working with my best friend Jirre who was already working on her own small house project back in Europe, we drew out what our plans for how we could achieve this and of course the reality is; that you cannot even attempt to build a tiny house village, if you
don’t even live in a tiny house yourself. As we drew up plans for our Tiny House on Wheels I feel head over heels in love with them.
We started by drooling over tiny house porn on Pinterest and then touring other peoples tiny houses, the first tiny house was a massive let down. There was no creativity involved, no real thought put into it, it was simply a “cabin on wheels”. After that things got better, as we looked at more and more tiny houses, talked to their owners and gained an understanding of what worked and what didn’t. We booked a tiny house on Airbnb and discovered what we loved and what we didn’t. And then we started designing our own.
One thing I noticed from our tiny house tour was the number of “What the Fuck!” moments. And I get it, Tiny Architecture is difficult. But it was there and then that I decided there would be no compromises, we would not have any weird components in the house, everything had to work really well. So I drew up a list of rules that I call my “princess rules”:
- No shitting where I cook: As a former chef, my kitchen needed to be the heart of the home. It shocked me how many tiny houses have a bat
hroom right off the kitchen.
- Plum jam not toe jams: Again, the number of homes that had you walking on the kitchen bench to get up to the loft was crazy. Or having open stairs over a kitchen workspace.
- I had to be able to get up and down from the loft whilst drunk. This means no ladders and no crazy steps.
Moreover our tiny house was going to be situated on the North Shore of Auckland, yes, the rich posh part. Therefore our Tiny Home had to be aesthetically pleasing to blend in and had to be very high quality. We weren’t looking for a reclaimed materials, money saving, DIY jobby, we were looking for a professionally built, amazingly detailed tiny house that we would want to live in.
So now came the design, nearly every tiny house we looked at, or saw on the net was wood, wood and more wood. And whilst some of these houses are stunning, we were not looking for a cottage style tiny home. Luckily Jirre and I were very much on the same page, as was Ben our builder and Julie our interior decorator. We adopted an urban industrial look to the house, working out colour schemes, materials and then the hardest part of all – lay out.
When it came to the layout, this took months to get right. The problem with tiny architecture is the minute you change one thing, it impacts another. I get why many people leave that one weird feature in their tiny house as it is all about compromise – but we had a no compromises rule. We would make this happen. After months of playing, trialling, testing, sharing, hair pulling and sleepless nights we managed to find the perfect layout – how do we know it is perfect? Because we stopped coming up with ideas on how to make it better. To this day I cannot think of a single way to improve the lay out (sure small tweaks, but not to the over all design) although once we are living in it things might change.
Ultimately the criteria for the lay out was simple:
- It had to have an epic chefs kitchen
- It needed to have 2 bedrooms roughly the same size
- The bedrooms needed some form of privacy
- The loft spaces needed to have landings so we could stand up in the loft
- Cleaning needed to be simple (avoid dust)
- The bathroom needed good ventilation
- It should be bright and airy
- It should comply with the building code as much as possible
Ultimately we settled with having the kitchen and the bathroom at separate ends of the house with the lofts above them, given we wanted to have a decent loft size this meant our bathroom is actually quite large – in fact this entire process showed us how much space is wasted in a “normal house”. Our bathroom is the same size as the house I am currently living in now, and our kitchen is only marginally smaller. Most houses waste space on hallways and other walking areas which is one reason why tiny houses are so much more efficient.
Having settled on our layout it came down to fixtures and fittings to our Urban Industrial theme. I spent months running through Bunnings, furniture shops, kitchen and bathrooms shops, searching online and order samples to find exactly what we needed. Given the size ramifications I needed to ensure appliances will fit so I drew up a hierarchy:
Most important was finding an appliance that fit, then it was about ensuring the look was right, and getting the best possible brand for the best possible price. This meant instead of simply filling the kitchen with Parmco products which is typical in new builds for “normal houses” I needed to scan every single product and brand to ensure it was the right size and the right look, and then juggling between price and quality out of the short list. My spreadsheet was extremely detailed, due to the nature of the project I needed to plan out exactly how many power points I was going to need and exactly where they were going to go, plus what they were going to look like – not easy stuff. As we got more clarity on what appliances and fittings were being used it helped us to be certain on specific choices – i.e. I narrowed down my rug choice from 10 to 1, it was finalising the decision on which pictures we were putting up that allowed me to choose which rug would tie everything together.
Ultimately; even though the process took months and months I enjoyed it thoroughly and it showed me that there is so much possible that you can do in a tiny house and of course it gave me lots of other ideas for other possible layouts and themes which you can check out on Pinterest. Once my tiny home is built I am looking to design more tiny houses and push the boundaries on what people believe is possible within a tiny house, whilst still allowing for easy to live in tiny houses, with no “what the fucks” and more “Holy Shits!”