My beloved tiny house cottage
Today, I’d like to tell you about something that has nothing to do with sewing. In March 2020, at the beginning of the first lockdown, my partner and I started building a tiny house: a dwelling halfway between a house and a caravan. Shaped like a house, with the size and movable frame of a caravan, tiny houses are environmentally friendly and financially attractive.
We began discussing building a tiny house in spring 2019. Originally, we didn’t want something as small, however, the idea of a tiny house took hold. We started working on the project in summer 2019, and by autumn, we had ordered the trailer (essential for tiny houses). Our trailer is one of the largest for tiny houses. We then ordered the wood to build the frame, the steel cladding for the roof, etc… A lot of people think it’s a kit home, but that’s not at all the case – it’s 100% custom-made. Lastly, we received the trailer and construction started, with a few delays due to the first lockdown.
For eight months, I devoted all my weekends and spare time to building the tiny house. I took two months off Readytosew (August and September 2020) to give it 100%. My partner, a joiner/carpenter by trade, built it ALL. I couldn’t be more proud of him. Together, we formed a good team. My interior and product design skills (I have a Master’s in Furniture Design) and his manual skills gave us a good foundation, but we learnt a lot on the job. Our tiny house is completely off-grid on serviced land and runs on solar power. We have a dry toilet, and a spring at the foot of the dwelling provides us with water. Making the tiny house self-sufficient formed a large part of the work.
The tiny house looks like a cosy cottage with its brown/honey-coloured wood, herringbone flooring and wood stove, keeping us warm in winter.
Unlike classic tiny houses, the bedroom is not on the mezzanine. It was hard to sell this unusual layout to my partner, but he’s very happy about it now. The reason I chose this set-up was to have different views, different rooms, and not feel trapped by a low loungeroom ceiling as a result of a mezzanine bedroom. The different views make us feel like the tiny house is larger; our line of sight doesn’t end at the bathroom wall but extends beyond. We can see the little mezzanine above the bathroom and even out its window. Opening up the space and letting the gaze wander is especially important in small dwellings.
We used standard materials to comply with the permitted weight of 3.5 tonnes. The exterior cladding is red cedar: a wood that is natural, weatherproof, and very light. The interior panelling is poplar – another very light wood – and the rest is stained pine. There is also some recycled material, like the sliding bathroom door, a few shelves, the bath, and bathroom sink ;-). We had a lot of fun finding the second-hand bath online and designed a retro little bathroom around it.
In terms of storage, we had a huge clear-out when leaving our previous 220m2 dwelling (the house we were renting was sold by the landlord so we had to leave). As I’m naturally fairly minimalist and don’t really like gadgets of any sort (I get that from my mother) or clutter, it wasn’t too hard to sort through things. I gave away a lot of book and clothes, and we reduced our belongings to the essentials. We stored anything we definitely wanted to keep for the future in my partner’s workshop. Of course, we gave away and sold all our furniture. The tiny house sofa was custom-made, from the frame my partner made to the cushions I sewed in 2020. The kitchen, shelves etc were also designed and custom-made by my partner and I.
Unlike what you may think, I don’t have a huge wardrobe and I often wear the same clothes. However, not all of them are in the tiny house, some are stored in my professional studio. And yes, I do have a studio in another village, 15 minutes away from our place, I'm not working from my tiny home ;-)
We removed a bit of produce for the photos ;-)
The wasing machine, fridge, lighting, laptop and phone charger, blender, hairdryer, etc... run on soldar power !
We sleep soundly in the tiny house EXCEPT in high winds. Although the location of our tiny house is perfect in many ways, it’s unfortunately not protected from wind, and the mistral is often blowing in the Vaucluse (south-east France)!
Sadly, at the time of writing, our tiny house is already for sale. I say sadly, as I’m sorry to have to leave it, but it will soon be too small for our growing family.
Against all odds, and in saying that, one should never lose hope, I’m almost 5 months pregnant. My partner and I have decided to leave the tiny house just before the birth of our child. This was a very difficult decision to make, as we love our tiny house and have put so much energy into building it.
We were finally living in a place that suits us – practical, warm, unpretentious – and that matches our environmental expectations: solar-powered, with a dry toilet, etc. That said, we’re already planning our next little house, which, this time, will be small, not tiny ;-)
I grew up in a very, very, very big house, and I know how much upkeep they require. There is large roofing to maintain, many potential leaks to prevent, regular renovations to carry out, complicated heating, and never-ending cleaning. That’s why I want a house that is just the right size, not too hard to heat, and perhaps on stilts, to reduce the impact on the ground; a small house surrounded by space and few, if any, neighbours.
In a nutshell, that’s our beloved little cottage. I hope you found it interesting, inspiring, or that it made your trip to work more enjoyable ;)