Love and Life

The Story of Our Tiny House

 

IMG_7113In talking recently with some beloved family members, we realized that we hadn’t really taken the time to write out why we chose this project or how it came to be. Since chatting with them, we’ve thought more and more about all the little things over the years that brought us to the point. Chronologically, they are as follows:

2000: For Mardi Gras, my entire extended family went to stay with cousins Mark and Donna in Pas Christian, Mississippi. They had a really charming home including the cutest of guest houses in their back yard. I remember thinking, “How amazing that they have this guest house! They get to like host friends and stuff! And it’s like they have an estate! So cool!” Or however I thought back then. I was 11.

2002: Two very young (thirteen-year-old) versions of Jonathan and me were in the process of becoming best friends. We were both in Paul Beavers’ 8th grade social studies class, where we watched a PBS series about several families who were trying out 19th century-style homesteading for several months. One of our first long and serious conversations involved talking about wanting to homestead and build a cabin someday. It just resonated with both of us deeply as being this distinct American tradition, owning land and working it to make a simple living.

2005 (or so): Jonathan and me, now two years or so into our relationship, would pour over tumbleweedhouses.com and talk about getting married young and traveling the country in a tumbleweed house. Then we saw their price tag and we were like, “Nah.” (Now that we’re older and have taken this thing head on, we recognize those prices are relatively reasonable).

2011: For our first year of marriage, we lived in a 20 meter apartment and loved it. Two stove eyes, a toaster oven, a mini-fridge sans freezer, and a bed on the floor and we were in heaven. We both were convinced that was all the space a human needed, and that’s still how we feel.

Additionally in 2011, we met a fantastic French couple, Arnaud and Brigitte Dufourcq. They probably have no idea how profound an impression they made on us, but they demonstrated such radical hospitality towards our friend Emma (their host student), us, and my family as we navigated the new strangeness of living overseas. They were so welcoming, sought to connect us with other musicians and friends, let us and my mother and brother stay in their beautiful home while they were away for Christmas vacation, and helped our friend Hanna find her first au pair job.  Jonathan and I talked about it then, how one of our life goals was to be able to welcome others the way they had welcomed us.

2012: Before returning home to Tennessee, we began the process of applying for a home loan, and a couple of weeks after returning we spent a day looking at all of the properties in Nashville that were within our (pretty meager) budget. We visited around 5 properties, mostly in West Nashville, before regrouping and taking another look. Our home popped up on zillow and I was 100% smitten right away. We got a tour, and put an offer on it — our first day house hunting. It was months later before we closed, but we still can’t believe we found it. It is still our dream home, despite its modesty and all its imperfections.

The only hang up was that we had desperately wanted a home with a space capable of being converted to a rental unit, to help pay the bills, mostly, but also so that we would have space to expand as a family.  In my mother’s family, every one of my aunt and uncles has rental property. My parents currently have three rental homes. I always knew I wanted to have rental property, as I’ve seen time and again what a great long-term investment they can be.

2013: We got pregnant! Yay! Edmond was born! Yay! And so our very small guest room became our very small nursery.

2014: Sooo we began plotting and planning a way to have a guest space again, recognizing that a sofa doesn’t really make for a comfortable arrangement for guests, especially with a rambunctious kiddo running about. Due to the size and shape of our lot we decided a guest house would be ideal.

2015: Due to Nashville’s booming real estate market, our house was already around double its purchase price. With a heloc, we decided it was time to decide what sort of guest space we would have in our yard. We toured a tiny home, we toured an rv, and then we decided that we would design our own tiny house with a foundation. (Thanks in large part to Nashville’s new Accessory Dwelling Unit codes).

We designed and purchased our “cabin kit” from Summerwood, and it arrived the end of May.

2016:  8 crazy months later, we have a finished tiny house. A project 16 years in the making!

PHEW.

 

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