Talking Tiny

It began, like many of our adventures, with a brief and slightly cryptic Facebook message in the wee hours:

“So I’m having a really crazy thought. Remind me to tell you if I forget.”

The next morning, John threw his hands in the air. “I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before. I mean, seriously – I don’t know where my brain has been!” I braced myself for impact. “Why don’t we just build a tiny house?”

I exhaled, relieved. It wasn’t such a novel idea. We have been talking about tiny houses for close to two years, generally in the context of my need to live somewhere other than my mother’s not-so-spare room. Three part-time jobs at minimum wage and weekly violin lessons weren’t enough to make rent anywhere in town; at least, not while still paying down my student debt and trying not to be late with the car insurance. So it was on Sunday mornings while we cooked brunch after Mass that John and I plotted to build an exceptionally tiny, self-sufficient structure and park it on my dad’s unoccupied land outside of town.

Though it never came to fruition, the idea stayed with us both. It hibernated peacefully, somewhere under the stairs or behind the sofa, until the time came to decide where we’ll live when we return to Virginia after our wedding. One of our coworkers, very much a self-made man known for buying fixer-uppers around town and later renting the renovated houses to local college students for a more than reasonable price, gave us the following marriage advice: Never pay rent, and never take a mortgage.

So I ruminated silently for the span of about a minute, pushing granola around the bowl with my spoon, then asked: “Do you really think we can?”

“Sure I do,” said John. Of course. That’s John for you.

“Okay,” I said simply, and that was that. We put our heads together immediately, weighing the benefits of composting against incinerating toilets as though it were any other casual breakfast conversation.

We talked about dining room tables all the way to work, along with other useful things that can fold down from the walls to save space. When we passed each other in the shop, we would share scattered thoughts and wild, half-formed ideas. I would appear at the corner of his welding table to ask about solar panels in much the same way that he poked his head into my spray booth to pitch a plan for a narrow, movable staircase.

Even the boss thought it was a great idea. “Make it out of our reclaimed lumber,” he suggested, “and then we’ll put it up on Etsy for fifty grand and split any future profit.”

By the time lunch rolled around, you’d have thought this was the plan from the very beginning of our engagement. We didn’t waste any time in taking our tape measures for a leisurely drive up to the wooded property owned by that same boss – who is also John’s older brother – to nail down the measurements of our newlywed home.


Isn’t it charming?


We’ll have about 120 square feet of living space, not counting the eventual lofted sleeping area.

ImageWe stalked the exterior, planning the most efficient way to dispose of the camper structure so we can have the trailer underneath; but John, ever considerate, was concerned that I might want to keep the cow patterned kitchen backsplash. He’s thoughtful like that.


I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to place the bathroom at the only entrance to the sleeping area, but I’m told that the ’70s were a time of questionable life choices, so I will not judge. Much.

Not shown: The plastic grocery bag lining the toilet.


And finally, the bedroom. Bow chicka bow wow… if you know what I mean.

If all goes perfectly and as smoothly as planned, we will have a habitable tiny house by the time winter shows its ugly face in the Shenandoah Valley. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Marvelous? Downright awesome?

Well, since we have a better chance of winning the lotto by playing the modest, single-digit number of brain cells owned between us, I have decided to document our journey with a generous helping of comic relief. That way, when we’re finally resting on the tiny sofa in our tiny house on a tiny square of land, we can look back on the madness we undertook to get exactly where we knew we needed to be.

Either that, or our friends will have something to show the life insurance company.


6 thoughts on “Talking Tiny


  2. Gretchen says:

    When Mark and I were first married we lived in his brother’s 3rd floor attic. It was just bare studs when they started, but they put in a bathroom and a sleeping nook (basically, the size and shape of a full size bed). The kitchen/living room/dining area was the open space that was left. It was sweet.

  3. I know that trailer. Good Lord. Are you confident that it doesn’t have something hazardous leaking from some crack or other, like asbestos or God only knows what else?

  4. Sarah says:

    I love my husband, but there were days when our two bedroom apartment was too small and I thought I would kill him. Props to you as I don’t know if I could have been this adventurous (although this just screams John and Nikki)! I’m not going to lie, now I can’t wait for the next post. You are providing me much needed comic relief ;)

  5. What an awesome adventure!!

  6. raxmullins1 says:

    Adventure is an amazing thing. It builds character. I’m pretty sure this is why you and John are just chuck full of it! ;-)

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