Tiny living is more than just passing fad, it’s a way of life. Take it from Amy Darius, who’s been living tiny for almost 20 years now, long before the tv shows and all the hype! We had the pleasure of interviewing Amy for one of our Spotlight Features this month. Here’s what Amy had to say about her tiny house experiences.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and work in real estate. I have always been a lover architecture and nature. I recently moved from San Francisco to Montclair in the Oakland Hills with my partner and our 4 dogs. I feel that Northern California has a beautiful landscape that combines the best of both of those two worlds.
Can you tell us a little bit about your tiny house?
My tiny prefab house was an idea I had about 20 years ago. Living in the Bay Area, we are very close to South Lake Tahoe. I would go almost every weekend to go snowboarding during the winter and it started to become costly between the lift tickets and the hotel rooms. I decided that it would be a better idea to just buy a small property near the ski resort and would end up being cheaper. I found a sizable peace of land with a small 650 sq foot cabin on it. The thought of anything bigger seemed overwhelming when you’re there just 2 days at a time. Who wants to spend their weekend cleaning when you are trying to relax! That is when I knew I loved tiny house living.
So about 15 years ago I thought about adding another small cabin to the lot and ordered a prefab 120sq foot cabin from Canada. It was delivered on an 18 wheeler truck and with the help of family we put it together.
What would you say is your life’s motto?
There is no foreign land. It is the traveler only who is foreign.
I read this somewhere years ago and I remind myself of this every time I travel.
What drew you to tiny living?
Well I must be honest, the “tiny living” thing is just for my vacation home. My main residence although not large, may not be considered a tiny home. However I am trying to live more as a minimalist. The reason why I love Tiny Home living on the weekends though is because the joy of the trip is what is outside the home, the land itself. Also you can clean the whole place in a matter of minutes. Your utilities are low and the place heats up quickly when it is cold outside. Who doesn’t love that!
Can you share with us the level and type of planning you did in selecting/purchasing your tiny home?
Since I already owned the land, the first thing I did was to look up the requirements for the city. I found out what the requirement was to pull permits when adding another structure and I found out that anything under 120 sq feet did not need to pull a permit. So I made sure to order a prefab house smaller than that to make things easier (and to not increase my taxes).
What was your experience like in building your tiny house?
The particular company I used out of Canada made the building very easy. It included everything I needed to get it up (shingles, windows etc) and very clear instructions. Once we had it up we just had to add our own flooring, sheet rock etc.
Does your tiny house have wheels? If so, where has your tiny house traveled?
My tiny home does not have wheels, it is stationary and we have added a small deck to the front of it. My plan is to eventually get an airstream so I can take the tiny living on the road one day.
What would you say was the biggest challenge in building your tiny house, and how did you overcome it?
The only challenge for us was to pick where to put it on the lot. Being in the Sierra’s no matter where you look the views are beautiful so we just had to narrow it down.
What was your biggest joy during the build process?
Watching it all come together so quickly and decorating the inside. You get really creative when you don’t have a lot of room to work with. My first night staying in it gives you such satisfaction that you were able to put it all together yourself.
If you had to pick just one, what would you say has been the biggest challenge in living tiny?
The only challenge has been that since it is a “vacation home” and it is so cute, everyone wants to stay in it. We have designed it so there is a double bed below and some smaller twin beds in the loft so we can fit 4-6 people if we really need to. It makes for a cozy weekend!
And what would you say has been the biggest reward?
Just that I was able to create a place where family and friends have continuously wanted to come to over the last 15 years and they have made a lot of memories there. When I see them post their vacation pictures, it is rewarding to know that they had those memories in a place we build ourselves.
Can you offer any advise to others who are considering tiny house living?
I would first look at all your items and ask yourself “Do I really need this?” You will be surprised what you can do without.
Here are some pictures of Amy’s beautiful tiny house!
Written by Jerry Roxas for MyTinyHouseTrip.com. Please follow me everywhere @mytinyhousetrip, as I gather ideas and concepts for my tiny house build! For more information and to follow my journey, please visit my website at www.mytinyhousetrip.com.