On our trip to the West Coast of the USA we met a lovely couple, who gratuated from The Evergreen State College: Luna Hoopes, 25 (Bachelor’s of Arts: Communication and Writing) and Jesse Wilcoxen, 30 (Bachelor’s of Arts: Sociology). They are building a tiny house with a budget of $25,000. In an interview with Minimalism21 Luna and Jesse tell their story.
How have you hade the idea building a tiny house? What was your inspiration?
Funny story! When we first began our romantic relationship, Emily’s friend and landlady said, „hey, why don’t you build a tiny house and put it in the backyard?“ So, here we are! Of course prior to that we had individually thought that alternative living would be a good idea, with ideas running the gamut of van life, communal living, studio apartments, etc. All we needed was a partner to do it with and a final solid idea. And so once our friend suggested it, it all fell into place quite easily.
How do you live now?
We spent the year previous to starting our tiny house build, and our first year as a couple, living in a small apartment in Santander, Spain. Being abroad and poor lead to an inability to acquire things or have much of anything in the first place. It was a real opportunity to start our relationship in an environment that required a minimalist mindset and ultimately set us on a good path to transitioning to teeny living.
What does the ideal tiny house look like for you? Do you have idols?
We spent a long time thinking about the ideal tiny house. We spent countless hours checking out photos of tiny houses on Pinterest and other blogs (but never watching any tiny house shows, thanks very much.) However, I think we gained more inspiration simply from living in and observing life in Europe. From what we’ve seen, tiny houses tend to have oversimplified living arrangements, eg. a two-burner stove tacked into a tiny kitchen built for a recreational vehicle–not useful for permanent living. There seems to be an overemphasis on a „grand living room space“ being the most important space in your house, a relic from the American ideal of impressing your neighbors. These tend to feel like caricatures of American houses as opposed real, innovative living.
In our house, the kitchen is the featured area. While in Europe, we found many aspects of life to our liking, most notably, economy of space. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. This shows itself primarily in the abundance of small but fully effective appliances such as our LG fridge, a total unknown to the American marketplace. Overall, we’d say our tiny house idols are the many and varied apartments and houses of the typical European and Asian city dweller, more-so than the tiny houses of this year’s craze.
Why do you build the house on wheels?
We are not in a position to permanently install ourselves anywhere, nor do we imagine life in a tiny house forever. We wanted the option to park the house wherever we needed and to have the flexibility of wheels. That being said, we don’t imagine more than 3 or 4 lives for our tiny house. First, in our friend’s backyard as our main residence, but perhaps in the future as a guest room behind our main house, or as a second residence parked on a spot of land off the beaten path.
Which lifestyle connects you with the idea of having a tiny house? Why should everyone have a tiny house. Or: Should everyone have a tiny house?
We don’t think that everyone should have a tiny house. Rather, we think everyone should live in a space that is right for them. Unfortunately, in the American landscape, the options can be quite limited. Either by availability or cultural pressure, people are more often than not moving into spaces that are far to big and costly for their needs. We believe an effort is required to overcome this trajectory and that every person should think for themselves and decide what it is they require for living.
How far along are you currently? What are the next big steps?
Right now we are finishing the roof, and ultimately the envelope of the building! Next step, installing the electrical and plumbing systems. Eek!
All pictures © the.bower