There aren't many college graduates that come out of dorm and apartment living and look forward to "downsizing". But this couple has done just that, and now they're growing their family.
Samantha and Robert Garlow started their journey together when they met at SUNY Plattsburgh. They finished their graduate studies in Buffalo, got married and eventually moved to the west coast. After a couple years, they decided to transition from their 665 square foot apartment to a 204 square foot tiny house that they designed and built themselves.
And now they're having a baby. Of course that brings lots of new challenges. How can you make it all fit in such a tiny space? Robert is a Licensed Architect and has done an incredible job of making the best use of every possible space they have. This is what he had to say in our exclusive interview:
Efficiency is key in small space design. We wanted to utilize every inch of existing storage opportunities to accommodate the relatively small amount of things we own and avoid building the space into cluster-phobia by adding additional cabinets, shelves, etc... The integrated storage cubbies under the stairs and storage drawers under the couch are great examples of this. (Robert Garlow)
There are a few baby-proofing steps they've taken in preparing for their new addition. For the first few months' sleeping arrangements, they've built a "side-mattress co-sleeper bassinet" to keep the baby close. They are also in the process of designing a crib for future sleeping arrangements, along with other safety features.
One of the big reasons why people choose a tiny house is because they simply do not feel that "things" equate to happiness. They also tend to like the person they're with, and don't need a whole lot of separate space. The Garlow's and many other tiny house proponents believe in a minimalist philosophy that means they try to own and use just the things they really truly need. But they certainly had to discuss how things would change by adding one more to their tiny house:
Our discussions right now evolve around personally raising our child and not paying someone else to raise her. One of the many benefits to our choice of lifestyle is financial freedom thanks to a dramatically reduced cost of living. This has allowed Samantha to take 6 months of for maternity leave, after which I will transition into a stay at/work from home father. (Robert Garlow)
One way they are saving space and money is by using reusable diapers - sure beats the boxes and boxes of diapers most new parents have to keep in the house:
We are using the cloth diapers to continue our efforts of reducing our ecological footprint (not contributing disposable diapers to the landfills). We have a few neat little space saving items for our child like a collapsible tub, but the reality is you do not need nearly as many things to raise a child as our culture seems to push on us. They are born into this world naked, owning nothing, and seeking only love and nurturing and requiring only food, shelter and warmth all of which are abundant in our home. The rest of the accoutrements are a bit more optional. (Robert Garlow)
They are very practical about how long they think they can continue living in such a small space, and have plans for how to use it in the future:
The best part about this project is it has the ability to serve our family in a multitude of ways. Should we choose to design and build a small home on a foundation to raise a growing family, the tiny house can serve as a back yard studio, or guesthouse, or airBNB rental or even be turned into an off grid retreat in the mountains. Its value and positive contribution to our lives will far outlive its use as a full time residence. (Robert Garlow)
They have videos of the building process as well as lots of architectural plans and details on their website. Samantha and Robert continue to share their perspective of the tiny house life on INSTAGRAM and FACEBOOK and their WEBSITE if you are interested in learning more. You can also purchase the full floor plans in their eBook.
Tiny House living might not be for everyone, but lots of people have caught on - it definitely saves money in the long run, and builds a very different set of priorities and goals. As far as raising a family, the sense of closeness may build bonds far stronger than living in any mansion. Robert and Samantha are about to find out just how that works. Maybe a tiny house could be the perfect solution for you too.