I’ve been blessed to live in some pretty cool places over the years. In high school, my parents owned a house built in 1936. I lived in the attic room and when we moved in, I refinished the hardwood floors and painted the walls to make it my own. Years later, one of my favorite homes to live in was a 1930s apartment in a 4-plex with original hardwood floors, unique built-ins, high ceilings, and an adorable shared garden out back.
Currently, Katie and I live in a converted 1920s warehouse in downtown Martinez. This two bedroom apartment has a huge open-plan living area with original windows from the old tire shop still in place. We used to rent the adjacent warehouse as well, with only a door separating us from the large cement garage that I used as a shared art studio with a few other artists. I gave up the studio back in November 2014 to save money after realizing I didn’t need the extra space. The apartment itself is very pleasing to the eye and I have an abundance of places to display my ever-loving nic-nacs and treasures I find at estate sales and thrift shops. We’ve enjoyed living here, but I really struggle with the lack of coziness that comes along with living in such a large open space. I also find that I accumulate unnecessary things and I don’t have to pair down and find unique ways to organize them, as we have plenty of space to just leave them where they are. Despite these ungrateful-sounding complaints, I am very appreciative of what we have and the affordable price I’ve been paying for this apartment. With rent skyrocketing in the Bay Area, we couldn’t afford to live here otherwise.
By far, the home where I felt the most comfortable and content though, was my college dorm room back in 2001. The space I shared with my roommate was just under 100 sq ft. My dad and I had driven the 17 hours up to Canada, both of our cars packed to the brim with my things. The day I moved in, there were a few comments being said, some even claiming I broke the record for bringing the most stuff. I’m guessing if you know me well and you’re reading this, you aren’t surprised. But a couple days later, everything was in its place. I found that I was surrounded by just what I needed and/or loved and it stayed that way the entire time I lived there. I made sure that before I left my dorm room each day, everything was put away and beautiful. The simplicity and ease of living in a small space suited my perfectionist tendencies well.
Since I can remember, I’ve dreamed of building my own house. Not just designing and having it built, but actually building it with my own hands. I had always seen this as a goal that I would reach much later in life, until recently. I’ve watched a lot of shows about building or restoring homes – my favorites being the British ones, such as Grand Designs, Restoration Home, and Restoration Man. For a couple years now, I’ve been watching a series called George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, featuring some of the many unique small spaces built all over the UK as homes, in-law units, shops, vacation rentals, etc. The wheels started turning (pun intended!) and I began to casually mention the idea of a tiny home to my family. It’s surprising to me how long it took to finally see this as a realistic option, not only for my family, but for myself as well. I think the clincher was when my dad was asked to build a tiny home for a show called Tiny House Nation. There was no denying the reality when a tiny house was about to be built on my dad’s property. Aside from the expected pressure of managing such a project in 7 days, the tiny house build was a huge success. My dad has since started a subdivision of his construction company called River City Tiny Homes. I’ll post more about the build after the show airs this summer (following the rules!) Let’s just say that it’s inevitable to develop a crush on Zack Giffin, whether you’re age 11 or 31.
I will admit that I’m not exactly the ideal candidate for a tiny house. I have a lot of stuff and narrowing it down will take some real effort. But I will also say that I don’t plan on having an empty shell of a home. Character, history and art are so important to me and I find peace and contentment in surrounding myself with the things that I love. I look forward to having to decide what those things truly are. (Aside from my daughter. That’s a given.) Needless to say, the largest portion of my budget will be spent on a heavy duty trailer.
I’ve had the occasional doubt about the decision to build a tiny house, but I recently watched this video and I realized that any space can be made a home. And for me, I believe the smaller the space is, the freer I will feel. Don’t worry, I’m not moving my almost-teenager into a pop-up tent trailer. Our tiny home will meet our needs, plus a little more.
Check back here on the website or follow our build on Instagram @hertinyhome.