A year ago today we announced to our family and friends that we were selling up. I remember the excitement of putting our plans into action. The nervousness of putting our beloved home on the market. And then I remember the frustration of waiting for it to sell. It took over six months which felt like forever! Ha. Now one year later as we break ground on our new section and get excited for the next chapter, I appreciate all the life we've lived in that year. I'm grateful that we took the leap and began living our lives on our terms, creating the life we dream of. We might not be there yet but I am reminded that it is all about the journey itself.
Ever since I can remember I've been a pretty driven person, always just wanting to get on and do whatever it is I'd put my mind to. I like to think I'm self-motivated. Others might call it impatient. I left school at the end of sixth form because I was ready to start a career rather than 'waste' another year in school! I've never shied away from a challenge (unless it involves heights) and I don't let fear of the unknown hold me back. Build a house at the age of 20 - sure. Quit my job to pursue photography - yip. Sell said house to go tiny - shit yea! I definitely prefer to be taking action rather than resting on my laurels (as Dad would have said).
I've talked a little about our decision to sell our house & go tiny but there's so much more to this journey that the square metre-age of our home. It's about lifestyle. We realised we were spending huge hours working to pay the bills. Did we really need to have this huge mortgage for another 20 years? We'd be 50 by the time we owned our home out-right and that seemed like a lot of life to be spent paying off an excessive asset. We dreamed of a lifestyle that let us do more travelling, spend more time with friends & family and the freedom to enjoy our hobbies. We realised a way to achieve more of this good stuff in our life was to downsize our home & in turn our debt. As we looked at alternative living our eyes were opened to new, different possibilities. We talked about selling up and just renting, we looked at nomad living travelling the world, we talked about the advantages & disadvantages of a tiny house on wheels or a house bus. We weighed up what we loved about our current home and what we could do without.
Now I'm not advocating that everyone should start getting rid of their possessions or sell their home! But I am all about living your best life and prioritising the things that bring you happiness. Perhaps you want to travel more, or maybe pay off a loan. Want to start your own business or learn a new skill? The biggest step you can take is to start. Don't just think maybe one day you'll do it. Make a plan, set some goals, start saving, enrol in that course - whatever you've got to do to begin the journey.
Life is for living. If there's things you want to achieve or changes you need to make to live the life you dream of then start today. x
It's been a few months since we sold our home and began the planning stages of what I've nicknamed the "Horton Build 2.0" - our tiny home. During this time we've been working towards gaining building consent from the council and while it's been quiet on the blog here, we've been busy behind the scenes getting our ducks in a row so it can be all go once we're ready to break ground.
Technically we're building a small house at 65 square metres, as tiny houses are under 50sqm or even less depending on who you talk to, but tiny houses are a way of living - a lifestyle, more than a square meterage. The philosophy is about paring down, living simply, gaining financial freedom, reducing the consumer-driven excesses, being more sustainable & eco-friendly. For some people tiny house living is also about beating the property market, or the option to move about (if your tiny house is on wheels) or even moving towards community living with shared resources. For us going tiny is a way for us to move towards financial freedom, giving us more time for experiences. We've also become conscious about our footprint on this planet and wanting to live more sustainably.
So how did we come up with our tiny house plan? When Matt and I first started talking about the idea of going tiny we took a look at the footprint we were actually using of our four bedroom house. We realised we were only really using a third of the home. So we floated our idea of going tiny to our builder and he had us take a look at a few house plans to see if we could cut a plan in half or find a way of using something existing to base ours off. But we couldn't find anything that worked for us and we began drawing up house plans ourselves. We quickly became fixed on a long house configuration with a short hallway joining everything. In fact the plan looks very close to the configuration of half our old house! We got out the measuring tape and stepped out areas. We thought about the things we loved in our old home and what we'd change. We looked at house cladding, roof pitches and design styles everywhere we travelled. We found pictures online of interiors we loved. And then we went to see Josh at MAS Architecture in Invercargill.
Josh helped us bring our ideas to life. He took my basic drawings and created all the technical drawings, plans and details required for council consent application. Here's the concept we ended up with below. A 65 square metre home that opens up to the north onto a patio running the length of the house. The living and kitchen area has a pitched ceiling to create the feeling of a bit more space. We'll use sliding barn-style interior doors rather than swinging to save on space. We've added more room to the bathroom than in our previous home to allow for a big tiled shower. Our kitchen is based off our old one but tweaked slightly to give us more storage & more breakfast bar space. We're having a walk-around wardrobe in the bedroom which will also double as a 'headboard' for the bed. We decided to still have a spare room as we want this to be our forever home and this gives us options. It will double as office and storage space. And possibly the most talked about feature - an outdoor, plumbed in bath tub!
The home will be insulated including the concrete floor, plus the use of Low-E glazing for the windows. We'll make the most of the sun's warmth but we're also planning on having a small, low emission wood burner.
We're going with plywood for the interior walls and polished concrete floors as we've fallen in love with both of those 'raw' looks. When we started thinking about the interior of our home I really wanted the house to feel like a bach - with the comforts of home but also so that it feels a little like we're on holiday. There's nothing conventional about this build and we didn't want it to feel like our last home did with white walls and carpet throughout. Corrugated cladding will be broken up along the north side with a wood feature. The natural colours and textures of stone and wood will feature throughout the home, inside and out. From the stone bath, the concrete floors, right through to our plans for the tiled shower. With plywood walls the interior will have a warmth about it, contrasting against a white kitchen. Matt has created some beautiful pieces of wood & steel furniture and plans to create a vanity unit for the bathroom of the same style. I'm imagining potted plants throughout the house bringing the outside in and the big stacking door off the living area will open us up onto the patio for those cracker Southland days.
And for those wondering about storage and where all our 'stuff' goes... we're currently living in a small rental and we actually don't have a heap of things in storage. Most of the boxes and items in deep storage currently are Matt's shed things and he's getting another shed with this build. We're not having an internal access garage this time which is something we were okay with forsaking, but Matt's new shed is actually going to be bigger than our tiny house! 😂 We managed to pare down so many of our possessions in the process of down-sizing so the built in storage within this house plan will be more than enough for the two of us.
The next blog post update will hopefully be us breaking ground and I'm so excited for that stage. This tiny house has been on my mind for the last year - I dream about it frequently and can already visualise in my mind how it will look as I walk through it. It was initially a little scary thinking we had designed this house plan & what if it didn't work functionally, but we've had a year to nut it out, we've had the best architect we could wish for helping us every step of the way and it's going to be pretty neat living in a home we designed ourselves! I remember when we decided to list our old house for sale back in March 2018 and spending half of that year thinking it was all taking too long. Now I realise time has flown and the Horton Build 2.0 is all about to get very real!
I heard someone talk recently about the script that is written for our lives (it goes a little like this: get a good education, find a well-paying job, get married, buy a home, fill it with stuff, own a nice vehicle, have kids, buy a bigger house...) and it made me take stock of the idea that we really are programmed to live our lives to a script of sorts. Every day we are bombarded with advertising, products and social pressures that push this script upon us, touting that 'bigger is better' and that we need to be keeping up the Jones's. Consume this, buy that. Our families without consciously realising it teach us to chase this same materialistic script. Our friends are busy ticking off their life accomplishments so we'd better keep up.
Now I'm not saying that this script is wrong, or right. But I do wonder how many people spend their whole life running in the same direction as everyone else, just because. We've certainly spent the larger part of our 20's doing just that. And then we sat back and re-assessed. If the script fits then that's all good, if half of it or none of fits then I think that's all good too. There should definitely be the freedom to choose your own path. I do think a lot of people stick to the more well-tread path simply because. Maybe due to expectations. Maybe it feels safer.
We're re-writing the script to suit ourselves. We no longer want the big house with the big mortgage. We don't find happiness from the material things surrounding us anymore, in fact we had so much stuff it was stressing me out! We decided a more simple life would leave us with more time and resources to experience this beautiful life we have.
If life hadn't thrown us a curve ball and we'd started a family when we wanted to I doubt this blog would ever exist. But the fact that we are looking at life without children prompted us to re-consider the path we're on. We're fortunate to have an incredible relationship & the only question was really what do we want to do with our lives then? Matt's first answer was; more travel. Followed quickly with; more time for toys (not the kid variety, think more expensive grown-up toys that all seem to have engines!). When I asked myself the question of 'what do I want to do with my life' it took a while longer to come up with the answer. But eventually it came to me; I want to slow down and enjoy the simple things - like family, friends, nature, experiences.
While there's a great many opportunities that down-sizing is giving us, our number one priority is to work towards financial freedom. We realised we were staring at another 20 years of mortgage on a house we weren't using to it's full potential. And even if we knuckled down and paid off our mortgage faster we'd still be left with a beautiful, but excessive home. We were utilising less than half the footprint of our house. When we became enchanted with the tiny house movement we started talking about the idea of reducing our footprint and in turn reducing our debt so that we could do more living now. We don't want to spend the best part of our lives busy paying for & maintaining more house than we need when we could be travelling, spending more time with family and friends, enjoying this beautiful world we live in.
The biggest roadblock in re-writing the script I think is that you have to be okay with the fact that you will be judged, criticised and told you're crazy. It's human nature to be judgmental and I guess by taking a road less traveled there will be some more conventional people who are going to have something to say about it. We've already been told we're stupid to give up our big home... (well actually the bank owned most of it). We've been told we're turning into hippies. I get reminded on an almost weekly basis by strangers, clients or friends of friends that there's an expectation that someone of my age should have children by now. But none of this judgment matters to me and it certainly won't sway us from the ideas we have for our life. We're not doing it to stand out or to make a point, we're simply choosing to live our lives the way that best suits us. We are happy and we're excited about re-writing the script.
The point of sharing this? Or any of our journey for that matter? In hopes perhaps that it's inspiring or intriguing & provides a different perspective on living. In a world that is all about being busy and having more - we're opting for a more simple life. I'm not saying everyone else needs to start making drastic life changes like us but ask yourself this; what do you want to do with this beautiful life you have? And don't be afraid to dream outside the 'script'.