As we began our journey into green living, we were always looking for new and interesting ways to reduce our environmental impact and truly “live light” on a daily basis. One solution that kept coming to the forefront and making our eyes sparkle was the idea of going Tiny.
Like many of you reading this, we had seen the HGTV shows about tiny living, we were following people living the #vanlife on Instagram, and we were totally fascinated. It seemed like such an awesome challenge - increase our happiness by simplifying our lives. But could we reduce our possessions without sacrificing style? Would adopting an “essentialist” mentality allow our world to bloom in other ways?
Sure it looks fun in curated photos, or on HGTV, but what you see may not always be what you get. How could we really know if tiny living was for us?
We flip flopped back and forth about the idea, hemming and hawing about pros and cons and whether it was a good time to make the move, and how hard it would be to give up our beautiful bungalow we had put so much time & effort into improving… blah blah blah.
Then, out of the blue - we returned home from vacation and there was a threat of eviction notice waiting for us in our mailbox. Turns out, a disgruntled neighbor complained to the landlord that I was running a business out of our garage. At the time, I ran my photography business out of my home and used my garage as a studio - so yes, the accusations were all true. Santa Monica zoning laws gave the landlord the right to demand we cease and desist all operations, or get the hell out, immediately.
So there it was. The universe giving us the swift kick in the butt we needed to make a decision. Were we gonna go tiny, or not?
“It’s a sign!” I proclaimed! “We’ve gotta do it!” Daane agreed that it was now or never, so let’s figure it out. We already had a few builders in mind, so we got started on quotes and looking for a place to park it. Our plans came to a screeching halt when we realized that zoning and housing laws in Los Angeles actually made tiny homes ILLEGAL! We were both shocked and devastated by the revelation. “How can this be?” we asked ourselves… how are other people in LA living tiny and getting away with it? Under the radar and without permits is what we figured out. So then it all became a bit of a different story - if we wanted to go tiny in LA, we’d have to be renegades.
With all these new obstacles looming, it looked like our dream of tiny living was rapidly falling apart. We put our building plans on hold, and decided we needed to look for an apartment - any apartment - to live in while we figured this whole thing out. With heavy hearts and very sad faces, we begrudgingly forked over the cash to get a subscription to Westside Rentals (a local premium apartment listing service), and began our search. I clicked a few boxes of places we wanted to live, including “Topanga Canyon” (our dream location) - though in my head I thought “yeah right, nothing in our price range is ever available there.” Then, as if in a dream - the very first listing that popped up was “Topanga - Tiny House in the Trees”.
I about shit my pants!
I could not believe it. It was all too good to be true. A tiny house, already built and ready for move-in, in the exact location we had always wanted to live, that was pet-friendly and month-to-month! Holy bananas batman, this was IT!
As fate would have it, we were the first people to reach out to the landlord and she loved our story. She didn’t even show the house to anyone else! After an in-person meeting, doggy play-date and having our star charts read for compatibility (no joke) - the Tiny Home was ours.
All of this happened within a week of getting our threat of eviction notice, and we only had 10 days left to vacate our home. Our bungalow immediately exploded into a sea of “Keep”, “Donate”, and “Storage” boxes as we frantically tried to decide what was truly essential for living happy lives and what we could live without - at least for the time being.
We decided to get a small storage unit because the truth of the matter is we had some sentimental items that would definitely not fit in the tiny, but that we didn’t want to trash. A table that Daane’s dad had made for him, old photo albums, wedding memories and a few pieces of furniture we loved and wanted to keep for the future. Because the fact of the matter is, while we are super jazzed about the idea of tiny living now… once we start a family, we know we’re going to need a little bit more space. Yes, some people can live happily in a van with 3 kids and 2 dogs… but… we are not those people.
For now, however, we are happy as clams living in a 275 square foot gingerbread house nestled in the trees of Topanga Canyon. Here are a few pictures of our new little nest:
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