CURRENT EDIT: Myself, my boyfriend and our floppy dog Lobster lived happily in Little Yellow’s 120 square feet for over 5 years and now live in a small house. Read more in this post.
The not so short:
For my four years at university, I went to Scotland and studied traditional Scottish harp music and the Scottish Gaelic language and songs. An oh-so practical degree to have 5000 miles away from the source, but there you go. As much as I loved my grand adventure, after several years of dripping weather, my homesickness for California sunshine was undeniably present.
In July of 2010, while couch surfing at a friend’s house (well, I was actually stuck inside without the keys) I resigned to realistically look at my California future. The more I perused Craigslist housing for an area I fancied living in and the more I thought about the work that goes into surviving with $1000 rent, the less my floaty, creative, work-to-live ways seemed likely to tick the necessary boxes.
Luckily, in the subsequent avoidance of the whole subject after my sticky realization, I came across a video on the yahoo! homepage which stated ‘See a man who lives in 89 square feet’. See I did, and within 30 minutes I was in.
I was too excited to care that it was 2am in my sister’s world, and promptly called to rouse her and her husband from their dreams with grandiose plans of building and living in 130 square feet.
So whatdaya think??
After some initial concerns I began to hear the excitement I was hoping for in their voices. The next day, I got an email from my brother-in-law; he’d been up until 4am researching, had bought Jay Schafer’s Tiny House book and was easily as obsessed as I was.
Breaking the news to my mother was as simple as if I’d told her I wanted to make eggs for breakfast. She was on board from the moment the words left my mouth (having sewed her own tepe and lived in a cow pasture for a while in the 70’s) and with my step dad’s acquiescence to help me build, I had the approval of everyone immediately involved within 24 hours.
Other people weren’t quite so readily convinced. “Why don’t you buy a mobile home?” “You think you can do this? What if it falls off?” “Surely that’s too small to live in” “You know this is going to be hard” and probably most commonly, “Why?!” I remained unphased and the vision of my own, transportable space kicked the negativity from my mind.
In my spare thinking time, there was little else that filled my imagination. I pictured 7 ½ x18 in every room I walked into. I woke up pretending was in my loft and drank cups of tea dreaming of my window seat.
But then comes the doing part, and having the means for said doing is an unavoidable prerequisite. Though I’ve always been a bit frugal, my college years made me even more so and I was able to save on top of paying my general expenses. I played my harp on street corners whenever it wasn’t raining, made and sold jewelry and worked various food service jobs when I came home for periods of time.
I also moved out of my parent’s house when I was 16 to start working so I still had some leftover from that. At least in college, it did help too that I ate out about 5 times and don’t drink alcohol…
As soon as I knew a tiny house was what I wanted I got super determined and with every little thing I thought to buy, I’d have to consider what in my house that money could buy me instead. I ended up heading into the build with no debt, and (boy I hope) enough money to complete it.
I bought Fencl plans in April 2011 (while still in Scotland), went to the workshop with my dad in August when I returned, bought a trailer the next week and started in September with no idea what I was doing.
The building of my tiny house has been the single most rewarding and terrifying thing I have ever undertaken, and I’m so grateful to have the help and support (and driveway!) of my parents for the whole process. My dad has been absolutely instrumental to Little Yellow’s success and without his endless tools, lectures and know-how I’d likely have no house at all or a very crooked one and a few less body parts. My mother works out of town often, but is the best and most enthusiastic photographer/cheerleader for our progress whenever she’s around.
Though I’m jobless at the time being, I still make jewelry from sea glass I gathered in Scotland and play my harp outside shops before I get the boot for ‘illegal panhandling’. It’s a little nervewracking, but it means I have the freedom to make my own schedule and take time to work on my house.
I chose the name Little Yellow (Buidhe Bheag) because to me, yellow means sunshine, daffodils and California. In Gaelic, the colour yellow (buidhe) is often used as a positive emphasis symbolizing happiness, luck or beauty. A person who is “pretty, yellow” (brèagha, buidhe) is very pretty indeed, and the phrase “I am yellow” (tha mi buidhe) means that one is well, happy or satisfied.
When the building ceases, I plan to find somewhere by the sea where I can set my boots down for a time and pursue what I love without the worry of financially decapitating rent. Little Yellow is the embodiment of all that I hold dear; she is practical, beautiful, and slightly imperfect. What more could I ask for?