Sometimes in life, bigger doesn't always mean better. In a society that is forever chasing bigger pay checks, bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger EVERYTHING, there’s one trend that is slowly but surely picking up momentum, and that’s the trend of tiny houses. Beautifully built and environmentally sustainable, tiny houses have been popping up all over the world for a few years now, each one with its own unique features and tale to tell. One such tiny house owner is YouTuber Datev Gallagher (aka Lady Dottie). This is her tiny house story...
In January 2014, My boyfriend Kevin and I moved into a small bungalow style House in Reno, Nevada. It was about 600 square feet and and we would often get comments from our guests about how cute and small the place was. Although it was small by most people’s standards, we had some trouble filling it up and I always felt like there was a lot of empty, unused space.
I’ve lived in small spaces most of my life. Growing up, I shared one bathroom with my mother, father, and brother and I even shared a bedroom with my brother until high school. Although Kevin and I enjoyed living in the city, once Spring rolled around, we began to spend much of our time in a small town outside of Reno called Gardnerville. Gardnerville is Kevin’s home town where his parents live on a two acre piece of land with a breathtaking view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We made plans to start a giant vegetable garden that could essentially feed us through the summer. I was raised a vegan and today I eat a predominantly vegetarian diet so the idea of growing almost all of our own food was very exciting to me.
One late afternoon when I was looking for a gardening tool in the tool shed in the back yard, I decided to take a break and I sat in a chair in the corner. I looked around at the various tools hanging on the wall, the scraps of wood on the floor, the stacks of paint cans, and for the first time, I could see it.
Creating our vegetable garden was one of the best things I’ve ever done. We filled two large raised beds and a 40′ by 40′ plot of land with every vegetable we could find. We planted squash, zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, lettuce, kale, spinach, pumpkins, pepper, eggplant, and every other vibrant juicy veggie that sounded good to us at the time. We’d spend every weekend tending to the garden and during the week we would head back to Reno. Because we are video bloggers, we don’t live by any set schedule and there is really no need for us to live anywhere specific. Slowly, we began to spend more time in Gardnerville where we could enjoy fresh eggs from our chickens every morning and every evening I could experiment with new recipes made entirely from the fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden.
One late afternoon when I was looking for a gardening tool in the tool shed in the back yard, I decided to take a break and I sat in a chair in the corner. I looked around at the various tools hanging on the wall, the scraps of wood on the floor, the stacks of paint cans, and for the first time, I could see it. I could imagine my little desk by the window where I could write and edit my videos. I stood on a step ladder and looked into the loft where I could imagine my bed and a string of twinkling lights. Kevin found me standing in the tool shed (I must have been gone for a while) and that’s when I told him, “I think I could live in here.” “I think I could too,” he said.
And so we did. That summer we spent our days converting the tool shed into what is now our home. We added windows and eco friendly denim insulation. We covered the walls with beautiful pine boards and finished them with natural sweet smelling shellac. With some help from neighbours and friends we were able to use many recycled materials including lumber, nails, window’s and bricks.
We officially moved into our little house in January of this year and we had to face the fact that there wouldn’t be enough room for all of our possessions. We donated most of our clothes to goodwill and we sold our furniture to help us pay for materials to finish the house. At first, getting rid of most of our things was difficult. But, once we cut everything down to our most essential and cherished items, the whole process started to feel good. Now we are surrounded by only our favourite things that really make us happy.
There is still more to be done inside our little home. We’re currently working on a way to use water without plumbing that can be recycled when we water the plants. We also hope to install a wood burning stove in the future so that we can use as little electricity as possible during the winter months. Currently, our favourite thing about our home is our giant sliding glass door that allows us to watch the sun rise and set behind the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains.
Kevin and I have not decided how long we will live in our little house but for now it’s our home and we couldn’t be happier. We live in a time that values material possessions, money, status, and appearances. Our decision to live alternatively has freed us from the pressure to conform to this value system. Because we share our lives publicly on the internet, we do receive a lot of criticism for our choices but the positive responses have been even greater. Many of our viewers have expressed interest in one day building a little home of their own. My advice to anyone who may be interested in building a little home for themselves is this: There is so much in life we do to impress other people or to gain approval but creating your own home that makes you feel happy and free is something you can only do for yourself.