Living cozy in 200-square-foot tiny home | VailDaily.com

Living cozy in 200-square-foot tiny home

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
William Gabriel and his wife, Nya Tejada, started their journey toward a tiny house in 2014 after watching a documentary on Netflix.
Special to the Daily |

Take tiny for a test drive

If you’re thinking that tiny might be an option for you, it might be worth taking one for a spin for an overnight or weekend. Here are a few options around Colorado where you can see if tiny is right for you.

WeeCasa Tiny House Hotel in Lyons — Tiny hotels are becoming a thing. The Caravan in Portland, Oregon, opened in 2013 with several small homes in a circular formation. WeeCasa in Lyons is the biggest (in terms of square footage) tiny house hotel in the country, with 10 individual units. Most of the “homes” contain less than 200 square feet but are equipped with beds, bathrooms and kitchenettes. Rates start at $139 a night.

Tiny House Rental in Colorado Springs — Experience tiny in a big way at Garden of the Gods RV Resort in Colorado Springs. Built by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., this tiny house is located in the RV resort but can be rented by the night, starting at $129.99 per night during high season (May to September) with a two-night minimum. Fully equipped, this tiny house will give you a taste of the experience without the commitment of purchasing.

Tinyhousevacations.com" target="_blank">ListBullet">Tinyhousevacations.com and Airbnb — The listings range from cabins to yurts and everything between, but they all have their small size in common. At tinyhousevacations.com, search by location and you’ll find a variety of options for small space adventures. Airbnb is also a good option for finding unique rentals: Check out www.airbnb.com/wishlists/little-listings for options around the world.

If you’re simply looking for a walk-through or to learn more about tiny homes, there are plenty of resources. Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in Colorado Springs is offering a workshop in Boulder, April 30-May 1, and EcoCabins, also located in Colorado Springs, has online webinars. Tinyhomebuilders.com sells a guide to designing and constructing your own tiny house. Or make plans to attend the Tiny House Jamboree, Aug. 5-7, in Colorado Springs.

Turn on HGTV, the DIY network or scroll through Netflix and there’s a good chance that you’ll find something about tiny houses. This movement, which began in the late ’90s but really picked up in the past five years, is a journey in size, from “normal”-sized dwellings into homes that could be as small as 200 square feet.

People cite several reasons for going tiny: wanting to scale down on possessions; the desire to travel; being able to buy a house outright; an attraction to green or eco-friendly living. Regardless of the reason, the trend is hot right now. A common refrain from most, though, is “how do you actually live in 200 square feet?”

It might be easier that you think.

200 square feet of cozy

William Gabriel and his wife, Nya Tejada, started their tiny house journey in September 2014. After watching a documentary on Netflix, the couple thought it would be a great way to travel and they started seriously considering the idea of building a tiny house.

“Our biggest motivation was that we’re young, we wanted to explore and see new things and not be tied into a mortgage or a lease on an apartment,” Gabriel said.

A tiny house would let them build equity, move around and “just have a place that looked awesome,” Gabriel said.

The couple, who were living in Atlanta, built their tiny house (it took about a year) and took it on the road, stopping through Nashville and Albuquerque before settling, for now, in Colorado Springs. The house, which they’ve named Creature Cottage on their blog and Facebook page, is 8.5 feet wide and 14 feet long — about 200 square feet — and has been home for 11 months now.

“We love it,” Gabriel said. “First off, we spent a lot of time thinking about it and planning; we designed it ourselves.”

The couple was living in a 1,000-square-foot apartment in Atlanta, which Gabriel said was too much space for them. With the help of some painter’s tape, the two taped off what they though they needed, space-wise, and started playing around with the area, using furniture as landmarks for where they wanted the bathroom, living room and kitchen to be, until they were comfortable with the idea.

“The best thing is that you have everything you need and not much that you don’t,” Gabriel said. “It’s super cozy.”

An eye for design

Gabriel and Tejada realized that they needed to be conscious with the aesthetic design of their tiny house, too. With such a small space, they needed it to feel as big as possible.

“Light colors definitely let the space feel bigger and reflect the natural light,” Gabriel said. “The more natural light, the bigger it’s going to feel.”

Edwards-based interior designer Katy Allen agreed. Allen, who has designed homes of all sizes in the valley, said that keeping wall and ceiling colors light can help make a small space seem bigger.

“Keep it light and airy,” Allen said.

Other tips for maximizing a small space? Scale.

“I would say the biggest and most important thing is scale,” Allen said. “One thing people have a tendency to do is not scale it correctly. Ironically, you might have to go bigger in pieces to make it look bigger.”

Taller cabinets, floor to ceiling drapes and other elements that draw the eye upward can help a small space seem bigger. Texture plays a part, as does function, a crucial element when dealing with space challenges. Incorporating storage into pieces like a coffee table or a bed and mounting lights instead of having them take up table space are a few ideas that Allen suggested.

But some elements of design are universal, no matter if the place is 200 or 2,000 square feet. Keep it consistent, Allen said: “Pick a lane and stay in it,” whether that lane is a woodsy cabin or a beach cabana. She also suggests having an element of something “found” or one of a kind.

“We kept antique treasures like my grandmother’s oil lamp which my mom gifted Will after we married and some pottery my mom used to own when we lived in Germany when I was 5,” Tejada said. She’s had free reign to design the interior of the house, she said, and she wanted the design to represent them and their personalities.

“I notice that a lot of tiny houses are very clean cut, modern and take the minimalist approach to their design and decor,” she said. “And while I believe this suits many people (especially in keeping a tiny house clean and tidy), it doesn’t suit us. We’re both the messy, art junky musician sort. We like items of different cultures, paintings and pottery by local artists, seeing rooms dedicated to literature and, even more so, we love imagining ourselves living in a tiny cabin in the woods.”

As tiny dwellings — and tiny communities — continue to pop up in mountain towns, it’s a trend that’s worth exploring.

“This road to going tiny was not easy,” Tejada said. “While it was easy to give up a lot of material possessions, building a tiny house while working a full-time jobs is incredibly difficult, especially when you don’t have building experience. But now, standing on the other side, having road tripped with our tiny house from Georgia to Colorado and after living in it for one month shy of a full year, we’re certainly feeling the benefits of tiny living.”

Her husband agreed.

“Dive in and do it,” Gabriel said. “If you have it in your heart, do it.”

Tiny might not be for everyone, but there are elements that can be taken into everyday living. From interior design ideas to a realization that perhaps less (stuff) is more, living small can reap big rewards.