By Ben Kitchen
Did you head to the Tiny Home Show in Ancaster at the end of July? If so, you probably saw or even explored my home. Maybe you even met my wife, Shay.
Built by Teacup Tiny Homes, the aptly named ‘Smidge’ had blue siding and was parked up on the far side of the field, next to the boundary with the passing road.
Jen and Ben (with their families) from the Teacup team we’re in charge of our home, with Shay helping out for most of the weekend along with Jen and Ben. I popped in occasionally when I wasn’t at the Tiny Homes in Canada booth inside (hello if I met you!).
Around 4,200 attended the show, and we estimate a couple of thousand actually joined the lineup and got shown through our house. Afterwards, I learnt the following were some of the most common comments about our tiny home.
#1 “The ceilings are so high in this one!”
Like every model from Teacup, our tiny home is incorporated into the trailer chassis. This means the interior floor sits beneath the top of the wheel arch frames.
Although that might not sound like much, it gives us an extra six inches or so. Combine this with the fact that we’ve left the white ceiling uncluttered (aside from the fan), and the roof feels exceptionally high up.
The loft of the Margo plan (on which Smidge is based) is high, especially in the middle, due to the centrally pitched roof. It’s actually around four feet high there, which is much more than most models, and really helps with the freeing, spacious feeling. We’ve slept upstairs a few times, and it’s not cramped at all.
Even the space under the loft, where we have the kitchen and the bathroom, is spacious enough for me. I’m about 5′ 11″ and can stand up with plenty of room. If you’re taller than 6′ 3″, you’d need to crouch ever so slightly. Even this, though, is much more than other tiny homes (helped by that lower floor).
A factor that puts many off tiny homes is the claustrophobic feeling of being squashed up in a little space. But I can honestly say that ours feels nothing like that, attested to by the thousands of people who tramped through it.
#2 “Oh wow, is this a log burner?!”
Many people commented on the wood stove immediately after walking through the door. This makes sense – it’s right there as you walk in, one of the first things you’d notice.
There’s a good reason for their comments. Despite what you see on Pinterest and Instagram, most tiny homes don’t have true log burners. In fact, many don’t have more than a mini-split (I recommend much more, if possible). I’ve seen a few with pellet burners, though.
The wood stove makes sense for us. We’re parked on a rural farm with a virtually unlimited supply of firewood that we chop ourselves. It’s free heat, if you like, and it’s pretty.
We still need to fully set up the wood stove, but it’s still summer. We don’t need it yet. And we plan on installing it properly to ensure we get that chimney stack on right!
It is worth mentioning that the wood stove is probably overkill. It’ll produce so much heat for such a small space that the entire place will be toasty within a few minutes. We’ll likely have a couple of windows open to manage the temperature. I’ll have to let you know in a few months!
If anything, it’s a cozy way to spend the snow-covered winter.
#3 “I love the colour scheme. The colours are so calming in here.”
We got a lot of compliments on our designs, particularly the cabinetry colours. According to a quick survey by Teacup, green is trendy right now!
Now, I’ll hold my hands up and say that the design and colour choices were nothing to do with me. I’m as artistically talented as a dinner plate, so all credit goes to Shay and the advice we got from Teacup.
Most tiny homes use a simple, minimalistic approach – either wooden, sleek and rustic or white, bright and modern. We wanted ours to feel more like a house than an AirBnb (something encouraged by Teacup).
Our cabinets, which make up the kitchen and bathroom, are a soft jojoba green. Gold handles felt a bit out there at the time, but it brings a classy, farmhouse feel.
We then have wooden accents, vinyl flooring, and white/eggshell TiG walls. This makes the inside bright and cheery, contributing to the spacious feeling mentioned previously while maintaining some bold colours and aspects.
Then, on the outside, we have muted blue siding and robin egg paint on the front door. We wanted something other than the standard yolk colour you often see on blue tiny homes, and the bright, light blue option stands out without taking away from the rest of the design.
#4 “Is that the Cinderella toilet? It just turns everything to ash?”
Yep. Everyone was at least curious about the Cinderella incinerating toilet. I completely understand that it wasn’t for everyone, but most were excited.
Please allow me to pass on some very sound advice we first heard from Teacup during our initial discovery call. You need to get your head around your toilet options – otherwise, you probably aren’t quite ready to go tiny. Not yet, at least!
Most tiny homes have composting toilets, while a few have regular flush models (for when a septic or sewer connection is possible). Ours is one of the first tiny homes with the incinerating option.
We’re thrilled with this choice. We paid a premium for it, but it removes many worries and difficult decisions, and the resultant ash is entirely sterile and fine to be used on the garden beds.
#5 “So this is the office, but where do you sleep?”
The Murphy bed is a showing-off point; we made the most of it at the Tiny Home Show. In fairness, you need to explain where it is and how it works, or else people might not have realized it was there!
It adds an awful lot of extra space and means we can have a downstairs bedroom and an office, both of which were important to me and my work. Again, this was Teacup’s suggestion, and we took it and ran with it.
We really like the Murphy bed. It does its job extremely well. The bed is lower to the ground than usual, but we got used to it immediately. The only other thing worth mentioning is that you need to get a thin mattress – 8″ thick or less.
The desk stays level, which is great for picking up work where you left off, but it makes reaching up to the storage cupboards above a little tricky without a stepladder.
We now store our clothes in these storage cupboards, using baskets from Home Sense. This prevents items from getting lost down the back.