What’s it like to live in a 204-square-foot space with a baby? Samantha and Robert Garlow of SHEDsistence know, and they’re sharing their story. After designing and constructing their SHED tiny house in Yakima, Washington, the couple moved into it with their cat in early 2016. Then they welcomed their first baby, Aubrin, last year. Sounds pretty tight, right? We checked in with Robert to get the low-down on their experience living with a tiny baby in a tiny home.
Over 14 months, the Garlows designed and built their tiny house, working mostly during weekends. They moved in on January 31, 2016. Robert told Inhabitat, “We were tired of throwing money away in the form of rent and we had no interest in taking on a 30-year mortgage in addition to our six-figure student loan debt. A tiny house was mentioned as a joke until we began to realize it would help us achieve many of our goals and we liked the challenging idea of designing, building, and living in a tiny space. At the end of the day we knew it would be a memorable experience that we would learn a lot from and those are the best projects to take on.”
Their 24-foot long, eight-foot-six-inch-wide, 13-foot-five-inch-tall tiny home includes a bathroom, living area, and kitchen, with a loft above. The stairs to reach the loft include storage, and they also dedicated 24 square feet for a storage room for their outdoor gear. They spent around $30,000 on materials.
“Our mindset as to what is possible has changed,” Robert told Inhabitat. “What we expected to be a challenge has been effortless and rather than ‘surviving’ this experiment we are thriving. The biggest takeaway has been that good design makes all the difference. Careful, custom design based on the inhabitants’ ergonomics, needs, and aesthetics is paramount to making a space the size of many peoples’ master bathrooms a fully functioning home for a family. Everything has a place and a purpose (or two). We have everything we need and nothing that we don’t, which has led to an incredible liberating experience we hadn’t know beforehand.”
But what happens when you have a baby in said tiny home? The Garlows made a few changes to welcome baby Aubrin, such as a loft net and door – with space for their cat to travel in and out. For sleeping, they started with a bedside bassinet and have since created a loft crib. Aubrin is now over eight months old.
On their blog, the Garlows pointed out they’ve only ever raised a baby in a tiny house – “and without anything to compare it to, we have nothing but positive things to report. There is great peace of mind in knowing that we are raising our daughter in the cleanest, most healthy house we have ever lived in and the ability to always keep an eye on her is an added bonus.”
The Garlows have used the tiny house to “design the life we wanted” – living in their tiny space enabled them to take extended parental leave, and Robert has been able to work from home and raise their baby.
What about when Aubrin gets a little bigger? In a blog post, the couple said they’d utilize the tiny house for as long as it works for them, and then perhaps repurpose it as necessary. If they decide to move out of SHED tiny house, they said they could use it as studio or guesthouse, to name a few options.
When asked what advice he’d give to people considering switching to a tiny home, Garlow told Inhabitat, “Commit to it. Tiny houses are an amazing life hack; a tool that can unlock incredible opportunities that would otherwise not be possible for many people, family or not.”
He also recommended people custom design their homes to work for them – and construct them if possible, saying, “Not only do you save a lot of money but you gain an incredible experience and wealth of new knowledge throughout the process.”
You can learn more about the Garlows’ journey here. They recently released the second edition of their book, Built With Our Hands, with a long appendix about their two years of calling the tiny house home, and the small things they’d change. You can order it here to read more and see their floor plans.