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Cozy tiny house interior with small dog on a couch near a window
CategoriesTiny Homes

10 Tiny Home Interior Ideas to Help Complete Your Space

We were recently invited by US real estate brokerage Redfin to offer our perspective for an article they just published about 10 Tiny Home Interior Ideas to Help Complete Your Space:

When going tiny, you will be opting for a smaller space, but there are endless possibilities for your tiny home interior. Tiny home interiors vary depending on the dweller’s lifestyle, whether you’re living in Austin, TX, Portland, OR, or anywhere in between. But three key elements – minimalism, sustainability, and multifunctionality – must be incorporated into the interior space for a better overall experience. And most importantly, your tiny home interior should be a space that suits your daily activities. To help you get started, we’ve reached out to tiny house experts across the country for their best advice.

Ironically, our contribution had more to do with the great outdoors than the amazing interiors. But it ultimately all works together – especially for tiny homesteaders.

Nature will become a part of your everyday life when living in a tiny home. There are many creative ways to mesh your outside and inside activities- especially if you are interested in an off-grid or rural tiny house location.

 

Some additions to your interior space to embrace nature are skylights, garage doors, large windows, and decorating with plants. Steve from Big Calm says, “One of the most important aspects of your tiny house to consider isn’t the house itself – it’s its location and the space around it. Having great, natural, enjoyable surroundings and amenities makes tiny living truly different and special. Pro-builders will find clever ways to use space – add eco elements to an already low-footprint dwelling.” Tiny homes are all about nature – reducing your ecological footprint, living sustainably, and spending more time outdoors. Additionally, an outdoor space will increase your square footage and is ideal for people who still want to entertain.

Lots of good tips from several others involved with tiny houses. Check out the full article here.

Aerial view of a rural field with earthworks
CategoriesDevelopment

Project Update (Year-end 2021)

2021 wasn’t an easy year in which to build a project like Big Calm. Slow bureaucrats, busy contractors, wildfire evacuation (just as crews mobilized), supply chain hold-ups (from septic field sand and insulation to doors and appliances), and, oh yeah, that persistent pandemic thing.

Despite all that, we’ve made good progress on the project. Here are some photos of the work done to date.

Power, water, and tech lines were trenched out to the Shangri-loft (which will eventually serve as the shared community space). This includes stubs for a well and future solar array.

A snowy open trench with conduits

Septic tanks were placed at the Shangri-loft and the Type 2 community septic field was excavated and, with the long awaited delivery of sand, partially activated. This is the biggest component of the whole project.

Aerial view of septic field excavation in field Construction of a rural septic field

Earthworks were also completed on two fully serviced tiny house pads – one by the old homesteader cabin and one by the Shangri-loft. The former is now home to The Pocket Getaway and the latter is reserved for the arrival of our first long-term renter this spring.

Aerial view of mini excavator grading a pad

Much of our focus this fall has been on the Shangri-loft itself; renovating a beautiful, unfinished post-and-bean barn-loft that will be Big Calm‘s centrepiece common area (laundry, bike/ski storage, social space). Work included shoring up its foundation, framing in a bathroom and kitchen upstairs and a laundry room downstairs, and, currently, implementing various electrical and mechanical systems.

Framing inside a barn-loft areaInsulation and drywalling in-progressFramed in mechanical room in barn

We’ve been part of Starlink’s beta rollout since March and have been very pleased with internet connectivity on-site.

The fiery summer stunted some of our permaculture plans – at least those in the garden. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a tasty harvest of potatoes, carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes. And we had time to observe – where the water flows, the wind blows, the plants grow, and the animals roam.

So what’s next? In 2022, we plan to grade the access road, extend earthworks out to the community pad sites, install the well, and finish the remaining phases of the septic system. We are working on investment financing to accelerate the buildout to meet the very high level of renter interest.

We’re optimistic for the new year and are looking forward to the community starting to take shape. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter and follow us online for continued updates.

CategoriesTiny Homes

The Pocket Getaway at Big Calm

We’re thrilled to welcome the first tiny house to Big Calm!

Last month, a 25-foot Jaunt tiny house on wheels (THoW), a first-of-its-kind model by pro builder ZeroSquared of Calgary. And it sure does look pretty in its perch between the maple and cedars, opposite the garden!

Move-in called for some muscle and finesse. Access to this particular spot, just outside of the rental community area under construction, required traversing a soggy lawn, a hairpin sloped corner, and a nudge up next to the old homesteader cabin. A rig with highway slicks hauled it to site, a local tow truck rounded the corner, and a mini-excavator inched it the last metre or so.

This tiny house will be operated as a guest-stay bookable on Airbnb. Called The Pocket Getaway, its owner John has lovingly set it up to be an incredible remote escape with all the modern conveniences: a comfy queen bed, sofa, full fridge, gas range, microwave, desk, wifi, a surprisingly spacious bathroom, and lots of windows.

For more information on The Pocket Getaway at Big Calm, check out our Visit page or its Airbnb booking page here. We look forward to your visit!

Wooded field with double rainbow
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Home Isn’t Just a Place

Most of our conversations these days are with people getting into tiny homes. Recently, however, we were contacted by Mike and Maia, a couple moving on from their lovingly self-built Tiny House on Wheels after living in it for four years. They wanted to let us know that they were looking for a passionate couple or individual to take on this beautiful house that they created and lived in.

Tiny House on Wheels

Not only were we impressed with the house itself, but Maia’s poetic description of it as a home really captured a wonderful essence that so many of us are seeking. With their permission, we’re glad to share it here…

Home isn’t just a place. It is an overwhelming feeling. It embraces you at the end of every day. Holds you. Comforts you. Protects you. Loves you. Warms you. Heals you.

 

Tiny home interior 1

This tiny house is all that and more. It was built with incredible intention. The joy and love that went into dreaming, planning, building, and creating this home makes it a very special place. If home is a feeling, when you walk through the doors and breathe it in you instantly feel peace. Whatever the day brought or whatever the world threw, you can leave it outside the door because home is there to take care of you.

 

We built this tiny home so we could have a place that we could call our own. We desire a simple life, because the world can be so complicated. We desire less, because the universe tries to drown you in more. We desire peace, because there is often so much chaos. We desire quiet, because we need to rest. We desire home, because there is no greater place on earth.

 

Tiny home interior 2

This home saved us. We found all these things and more in this beautiful house in the forest.

 

Life always brings change, and even though it is so hard to leave this home we know it will bless someone else and give them safety and comfort. Hold them in peace and protect them.

 

It is a home unlike any other and it is blessed.

Wonderful reflections. If you might be interested in buying this house, email us and we’ll gladly connect you with Mike for info, specs, and pricing.

A blue tiny house sits in a peaceful verdant meadow
CategoriesDevelopment,  Lifestyle,  Tiny Homes

The Bigger Picture on Tiny Homesteads

When we first contemplated building a tiny home community in the Slocan Valley, we thought a lot about how it would impact, and ideally, benefit both the land and the larger community.

Environmental Impact

Earlier this year, I was working on a project to support the region’s licensed cannabis producers, and had the honour and privilege to participate in cultural sensitivity training by members of the Sinixt First Nation, on whose land we work and reside. I learned of Whuplak’n, a Sinixt law that guides us to take care of the land, water, air and all living things. If we take care of the land, it takes care of us: all decisions should be informed through this process of what is in the best interest of all living things. 

Big Calm is aligned with this law. We want to take care of the land so it takes care of us.

Minimal Development, Modest Community

We purchased the property we call Big Calm because it was already ideal for a pocket neighbourhood, with no clearing or major earthworks required. The only development work needed involves smoothing the driveway, drilling a groundwater well, servicing each (gravel) tiny home pad, and installing a septic system. Despite the significant cost, we opted for a Type 2 septic system, which has half the footprint of a Type 1 system and generates much cleaner effluent. In this case, as in many others, eco-minded choices come at a higher cost, but to us, it’s worth it. 

The community will be situated on roughly three of our 30+ acres. Guidelines for RV park developments recommend 10 units per acre, which translates to 30 units for our community space. We decided on only 10. Water is our most precious resource, and after consulting with a civil engineer, we determined that 10 tiny homes is both conservative as well as sustainable. Of course, the other benefit of having only 10 pads is that we can truly offer tiny homesteads, with plenty of space and privacy, with the comfort of a community not too far away.

Tiny Home Living

It’s intuitive that tiny homes take up a smaller footprint than conventional homes and generally use less electricity and water, of which the average Canadian uses 330 litres per day. Tiny house dweller and blogger Joshua Engberg determined that his daily water use was just over 66 litres, about 20% of the average Canadian’s use. In terms of electricity, the average Canadian uses 13,891 kWh per year, while a tiny home uses only 1,515 kWh per year, or about 11% the national per capita average. Based on these statistics, 10 tiny homes would use roughly the same amount of water as two conventional homes and about the same amount of electricity as one conventional home.

And, that doesn’t take into account the electricity- and water-saving measures we, and future tiny homesteaders, plan to employ. Not surprisingly, the majority of individuals interested in living at Big Calm also plan to install solar panels on their tiny homes, which will complement the large solar array we plan to install in the mid-term. Even though tiny homes have a small water catchment area, prospective tiny homesteaders still want to harvest as much water as they can. We’ve also heard from folks planning to have compost toilets in their tiny home, which can save more than 25,000 litres of water per person per year!

Maria Saxton, a doctor of environmental design and planning, conducted a study to measure how downsizing to a tiny home influences downstream environmental impacts. She found that the average ecological footprint required to support a tiny home dweller for one year was about 9.5 acres, compared with 17.3 acres for an individual living in a conventional home, a decrease of 45%. She adds that the impacts are even further-reaching:

“On average, every major component of downsizers’ lifestyles, including food, transportation, and consumption of goods and services, was positively influenced.

 

As a whole, I found that after downsizing, people were more likely to eat less energy-intensive food products and adopt more environmentally conscious eating habits, such as eating more locally and growing more of their own food. Participants traveled less by car, motorcycle, bus, train, and airplane, and drove more fuel-efficient cars than they did before downsizing.

 

They also purchased substantially fewer items, recycled more plastic and paper, and generated less trash. In sum, I found that downsizing was an important step toward reducing ecological footprints and encouraging pro-environmental behaviors.”

Permaculture-Guided

Climate change is an overwhelming issue for everybody. What I love about permaculture is that it is a way for individuals to do their part to care for the earth. Permaculture doesn’t aim to be merely sustainable, it aims to be regenerative. It builds soil, captures carbon, promotes biodiversity and produces food in a way that isn’t destructive. 

We have grand permaculture-related plans for Big Calm. We envision pollinator gardens, a food forest and a greenhouse to extend the growing season. Permaculture is a means by which we can give back to the land, become more self reliant and create community bonds. We are thrilled that everyone we’ve spoken to can’t wait to get their hands dirty!

Community Impact

When we first conceived the concept of Big Calm, we wanted to ensure that it would have a positive impact on the larger community. Affordable housing in this part of BC is a complex issue that will require institutional support and substantial funding to address, and is not an affordable undertaking by us regular folks, unfortunately. 

In an article on the investment needed for dedicated affordable housing Marc Lee, Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says:

“A housing commitment to build 11,400 units a year for a decade translates into an annual public investment of about $3 billion ($250,000 per unit construction and related cost), assuming public land owned by local governments or the provincial government is contributed.”

Despite not having the substantial capital required to take on the issue of affordable housing, Big Calm can still have a positive impact. In an article in The Tyee, Guy Dauncey, author of Journey to the Future: A Better World is Possible, posed eight solutions to Canada’s housing crisis. One of them was the development of new villages. He says:

“Many younger people want more than an affordable home. They also want to live sustainably with a strong sense of community. They want to build a sharing economy, with a lighter footprint on the Earth. They want to build their own eco-villages and tiny home villages.

 

An eco-village places more emphasis on sociable, pedestrian-friendly designs, habitat protection and solar energy and passive homes than a conventional development. We should train people how to become their own developers, forming eco-village development co-operatives, raising the money needed and navigating the complex world of zoning and development approval.”

My only gripe with this is that it’s not just younger people, it’s people of all ages, including families, independents, and a large proportion of individuals who are retired or planning to retire soon and want to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Because Big Calm is attracting remote workers–who will bring their jobs with them–to new residential units, we will not exacerbate the issue of lack of affordable housing. We believe we can have a positive economic impact on the community: we hope our modest project–which is being developed by local contractors; tradespeople; and civil, structural and geotechnical engineers–will potentially relieve some pressure on the middle-market. Not to mention that the Big Calm community will volunteer at local events and support businesses by shopping locally.

“More people are now wanting to relocate to the valley, recognizing it for the gem that it is.” 
– Slocan Valley Economic Development coordinator (Valley Voice, October 8, 2020)

We are thrilled with the calibre and diversity of individuals interested in Big Calm, as well as their desire to contribute not just to the Big Calm community, but to the larger community as well. We’ve heard from individuals who want to share their knowledge of / expertise in laughter yoga, leadership, mindfulness, movement, art, group building, positive therapy, meditation/guided visualization, permaculture, gardening, photography/videography, presentation development, detoxing, raw vegan cuisine, mental wellness, and close community living. We’ve had the pleasure to meet a semi-retired midwife, financial analyst, insurance underwriter, soil scientist, leadership coach and yoga instructor, among others. A desire to live sustainably, care for the land and be part of a supportive community is the common thread that unites them.  

Do you have any other ideas that would help us positively impact the environment, the community and the larger Slocan Valley Community? Please share them with us at hello@bigcalm.ca.

Photo by Arwin Basdew on Unsplash

Black and white photo of a couple in a field of flowers
CategoriesDevelopment

Big Calm in the Valley Voice

One of the things that drew us to the Slocan Valley was the local spirit and “real world” news conveyed every two weeks in the Valley Voice newspaper. It was a welcome reprieve from the 24/7 US political coverage and the social media doom-scrolling predominant in the rest of our media exposure. Each issue, every two weeks, was/is a treat.

And now Big Calm is featured in it! You can find us in the July 1, 2021 issue on page 6 in an article by John Boivin titled, “New developments see future in tiny homes, communal living”.

A Slocan Valley couple is hoping their new housing development will attract high-tech workers and others looking for a simpler life.

 

And their project is only one of several that are looking to launch a new generation of alternative community living in the region.

 

“The tiny homes will be spaced out along this ridge here,” says Steve Hardy, pointing across a field of white and yellow sub-alpine flowers. “We want to give each unit lots of space.”

 

Hardy and his partner Abby gave the Valley Voice a tour of their 37-acre property recently. They purchased the acreage between Slocan City and Winlaw two years ago, after getting disillusioned with life in Calgary.

 

“We were making regular trips to the Kootenays and Okanagan, seeing what each place had to offer, the culture of each area, and we kept coming back to the Slocan Valley,” says Steve Hardy. “We liked the charm, the locals we met, the beauty of the area. And then we found a piece of property that we thought would be a great pocket neighbourhood for people who could work remotely and would like to do so in a nice place.”

 

The pandemic just reinforced their determination to try to find a new way of life. And they figured others shared their vision.

 

There wasn’t much on the property: an old cabin that has to be torn down, a second that needs major overhaul*, and some fencing. But there is an organic garden, spring water, spectacular views, and a cool breeze not felt on the valley bottom on a hot day. Out of a somewhat unremarkable piece of property on the east slope of the Slocan Valley, however, they hope to create something special.

 

They call it ‘Big Calm,’ a “permaculture-guided tiny homestead community for remote digital workers,” in the heart of the Kootenays.

 

“It’s a fairly modest community, within the natural landscape of the property,” says Hardy. “The majority would be long-term renters, and a couple would be guest stays.”

 

The Big Calm Tiny Homesteads website outlines the project’s scope. “ We envision an ecologically sustainable, self-reliant tiny home community guided by the ‘Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share’ ethics of permaculture; and strengthened by collaboration, mutual support and the diversity and skills of its members,” it says. “Hands-on work is a feature, not a bug.”

 

There’s no shortage of hands-on work to do. Before the first community member arrives, the concrete pads for 10 tiny homes have to be poured**, and utilities like water and electricity hooked up. The septic system is going to be top-of-the-line when it’s installed, but the last part of that project’s been delayed by red tape and supply problems.

 

It’s a complicated bit of development for two admitted amateurs, who are managing the building project while trying to attract residents and investors in a timely manner. But Hardy says it’s going well.

 

“Most of the development will take shape next year, and we’re currently putting out an investment raise – dividend-producing shares so that we can accelerate the build actually. Our business plan was perhaps too conservative. The interest is certainly there to fill the spots as we can build them.”

 

The Hardys hope to welcome their first tenant in the fall. That person has already purchased a tiny home for placement on the property.

 

It won’t be cheap to be a resident of Big Calm. At $1,500 a month for pad fees*** – which includes utilities – the Hardys are working to attract upscale, higher-income knowledge workers like themselves. Steve ran a software company and now consults high-tech start-ups, while Abby is a communications specialist for biotech companies.

 

They plan to build Big Calm to allow residents to live the Slocan lifestyle, while still earning a good living.

 

“This has been one of the best parts of the process for us, the people who have been reaching out to us because they are interested,” he says. “It’s from all across the country and the US.

 

“We have geochemists, social innovators, arts fundraisers… all across the board. But they all have a similar appreciation of wanting to make a smaller footprint in a nice natural location and still be able to effectively do their jobs.”

 

The Hardys have been surprised by the potential for communities like this to help grow the local economy.

 

“There’s actually quite a pent-up demand for it. Our sense is it’s an enormous economic development opportunity for the valley… it’s people with a commitment to the local area, who bring a net income from outside because they already have their jobs from elsewhere.”

 

Alternative options growing

The pandemic has created a wave of people moving out of the cities to places like the Slocan Valley. But that’s driven up house and land prices significantly, and only the well-financed can afford to buy or build these days.

 

That’s what’s made places like Big Calm Tiny Homesteads attractive to some. Offering a small space for a tiny home or RV, sharing the cost of services and supporting each other in a community has become an appealing idea.

 

Similar projects are starting or being contemplated along the valley, aimed at a more local audience.

 

“Off-the-grid site rental available in exchange for work trade outside of Slocan City,” a post advertised on Facebook recently read. “… We are asking for 30 hours a month in exchange for the site.”

 

With 150 acres on Perry’s Ridge, the developer plans to create a 15- to 20-unit permaculture community on part of the property.

 

While the Hardys across the valley work with contractors and hope to attract higher-income residents, this developer is pulling his project up by its bootstraps, offering space for people with chainsaw and other skills to build the community themselves.

 

“Skills with building, energy systems and all trades are desirable at this phase,” the post says. “Long-term, the community will require skills with permaculture, agroforestry, livestock management, medicine making, fibre arts, practical crafts, communication, facilitation, etc.”

 

The post makes no bones about what’s involved.

 

“We are looking for hardy folks to help us pioneer this effort. Experience roughing it is required,” it notes.

 

The post says they hope to have six sites ready for occupancy with tiny homes or RVs by this winter. Eventually a community centre will be built on site, with a kitchen, bathing and laundry facilities. The dream is to run the community as a co-op.

 

The carrot is building a community with others who share the same values.

 

“We are a group of people passionate about eco-villages, healing nature, and the arts. Looking for other passionate and inspired folks who are open-hearted and openminded,” the post says.

 

The developer declined to be interviewed by the Valley Voice at this time, saying after the original post he was inundated with inquiries. Other projects are popping up along the Valley and elsewhere in the West Kootenay. In Winlaw, the Raven’s Perch offers a single vacation unit at this time, but has plans to “build more space on the property to live and work.”

 

The pitch the Winlaw property makes has a familiar ring: “We’re creating an environment that encourages those who visit to reconnect with nature – the forest, lakes, rivers and mountains,” their website says. “We encourage visitors to disconnect from the outer world reality so that they might reconnect with their own nature.”

 

History repeats

A century ago, cheap land and a desire to live communally brought thousands of Doukhobors to the region; counterculture hippies and draft dodgers 50 years later established communes across the valley (there’s even an old one neighbouring the Hardys’ property).

 

The drivers may be different today – concerns about climate change, the cost of housing, and technology enabling remote work – but the attraction is the same: a desire to live in peace, in beauty, and in support of each other.

 

But just like past immigrants, the newcomers bring the promise of both change and growth.

 

“The type of people being attracted to the pitch we have would be great additions to the community; they share the values that are already here,” says Steve Hardy, who notes jurisdictions like Nova Scotia have whole campaigns devoted to attracting those kind of workers.

 

“I don’t’ think it’s fully set in how amazing this opportunity can be and how strong a contributor these folks would be, and how much they want to be kind of outside of the fray.”

 

Despite modern trappings, some things don’t change.

A few corrections/clarifications to the original reporting:
*Not an overhaul but rather simply the completion of a previously unfinished structure.
**The pads will be permeable gravel, not concrete.
***Please see our FAQ for more current and detailed pricing info.

Photo: John Boivin

tiny house bedroom with farm outside window
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Tiny Houses for Mature Audiences

When we first conceptualized Big Calm, we figured it would appeal to individuals and couples purchasing their first home. We were thrilled to learn that middle-to-retirement age folks are actually the demographic group that find tiny homestead living particularly appealing. Whether downsizing after children have grown up and moved out, or looking for a nice place to retire, tiny homestead living is capturing the interest of Baby Boomers and GenXers!

We’re no spring chickens ourselves, so we can relate to tiny home living hesitancy as it seems the majority of tiny home sleeping arrangements involve lofts. But, many builders are catching on that main floor bedrooms are the way to go for many clients. We’ve compiled a list of builders that offer this feature, or are willing to work on custom builds to ensure their clients’ comfort:

Builders with main floor bedroom models:

Tiny house bedroom interior
Teacup Tiny Homes

The Phoenix – storage staircase to master bedroom with standing room
Summer’s Night Dream – main floor bedroom
The Margo – main floor bedroom

Tiny house interior
ZeroSquared

Van Gogh – main floor queen bedroom
Aurora – main floor queen bedroom
Maverick – two main floor queen bedrooms

Tiny house bedroom interior
Summit Tiny Homes

Hummingbird – main floor bedroom
Modern Bohemian – main floor bedroom

Tiny house bedroom interior
Tree Hugger Tiny Homes

Cascade – main floor bedroom

Tiny house bedroom interior
Mint Tiny Homes

Canada Goose – storage staircase to master bedroom with standing room

Custom Builds

Canadian Tiny Homes
Fritz Tiny Homes
Nelson Tiny Houses
Rewild Homes
Sunshine Tiny Homes
True North Tiny Homes

hummingbird flying towards water drops
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Do What You Can

Earlier today we presented to hundreds at the Global Tiny House Conference. Our talk, “Macro Forces, Market Trends, and #WorkFromHomestead”, offered an overview of the factors motivating us to start and build Big Calm Tiny Homesteads and the importance of attracting likeminded people to its vision.

We looked at how negative macro forces like climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and widespread mental health woes are changing people’s behaviours. And we also looked at how positive market trends like the tiny house movement, the shift to remote work, a rural renaissance, and the rise of regenerative are emerging opportunities. These are all summarized in more detail here.

circular chart of macro forces and market trends for Big Calm investors

As the grandfather of permaculture, Bill Mollison, once said, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”

One of permaculture’s other wise mantras: “Start where you are, do what you can, use what you have.” Which recalls the Story of the Hummingbird…

One day a devastating fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands area was suddenly engulfed by a raging wildfire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream, they turned to watch the fire. They felt discouraged and powerless.

 

They bemoaned the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire–except for one little hummingbird.

 

The littlest of creatures decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went directly into the forest and sprinkled them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again.

 

All the other animals watched in disbelief. Some even tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother,it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”

 

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?”

 

And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

And that’s what we’re doing; we’re doing what we can. To acknowledge the forces we can’t control and recognize the trends we can harness – to create something special by supporting people who are eco-minded, improving self-reliance and food security, building a collaborative/supportive local community, and have fun doing it!

Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

woman facing a pedestrian bridge into a forest
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Little Women

On our social media channels – particularly Twitter – we keep tabs on some of the biggest trends nudging people towards what we’re building at Big Calm.

Of course, the biggest one is the COVID-19 pandemic and how it forced both a shift towards remote work and a reckoning with our mental well-beings.

Climate change is another macro force that has things like gardening, prepping, and regional food security coming up more often in casual conversation.

But another significant movement that’s largely gone under the radar is just how popular tiny house living is amongst women. According to Classic Building Sales, more than 64% of tiny house owners are women. Web forums indicate, and many builders confirm, that women are the ones driving the surging sales of premium tiny houses on wheels (THoWs).

We’re seeing three main reasons for this: lifestyle (design), life event (affordability), and life stage (communal independence).

Life Style

Some of the best designers and builders have gravitated towards tiny houses. The remarkable quality and ingenuity of today’s premium THoWs is being profiled and celebrated on Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube – especially amongst younger women and couples embracing a minimalist yet stylish aesthetic. Related bonus: According to iPropertyManagement, moving to a tiny home can decrease a household’s ecological footprint by 45%.

Life Event

Tiny houses are regularly associated with affordable housing – and there is a massive opportunity for cities to go tiny in meaningful ways. But even at the premium end of tinies, units are significantly less expensive – on average, less than one-fifth! – than getting a mortgage for traditional house or condo. And this is resonating for women on the flipside of a major life event – such as a divorce, the death of spouse, or the last child leaving the nest. Tiny homes offer a simpler, independent, and more affordable mid-life option.

Life Stage

While many people think of tiny homes as something only 20-somethings want, the market says otherwise and is showing significant engagement from those who are older. According to Restoring Simple (pre-pandemic), 23% of 35-54-year-olds and 15% of those over 55-years-old would seriously consider moving into a tiny home. There is a coming wave of retirees interested in leaving the nest themselves and finding a community that provides friendship, activity, safety, snow shovelling, and dog-sitting.

Ross Chapin wrote the book on Pocket Neighborhoods, describing them as “…settings where nearby neighbors can easily know one another, where empty nesters and single householders with far-flung families can find friendship or a helping hand nearby, and where children can have shirttail aunties and uncles just beyond their front gate.” That’s our goal at Big Calm.

For more on this, take inspiration from some of these great stories:

Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

a jumble of clutter household items
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

All the Things That We Can’t Leave Behind 

So. Much. Stuff.

We closed on our property, which we have named Big Calm, at the end of June. It has a lovely, but old, cabin on it, in addition to a beautifully-built post-and-beam barn. Our plan is to develop and live in the loft above it, which we have named the Shangri-loft. It comes in at about 500 square feet of functional space, half the size of our condo in Calgary. 

We have to downsize. A lot. Not only do I have way more shoes and clothes than I need, I’m ashamed to admit that some haven’t even been worn. I have two giant canvasses, that have been sitting there for five years, blank, waiting for me to be inspired to create something beautiful. CDs and DVDs. I found dried corsages from my high school graduation. I’m sentimental, but this is ridiculous.

I guess one amasses a lot of stuff, especially having not moved much. That said, my husband has moved more than a dozen times and has more stuff than I do (Ed. Not true!). 

There’s a saying that “the stuff you own, ends up owning you.” So true. It just becomes a burden, especially when you have to get rid of it. And more importantly, most of it could be very useful for those who are less fortunate (not the corsages of course). 

We didn’t employ the “only keep what brings you joy” approach, but rather “does this have a function?” approach. It turns out that we have several things that serve the same function, and many things that don’t serve any. Looking at it through a permaculture lens, the ultimate goal is to ensure all elements perform multiple functions. We did our best to donate the rest.

Not only has “the great purge” been liberating, but it’s also the first step to living a simpler life, collecting more experiences than stuff, and acquiring memories, rather than things.

Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash