Last November, Adam and I decided to take advantage of the unique opportunity to rent the front tiny cottage on our property. It was built in the same year as ours, and is almost exactly the same size. These twin homes sit 8' apart, divided by a narrow deck. Together, they measure under 800 square feet.
Real estate in Venice is exorbitantly high right now, so I didn’t know how long I could responsibly pay for us to live across both cottages. We are a single income household, and the expense of owning and operating a business in California is steep. The general cost of living, along with saving for West’s education and our retirement, is all quite staggering for us. Still, we decided to give the rental a trial run of three months. We justified the spike in our monthly spending by considering the second house to be our daycare, an office, a guest house, and a spot for production crews and their equipment.
Three months turned into six, and we were loving our second tiny house for a few key reasons. It provided West and Adam with a dedicated play space during the day, it functioned as an overnight office for me (I’m a terrible sleeper), and it was the perfect spot for my parents to stay when they visited from Florida.
We did not, however, use the second house for several of the other benefits we’d anticipated. We didn’t require the extra storage space. We only cooked in there one time. And we never really used the extra bathroom. Out of habit, we would even bypass the front door of the cottage EVERY SINGLE TIME we entered the property. We are simply so used to our long-standing routine of living in under 400 sqft feet that we almost didn’t know how to occupy more space.
So, during this monster of a tax season, we decided to let go of the front tiny cottage. It breaks my heart in a way, as Adam and I turned it into a space we loved. But more than anything, I’m relieved to now be free of that extra responsibility. I’m more focused, and I’m determined to save more for my family so that we can best prepare for our futures.
If I’m being honest, we would’ve preferred to hold on to both cottages, as it was relaxing to have the entire property to ourselves. With a toddler and two dogs, it really made our days feel safer and saner. But the economics were a tremendous burden for me. I felt guilty and defeated for several days before making the decision to consolidate. I didn't want to let my husband and son down, and I was angry at myself for not earning more income recently, despite working hard to do so. But life is oh so short-- I'm determined to spend my days enjoying my work and my family, and disengaging from situations that cause me unnecessary stress. Once I made my decision, Adam was so incredibly supportive of it, and of me. We've enjoyed each other's company all the more since then, because we can actually focus on each other and on West, rather than worrying about how we're going to afford life in LA.
It’s been a few days since we’ve readjusted the houses, and I can say with complete sincerity that it feels so much better this way. Despite the consolidation, our house is even more organized and uncluttered than ever. We’ve gifted so many lightly-used baby items to our friends who are expecting, and we’ve pared our wardrobe, office supplies, kitchen goods, and bath items down to the absolute essentials. Rather than feeling limited, I feel liberated. We didn’t own much as it was, but adapting to our new situation has taken us a notch further into life with less.
Despite the financial impact of paying for both homes for half a year, I don’t regret our decision to temporarily rent the front house. Not only was it a fun interior project, but it helped us determine what we actually need right now at this stage of our lives— particularly when it comes to accommodating and nurturing West’s growth.
West is now 18 months old, and is not in daycare. He’s here 7 days/week with my husband Adam. (I’m here too, but I work on the business full-time.) The main lesson we learned from our second tiny house experiment was how helpful it is to have a little playroom for West— but that (as of now,) we don’t need additional square-footage beyond that.
Luckily the 8’-wide deck provided us with the perfect solution. We’d already outfitted the porch with outdoor furnishings and accessories. So we added a sun cover from Wayfair that stretches from roof to roof, enabling West and Adam to use the space at any time of day during the sunny spring and summer months. We transferred all of West’s books from baskets onto a tiered cart on casters, which can roll around the property with him. We tucked our son’s miniature, folding, outdoor worktable into a little teepee (from Fragments Identity) for an extra layer of shade and touch of privacy. And we consolidated his toys, and organized them into little bins that slide into the storage shelf to the right of our couch. Any items that can’t stay out on the deck at night can easily be toted back into the house, or be stashed in the storage benches on the porch.
Moving out of the front house, adjusting our back cottage, sorting all the giveaways, and setting up the porch took about 12 hours in total. (Easiest. Move. Ever.)
The front house is already back in great hands and being put to use. Most of the furnishings and accessories we got for the space are still there. Everything else is either with us in our cottage, or is already being enjoyed by friends and family in their homes nearby.
I’ll share more about our updated routines and practices soon, as we’re still settling into them. But our 1/2-year experience across both tiny houses reassured us that we love the lifestyle we’re living and sharing, and made us confident that we’ll know without a doubt when it’s time for us to move on to our next adventure.