I have always been all into small living spaces. I think my passion started when I was about 12 and had to share on bedroom with my two siblings. I always really valued my private space and that is when I started to find ways how to manage even in the smallest room. Later on I found out that I prefer to live in smaller space even when I have a choice. I am fascinated by efficiency and perfection of tiny homes – everything has its own place and it is just exactly enough. And one day I came across lovely Whitney on Instagram and her tiny house! And she was kind enough to share her story and journey with us. I obviously already read it and had such a blast so I am sure you will all enjoy it. So here it goes, say hi to Whitney and David Doerksen and their tiny home!
1. Since you have no blog Whitney (yet) could you please tell us a little it more about yourself? Where do you live, why, what do you do and what are you passions?
Hi! My name is Whitney Doerksen. I am a Canadian currently living in Bolivia with my carpenter husband David in our tiny home in the woods. Eleven years ago, my parents relocated our family here so that Dad could work with street kids in the city of Santa Cruz. Since then, my family has returned to Canada and I left the city to teach English in a tiny Low-German speaking community in the country. I married a hard working local boy with all the skills imaginable (all of which came in handy). We like plants a lot so we spend most of our free time making our little piece of earth as jungle like as possible. I’m also pretty passionate right now about learning more about Instagram and how to be part of the beautiful, artistic, creative community it is. I also enjoy building relationships with the people around me in a language that is becoming less and less foreign (finally!!) and serving in the local church.
2. The reason I started following you was that I came across your profile and saw you and your husband built a Tiny House! Can you tell what tint house means?
I read somewhere online that anything under 500 square feet is usually considered a tiny home. Our home is about 230 square feet with a loft of 60 square feet. It’s quite little, but it can still hold all things necessary, and quite a bit of unnecessary stuff too if you cram it in there. Now according to David, tiny house means, “not too much unnecessary stuff”, and I agree. that’s where I’ve needed to change and grow. Before we went tiny I loved the IDEA of less possessions and a simpler way of life, but this does not come naturally to many of us. It has been a long process trying to re-wire my mind into letting go of things that have already served their purpose. It’s not just about the size of our home, for me, tiny house means letting go of those things that are unimportant in order to make room for what is.
3. Why did you decide to do this and not build a regular house or live in an apartment?
One word: chores. Regular houses = too much house work. That pretty much sums it up for me. No, that was only part of the reason. For the first 10 months of our marriage were able to “house sit” for friends of ours. They have a beautiful *large* home and I will forever be thankful for the two lessons that that house taught me:
1) Not having to make monthly payments for housing is really comfortable, and
2) (Surprise David!) Whitney is a terrible housekeeper.
I always thought I would make a great domestic but it turns out there are so many other things I’d rather dedicate my time to. Living in a third world country also meant that we did not have to follow any protocol or building codes and that we would need no permit and would be breaking no laws no matter how we decided to build. We had so much creative freedom and were able to build the house almost entirely with the cash we’d saved while house sitting for our friends. We entered the tiny house movement not because we wanted to try something new or because it’s what people are doing but because we wanted to own our own home and this was as far as our money went. What a happy coincidence.
4. Did you and your husband design the house yourself? What did your conversations look like?
We did design our house ourselves and it was very enjoyable but included plenty of trial and error. The process began with Whitney spending a lot of time scrolling through Pinterest “oohing” and “aweing” and sticking her phone in David’s face way too often. We soon began to feel like we were standing at the grocery store in the shampoo aisle with 5,000 different kinds of shampoo and no direction. That’s when David sat down with a sketchpad and pencil and as he puts it, “followed the lines in his head”. He would sit for an hour our two drawing and dreaming and then he would show me his sketch and ask “like this?”. My inner child then had a chance to add or subtract at will. We planned and re-planned until we had enough of a plan to start building. David bought some materials and began building in the evenings and weekends right next to his dad’s carpentry shop. After four months full of long hours, late nights, and plan b’s David had given life to his sketches and we moved into our first home, virtually debt free.
5. I see that most people could find this way of living as limited or complicated, what are the odds and benefits of living as you do?
I find that the pros and cons of living tiny tend to go both ways. For example, I absolutely LOVE that there is so little square footage to clean, but this means that we must be very proactive in returning things to their place after we use them because if we don’t, it doesn’t take long for disorder to take over the house (and my headspace). Another pro/con is that this space feels perfectly cosy and even spacious for the two of us, but as soon as you stick even one more body in here it begins to feel crowded. What I love about this is how it pushes us outside. We spend most of our time with company sitting outside which our tropical climate allows for almost all year ‘round. On the days when I long for more space and cabin fever starts set in, I go for a walk. On the days when I want to slam doors and be alone but there’s no where to go, we work it out. This lifestyle may not be for everyone but I would recommend it to anyone with the opportunity to try it. The countless pros of practicing contentment in simplicity far outweigh the cons.
6. What is your favourite part of your tiny home and why?
There are so many things! Green floors, glossy white ceilings and walls, giant windows, etc.
But if I have to choose one thing it is the kitchen counter and table. These things count as one because my husband chopped down the tree, took it to be cut into boards and built the counter top. To put the sink in he had to cut out a large piece of the counter and he used this piece to make the table. I was so impressed by his resourcefulness and don’t miss a chance to show him off. That counter and table really embody our whole tiny house journey. It’s been about using what we have right in front of us creatively to give life the ideas in our heads.
7. I can see a lot of nature in your pictures, inside and outside. Is connection with nature very important to you? Why?
I’m a nurturer by nature. I love people and relationships and I desire to see them grow. I am also an introvert and find investing in living, breathing, human relationships super taxing (especially when it comes to teaching mini humans). I think that’s why my plants, indoor and outdoor, are so appealing to me. They still need my attention and care but are much less demanding than real people (myself being one of those needy demanding types). They teach me patience and reward me for it faithfully with new growth and beauty all the time. I see God in nature, I see myself in nature and it has beautified our journey in the most amazing way.
Loved reading this! I will one day own a little tiny house of my own, and knowing it’s been done so well and described so honestly and clearly special makes me want mine even more. Thank you so much for this well written description of your tiny house experience.
Your house is so quaint! I too live in a tiny house and I love it! I live in a short school bus that I converted into a tiny house. One of the best decisions I ever made!
What an interesting story! I really like you’re house Whitney. I am living in a tiny house too. I love nature too.