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$3,000 Victorian Style Tiny House Featured on NY Times

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The Fosters’ unique homestead in New York sets a good example for marriages as well as tiny houses. Sandra Foster, 42, shares a rundown 1970s trailer with her husband Todd on a 14-acre property in the Catskill Mountains but each spouse also has a private retreat customized to their personality.

They met over their mutual love of gardening and married in 2000. Todd has two big dogs while Sandra has two Maltese. Todd doesn’t mind mess and grime whereas Sandra likes things to be sparkly clean. This quirky couple doesn’t let their differences get in the way.

After an attempt at refurnishing a huge farm house left them both emotionally exhausted, they bought their current acreage. A rustic hunting cabin on the property caught Sandra’s eye and that was the beginning of the tiny and gorgeous Victorian themed studio that she finds sanctuary in today.

Victorian Tiny House Cottage featured on the New York Times Photo by Trevor TondroSandra spent only $3,000 building and furnishing her stylish retreat. Much of the materials she found used in thrift stores, antique shops, salvage yards and on Craigslist. She was able to find classic wavy glass and support columns in vintage stores all over New York.

Though a fiscal administrator in her day to day life, Sandra renovated the cabin completely by herself.

She cut off the front-end of the cabin in order to extend the porch four feet. Tools, materials and furnishings all had to be carried over a rickety bridge spanning a rocky stream and then up a steep hill to reach the construction zone.

While Sandra is adding to her China collection in her prim studio, Todd finds a shed covered by a tarp meets his needs just fine. His retreat features a big screen television, cooking equipment and two heated cages for raising chickens and pheasants.

Sandra and Todd Foster have three tiny living spaces: one for her, one for him and one to share. Rather than fighting each others standards of cleanliness and organization, they’ve found a unique way to live passionate, creative lives side by side.

Written by Newt Stremple for Tiny House Talk

Be sure to visit the original article on this Victorian Tiny House Cottage over at the New York Times.

Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro for The New York Times

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • sesameB
    February 3, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Thank you for this timely read,The Fosters’ unique homestead–it prompted many memories of old friends of mine who lived separately, but were married, too. The photos were nice and I read their story twice today here in rainy Arkansas.
    This is a short bio of my dear friedn, the late Youkta:
    Ouachita River near Sims, Arkansas– Essene elder (a former M.I.T. professor) Viktoras Kulvinskas, M.S. author of: Love Your Body Live Food Recipes The Lover’s Diet and other books is an American holistic health practitioner. Victor and his late wife of 30 years raw vegan chef and artist/dancer Youkta, often did not live under one roof. This was very evident when they relocated to the state of Arkansas, (city of Hot Springs) 20 something years ago, where he had a small study/sleep area located out back and she had a studio detached from the big house, they shared for meals, gatherings, etc. When other properties were purchased, namely their 90 acre farm in Simms, AR., her house was built by using local Arkansas wood, and his house (had no pets, just lots of books and a computer, fax, printer set up) was constructed with a large study, located across the river. Yogini Youkta, who lived with 6 cats, also purchased a mid-size Quonset structure for her creative pursuits, which was located right across from her own house, which set miles away from the roads. Victor’s dwelling was on the back of the property and they would visit each other daily. The Ouachita River generally flows west to east through Montgomery County in west central Arkansas, near the Town of Mena, winding through towering rocky bluffs covered in wildflowers that adorn the riverbanks. Sims is an unincorporated community in Montgomery County, Arkansas, United States. Also, Sims is located in 68 miles west of Little Rock, named after William Perry Sims who owned the first store in the area. Essene Elder and author Victor owned and operated a Kawasaki ATV to go all over the property, and for hauling stuff, pulling a small trailer, gardening, foraging for foods, carrying tools for repairs, errands, back and forth to Youkta’s house and his own during the week.
    Prior to her death, they sold the 90 acre farm and all properties, and relocated permanently to Costa Rica, where Viktoras Kulvinskas’ lives today with another partner after Youkta’ untimely death from colon cancer. (Prior to moving to the country of Costa Rica, a large home was constructed for entertaining, teaching, eating, etc, along with a small studio on the property for Youkta’s residence.) This was a childfree couple, by choice. (Youkta had one child from her previous marriage, and Victor told me he did not want to have children.) I knew both of them personally for 17 years. Both were long term raw vegans. Youkta and Victor definitely was a creative and colorful couple (they officially married in the state of Arkansas in the 1990s, after decades of living as a ’married’ couple.) They were celibate, I might add, and dedicated to the Essene’s religion.)
    Rrual south central rainnnnnny, 60 degrees, Arkansas

    • Barbara Alpher
      February 4, 2012, 1:13 pm

      I enjoyed reading about this couple, and yet have a question that puzzles me. How did Youkta die of colon cancer while being a vegan. Maybe it’s naive of me, but I’ve always assumed colon cancer develops from lack of fiber and an animal centered diet. You may not know the answer, but if you have any insights, I’d appreciate hearing them. Thanks, Barbara

      • Rebecca
        February 6, 2012, 11:48 am

        Colon cancer actually develops from a variety of things. An animal-centered diet has nothing to do with it (unless, possibly, if the person is eating lots of industrial meat that has been contaminated with hormones and chemicals). Lack of fiber that allows wastes to accumulate and leads to polyps then cancer is one reason. Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as asbestos, is another. Some people are also more prone to polyps and digestive problems than others are.

        It pays to get your colonoscopy, regardless of your diet. Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that can be stopped in its tracks, every time, if it is caught early enough.

  • sesameB
    February 3, 2012, 2:31 pm

    Another case(from my files) of a creative couple–Julia Carter Preston (childfree marriage) obituary – Jan. 22, 2012
    Julia was educated at the Liverpool Institute high school for girls. After her first year at Liverpool College of Art, she became “enraptured” by clay and chose to specialise in pottery. Her tutor, Stanley English, was a woodcarver who knew little about ceramics, but was an effective mentor. She passed her pottery examination and obtained her national diploma in art in 1951. She then taught ceramics at various colleges in the area including evening classes at Liverpool College of Art. In 1960 she became head of ceramics there, a post she held until the mid-1970s: she was highly regarded as a teacher. From the late 50s she had a studio in the Bluecoat Chambers, a unique Liverpool institution with which her father had been closely involved, combining a gallery with artists’ studios and social and artistic activities. In 1960 she married Michael Pugh Thomas, a marine biologist and environmental scientist. At their home in Canning Street, surrounded by Edward’s rainbow-hued watercolours, Julia’s ceramics and an eclectic collection of oriental art, Michael and Julia welcomed their friends at legendary parties. They were also generous guests: where most people would arrive at a dinner party with a bottle, Julia would bring a tiny decorated bowl or candleholder. At social occasions and exhibition openings she cut an elegant yet bohemian figure with her flaming red hair, her lips painted scarlet, always wearing strikingly original and brightly coloured dresses in exotic fabrics, often decorated with boldly appliquéd shapes, and with silver buckles on her shoes. She was made a fellow of Liverpool John Moores University in 2005. Michael died in 2011. Julia is survived by four nephews. In accordance with Michael and Julia’s wishes, the works of art from Canning Street have been transferred to Liverpool Hope University where a trust has been set up to preserve the collection and support student bursaries.
    Rural south central rainnnnnny, 60 degrees, Arkansas

  • sesameB
    February 3, 2012, 5:04 pm

    The Gleaners and I (2000)
    Franois Wertheimer (Actor), Agns Varda (Actor), Agns Varda (Director)-The French filmmaker Agnès Varda, digital camera in hand, roams around her native country recording the movements of gleaners. Traditionally, as in the archetypal Millet painting, gleaners were women who gathered the remains of the harvest; their modern counterparts are mostly scavengers, searching in dumpsters and other likely places. The French, of course, give the practice a wonderfully perverse twist-many gleaners do so by choice, disdainful of wastefulness and rampant consumerism. Varda’s photographic eye is much in evidence, and her narration is both shrewd and whimsical. When she leaves a camera on accidentally, she uses the unintended footage to create a “dance of the lens cap,” a filmic gleaning that acts as a perfect grace note. In French. -Michael Agger Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker n Product Description
    Agnès Varda, Grande Dame of the French New Wave, has made 2001’s most acclaimed non-fiction film-a self-described “wandering-road documentary.” Beginning with the famous Jean-François Millet painting of women gathering wheat left over from a harvest, she focuses her ever-seeking eye on gleaners: those who scour already-reaped fields for the odd potato or turnip. Her investigation leads us from forgotten corners of the French countryside to off-hours at the green markets of Paris, following those who insist on finding a use for that which society has cast off, whether out of necessity or activism. Varda’s own ruminations on her life as a filmmaker (a gleaner of sorts) give her a connection to her subjects that creates a touching human portrait that the L.A. Weekly deemed “a protest film that’s part social critique, part travelogue, but always an unsentimental celebration of human resilience.” This Edition features the 60-minute follow-up film GLEANERS: TWO YEARS LATER.
    I am recommending this film to all of you. I am viewing it again on this rainy day here in rural rainnny Arkansas

  • February 4, 2012, 12:33 pm

    I love this house! What a great idea!!!! Love it! Just what I need! Thanks for the pics!

    • February 6, 2012, 4:31 pm

      You’re welcome Kelly glad you like it!

  • February 4, 2012, 12:33 pm

    Love, love, love it! I just need some land for one!

  • Kerry
    February 4, 2012, 3:40 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful!!! If it had a bathroom & kitchen I could live in that for the rest of my life 🙂

    • February 6, 2012, 4:31 pm

      All that you need and no more. I like that idea too.

      • Tiffani
        May 3, 2013, 1:50 am

        Same here! Its practically perfect! It’s a dream come true for me!!!! 😀

  • sesameB
    February 17, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Hi Barbara, I have been away in the woods here in rural south central Arkansas, and, just found your reply. Sorry.
    From what I do know from first- hand information, Victor K. told me they did not find out in time about her cancer. Youkta did not tell him of her symptoms until it was toooooooooo late. In any event, they went to a medical doctor as well as the Hippocrates Life Change Center (West Palm Beach, FL) – in Florida for alternative solutions. Sadly with their untimely, costly and exhaustive permanent relocation, (add stress of packing, saying good byes to folks, and family members to this project, plus other unresolved emotions YOUKTA was under) to the country of Costa Rica, along with her cats, she lived only one year. Victor K. issued a statement after her death that she was under stress due to her illness and emotional unresolved issues, as well. I lived with this ‘celibate’ couple on and off during our friendship, as well as travelled with them to the Essene Gathering in Oregon, 1999, so I was not shocked when she died. I knew about her depressions and other unresolved issues in her life, so when she died, I was not shocked. As raw vegans, celibate partners, authors and artists, Youkta and Victor K. did not live the simple and/or tiny lifestyle. Youkta and I were friends for approx. 14 yrs., we lived near each other, shared meals, went to the spa together, shopping for foods, hot tubing at night under the ARkansas dark nights in small town Simm,Ar., gardening, etc.. I took some of her dance courses, over the years. She and I also performed together in dance here in the state of Arkansas, as well as participating in drumming sessions. Youkta was also one of my students when I taught adult gymnastics in the city of Hot Springs, AR. She put on the first raw foods Women’s festival here in the state of Arkansas, fully supported by she and Victor in 2000, on their 90 acre farm. Sadly, her untimely death will always be remembered by the raw vegan world. I still miss Youkta (Vihara) and our friendship tremendously as I write.

  • Cahow
    September 28, 2013, 3:47 pm

    After reading the entire New York Times three-page article, this is what I want to do:

    1) Bitch-slap that lazy arse Todd, force him to get his G.E.D. and a job! Then,
    2) Bitch-slap that B.A.-holding, two-job-working Sandra, then force her to get into years of therapy so she can STOP repeating the destructive cycle she despised from her childhood of neer-do-well men that the women are forced to support. Shiftless dad leading to homelessness leading to over-achiever daughter married to a high school drop out husband who’s unemployed and lost two businesses. Anyone having taken Psych #101 knows she’s trying to make peace with her childhood; it ain’t happening, honey!

    It would be a Cold Day in Hell that I’d commute 4 hours, work 2 jobs, to come home to a messy home, dishes and dog fur everywhere…all for the price of some hot buns from the oven by my chronically unemployed husband!

    She blames having a nervous break-down on their owning a “huge house.” Dearie, allow me to quote your OWN words back to you, “When I come home on the weekend there are dishes in the sink, dog hair everywhere and he has probably dug some new hole with one of his excavators because he wants to put a pond in, and I have three acres to weed-whack instead of mow — on the weekend, mind you, and I’m working two jobs.” Too bad this woman is so out of touch with her reality that she didn’t realize that if Todd had actually been pulling his behemoth weight and had a job that produced income and actually participated around the house, she wouldn’t have had the breakdown and terror of becoming homeless again, heralding back to her shiftless father.

    Look past the cutesy-poo Chabby Chic cottage and you see a massively dysfunctional relationship where Todd’s buddies are slapping him on the back and saying, “I need to find me a gal that will do this for me!” I grew up in rural Minnesota with scores of women with horrible self-images of themselves that would work their fingers to the bone with up to three jobs, so their DUI, Deadbeat Dad boyfriends’s could sit in front of the TV in their Duct-taped Lazy Boy, powering their way through their daily 24-pack of Bud beer and watching Judge Judy. <THIS is why I never went home again after getting my degree and marrying; it was like Tobacco Road: Northern Style.

    I would have been too embarrassed to share my sad life with millions of readers to allow this to be published. 🙁

    • 2BarA
      November 28, 2013, 1:08 pm

      Even though I got a B+ in Psych 101 years ago, I never could understand why some women will put up with all kinds of bad treatment just to have a man in their lives. Just what is a bright,
      accomplished and beautiful woman getting out of a relationship with a guy who needs a good, swift kick in the pants? He should be ashamed to have these details of his lazy life published for all to see and she should
      quit being his enabler.

    • Rylin Hansen
      July 5, 2015, 4:54 pm

      To Cahow and 2BarA,
      Hmm, seems like your Leave it to Beaver era prejudices are hanging out all over the place. Well, consider if the genders were reversed, and it had been the man who was working two jobs, while his wife was having a hard time finding a job that would stick, and maybe she was puttering in the garden all day, and digging holes for ponds that she thought she might like to have, but then she was cooking him wonderful dinners and making him nice romantic soothing baths when he got home. I seriously doubt that you would be half as critical if that were the case. And the man were saying that the process of working two jobs and renovating a house was half killing him, I doubt that you would be heaping nearly as much blame on a woman as you are on this man. It seems to me that, whatever his faults, he loves her very much, and she appreciates that very much.

      Besides that, Cahow, it’s obvious that you didn’t read the article very closely, and this is a long list of misremberances on your part: a) Todd is now employed in a poultry plant, and she is now only working one job. b) I observed that you did not notice the mention of him loving to cook, only that he cooked rolls for her (and hat was in fact just to feed her and the interviewer, to go with their tea, when they returned from the cabin). c) Her mother actually left her dad, which a close reading will show you. d) Most of you complaints about him are past-tense, things that were going on at the previous house they had bought (he wasn’t helping enough? New place, she does the work on her own little retreat – problem solved!) e) You also failed to observe, or remember, that at one point during the interview, he went off to do his chores. At least you can be forgiven for likely not being experienced in the details of raising poultry, or you would know that raising and taking care of as many birds as he has is quite a time consuming task, if it’s done indoors, as the cages must be cleaned quite frequently to avoid dealing with the smell. So, between his job in a poultry plant, plus raising poultry at home for them to eat, it sounds to me like he is definitely carrying his fair share of the weight. Maybe you have some baggage relating to what you observed growing up, but don’t make the mistake of imposing that on every situation you see that on the surface reminds you of your childhood peers’ parents.

      Please check your knee jerk reactions at the door…

  • November 27, 2013, 8:33 pm

    This tiny house is my ALL TIME FAVORITE little house in the world. I adore it. I could sit and look at her blog for hours on end. Sandra is a sweet lady and If she is reading this I want to again thank her for sharing her beautiful cottage with the world. Her decorating inspired my tiny house décor choices. Sandy- I wish you the very best and have dearly missed your posts. The above posts remind me of why I am afraid to even consider Space book and other social media. Don’t worry… girl you just keep doing what you have been up to over the past several months. It will all pay off.
    Many Blessings,

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