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Airstream to 800 Sq. Ft. 1953 Bungalow Life


Melanie and her husband have been living tiny now for nearly a decade! First they decided to renovate an Aistream, which they happily lived in for four years before deciding they were ready for sticks and bricks. That’s when they found this adorable 1953 bungalow and turned the 800 square foot space into their home sweet home.

They’ve been there now for five years, slowly remodeling the place as they had the funds (no construction loans here, woot!). The couple got in touch with us and did a great Q&A, which you can read after the tour of their little home. What do you think?

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Q&A: Four Years in an Airstream & Five in a Small Home!

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Images via A Small Life

Here’s the awesome couple.

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Images via A Small Life

Their first tiny home (love those awnings).

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Images via A Small Life

They made the inside so bright and awesome!

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Images via A Small Life

Now here is their 800 sq. ft. bungalow

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Images via A Small Life

I love the rough, unfinished cabinets.

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Images via A Small Life

Great work-from-home location and dog bed!

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Images via A Small Life

Spare room looking lovely.

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Images via A Small Life

And the main bedroom.

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Images via A Small Life

Tiny doesn’t mean getting rid of your favorite things!

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Images via A Small Life

Here’s the bathroom with the same rustic cabinets.

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Images via A Small Life

Q&A with Melanie:

What are your name(s)?

Melanie Gnau

Where are you from?

Asheville, NC

How did you first become seriously interested in tiny homes?

In 2012, after my husband and I got married, we started looking for a way to get off the hamster wheel of traditional work and also, spending all of the money that we made at our jobs. We started to realize that a big hunk of that spending was housing costs.

Long story short, we fixed up and moved into an old Airstream Sovereign and lived in that for the next four years. During that time, my husband had become self-employed and I was hoping to join him. But we knew that it would be difficult to buy a traditional home as two self-employed people. We loved the Airstream, but wanted a small, more traditional home, so we could have a bit of land and run our business out of it.

After a discouraging search, we decided to purchase an 800 sq foot fixer upper on a large lot.

What type of tiny house do you have or are you working on?

Our home is a traditional, bungalow style house. It was built in 1953 and we’ve put a lot of work into it. We actually took it back to the studs!

Why did you go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of it for yourself?

Living a smaller life in both our current home and in the Airstream has allowed us to be more flexible. We work for ourselves, we have less space to clean, we have less bills to pay and it’s better for the environment– which is important to me.

How long did it take you to finish your tiny house?

We’ve been in our current house for 5 years and in some ways, we’re still working on it! That’s one of the things I enjoy about small spaces– you can always find ways to improve and change.

Did you do it yourself? Who helped? How much did it end up costing you to build it? (optional)

My husband and I did most of the work ourselves. We did contract out a few things like wiring. We didn’t take out any home improvement loans and only worked on the house when we had the money. That’s definitely made our project last longer, but I can go to bed at night knowing that bill doesn’t hang over our heads.

How did you figure out where to put it? Do you keep it in one place or do you move around?

Our house is sticks and bricks, so it’s here permanently!

What’s been the most challenging part about your tiny house so far?

I think the last couple of years have been a challenge in general. We didn’t anticipate being at home all of the time, so we’ve had to make a few changes that I don’t love. For example, I don’t feel comfortable going to gym anymore, so I put a treadmill in my guest room/office.

Aesthetically, it’s not my favorite thing and can make the room look a bit cramped, but it’s working for me right now.

What benefits are you experiencing from it so far?

The benefits for me of a small house definitely outweigh then negatives! We are able to work for ourselves now and we have flexibility and freedom that I dreamed about for years.

What helpful piece of advice would you give to others who are interested in going tiny? What mistakes could you help them avoid?

Try it out! Go stay in a tiny house rental for the weekend and see if you enjoy it. I definitely don’t think it’s for everyone, but you might end up loving it!

Highlights:

  • Couple went tiny and lived in an Airstream for four years
  • Purchased an 800 sq. ft. 1953 bungalow
  • Gutted it! Fixed her up!
  • Been living small for the past 5 years in the home
  • Renovated it as they had money – no construction loans

Learn More:

Related Stories:

Our big thanks to Melanie for sharing! 🙏

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.

Latest posts by Natalie C. McKee (see all)

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Janet
    January 17, 2022, 11:10 am

    Love the bungalow! It must have seemed huge after living in an airstream for 4 years.

  • Aprill
    January 17, 2022, 7:10 pm

    Hello,

    The design is beautiful…super creative and elegantly simple. Was wondering where they bought the wood stove and the Benches that make up the banquette?

    Thanks,
    Aprill

  • Husabergchamp
    March 6, 2022, 12:47 pm

    Perfect size home. Room to spread out and not be in each others hair all the time. I’m always curious about folks hobbies however. I would need an outbuilding for working on cars, my motorcycle, and keeping all my woodworking tools. Prefect size home but I would need a two car garage on the property for all the “stuff” that comes with everyday life if you not mobile all the time. Plus a greenhouse for growing vegetables. A garage and greenhouse are not that expensive and just make life more fulfilling as part of a homestead.

    • Stephan of Arkansas
      March 6, 2022, 7:44 pm

      Add a greenhouse for growing veggies and flowers? Yes yes yes! And an insulated outbuilding for one’s messy hobbies? U bet! Very well put, Husabergchamp.
      Stephan of Arkansas

  • Donna Rae
    March 8, 2022, 2:05 pm

    Both of these are so warm and cozy! Love using white, black and rustic wood as the color scheme! I especially appreciate it in the Airstream as RV’s are usually that terrible fake paneling with strange fabric throughout. The white is nice and airy! Really enjoyed this one!

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