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France Lockdown Living in 300 Sq. Ft. Gîte Over Garage


David and his wife have been building a small home in Kenya, but just before the pandemic hit they were in the process of selling their country home in France and renting out their townhome, leaving them with nowhere to stay! So they took the space above their garage and created a 300 square foot tiny house. They were able to move in just 2 days before France locked down.

While they are no longer living tiny in France, they spent about a year (during all that quarantining!) living in their gîte. David shares all the details in a little story after the photo tour, so be sure to read that!

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Wait Until You See This Before & After Garage Transformation!

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Images via David

Believe it or not, this is what they started with.

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Images via David

There was a lot of character, but not a ton of comfort.

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Images via David

Here it is in process. The loft area was storage.

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Images via David

Love that they left this beam.

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Images via David

Here’s the kitchen space.

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Images via David

And the living room.

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Images via David

Something for the Star Wars fans.

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Images via David

All ready for working from home.

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Images via David

Here’s their bedroom in the back of the gîte.

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Images via David

The bathroom acts as a “wall” between the living and sleeping locations.

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Images via David

They have a shower and towel warmer (the best thing about Europe, in my opinion).

Lockdown Living in Gite Over Garage in France

Images via David

A view of the third-level storage.

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Images via David

Plants make everything better.

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Images via David

Here’s the layout.

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Images via David

David’s Story:

We got locked down in France last year and did it in the new Gîte of 300 square feet we built over the garage.

When we bought the house in Lectoure, which is on the village battlements, it had everything we wanted, being in an art town (my wife is an illiustrator), with both a garage and garden. When looking at the garage I realized that the previous occupants had put a decent concrete floor over it, and on further inspection, there was a staircase going up to what would have been the third level, where the main beams were there, but the floor had gone. So we had planned to do a development 5 years on when we had the time and cash.

We were selling our older country house, and this took so long that we decided to rent out the townhouse and go back to living in the country one. As soon as we rented out the townhouse, the country one sold (after a wait of 4 years!) so we had to generate a living solution. With the sale of the country house, we had the cash to do the conversion, so I installed the third level floor and had the top-level insulated and plasterboarded in time for us to move out of the house that was now rented, and store there what we needed for the gite. We then borrowed a flat for a few months and got workmen in to do the main works, and moved into it two days before France locked down completely.

We continued adding things till the home was a cozy little place! This is giving us a real feel of how tiny living can work. In a French village with good internet and power and water, it’s a doddle by comparison to Kenya where our tiny house has to be a lot more self-sufficient, with power backup and water storage. The Kenyan tiny house is only waiting on the water system pumps now as everything else is fully operational.

Tiny living has been a part of what we are doing everywhere, as we have been in what is referred to as a Batchelor flat in Moundsmere which is opposite the Muthaiga Club in Nairobi, and are giving it up at the end of February and will be living for a time in Kilifi in Bali Bofa, a little one-bedroom cottage in Kilifi belonging to a friend. This means we will have effectively moved to tiny houses in Lectoure, Kilifi, and Nairobi. Even while we owned the country house here in France it had a one-bedroom Pigeonnier which we lived in happily for a time while we did up the main house.

We have a house sitter to be in our gite here while we are away, as we don’t want our plants to die! I wonder who else has to move houses and get house sitters for their tiny house plants!

Back here in France, We moved on the next door garage and bought it so are now designing the conversion of it into a tiny apartment. This time I plan for the floor over the garage to be a touch lower, allowing me to lower the Loft by about a foot. This will completely change what we can install as the loft then will have the capacity to be a space for 2 bedrooms. This will make it a 3 bedroom home. Looking forward to the conversion which will be in the summer this year.

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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.
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Janet
    January 10, 2022, 3:43 pm

    Wow! What a wonderful transformation. Love the flower box outside. That is so European.

  • January 10, 2022, 5:05 pm

    You’re in FAHARANCE….What’s not to be happy about??KUDOS to a great job…

  • Linda Baker
    January 10, 2022, 5:39 pm

    this transformation is amazing – those original structural beams were scary! Just goes to show what can be done with good planning, congratulations to you on a great job.

  • Marsha Cowan
    January 10, 2022, 7:15 pm

    Wow! That’s a lot of resilience and good thinking. Lovely apartment! I love the outside wall with the charming little window with shutters and flowers. That’s what I think of when I think of France. You did a great job!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2022, 9:10 am

      I agree! It is so quaint.

  • Mary
    January 10, 2022, 8:40 pm

    This is delightful. I would love to see photos of your small place in Kenya if you’re inclined. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2022, 9:09 am

      I have some! I am working on a follow-up post.

  • Teresa McFarland
    January 10, 2022, 9:24 pm

    This type of construction would never do in California, with earthquake requirements and structural building codes.

    • James D.
      January 12, 2022, 1:03 am

      Maybe, depends what an engineer would say… Structures like these aren’t necessarily that vulnerable to seismic activity. The combination of timber framing and details of the old traditional masonry design can be a very strong combination.

      Examples in seismically active regions like Turkey have even lasted for multiple generations…

      While rare in France, they do occasionally get an earthquake. The largest earthquake ever recorded in France was the 1909 Provence quake which had a magnitude of 6.2. In June 2019, a 5.1-magnitude earthquake rocked western France, in the same year they previous had a 4.9 in March… For an idea of what this structure may have already endured and yet it’s still around…

      Surprisingly, it’s usually the newer structures that suffer the most damage. Though, there is the question of whether the remodel made it more vulnerable or not…

      Besides, while expensive, there are ways to make even this code compliant in CA, a lot of the structure would just need to be modified… Then there’s the IRC, which just about all US building codes are based is evolving with the 2021 update adding Cob and 3D printed houses to the accepted building codes and as soon as states start adopting the update there should be quite a bit more options available for what can be compliant…

  • Tim Roy
    January 10, 2022, 10:57 pm

    I couldn’t quite tell from the pictures. Is the ceiling vaulted in the living area and then storage beyond that?

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 11, 2022, 9:08 am

      I think so, yes.

  • January 18, 2022, 2:50 am

    I had the pleasure of sharing a few years at school with David. Even then, he was a constructor of things. I remember him putting together a powerful amplifier (I think it was). He also built a submarine with another spectacled boy, who had a very scientific name (Bosi). So, if he can build submarines, this wonderful nest must have been like playing with lego for David.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 18, 2022, 2:35 pm

      That is so cool, John. Thanks for sharing.

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