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Lived-In Tiny House: Andy’s Life in his Westbury THOW


We all love admiring staged tiny houses, captured by professional photography in ambient light, but have you ever wondered what these tiny houses look like after they’ve been lived in for a while? Or what they look like once the staging furniture is gone and your stuff is inside?

Andy Bretz over at THoW – Economic Hippie shared a whole album of pictures showing his lived-in THOW. We featured the builder’s pictures last month, so go check those out first and compare it to the sampling shown below! Plus on the last page you can read our interview with Andy about his tiny life, including his love of cooking and the challenges tiny living brings.

Want to see even more pictures? Check out the rest of his album here.

Related: Gooseneck Westbury Tiny House with Awesome Living Room

Lived-In Tiny House: Andy’s Life in his Westbury THOW

Interview with Andy Bretz

What are your name(s)?
Andy Bretz

How many people (and animals) are currently living in your tiny house?
At the moment 1 person and 1 dog – Pete is a 13 yr old Porkie (3/4 pit 1/4 yorkie) but taking applications for another human. I’m not sure how much Pete’s on board with the THoW (he used to have a doggie door and fenced in yard)

Where do you live?
Currently – Charleston SC

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?
I realized how much of my monthly income went toward my traditional house/bills (where I also had not been in the majority of the rooms in over a year). Economic Freedom… Travel, living in a social economic responsible manner, meaning also financial planning for the future.

How did you first learn about tiny houses?
I don’t really remember… either tv or internet. But the final decision was when I was visiting my folks in their fairly large house and seeing the house that I wanted to build in a realtor magazine there. It was an article featuring the hOMe model (Andrew and Gabriella Morrison) and their design made so much sense to me. Now when I took that to my builder and we started tweaking it for my ideas, I can out with something completely different but I love my house.

How long did it take to finish your tiny house?
Just a few months, using a professional builder with a professional crew really helps move things along really fast. In fact I went out of town for a week during the build process and I was amazed how much warden in 5 working days.

How did you build your tiny house? Did you have any help? Did you do it yourselves?
I chose a professional RVIA builder. 1.) I knew things like insurance/parking would be available/easier, and 2.) I wouldn’t trust my craftsmanship with the house going down the road and/or living in anything that I built myself. With the professional craftsmanship I rode out Hurricane Matthew in my THoW, and the only issue was where I kept all the “supplies” I bought in case we lost power for an extended time.

How did you find a place to park and live in your tiny house?
I didn’t (wouldn’t) start on this adventure without having a place to park, and I had started working on a community plan in Florida, however the day the trailer was delivered to the builders I got a phone call about a job in another city. Taking the position was dependent on parking options in Charleston and while it isn’t nearly as cool as where I had intended on starting my THoW life it isn’t as bad as I presumed. I am in a RV mobile home community and it really is a great option. It seems that a lot of people in the THoW community are against mobile home RV communities but I would suggest examining each persons concerns with that option while we work at the grass roots opportunities to get more choices.

Before going tiny, what was life like?
Life was good, different issues with different obstacles…

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?
The biggest benefit is economic freedom… Currently the bank owes me money on my only credit card.
Also the house is somewhat of a B list (ok probably D list) celebrity. It’s all over pinterest, was used in an episode of tiny house nation, and here in Charleston we have a lot of celebrity sightings but not a single one has knocked on the door yet (Bill Murray especially – here’s an open invite).

What about some challenges?
People. Doing something different scares some people. I was actually on a date and as soon as this particular woman found out I lived in a tiny house she immediately said “Yeah, this isn’t going to work out”… never even saw a picture of my house… and the flip side where people just want to connect to see one in real life.
Parking – Its’ not bad but I would like more choices and more of a community.
Buying bulky things or stores that do buy one get one deals… and then where do you keep the two bags of dog food or the big package of toilet paper…

What makes your tiny house special?
Every inch of it is “Me”, I have a ton of storage for camping/festival gear and tools for projects. Its truly amazing how much stuff (by this I mean I don’t feel that I am living without anything) you can still have even in a small space when you prioritize what you have.
Structurally though: 7 ft. rainfall shower; Crawl-in closet (and downstairs closet for professional clothes); Living room (gooseneck) that I can stand in; Gourmet Kitchen

What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
The kitchen especially the countertops, the living room, the shower, my bookcase.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?
Get involved in the local movements, talk to people that are already doing it, don’t stress people/family that don’t get. (Just explain to them that you’re not asking for their permission, and they can either be supportive or be quiet) and start figuring out whats important to you. For me I am NOT a minimalist and I cook A LOT, and so space for all the kitchen toys was important to me. The only thing I don’t currently have in the kitchen is garbage disposal and a sous vide machine.

Do you have a website, blog, or social media page where we can follow along?
Facebook (here), and I feel it’s only fair to mention the builder, Cornerstone Tiny Homes – RVIA Certified Builder of Tiny Homes. I wouldn’t be as happy with my space and I would have made irreparable mistakes even on the design parts without their knowledge and expertise.

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributing writer for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She is a coffee-loving wannabe homesteader who dreams of becoming self-sufficient in her own tiny home someday. Natalie currently resides in a tiny apartment with her husband, Casey, in Massachusetts.

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{ 33 comments… add one }
  • esbee May 25, 2017, 9:59 am

    As much as I love the concept of tiny houses, I notice one item has not gone tiny—the TV’s are huge for such a small space.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 25, 2017, 2:03 pm

      Haha we have a huge TV in our tiny apartment thanks to a wedding gift from my grandmother to my husband. It looks so massively out of place!

    • James D. May 26, 2017, 11:39 am

      The TV’s today are getting thinner and lighter, though… We’re probably within 10 years or so before it’ll almost be like installing thick wallpaper… Or even a flexible one that can be rolled up when not being used and even now there are a myriad of ways to stow them away and out of the way…

    • Kathleen May 26, 2017, 2:39 pm

      The TV is the same, the space is smaller. — If you think about it, when they downsized they put the TV they had for their regular sized living room, IN the tiny house. . . . they didn’t go out and buy a smaller TV. And since it hangs on the wall, it is OK that it is oversized. Plus, since the TV is large, you can see if from anywhere in the house. 🙂

  • Ingrid Stanway May 25, 2017, 1:04 pm

    Was awesome to see a house truly lived-in!! Sounds like a real character!!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 25, 2017, 2:00 pm

      Glad you liked it!

  • Jacintha May 25, 2017, 1:06 pm

    I like this place. I like that it doesn’t look like the owner owns nothing and the space isn’t perfectly neat and clear. I am also not a minimalist but still want to live in a small space. This makes me think it’s possible. I like the layout. I like the space for books everywhere. I too have many books and don’t want to give them up. This looks like areal person lives here.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 25, 2017, 2:00 pm

      I totally agree, Jacintha!

  • Robyn Rosser May 25, 2017, 2:38 pm

    Nice to finally see one that looks like it’s actually being lived in. Made me smile. – Robyn

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:51 pm

      Yay! We love making people smile 🙂

  • Kym May 25, 2017, 3:11 pm

    Honestly. Finally a tiny lived in home. With a real living room and tv. Not just decorated to look pretty. Good storage as well. Well done

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:47 pm

      The amount of storage is amazing!

  • Meg May 25, 2017, 3:12 pm

    Love this one…all the books especially! And the kitchen is fantastic…the countertops, that backsplash and the cooktop, plus it looks like a full size fridge. And as a few others have said, it’s great to see it ‘lived in’ instead of staged.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:46 pm

      I love the full-sized fridge and that backsplash 🙂 I cook a lot so a good kitchen is key!

  • Carol May 25, 2017, 4:41 pm

    More realistic than the many “pristine” houses we see devoid of the real stuff of living.
    I like that it accommodates his interests and what’s important to him.
    If a big screen is, then we’ll and fine. Everyone makes choices.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:38 pm

      Exactly, Carol!

  • Gabriella May 25, 2017, 5:02 pm

    It makes me think of one who says:
    “Finally I do what I like and like”!

  • Sarah May 25, 2017, 7:54 pm

    I love this place! It has such a personality to it. I love that you can see the personality of the person living in it, he has really customized it to his needs. Wants a big TV? It works. Wants kitchen space? It works. It looks like he has a lot of hobbies and has a great personality. He just needs to find a woman who is adaptable to his situation. Darn. Here I go again. I am NOT his mother, I am NOT his mother.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:37 pm

      Hahaha, Sarah 🙂 He did do an excellent job fitting the space to his needs and hobbies!

  • Susan May 25, 2017, 7:54 pm

    Wonderful! It’s so refreshing to see a THOW that’s actually lived in, not staged. Looks like there is lots of storage. Everything you need. I also notice you don’t have to crawl into the upstairs bedroom. Great job!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:36 pm

      I’m glad you liked seeing it lived in! I hope to find more examples of this 🙂

  • Chuck May 25, 2017, 9:14 pm

    OH ANDY!!!

  • Betty May 25, 2017, 9:56 pm

    It looks lived in…..and I love it!!!!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:33 pm

      As do I!

  • Julie Brown May 25, 2017, 10:27 pm

    Love it. I love how a lot of tiny home people make room for their fur babies.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 3:33 pm

      Me too! It’s so sweet 🙂

  • Evening Iris May 26, 2017, 1:40 am

    I’m with Jacintha; I’m no minimalist (one cousin away from hoarder, maybe) but I love my stuff but I want to live Tiny, too. I really love this place of his (the shower is awesome!) Even though there is a lot of things fitted in here, it doesn’t look like a dump; it looks homey and well loved. I think he’s done a great job of it. Too bad he’s up in South Carolina instead of down here in Florida or I’d grab a couple of steaks and my Larrivee and say, I’ll be right over! 😀 Seeing his home and how happy he is in it just gives the rest of us hope that we can get it together, too. Thanks for sharing, Andy!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 26, 2017, 2:43 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that Iris! It’s great that he inspired you!

  • Karen Smith May 29, 2017, 6:20 pm

    I am having trouble scrolling down the page. By the 2nd or 3rd picture I popped to the “back to the top” button. I am even having problems typing this comment. Can’t figure out if it is my computer or your program. It has happened in several different daily e-mails. Thanks for checking.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 30, 2017, 1:11 pm

      Uh oh! Thanks for letting us know, Karen. I will mention it to Alex and see if we can fix it.

  • Susanne May 31, 2017, 9:16 am

    Oh my god nice house! Great post- I am always hoping to see “lived in” photos and people’s honesty about the pros and cons…it’s good he tells women right away because if they are turned off, move on. I could see moving into one that’s alittle larger to accommodate a second person, but they must not be turned off initially…..
    Hope he’s able to start a community as originally planned- that would be wonderful… Good luck!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee May 31, 2017, 9:25 am

      Yes it’s great to be straight-up with people! You need someone who appreciates your lifestyle 🙂

  • Tammy July 3, 2017, 1:01 pm

    I remember seeing this house on Tiny House Nation, I think. A family of 5 lived in this house for 2 weeks, in the driveway of their “sold” mansion size home! It was amazing to watch how well they did! IF this is the same one.

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