Meet Kate, Willem and Leo aka The Tiny House Family!
They currently live in a Tiny Home on Waiheke Island and are in the process of building a ' bigger tiny home' on their property. We chat with Kate on all things Tiny Home living, creating a plastic-free pantry, and the everyday essentials they can't live without.
Your Tiny Home looks amazing. Where did you draw inspiration from when building it and do you have any tips for other people wanting to do a similar thing?
Thank you! We were inspired to build a Tiny Home when we were faced with the reality that we couldn’t afford to buy a normal home in the current housing market and we were desperate to get out of renting. Some friends of ours had just built one for $21,000 and when we went to see it we were blown away! It was simple but beautiful, and it contained everything they needed and nothing more. It was so clever, they designed the home exactly to their needs and divided up the space so well! It was parked on a gorgeous piece of land that they bought. The Tiny House life resonated with us so much, we loved the idea of paring back to what is essential and having freedom from not paying rent or a large mortgage. So, we built one too! That was about 5 years ago now – ours was built in West Auckland by a friend of ours then we towed it onto the car ferry and moved onto our section on Waiheke Island. We love it and have lived here for 4 years comfortably even with our two year old son Leo.
Some tips for others wanting to build a Tiny Home:
Go and see / stay in as many different homes as possible before you decide on your layout. There are a lot on AirBnb!
Remember that Tiny House life isn’t for everyone! You need to make sure you can live in one long term before committing to it.
Invest in a really good trailer – it’s your home's foundation after all!
Be prepared to part with a lot of your things! It was a pretty easy transition for us but you have to be pretty ruthless (and good at not buying things!) There’s only so much space you can put everything.
The new house isn't far away, you must be getting so excited to move in! What will your kitchen and pantry be like in the bigger house?
Yes, we are so excited! We will get to move in in around 3 weeks’ time!
When we bought our section, it was always the dream to live in our Tiny House and save up to build a bigger family home in the future. Tiny Homes are great as a stepping stone to get onto the housing market and now that we are building our bigger (but still small scale) 95sqm home at the top of the section we can keep the Tiny House and use it for visitors accommodation.
Our new kitchen in the bigger house is still pretty compact but very functional. We love to cook so the kitchen is a very important part of both our homes! We also love entertaining which we hope to do more of now we’re going to be in a bigger home. I love the idea of having a kitchen island that people can sit at and chat around while we are preparing food. We are actually moving into the house with nothing so we will be slowly buying furniture and the essentials to live with and it’s an exciting thing starting over! I think we will always be minimalists at heart though! I have been cooking with just one pan and two pots for 4 years and learned to make do with what we have on hand. It’s amazing what you can do with one pan haha! We have maximised the storage space we have by installing draws in the pantry so have easy access to see everything. The pantry is always full of snacks for Leo - the plastic free staples that we love to order through GoodFor!
Do you have any storage tips for other people living in a tiny home, apartment or smaller kitchen to make the most of the space?
We love storing food in jars so we can see just how much of something we have and when we need to buy more of it, plus it's always nice seeing your food through glass instead of plastic packaging right!? Stackable containers are great too and also a great tip is freezing leftover pieces of fruit that our toddler doesn’t eat and making smoothies out of them at a later date.
We have a great pull out pantry in the Tiny House which means we can easily see what we have and things don’t get forgotten at the back of the cupboard and you end up with food waste. Shallow shelving works well too! If you’re building new, make use of the wasted space in your walls by building niches for more shelving.
We've talked a lot about how our everyday essentials can impact our everyday life and make the weeks easier when we've got the right foods in the pantry. What are your top 5 pantry staples that you've always got in the cupboard?
Yes absolutely! We find that by having items from the Everyday Essentials range on hand we are less likely to reach for unhealthy options and less likely to go out for takeaways. Having our GoodFor deliveries arrive at our doorstep every month really helps to reduce our need to go to the supermarket too! It’s so easy to shop online, to buy more of what we have previously ordered and when we see we are running low of something, add more to our cart! We love the mixed nuts and the almonds, they’re great for a quick snack and to take to work in my handbag. The pasta and quinoa are awesome to have on hand to make quick dinners for Leo too! Willem loves the chickpea rings and we both love the toasted muesli for breakfast. So those are our must haves! We find that we save money too by not buying random things at the supermarket on a whim.
We know life with a toddler can be very busy! What are your go-to snacks for Leo?
Yeah he keeps us so busy! He’s obsessed with crackers. So a great range of crackers on hand is always needed - he loves the GoodFor almond & flax crackers with peanut butter on. He also loves the chickpea rings and dried mango. A constant supply of raisins are also needed in our house, I always have a jar of those and a small tub of them in my handbag!
Finally, what does slower living mean to you?
I think slower living means taking the time to enjoy the little things, stopping to be mindful of what you’re doing, and be in the moment to fully absorb things. It’s so tricky to do in this fast paced life that we are all living but I think with us it really hit home over lockdown when we were all forced to adjust our lives and focus on what is important... Time, family, health and kindness. But even as I type this I feel rushed so it’s a balance right?! Haha. Making time to slow down is key... it’s something I am still trying to learn!
To check out more from Tiny Home Family NZ - check our their Instagram here.
To shop our Everyday Essentials Range including some of Kate's favourite products, click here.