When Kelly Christine Sutton moved back to her family’s 40-acre property in Golden, Texas, she never thought it would be in a 312-square-foot tiny house. In fact, the photographer and her husband, Canaan, got pretty used to the hustle and bustle of city life while living in Dallas for seven years.
But in March 2015, the couple embarked on a honeymoon adventure up the Pacific Coast where they rented small spaces at each stop along the way—a tiny apartment in San Francisco, an Airstream in Mill Valley, a 600-foot cabin in the Redwoods, and a garage apartment in Portland—and they started to think about the way they live and how much “stuff” they had amassed over time. And, having rented for years, the thought of owning something of their own was appealing.
Although Canaan was interested, he wasn’t as convinced. Instead of downsizing immediately, the couple gradually decreased their square footage from a three-bedroom rental home to a 700-square-foot duplex, getting rid of things during the process. “Moving into the small apartment was a game-changer for me,” Canaan says. “I was able to see, ‘Oh, we can function just fine in this kind of small space.’” Plus, with his studies in environmental science and biology, he became more interested in sustainability and carbon footprint. Shortly after moving into the apartment, they were ready to make the commitment to a tiny house.
The couple started the process of designing and building their house in January 2016. They chose American Tiny House in Longview, Texas, as the builder, and the couple spent the next six months working on the home’s layout, which includes a kitchen, office space, living room, bedroom, bathroom, washer and dryer space, and storage. Each square inch was carefully thought out by the couple, down to an under-the-stairs storage space for their vinyl record collection and record player. They didn’t have to sacrifice items like music, movies, and books—a book shelf doubles as art in their loft bedroom, for instance, and an Ikea TV stand/chest stores their DVDs.
They moved in October 2016 and made their tiny house a permanent home. Kelly and Canaan expanded their square footage by decorating an outside living space—a very sentimental driveway doubles as their patio. “The house is sitting where my grandma’s house used to sit—an old beautiful brick farmhouse. Sadly, about three and a half years ago, it burned down. It was really upsetting,” says Kelly. “Once we decided to move out here, we said, ‘Let’s make the space a happy space.’”
For as tiny as the house is, it still has a big heart.