Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons welcomed Insider into their 130-square-foot tiny house in Oregon for five days as part of the new “A Week in My Tiny House” series.
In the mornings, the couple has to get ready at different times because of the lack of space.
During the day, the couple learned to be “alone together” because they’re often working and relaxing side by side.
In the evenings, the couple watches Netflix on their pull-out TV, they eat outside on their patio, and they sleep in their lofted bedroom.
Many people dream of downsizing and moving into a tiny house, but most don’t know what it really takes to call a tiny house a home.
As part of a new series “A Week in My Tiny House,” Alexis Stephens and Christian Parsons welcomed Insider into their tiny house for a week to show what it’s really like living in their 130-square-foot home full time for the past five years. While much of the couple’s life in Oregon is similar to traditional living, some aspects are more difficult in the small home.
From the lack of storage space to the constant cleaning, here’s what it’s like being a tiny house owner for a week.
At the start of their week, Christian Parsons woke up before his partner, Alexis Stephens, to ensure a smooth morning routine.
Parsons gets out of bed 10 minutes before Stephens because they can’t both get ready at the same time in the small space.
“When he gets up, he goes to the bathroom, gets dressed, and opens the closet door, which blocks access to the bathroom,” Stephens said. “I stay in bed longer to avoid conflict.”
The closet — which holds about a month’s worth of clothes for each of them— is part of the staircase that leads to the loft, so Stephens would have even more trouble getting through in the morning.
The closet door also acts as a “modesty door” so that they have some illusion of privacy when changing.
“Something as simple as this small, thin door lets you feel like you’re in your own little bubble for a few minutes,” Stephens said. “We appreciate that.”
Later, Stephens made a latte with her stovetop espresso maker.
Stephens said they could have a regular coffee maker if they wanted, but they prefer to use the stovetop version even though they sometimes run into issues using it on an apartment-size propane stove.
“Sometimes we run out of propane while making coffee,” Stephens said. “About every two months we have to refill our propane tanks.”
However, Stephens said she loves that her kitchen is so small, especially when making her coffee.
“I can pivot and reach our tin full of coffee, and I can reach the coffee pot on the stove. I can pivot in the other direction and reach the milk in our fridge. It’s convenient,” Stephens said. “I really enjoy cooking in our kitchen as long as it’s just me in there. If both of us are in there, it definitely gets crowded, and he would be in my way.”
Parsons and Stephens finished their Monday by working side by side well into the evening.
They run a tiny house blog, so they’re often editing videos or writing up blog posts. Since they essentially have the same job, they are often working next to each other.
“We are rarely more than 6 feet apart all day. I think that we really learned over time how to communicate well,” Stephens said. “We got really good at being in our own bubble side by side. When we are working together, I might not talk to him for several hours because I’m in my own bubble and he is in his. “
Stephens also pointed out that sometimes they get in each other’s way when working at this small table. Parsons often climbs over Stephens, and other times, Stephens has to pick up her computer and fold down the table so that Parsons can get outside.
“We accommodate each other,” she said. “It can be frustrating when you’re in the middle of writing an email, and he wants to get by. You just have to make do and live with it, really.”
On Tuesday, Stephens started her day by sweeping the tiny house.
“Part of my morning routine, I spend three minutes sweeping out the tiny house so that we have a fresh, clean slate for the rest of the day,” Stephens said.
While it’s easy to clean the small space quickly, Stephens also noted that the space can get dirty even faster, especially because their dog sheds so much. This means they have to clean the house constantly.
“It gets dirty quickly because we touch and use every surface every day,” she said. “With more use, dirt collects quickly. To do a whole house clean, it takes 15 minutes.”
She said it’s important that everything in the tiny house has a place because clutter is difficult to control in such a small space.
In the afternoon, they headed outside to water their plants to continue their day of chores.
Parsons and Stephens originally joined the tiny house movement because they thought it was a great way to travel and see the entire country. After traveling over 54,000 miles, the couple decided to settle down and park their home in a more permanent location.
Currently, their tiny house is parked in the backyard of a home in Oregon. They pay $300 per month to park there, and the spot comes with a garden that the couple loves.
“Outdoor living space is incredibly valuable and important to our tiny house lifestyle,” Stephens said. “We created a little patio space next to our house and the garden. It’s extra space for us, and it’s a great way to mix up the scenery around the day.”
When it was time for bed, they climbed the makeshift staircase to get into their lofted bedroom.
Their “funky staircase” is a cross between a regular staircase and a ladder, Stephens said.
“It’s easy for us, but I’m a clumsy person, so I take it very slow going up and down to make sure I don’t fall,” she said. “The only time the loft is really inconvenient is when you get sick. Having to climb those steps then just feels like a chore.”
Otherwise, the couple said they love their lofted bedroom, which has five windows to make the space feel bigger.
“There’s something so cozy about sleeping up high. It feels like a cozy den,” Stephens said. “It doesn’t feel claustrophobic to us. We sleep really well up there.”
On Wednesday, Stephens got ready for a day of filming by brushing her hair in the bathroom.
When designing their tiny house, Parsons built a fold-down shelf that covers the toilet. It forms an “over-the-toilet vanity.” Here, Stephens puts on her makeup and styles her hair. She also uses the surface for her clean clothes when she’s taking a shower.
“It’s more counter space than I had in my previous 900-square-foot home,” Stephens said.
Parsons had to get film equipment down from the storage loft to get ready for their afternoon shoot.
On this day, the couple was heading out to film another tiny house nearby. All of their camera equipment is located in a small loft that is opposite the bedroom loft and just above the front door.
For storage, Stephens said they “use every nook and cranny” of their tiny house. There’s storage under the couch, a large closet under the staircase, and more space in the cabinets in the kitchen.
At the end of this workday, the couple relaxed by being “alone together.”
Just like when they work side by side, the couple is also able to relax by themselves even when they’re in the same room.
“We got really good at being alone together,” Stephens said. “I can enjoy alone time reading a book while being just a few feet away from him. I don’t need to talk to him all the time. We can sit there and enjoy our alone time.”
Thursday morning, Stephens performed her least favorite task of living in a tiny house: making the bed.
Stephens makes the bed each morning even though it’s difficult to maneuver the bedding in a space where she can’t stand up. She said she especially hates when she has to put a whole new set of sheets on the bed because the fitted sheet is the most difficult task.
“Making the bed in a tiny house loft is probably my least favorite thing about tiny living,” Stephens said. “It’s a lot of crawling and crouching over. I get frustrated every single time.”
That afternoon, the couple went grocery shopping and had to find a place for everything in their small kitchen.
They typically buy a week’s worth of groceries for $75, but the more they buy, the more difficult it is to find a place for everything. Stephens said it’s like a game of Tetris when they have to put everything in the limited number of cabinets and pantry space. But their small fridge is the biggest obstacle.
“In our tiny house, we only have space for an under-the-counter fridge,” Stephens said. “When we come home with a lot of groceries, it requires a lot of very careful stacking to get everything to fit.”
She also said she immediately makes dinner after grocery shopping so that they can reduce the number of items in the fridge.
At night, Stephens and Parsons binged “The Great British Bake Off” on their pull-up TV.
The desk where they work has multiple purposes. It also acts as their dining room table and even their entertainment center. A TV can be slid out from the bottom and then a pin holds it in place.
This isn’t the only multi-functional piece of furniture in their tiny house. Their closet, for example, is also part of their staircase and acts as a bookshelf.
“Multi-functional furniture is a lifesaver,” Stephens said.
On Friday morning, the couple went for a 20-minute walk around their Oregon neighborhood with their dog.
Their dog, Winnie, usually spends the day outside, but when she’s inside, she hangs out on the couch. At night, the couple puts out a dog bed that takes up most of the floor space.
Stephens said she loves having a dog in her tiny house, but the lack of space does become an issue from time to time.
“She’s often standing right in the spot that you need to get to all the time,” she said. “It’s another test of patience when it comes to tiny living. “
To continue their day of relaxation, Stephens curled up in the loft with a book in the afternoon.
While they are comfortable sitting next to each other in silence, Stephens said it is nice to sometimes completely separate. She often goes up to the loft and reads alone. From there, Stephens said she can enjoy alone time and views of her cozy house.
“Our tiny home is definitely eclectic,” Stephens said. “It’s full of character.”
At the end of their week, they took time outside their tiny house to enjoy dinner on the patio.
The couple said they loved eating their chicken and grilled mushrooms outside because they got to enjoy their outdoor space again. They plan on living in their tiny house long term, but they’re now focused on saving up money to buy their own land to increase their outdoor space and privacy.
Even though they are tiny house owners, Stephens said their life isn’t confined to just their 130-square-foot home.
“Living in such a tiny space and working from home can seem like it can get old, but we created a lifestyle that is so connected to the outdoors,” Stephens said. “That helps us feel connected to the world. Our lifestyle is not just our home.”
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