Kyle and Danae Schmidt are building their dream home: a tiny house.
Once it?s built, the Schmidts plan to live comfortably in about 200 square feet of space that will include two lofts?31?2 feet tall?on either end of the house. Floor dimensions measure 7 feet by 24 feet and the roof peaks at 131?2 feet.
?You?ll walk in the door,? Danae said, describing the floor plans. ?We?ll have a couch of some kind. The TV will go on the wall.?
The first loft?their bedroom space?will extend over the pull-down front porch.
?Then on the other side, we?ll have another loft,? she said, adding that stairs will provide access to the second loft, with space for storage and overnight guests. ?Pieces of the kitchen will be nestled under the stairs. There will be storage under the stairs, cabinets and fridge in the corner?then a little bathroom in the back.?
Plans are to have a tub and a compost toilet in the bathroom.
?A compost toilet is kind of intimidating,? Kyle said. ?But think about how much drinking water you?re using to go make a mess that somebody else actually has to clean up down the line.
?If you just make a composting toilet where you mix nitrates with carbon and put it in a biodegradable trash bag in your compost pile?a year later you?ve got healthy dirt that?s good for use.?
Kyle said they?ll require a garden hose for running water and an extension cord for electricity.
Tiny House Living
Kyle and Danae officially began their tiny house adventure when they purchased a 24-foot trailer and framing plans for the Cypress model from Tumble?weed Tiny House Co. in Colorado Springs, Colo., which sells ready-made and build-it-yourself small houses.
The Schmidts estimate the cost of building materials, including the trailer and plans, plus appliances to furnish their tiny house will run less than $20,000.
The couple basically redesigned the floor plan to fit their wishes, Danae said, such as adding the second full loft and stairs.
?You design for what you need,? said Kyle, who works for Heritage Home Works in Newton, a remodeling and custom-home company. ?If you don?t want to climb stairs, you prioritize a bedroom on the main floor.?
Actual construction began in May, and is done primarily on weekends.
?I don?t have a realistic view (of when the house will be completed),? Kyle said, ?but I?ve heard different ones say it takes about 500 hours.?
A number of their good friends have come alongside and helped with designing the floor plan, installing beams, raising outside walls and attaching the roof.
So far, Danae said, Kyle has put in about 80 hours of labor and helpers have contributed 100 more.
?Kind of a side-note desire for us is to build community,? Danae said. ?And even as we?re building the structure, it?s bringing people together.?
From idea to reality
The idea of tiny-house living started with Kyle.
?About four years ago we had a friend that told us about tiny houses,? Kyle said. ?And I said, ?Sweet, I want to build one.? It?s purely that I just want to build one. They just look awesome?little gingerbread houses, I guess.?
But getting beyond the idea stage took a while for both of them, especially Danae.
?He?d go through a spurt where he?d be drawing stuff up, and he made a Popsicle stick model (of a tiny house),? Danae said. ?The whole time I thought, ?OK, you can do your little dreaming, but this is never going to be reality for us, right???
The Schmidts, who both grew up in Corn, Okla., were married in 2009 shortly after graduating from Tabor College. Last year they lived in Thailand as team leaders for TREK, a 10-month discipleship and mission program sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren denomination.
When they returned to the U.S. in September 2013, they decided to settle in Hillsboro.
?Sometime in the fall, we had come back from TREK, and God is messing with our control of our lives?it?s wonderful, really it is,? Danae said. ?So we get back here and just through a process, (Kyle) starts talking more seriously about (building a tiny house). ?We should think about this,? he?d say. ?NO! We should NOT think about this.?
?But God just kept on working on me through different things.?
Danae?s change of heart came one evening when Kyle asked to show her his tiny house plans. Initially, she said, she just got mad and went into the living room.
?I pick up my book that I?m reading, which is ?Radical? by David Platt, and I read the chapter on surrendering your stuff and your money and your whatever,? Danae said. ?That was just like God saying, ?Wake up, I?m talking to you.? Like it was, ?OK, this is definitely from God.??
She said she recognized two reasons for her resistant attitude?wondering what will people think and not wanting ?to give up stuff.?
Then when Kyle had hit a deer while driving their car, Danae said she realized that while she was thankful her husband wasn?t hurt, the thought of losing the car made her very anxious.
?And so that was a huge reality check for me, too,? she said. ?That sort of started the process of seriously talking about what it would be like for us to live (in a tiny house).?
This past Thanksgiving and Christmas, Kyle and Danae took inventory.
?We were mapping stuff out on the floor and thinking through all the piles of boxes we have in our basement that we moved here and have moved to the other houses that we?ve lived in before and have never been opened and used, realizing we have a lot of stuff.?
?And during the holiday season, you think about materialism anyways,? he said. ?Don?t give us any more stuff, and can we actually get rid of some of this stuff, like we value it for some odd reason. This is a good way to say, ?Let?s just put aside all our things and live more simply.??
For the Schmidts, deciding what merits space in the tiny house involves stages.
?It definitely is a process of thinking about trying to fit into (the tiny house we?re building) and what we have inside (the house we?re renting),? Kyle said. ?There?s a time it takes to evaluate what we have and what to get rid of.?
The city-wide garage sale served as the venue for their first round of downsizing and de-cluttering.
?So we got rid of a lot of stuff with that,? Kyle said. ?There?s still always a lot of stuff that, ?Well, we?d like to keep this if we could.??
Danae added, ?We?ll keep it and see if it fits.?
New kingdom values
This whole adventure has also caused the couple to examine how they define junk.
?I think that we hold on to a lot of things ?just in case,?? Kyle said. ?Even if you just look around your house, we just notice that the stuff that?s junk is the stuff that accumulates in the corners and on our walls. We have places to put things, so we get things because we don?t like empty space.?
But the Schmidts acknowledge that living in a tiny house isn?t for everyone.
?Obviously, we personally want to just pare down and live simply?but we want to encourage other people to evaluate what they value,? Kyle said.
?We kind of put it like, whose kingdom are we building? Are we building our own kingdom? If so, maybe we should re-evaluate and say we should be building God?s kingdom, and stop focusing on our own.
?For us, that?s what we want this house to be first is an encouragement?not that they should go and build a tiny house themselves?that would be awesome?but just to evaluate what they value.?
For the past year, Danae has worked as an intern for Mennonite Brethren Missions, helping plan programs and other events.
?We?re discerning what that looks like in the future,? she said about plans for next year.
For now the Schmidts are living in a rented house and sharing the space with another couple as they construct their tiny house near the corner of A and Adams streets in Hillsboro.
Plus they?re chronicling their adventure at schmidts2x.wordpress.com under the link ?Tiny Living.?
There Danae writes: ?We?ve learned that He continues to ask us to surrender pieces of our lives to him and when we do, we find ourselves doing crazy things, like building a tiny house. But it?s also the best adventure ever.?
Kyle and Danae Schmidt are building their dream home: a tiny house.