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5 minute guide to building your own tiny home

Doing
5 minute guide

Alice Pritchard

7 February 2017

Elizabeth Wynn moved to Spain five years ago. She then decided to follow her heart and construct her own sustainable wooden tiny house (on wheels) where she could live a simple life centred around creating and being outside. With as overheads as small as her home, it has meant she can focus on music and crafts and enjoy things at a slower, smaller pace.

What made you want to simplify your life?

I wanted to live more simply and reduce my outgoings. Life is short and I believe that we should follow our hearts and not the way of the world. I am a bit of a hippie at heart I guess. As a little girl I always wanted to build my own small home, something that was totally me and was full of everything I loved, like a little heaven. I didn't like the thought that if I built my home and then decided to move I would have to leave something so precious behind. That's when I had the idea to build a house on wheels. If I move areas, I can take it with me.

What made you choose Spain?

I never felt quite at home in England and when I arrived in Spain, I knew I was home. I feel more free, the way of life here is generally more simple and of course the weather is beautiful, which means that I can live outside most of the year. 

How did you design your own tiny home? 

I had never done anything like this before, the only things that I had made out of wood were a sewing box at school and a rabbit hutch. I figured this was just a larger version. I watched lots of YouTube videos and talked to a few people I knew who had some idea about building and construction.

I drew a design and made a paper model. Then I bought some wood and I went for it. I found lots of things along the way. The whole of the mezzanine floor, I found by some bins. All the windows were found. The kitchen sink was free from someone who didn't want it any more. Lots of the furniture I found in skips and I re-made it in to other things. I used some tree trunks that were on the road to make the porch post and the table leg. 

Eden Whispers 8
“Every morning I wake up and I am surrounded by nature, seasons, skies, plants, sounds, animals”

How did you decide what elements of a tiny home were essential?

For me, the things that were most important were a full size shower, an oven and hob, a big sink, a double mattress and a record player. I didn't mind too much about the rest. In the end I fitted in a whole lot more. I have a small table with seating around it for three people, a comfy sofa with storage underneath that can be transformed into a day bed or a bed for a guest, a wardrobe and shelf storage, a place for two guitars and a mandolin harp, a small fridge, kitchen cupboards and shelves, a bathroom with shower and composting toilet and stairs up to a mezzanine level with a double bed as well as another small mezzanine above the bathroom for storage. Outside I have a terrace that can come off or fold up for transportation, a porch and a decked area to sit, eat, read and create.

Did you build it yourself?

I did nearly everything myself. I wanted it that way but also I couldn't afford to pay anyone to help me. I did however get a welder to weld some of the metal on the base and a friend of mine who can do plumbing and electrics helped me with that but I helped at every step. I made the walls, I sawed the wood, I hammered over 5,000 pins into the outside skin on the wooden house and another 5,000 inside, I insulated the walls and ceiling, I screwed things together, I made furniture, I measured and re-measured everything.

Eden Whipsers 5

Relaxing in her mezzanine bedroom (which still has room for a record player)

What’s a normal day like in your tiny home?

The simple life is slower and you have to get used to things taking more time, but when you do, it's bliss. 

In the morning I make tea, usually ginger. Then depending on the season I make juice from the oranges, pears, pomegranates or grapefruits that grow nearby. I feed the wild kittens. They keep other creatures away, they're very useful and so cute. I try to do some stretching or yoga before I start anything else.

Sometimes in the day I work down on the coast. Painting, building, labouring, designing or working on commissions. Other times I work from my little home on my own project detailing how I live. I am constantly creating, I make wind chimes and mobiles from bits of wood I find on the land. I collect stones and shells from the beach to make into jewellery, I knit and sew and weave, I make clothes.

If I need something for my house, I’ll see if I can make it from something I already have. I love recycling things into items I can sell or give as gifts. I run workshops to teach people different crafts and skills. When I'm not working or creating, the house keeps me busy. There always seems to be something to repair or a different challenge to deal with in each different season. Recently there has been a lot of rain so some of the doors have swollen and need planing down a bit.

In the evenings I cook supper on my gas stove or in the oven. Both work perfectly well and cost me 20 euros from a flea market. If there hasn't been much sun in the day I check the solar batteries and if they are low on charge I start up the generator to give them a boost so I don't lose power over night. Sometimes I have friends over and we play music or chat outside on the terrace, but often I enjoy my own company. 

Eden Whispers 7
“I made the walls, I sawed the wood, I insulated the walls and ceiling, I screwed things together, I made furniture, I measured and re-measured everything...”

What would your advice be for someone who wants to build a tiny home?

I would say go for it! Don't be afraid to make mistakes because you will. Do some research of course, but you will find the answer to most things inside yourself and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. It's not always easy but if you have hope, nothing else really matters and you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. It's OK to follow your heart and not the way of the world.

What's the best thing about how you live now?

It feels more me and I feel more free. Every morning I wake up and I am surrounded by nature, seasons, skies, plants, sounds, animals. It's beautiful and it feels like how it was always meant to be.

In your new life what are the ultimate essentials?

A torch is something I have found I cannot live without! Fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of ginger. My guitar.

What 3 words describe your home?

My own eden.

Follow Elizabeth Wynn's adventures at Eden Whispers.

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