Life is all about the journey for this tiny house family
World travelers put down temporary roots
CROOKSVILLE – For Crooksville native Diane Hand and her 16-year-old daughter, Mara, life is all about the journey. So, last year they ventured into the project of constructing a tiny house so they could continue to have the world at their fingertips.
“We love to travel and experience new things,” Diane said.
Mara, who has been home-schooled most of her life, graduated earlier this year. The mother-daughter duo decided it might be time to put down some roots – though they didn’t want them buried too deep.
“Mara decided to got to OUZ, which is her parents’ alma mater,” Diane said. “So we decided to come home. We didn’t know what we were going to do. We didn’t know where we would live.”
After watching several HGTV episodes of Tiny House Living, Diane became intrigued by the tiny house lifestyle.
“It was the perfect idea for our lifestyle,” Diane said. “We’d have a place to call home that we could just lock up and not worry about when we were away. It also gave us the opportunity to help build something of our own.”
While staying with family, the two began laying the foundation for their new home in August. But the project was interrupted by their spontaneous decision to return to Mexico.
“When Mara was little we traveled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and fell in love with the place,” Diane said.
On their first trip to Mexico, Mara saw the sign for a girls orphanage and wanted to help.
“She sold candy bars door-to-door to fund raise and purchased items like socks, meat, and to raise money for medical care,” Diane said. “She made friends there with the girls, we got to know the staff and other volunteers.”
At the same time, they met someone who was starting an international school for grades K-12.
“Mara was accepted as a student and we stayed there a year,” Diane said.
This is indicative of the life of the gypsy travelers, by which they title their tiny house blog.
“We like to experience life, not just live it,” Diane said. “That’s why our suitcases are always packed and ready for the next adventure. When we returned to Ohio last year from Maine, I knew I could not afford a mortgage and still be able to travel so I chose traveling.”
Before moving to Maine during Mara’s sophomore year of high school, Diane sold her home complete with an original Goodwill collection building she purchased for storage in the backyard.
“When we returned to Ohio last year, the new owner wanted to sell the storage building so I bought it,” Diane said.
Several modifications were made to the storage building, including adding 8 feet to the height for a loft and enclosing what was once a front porch. The end result is home – a 10-by-20-foot building with an 8-by-10-foot loft.
“We had to get creative to make it work, but we had a great contractor who was willing to work with us,” Diane said.
The tiny house is nestled at the base of heavy timber with a stream that runs parallel a short distance away. The property is owned by her mother and stepfather.
“We love it here,” Mara said. “It’s so peaceful and we can take walks down the trails. The animals love it here.”
The colorful exterior is inspired by their love of Mexico.
“Everything is colorful there and always very festive,” said Mara. “They have festivals for everything you can imagine. Truth is, they just like to party.”
At one end of the house a world atlas has been painted that represents their lifestyle.
“We travel and live small because we like having the world at our fingertips,” Diane said.
Inside the house feels softer, which aligns with their peaceful nature.
“There are a couple things that we need to change because they just aren’t going to work,” Diane said. “One is the sofa. We had it made to pull out for an extra sleeping space, but it is really uncomfortable.”
Diane said building a tiny house is much like building a regular house, just on a smaller and more precise scale.
“I still had to know where all the outlets were going to go, where the appliances were going, how to get up to the loft, where the television was going,” Diane said. “We decided not to use a blue print so we had to go back and redo some things.”
The construction has taken a year and, while they are living in it, there are some touch-ups yet to do.
“We have everything we need,” Diane said. “It’s funny how when you start going through your belongings you realize that you just don’t need a lot of stuff.”
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