Updated: Jan 23
These two tiny houses were built on New Zealand's wild northern coast.
Tiny houses have evolved a lot since their early days a couple of decades ago. While some of the newer, flashier tiny homes one sees out there have arguably drifted away from the original ethos of minimalism and radical simplicity, one can also contend that it's a two-way street, where the idea of "small is beautiful" has become more mainstream, and something that is now more socially acceptable to aspire toward.
So while tiny houses are still, by and large, a way for people to eschew onerous mortgages, some are leveraging them as a form of extra income in their retirement years. That's the case with New Zealanders Kevin and Trish, a couple who has designed and built not one, but two, tiny houses out in Tauranga Bay, located on the wilder northern coast of the island, and are renting them out under the moniker Out The Bay.
We get to hear their story, and catch a glimpse of these modern-styled dwellings via Living Big In A Tiny House:
The couple's aim is to earn some rental income from renting out the tiny houses on Airbnb and to eventually retire right here. Kevin, who is an old-school surfer hailing from the area, used some of his construction know-how to design and build both houses.
The first house on the property is nicknamed Rua and measures about 10 feet (3 meters) wide and 23 feet (7 meters) long. It is clad with corrugated grey metal siding and sports a distinctive sloped roof.
Inside, the main living area features an intriguing two-level design, with the living room located on a mezzanine, just past a small set of storage stairs. The generous space looks out of a huge picture window and features a barely noticeable safety barrier of metal cables, which helps to ensure no one falls off the loft, without compromising the sense of interior openness.
Below the living room loft, one can sit up in the queen-sized bed, or look out into the landscape, thanks to the horizontal window off to one side.
A great feature of this infrequent layout (where the bed is on the ground floor and not in a loft) is that the bed can roll out so that changing the bed won't be some weird acrobatic feat.
The kitchen is compact but works well with the layout: There is a sink with a window, stove, mini-refrigerator, open shelving, and a spot that could someday be fitted for a washing machine if the couple finds long-term tenants.
The bathroom lies behind a bright orange barn-style sliding door, and is equipped with a shower, sink and vanity, and a toilet. Here, Kevin has oriented the large-format white subway tiles vertically, to give the illusion of greater ceiling height in this shorter end of the house.
Over at the other tiny house named Tahi, we have a slightly larger footprint at 15 feet (4.6 meters) wide and 29.5 feet (9 meters) long. Similar to its smaller cousin, the sloped, jutting roof of this house mirrors the rocky landscape of the beach beyond. The entrance is further emphasized with a wooden portico that has been outfitted with commercial-grade sliding doors that open up and extend the interior space to the outside deck and beyond.
The wider footprint of this house allows for the bed to be located at one end, and the kitchen to bookend the other side of the home, while a sofa and multifunctional dining and workspace occupy the center. Opposite the entrance, there is yet another set of sliding doors that lead out to the sheltered outdoor terrace.
The bedside entertainment center actually also functions as a mobile privacy wall—a clever idea.
The kitchen is split into two zones that is bifurcated by the bathroom door: one side has the stove and related cooking equipment, while the other hosts the sink and small refrigerator. In between, we have the access to the bathroom, as well as the ladder to go up to the loft lounge.
The bathroom is tiled from floor to ceiling with a rugged-looking tile that refers back to the natural landscape.
Kevin and Trish truly love this part of the coast, and they say they also enjoy sharing their love of this place with others from around the world. All told, Kevin estimates that he spent about $47,000 on materials (not including his labor) in creating the first house, while the other larger house cost about $108,000 (not including labor, but including expensive things like a septic tank, rainwater harvesting system, and so on).