Just one glance at Chloe Barcelou and Brandon Batchelder’s 300-square-foot New England tiny home and you’ll feel transported. The façade itself gives off a steampunk vibe, with an original steering wheel from a wooden ship, while the inside is carefully stacked full of curated vintage finds, like a retro-style oven; hand-crocheted blankets; and Chloe’s pet rabbit, who sleeps in her own doll-size bed.
The couple, who runs their own production company, ultimately decided to live the tiny-house lifestyle due to the low cost and the creativity involved. They began building their tiny home from scratch in the fall of 2014 in New Hampshire.
“For many years, my fiancé and I had struggled to free ourselves from a sort of financial trap we had been living in—needing money to make time, time to live, time to make money—and we were actively looking for a solution and a way out,” explains Chloe. After their first major gig, where Chloe served as the production designer while Brandon worked as the set builder, they decided to commit: “It was our first opportunity to make a little money, and we didn’t want it to go to waste and end up back in the same situation when it was over, so we decided to invest in a tiny home. We also knew that film work could be anywhere in the country, so we thought it would be great to have a home on wheels. That way, we could take it with us to film sets and live in our own creation instead of in hotel rooms.”
To start, Chloe and Brandon took salvaged wood and materials from their first film set, which otherwise would have been thrown away. Within four months, the couple had outlined a clear design, including the option for the house to expand to twice its size when parked. Finding where exactly to build the house was a challenge—they put an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone would rent them a small plot of land to build on. “We ended up becoming great friends with our landowners—the Blumes—who allowed us to build on their land for free!” says Chloe. “We parked on their land for two-plus years, as our build took much longer than originally anticipated, and after we finished, we began a long search for a place to park.”
In 2016, they officially moved into the tiny house and worked on installing the plumbing and electric, building a shower, converting a vintage stove from natural gas to propane, installing a composting toilet, and building interior storage by hand—a project that Chloe admits is ongoing. She estimates that they’ve spent $20,000 total on building and maintaining the house so far.
The house has a definitive cottagecore vibe, with its storage made of customized steamer trunks, crochet blankets, dreamy lanterns and chandeliers, and handwoven nets for storing socks. There’s an undeniably crafty aesthetic since most of the tiny home has been salvaged from antique finds or movie sets. “The handmade lantern chandelier was found at an antique store and was used on a film I designed,” says Chloe. “We found our Magic Chef stove on Craigslist for $150.” The couple even built a medicine cabinet in Brandon’s vanity area out of a turkey roasting pan and a mirror, both of which they sourced for free at the town recycle center Swap Shed.
“All in all, designing, building, and living in our tiny home has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and it has opened up so many opportunities for our careers as well as inspiring and bringing joy to people,” explains Chloe. “That being said, it was certainly not without its difficulties.”
Do It Yourself
Windows are everything. Chloe and Brandon have 18 different windows on the exterior of their 15-by-15-by-18-foot (when fully expanded) tiny home. These windows not only make a tiny home feel bigger, but they also provide bright light during the daytime.
Make a space for your pets. The couple set up a custom spot for their rabbits, building a spot for them to live under the stairs to their kitchen. Inside their “Rabitat,” they have a litter box, food, water, and a cozy spot to hide. In such a small space, it’s important to have a dedicated spot for pets.
Objects as display. When Chloe and Brandon moved into their tiny home, they had to downsize because they knew anything they kept would have to be seen or used a lot. Put this to your advantage and choose books, antique pots and pans, or handmade items that stand out aesthetically.
Salvaging is your best friend. The kitchen cabinetry in the couple’s tiny house cost less than $50, because most of it was salvaged from free roadside finds. Their shower was made from $25 worth of scrap metal that was reclaimed. A tiny house is the perfect place to get creative and salvage cool finds.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest