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Building a tiny dream home of their own

A Snohomish couple gave up city life for a much simpler existence, and a much smaller house, only 140 square feet. Which has all of us asking: could you do it?

Chris and Malissa Tack welcomed me to their home, located on a five acre property in the Cathcart area.

The couple has become part of a growing “tiny homes movement,” which they discovered online a couple of years ago.

“Rent was kind of getting a little bit heavy for apartments because we\’re just putting money into the shredder at that point,” said Malissa. “And so, looking at this idea, it just blew my mind; I\’m like, \’Well, here we go. We can own our own house, and we can put it on wheels and take it wherever we want.\'”

They decided they were going to build their tiny dream house on their own. The only problem is that they had no building experience.

“My extent of building was from, mostly from seventh, eighth grade, I had taken wood shop,” said Chris.

“This was completely new,” agreed Malissa. “We even took a couple of hours just trying to figure out how the tools are supposed to work.”

They borrowed books from the library, spent many hours online watching how-to videos, and after seven months of blood, sweat and tears, they finished building their tiny home in December 2011.

But before they could move in they had to get rid of a lot of stuff. They\’d lived in Michigan and New York before moving to Washington, and Malissa said they had hung on to way too much junk.

“We actually moved a box of pudding around so long that we looked at the expiration and it was 2005,” said Malissa. “So that\’s when you kind of look around and you\’re like, yeah, OK, what else can I conquer?”

They donated six carloads of clothing, kitchen supplies, and books, and sold most of their furniture.

Their house is only seven-and-a-half feet wide and about 19 feet long. The main living room takes up half of the total space. The L-shaped kitchen and the bathroom make up the other half.

Malissa says the kitchen is perfect for her.

“I cook every single meal in here, breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” says Malissa. “I love it, too, because I designed it so that right next to the fridge I have enough adequate space for cooking. I grab all my items from underneath or the fridge right next door, and then I have all my spices and other ingredients right behind me.”

The shower is absolutely adorable. They built it using half of a wine barrel and put the shower head directly overhead, with a rounded shower curtain surrounding it.

“We maybe spend a total of one minute with the water actually running, whereas, you know, a couple of years ago I was taking 45 minute showers,” said Malissa. “And it just blows you\’re mind that you\’re like, wow I stood in water for 40 – why, it doesn\’t take that long!”

Both of them work out of the home, and they also have two cats. Chris explained that he and Malissa share the cramped space well.

“If she\’s out in the kitchen making dinner,” said Chris, “or I\’m out in the kitchen making dinner, we might say, \’Hey get out of my kitchen\’ kind of jokingly, and kick the other person out and say \’I\’ll let you know if I need any help – go, feel free to use the computer. Or feel free to go read, or do whatever you want to do.\'”

And if they really get on each other\’s nerves, which doesn\’t happen often, Malissa says they have options:

“There\’s a front door, we walk out it, we go for a nice walk. If we really, really want to get away from each other there\’s the entire world outside our front door.”

They\’ve spent about $20,000 dollars to build the Tiny Tack House, most of it going toward the solar equipment. But Chris and Malissa say the experience has been priceless.

“I think it\’s great when we\’re able to open people\’s eyes, that\’s a wonderful feeling, to make people realize that, well, hey maybe I don\’t need such a large space, maybe I don\’t need this 3,000 square foot house for two of us,” said Chris.

“You don\’t need a lot to be happy,” said Malissa.

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