Sharon Read, owner of Seattle Tiny Homes, explains how minimalist housing can improve your life in a big way
Reflections magazine: Why should people consider a Seattle Tiny Home?
Sharon Reed: We specialize in customized homes—smart homes, homes with marble bathrooms, stone countertops, walls of any kind—and because we value quality over everything, for a lot of people, they are built better than the house they are living in now. But it’s also a reinforced RV travel trailer that can be pulled like an Airstream.
RM: What are some of the most common reasons people opt for a tiny home?
SR: People are using them for lakefront cottages, or occasionally as a backyard guesthouse. They are putting their grandparents in them so they can be near the grandkids or using them to get rid of boomerang kids (those are the ones who keep coming back). We recently built one for a retired college art professor in Bellevue who loves tiny homes, and she says she feels like she’s living in a piece of art.
RM: What is the process like to build a tiny home?
SR: The process is: you come to me, and we do a design consultation. From that we will figure out the best use of space. There will be nothing you don’t want. For example, if you don’t bake, we’re not going to put an oven in. If you don’t take baths, there will only be a shower stall. We’re not wasting a single square inch on anything you don’t want, need or love. Once we find a layout, we have 3-D modeling so there are no surprises. You can see the colors, everything.
RM: How did you get interested in tiny homes?
SR: For a long time I designed spatially efficient spec homes—I was always drawn to minimalist spaces. But in 2010, after the 2008 crash, I thought there’s no way I’m going to put spec homes on the market right now. Then I saw the tiny home movement, and I thought, I want one, and I bet a lot of other people would too.
RM: So you were always interested in efficient housing?
SR: Ever since I was little. My dad was a contractor, and I remember him once working on a church building when I was young. He was pouring over huge blueprints, and I remember being there and asking what things were and what every symbol meant. I asked for architect stencils and supplies, and I have drawings from when I was 12 years old. Not too long ago, I was looking for something, and came across rolled up plans I drew when I was 12. They were a bunch of cottages, and they all had the letters BM etched into them. Of course I made a legend, and it showed that BM stood for bare minimum. I distinctly remember thinking houses have so much wasted space. So really I knew my passion before I even knew it. Also, I’ve always been a perfectionist, and this allows me to focus on quality and finishes. In a small space you notice everything, so better make it nice.
RM: Do you live in a tiny home yourself?
SR: I have lived in one before, but I don’t right now. My husband isn’t a fan of tiny homes. He would like it if I restored old Victorian homes. So we compromise.
RM: But you still enjoy a minimalist lifestyle?
SR: Yes, very much. I’m the type who has one purse, one watch, three pairs of shoes and nine outfits total. They are all nice things, well made, but I just don’t have a lot of stuff, and I prefer it that way.
For more information, please visit seattletinyhomes.com.