News Home & Design This Gorgeous Tiny House Is a Family Cottage—and Retirement Investment This single mom turned a tiny house into an affordable cottage for her family. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 24, 2021 04:22PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Exploring Alternatives News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive The tiny house movement started gaining steam a little over a decade ago as one way people could own a home of their own without the burden of a conventional mortgage. Many tiny homes from those early days were self-built dwellings that epitomized radical simplicity, and a decidedly rustic aesthetic that didn't always make sense. Fast forward to today, and tiny homes have become quite big—both literally and figuratively. The movement has evolved to include people who are getting tiny houses built as part of a multigenerational residence or as an investment by renting them out. The latter option is what a Canadian single mother of two daughters, Liza, decided to choose as an alternative way to purchase an affordable family cottage, where the three can spend time together in nature, and also host family friends. Best of all, Liza is also envisioning the cottage as a potential permanent home during her future retirement. We get a tour of Liza's delightful tiny house cottage (and potential retirement residence) via the team over at Exploring Alternatives: Built by Vernon, British Columbia-based tiny house builder Summit Tiny Homes, Liza's 30-foot-long tiny house cottage is nicknamed The Magnolia, after her mother's favorite tree. Exploring Alternatives The exterior features a mix of white shiplap with cedar siding done in a striking diagonal pattern, and a door painted in dark teal, Liza's preferred color since childhood. Since the tiny house was built and certified as a recreational vehicle, it's currently parked in on a wooded lot in an RV resort that Liza purchased near Shuswap, British Columbia. As she explains: "I couldn't afford to do the traditional cottage route, and there weren't a lot of empty lots that we would be able to have full hook ups [to electricity, water, sewage, WiFi]. So [when] I came across this development [and] I found out they were actually selling the land, and not just leasing it, I jumped on it because I wanted to have something permanent." Exploring Alternatives The cottage's interior is done mostly with neutral tones, with pops of warm wooden elements, dark teal cabinets, and gold-painted metal fixtures. Exploring Alternatives The layout begins with a comfortable lounge area with a long sofa, which includes storage underneath. Across from the sofa, there is a long wooden counter for working or eating on. Exploring Alternatives The kitchen has an enormous farmhouse sink, which Liza chose for handwashing dishes, as she opted for an all-in-one washer-dryer under the stairs, rather than a dishwasher. The compact stove runs on propane, while the refrigerator and AC heat pump run on electricity. Exploring Alternatives Past the kitchen is the girls' bedroom, which has two stacked double-sized beds, perfect for sleepovers with little friends. To offset the cramped space, there is a big egress window for each bed, and a brightly lit storage alcove. Exploring Alternatives Best of all, Liza has used zippered bed sheets, which solves the eternal problem of how to make the bed in a tiny house, as it can be a bit of a gymnastic effort to tuck the sheets in. Exploring Alternatives Above the kids' bedroom is Liza's bedroom, which has a king-sized bed and windows on both sides. Exploring Alternatives There's also custom shelving at the ledge, which also provides a bit of extra privacy without closing off the space. Exploring Alternatives At the other end of the tiny cottage, we have the secondary loft up the ladder made of gold-painted industrial piping, and it functions currently as an extra play space for the girls on rainy days. It can also be converted into an extra guest space in a snap, thanks to the folding mattress. In total, the cottage can sleep up to nine people. Exploring Alternatives Below the loft, we have a spacious bathroom, outfitted again with the gorgeous palette of wood, dark teal, and gold-toned fixtures. There's a flush toilet here, and nice tiling in the glass shower. It's large compared to other tiny house bathrooms we've seen, with Liza prioritizing a roomy bathroom over other potential options. Exploring Alternatives All in all, Liza says that this particular tiny house represents the realization of one of her big dreams, despite the challenges of being a single parent: "I had this really big desire where my kids and I could have memories and fun weekends and still have that relatively close to our home in town. It was a big dream of mine to have that, but being a single mom, an issue was always the affordability, and this was a way for myself and my girls to be able to have our little cottage in the woods, near a lake, and still have it be affordable." Besides the dream of owning a family cottage, there's also the issue of having something secure in the future, which a tiny house was able to address, says Liza: "One of the biggest reasons I think that I went tiny was that it was an investment for my retirement. So no matter what happens, I have a home already that can follow me wherever I go. So... wherever I decide to go, I can just bring my home with me. So not only do I get to enjoy it with my kids, but it's a forward investment in my own retirement." To follow up on Liza's tiny house journey, check out her Instagram.