a story about living small

Where Are We (and our house) Now? A TINY Update Two Years Later.

Christopher Merete Building Tiny House Colorado


It’s hard to believe that Christopher and I finished our Tiny House almost two years ago! There were so many moments during the building process when it seemed like the to do list would just keep unfolding and we’d be working on our sweet little Tiny forever…

But we did finish and that year-long process has become just one chapter out of so many in our lives, though one that impacted and shaped us in major ways.

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get at Q&As when we show the film is, “Are you living in the tiny house now?” Since we want the film to be a standalone story, depicting one moment in time (the way that sometimes it’s nice just to experience a painting without knowing the whole backstory of the artist’s life or how it was painted) we’ve hesitated to post too much online about our lives post-film, so as not to spoil the experience of seeing that story unfold on screen. But for those of you who have already seen the film or have been following us online for quite some time now, here’s an update on where we’ve been and where we are now, as of May 2014: 

house on land small

After completing the house in May 2012, we drove it up to the South Park Valley and parked it on the plot of land outside of Hartsel, Colorado that Christopher had bought one year before, the land that the house was designed and built for and which had set this whole project in motion to begin with. That’s the location where you see the house at the very end of the film.

Now that building the house was done, we headed straight into our next project: editing and completing the film. We packed up and moved out of the apartment we’d been living in throughout the construction process and spent the next few months traveling to film last interviews and capture the footage we needed to expand the documentary into feature length.

In August 2012 we went to New York City. If you’ve seen the film, you know that I was toying with the idea of moving to New York throughout that year of building and that helping Christopher to finish one of his big dreams (building the Tiny House) helped give me the confidence to pursue this dream of my own (moving to the Big Apple). It actually worked out perfectly, since our composer and sound designer were also both located in NYC. We found a consulting editor in the city and were able to tap into a really creative and talented community of documentary filmmakers. I found an apartment with a friend in Brooklyn at the end of August. Christopher went back and forth between New York, staying with me while we edited, and Colorado, where his work was still based. In March 2012 the film premiered at SXSW and we spent the next few months on the road again, traveling from film festival to film festival. Throughout this whole period of time the Tiny House was up on the land in Hartsel. We visited it whenever we could, for a few days or a week at a time, when we were back in Colorado for work and in between film festival travel. Though it had been finished for months we were still getting to know our little home and relishing the experience of actually seeing it completed.

mountainfilm small blog

In June 2013, almost one year after completing the house, the frenzy of film festivals began to wind down and we both began thinking about what would come next. I stayed in Brooklyn and Christopher decided to move back to Colorado. After showing off our Tiny House at a film festival in Telluride called Mountainfilm, we moved it back down to Boulder, Colorado, so that Christopher could live in it full-time. The land he’d purchased near Hartsel was stunning but was too remote to be used as anything more than a weekend getaway. When we’d first begun building we liked the idea of having a cabin to visit up in the mountains but after pouring so much of our energy, hearts, and money into building the house it seemed silly for it to be sitting up there empty so much of the time.

Christopher lived in the Tiny House full-time from June 2013 through March 2014 (minus the month of January, when we was in Los Angeles helping a friend with a film project). When asked whether it’s what he expected, he always laughs and says it was surprisingly easy to live in such a small space. The only big challenge was living without running water. Because the land in Hartsel didn’t have access to water, we didn’t build plumbing into the house and hauled water in. So he showered mostly at the gym (an excellent motivation to work out!) The house is still located in this spot, in a very generous friend’s backyard on a rise just east of Boulder, Colorado, with an incredible view of the Continental Divide. Though my life is mostly rooted in New York these days, I’ve been back to visit quite a few times and stayed in the house for a few weeks when Christopher was out of town this winter.

house boulder small blog


house with garden  boulder small blog


house front window view boulder small

Christopher decided to move to Los Angeles in April, in order to continue pursuing film work there. So as of now, May 2014, I live in NYC  and Christopher lives in LA and our Tiny House sits in between in Colorado, a home-base that we can always go back to, surrounded by a landscape that is dear to both of us—pretty close to what we’d originally imagined actually, even though life has taken us in unexpected directions. Though we both live in urban apartments at the moment, our experiences in the Tiny House community have taught us so much about the power of living simply and prioritizing meaningful experiences and relationships over stuff. Though neither of us owned much stuff to begin with, all of the traveling and moving over the past two years has certainly kept our possessions to a minimum! Here in the city, I love how the idea of living in a small space and externalizing the features of home is commonplace. On public transportation, in parks, in libraries and cafes I’m constantly encountering the community around me in unexpected ways.

We still have no idea what the future holds for each of us, and for the house that we built together. I know the Tiny House will continue to be a part of my life and I do plan to have a more full-time relationship with it at some point, when I’m ready to be back in Colorado. But right now I can only plan for the immediate future, focussing on my here and now in New York.

house driving

When telling this story, we’re often quick to point out the many people in the Tiny House community who have been living in their homes full-time for many years (many of whom are featured in our film), who are more stable examples of life in less that 200 square feet. Even though our own story is complex and still in flux, we do think it demonstrates the ethos of flexibility and freedom that Tiny Houses represent – the ability to “live life as an experiment” as Ann Holley, one of the subjects in our film, so articulately described.


47 Responses

  1. Dear Christopher and Merete,

    What an inspiring, moving,beautiful piece in the story of TINY. You demonstrate acutely what spontaneous thought and planned action can create, and also how profoundly you are each living your lives.


    June 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm

  2. LaGeris

    Amazing! I fell in love with both of you and your lovely little house. Thanks for sharing your story with me. I pray you all live happily ever after.

    June 4, 2014 at 1:14 am

  3. Dan

    I liked your movie. I long for exiting the rat race. Financial independence holds more appeal at this point in life than trying to live up to others’ expectations of how we should live our lives.

    I envy the bond you both have created with your shared experience. I hope you continue to cherish and nuture your friendship.

    June 8, 2014 at 5:59 am

  4. tricia

    you two are amazing film makers. i love tiny houses, but i really loved your film! keep making movies even if it pulls you from your tiny colorado home. good luck!

    June 12, 2014 at 1:05 am

  5. Hi Chris & Merete,

    What a story! I just watched your film on NetFlix & am sitting here soaking it in. Thank you for sharing your journey. I can’t wait to share it with others.


    June 13, 2014 at 12:26 am

  6. I don’t know if you remember us or not, but we are that random couple that met up with you guys for coffee in Boulder about 2 summers ago for my (now) husband’s birthday.

    Thanks for your honesty about the complexities involved in building a tiny house :) We are also experiencing many of those same interesting life changes as we continue to build our tiny house. Turns out we actually have to make a living doing SOMETHING, and sometimes that requires decisions that are… well, complicated :)

    Hope to catch up again someday with you guys!

    June 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm

  7. Bob

    Loved the film! You guys are truly inspirational.

    June 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

  8. Julie

    Really enjoyed your film on building “Tiny”, I am always trying to weed out clutter! We can tend to accumulate too much junk in our homes. My dad grew up very poor and he is my inspiration to keep it simple. Watching your film gave me new charge to rid and recycle.
    Awesome testimony and dream accomplished even though life has pulled you in different directions. You will always have that bond.

    June 15, 2014 at 11:16 pm

  9. delightfool

    So love the idea of a tiny house. What are the chances of house sitting, while you are in NY & LA? Looking for an opportunity to experience whether I could live so small? Will have to move and looking at a tiny house as a chose.
    - kod

    June 18, 2014 at 11:07 pm

  10. Ang

    Great documentary! I have to say I’m a little bummed to hear you both have separated and living the big city after all that work on the tiny house! Are you renting it out at Airbnb at least to get Tiny some traffic? ;)

    June 19, 2014 at 5:37 am

  11. Bryan Chapman

    I LOVED this movie. I wish I had the courage to move into a tiny house. Again, I LOVED this movie!

    However, I’m sorry I read this article. It was crushing, in many ways.

    June 20, 2014 at 12:04 am

  12. stanley casadonte

    Thank you for making and sharing the movie.

    June 20, 2014 at 12:41 am

  13. John Backe

    Thank you for making this movie. It is inspiring, including your follow up notes describing your current projects in LA and NY.

    You both demonstrated the willingness to learn, grow and pass along your experiences.

    We liked how this film leaves everyone uplifted and forward-thinking about themselves, and the World around them.

    June 21, 2014 at 2:02 am

  14. Dale

    Just watched your film on Netflix. I am a General Building Contractor (retired) and a Building Inspector/Plans Examiner. I wanted so much to ‘help you’, however, there would be so much lost if someone did. Like Garth Brooks said in song, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance”, in other words you could have ‘cheated’ and found some professional help and built it quickly but you would have definitely ‘missed the dance’, or the experience. Bully for you for not missing the dance!!! Best to both of you in the future.
    Your Kindred Spirit

    June 21, 2014 at 3:04 am

  15. Thank you for sharing your Tiny House project. Concious living, intentionality, choice, humility, gratitude are all ideas touched in your film. Thanks for the reminder.

    June 21, 2014 at 5:45 pm

  16. Heidi

    Thank you for such an inspiring movie! This very much appeals to me. We don’t plan on having children, and our dogs are tiny chihuahuas so it would work out great. You two seem perfect together, I hope it works out for you two even though you are in seperate places right now. God Bless! -Heidi

    June 22, 2014 at 4:20 am

  17. Jose Aguinaga

    One of the best documentaries I have ever seen. I love when I’m watching a film and I wishfully hope that it never ends. Such a great piece. Best of luck to Merete and Chris. —Jose

    June 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

  18. DJ


    Just watched your film on Netflix. I feel that you are both gifted story tellers and excellent film makers. It is inspiring to see other folks waking up to the idea of downsizing their possessions and up sizing their life!

    Kind regards,

    June 24, 2014 at 7:57 am

  19. Beryl Schaefer

    So loved this tiny film with a huge message (and heart!) I will be showing it to my spouse and children as well as planning this for our ” final home” with all of the senior accoutrements needed! We have 2-3 friends that are artists/carpenters and a $350,000.00 house to sell and live debt free! We had dreamed of an Earthship near Taos NM but this is so much better. Looking forward to the research and living the dream… Thank you!!!

    June 27, 2014 at 3:17 am

  20. Mike

    Watching you build this house together was a surprisingly emotional experience. I found myself interested more in your interaction and personal growth than in the concept of living small.

    Life is a series of decisions. One path may feel right but result in unintended consequences. Another path may scream wrong and deliver a lifetime of joy. One never knows the path to follow.

    As you reach your sixth decade you must do so without regrets. To paraphrase one of your tiny home owners, “Life can be ten seconds, make the most of it.”

    I hope you don’t become distracted by life and forget to live. Stay close to each other, there’s more to come.

    July 2, 2014 at 4:12 am

  21. J & D & L

    I just finished watching your movie with my wife & daughter, thank you! Great job!

    August 3, 2014 at 2:44 am

  22. Ryan&Cynthia Harrison

    We thank you for inspiring my husband and I. We’ve been living in apartments with roomates and living with our parents from both sides of the family since we’ve been married for four years. It’s been rough and we were desperate for change and a place we can call our own. So we recently tried buying a house, but couldn’t cough up the money for a down payment and such, so we were bummed and planned to budget better to buy a house a year from now. However, when we watched Tiny together last night we both knew this is exactly what we wanted. We both don’t need much to live. Just each other and a roof over our head. Thank you guys for showing us the guidance we needed.

    August 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

  23. Brandon Brock

    Its so rare anymore to see someone with that kind of passion and dedication. It’s a moving and refreshing story of making the most of one’s life. I wish you all the best and happiness in the world.

    August 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm

  24. Donna

    My husband, our two Goldens and I live on a boat.
    It is old, yet luxurious. Your adventure encourages us to reduce and reuse…and enjoy living with less in a smaller space (home was 1400sf). Every morning starts a new day living with less and enjoying life more!

    August 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm

  25. Ty Kneehouse

    Within the first two minutes of the film, from the landscape, I realized they thought they were going to be living in a tiny house in South Park, CO. South Park makes Siberia look like a hospitable climate.

    Boulder, sure, South Park, never, at least not without R-50 insulation and an actual furnace.

    August 28, 2014 at 2:51 am

    • Hi Ty – we never expected to live full time in South Park throughout the winter! :) It’s beautiful but harsh as you say and too isolated for us.
      When Christopher decided to live in the house full time we moved it back down to Boulder. One of the great things about Tiny Houses is their flexibility in terms of use and location. Thanks for watching and for stopping by!

      September 7, 2015 at 8:25 pm

  26. I am always impressed when an artwork, song or in this case documentary takes me away and makes me feel like I am in another place, removed from my current surroundings or situation.
    TINY has certainly done that. Thank you. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you guys.

    September 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm

  27. rex -

    Did you get the Tiny out to Hartsel at all this year?
    I was hoping to meet my neighbors in October.

    September 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm

  28. Elizabeth

    I’m all for living with less and really admired your effort. But as I watched the film and read this update, I couldn’t help but notice that this project really wasn’t about living with less, because it didn’t really show either of the subjects living with less. Instead of paring down, finding a sense of place, and focusing on relationships, you seem split and divided across three different residences and more confused than ever because–now–you’re beholden to this entity you poured all of your resources into before you really knew what you wanted. I suppose I just didn’t see how it was much more than riding the waves of a fad.

    September 15, 2014 at 1:14 am

    • Hi Elizabeth – I’ve written a few similar replies to other people (which you can read by scrolling through if you’d like) but I wanted to say thanks for watching the film and for taking the time to comment. I would like to assure you that the building the house was life-changing for both of us and we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Our current circumstances are complex and hard to explain, for sure, but that’s often the way it goes with real life! :) Both Christopher and I will be minimalists for life as a result of this experience, but as we explained in the film – living with less isn’t about who can live with least. It’s about experimenting to find out what you value most and building up a life from there. Though we are no longer a couple (hence the split residences), we have a deep friendship that will last a lifetime and a deep relationship to our house and the Colorado landscape. We’re both very happy with things as they are, even though they turned out differently than originally expected. And I think if we’d waited to know “what we really wanted” we would have missed out on this experience that’s helped shape the people we are today.

      September 7, 2015 at 8:33 pm

  29. Chase

    What a great post. It really adds to the dimension of the story.

    September 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm

  30. It is not how big or small is the house, its how big or small we make it a home.

    October 19, 2014 at 12:55 am

  31. Bernee

    I only very recently discovered the Tiny House movement, but I was immediately intrigued. For some time now, I have dreamed of selling our average-size house in 7-10 years after my husband retires and buying a nice RV to live in. Because while I love our current house, the costs of our mortgage and utilities eat up almost all of our income leaving little for travel and having adventures all across this great land. RV’s while handy for traveling in, aren’t often very attractive. Whereas most of the Tiny Houses I’ve seen really appeal to my sense of beauty. And I like the idea of living simply in a beautiful environment. By the way, one of the places I’ve been looking forward to traveling to is Colorado. The view of the mountains from the window of your Tiny House is insanely lovely!

    October 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    • Rhys

      Finding your doc on NETFLIX was treat! I admire the nature of your commitments to the building of the house and to one another. Very refreshing. Has also helped to remind me of the impact of “stuff” on my life. Great doc. Thanks so much and best of luck to you both! Rhys, from Canada

      September 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm

  32. DJ Fox

    I enjoyed the film. But early on I questioned if this was about the house or about the film. I would have been impressed to learn about a significant lifestyle change that lasted. But now I am forced to believe that the film was simply about Chris making a film. I seriously doubt that the process had any genuine intentions. I may be totally wrong and I can live with that. But I am much more impressed with the people that were interviewed, that actually live the simple lifestyle that comes with a tiny house. I will now have to question the intentions of any film that you produce from this time on. Good luck in the film industry. And good luck living tiny in LA.

    November 18, 2014 at 2:17 am

    • Hey DJ – thanks for watching our film. I think we’re all used to seeing movies that portray “fairy tale” happy endings and leave us with satisfying feelings of closure, but it turns out that real life is a bit more complex than that! :) Our lives and journeys within the film and since the cameras stopped rolling haven’t necessarily been easy or simple to explain to people, but we’re figuring things out as we go along just like everyone else. I can assure you that the decision to build the house and the story that you saw on screen was 100% genuine. And that same story would have unfolded whether or not we’d decided to film it. We both still have a very deep connection to the house, to the Colorado landscape, and to each other, even though things don’t look exactly the way people might expect. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

      September 7, 2015 at 8:23 pm

  33. Matt B

    I very much enjoyed your film. Ever since I read Cradle To Cradle a few years ago, questions of design have intrigued me, but I have to say that even as an interest in the Tiny house ethos caused me to watch your film, it was the nature of your relationship, and the fine craftsmanship of the filmmaking that left a deep impression on me. Great work. I will be looking for both of your names in the future.

    Be well.

    November 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

  34. LOVED the movie! I have known about these tiny homes for years but never really researched it besides looking through pics. I am curious with the idea of being able to have a tiny home community. Where you could tap into city plumbing for water and waste. Electric could still be optional, grid or solar. But without being out in the wilderness alone which has peaceful attraction. Some people just “need” to be close to the cities. I was thinking Tiny Home neighborhoods, they would defiantly be more attractive communities than trailer parks. Nothing wrong with trailer parks, but who doesn’t agree that Tiny Homes are way more attractive and individualized.
    PS – You are on opposite ends of the country NOT COOL for all of us who have fell in love with you both. You BETTER come to a happy medium and “land” some where together ;-) Besides Life is too tiny, to waste time wondering aimlessly, you all taught us that.

    January 11, 2015 at 10:13 am

  35. Jack Don

    Dear Chris:
    I just saw your tiny house build on tv for the first time, halfway thru the film I went online looking for your contact info, not knowing you had finished your home and you had successfully acquired the funds to do so. I guess This will reach you 2yrs. to late, but I believe in what your endeavor and I wanted to help you by supporting you with $$ to keep you going. I am only to sorry I got to you late in the game, but I would like you to know how happy I am to see you finished in a grand manner. I am also in the process of drafting plans for my tiny house in Key Largo,Fla. I feel that’s the best way to enjoy live to its fullest without the cumbersome liabilities and regulations, (taxes,codes,etc.) sometimes having a big home can place an unnecessary big footprint that that would continue to snowball into bigger unnecessary expectations from all aspects of life.
    I hope you continue to live your life in the same way you built your house and enjoy a the peace and direction you now have.
    I truly admire your drive and would welcome any reply from you.
    Wish you my best,

    January 12, 2015 at 10:09 am

  36. John

    just watched the film, and enjoyed it very much. Although we downsized from 2100 suburban sqft to 1750 urban sqft, I’m not sure we could go much smaller than that at this point, but I see the appeal.

    Kudos on the house, and the film!

    January 14, 2015 at 4:18 am

  37. Hi,
    It is very interesting story, i don’t know how i end up here and from first i think it was story only about house building. I always want stories about biding alternative house or house made by people that leave there (self made). but I started to read the post and realized it is much more than that. I will definitely check your movie. Thanks for shearing and updating yours experiences.

    February 2, 2015 at 12:37 am

  38. otto

    Merete, I recently came across a guy named Christopher Smith. The very next day we got our Netflix for the week-Tiny Houses-it
    looked like the same Christophor Smth.
    He was in a small town northwest of Spokane WA. Do you know if it could have been him?
    Let me know and I’ll tell you the story.

    February 27, 2015 at 10:51 pm

  39. Emmie

    Christopher and Merete,

    I am a student who is totally interested in tiny houses, and your movie changed my view of life forever. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to watch people whom I admire do something that I would like to do.

    Keep living tiny!


    March 6, 2015 at 10:26 pm

  40. Melissa Glazner

    Spending my spring vacation down &out with a cold has been disappointing, but I was cheered and encouraged by your film and its underlying project. The message about living deliberately with attention to what is real, what is true and what matters, transcends the back story (and future story) of the Tiny house and its underlying film. No one’s house is their ultimate destination – I’d just like to nudge you to continue to seek until you find. In my house (1600 sq ft w/ 8 family members), in spite of laundry & clutter & bursts of crabby selfishness , life is filled with love and purpose, because when God in his grace knocked I chose to let Him in. Regardless of where you live or with whom, listen for the knock at your heart’s door. Thanks for the film.

    March 25, 2015 at 5:25 am

  41. Great story, hope you guys continue it one day as well!

    March 28, 2015 at 1:00 am

  42. Suzana T

    Thank you for sharing your “Tiny” story with us! I was most amazed when you shared that you both had no building experience. Then to find out that you wrote this documentary yourselves! So inspiring!

    As soon as I watched the documentary, I instantly looked online to see where your station was in life currently and I’m happy to hear that the Tiny house is still in use. Did you give it a name yet? Ever considered renting it on AirBNB?


    June 29, 2015 at 4:56 am

  43. Janet

    Christopher and Merete, Congratulations on the making of a beautifully crafted film and your tiny home. It was a delightful hour of viewing. What touched and inspired me the most was not the concept of living in a tiny home, but that we can go for the dream whatever it is. Letting go of what we have in the present can move us forward in life. The “possessions” we hold dear are our relationships, memories and accomplishments. How you two are continuing to live your lives is a testament to that. Wishing you well on your ongoing life adventures.

    September 8, 2015 at 4:45 pm

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