• Tatiana Collier

Thinking Big

This article was developed for and featured in Ballarat Living, Autumn 2021, produced by Provincial Media.

The term “tiny house” is buzzing right now as people endeavour to reduce their environmental footprint, increase their financial freedom, and ultimately live a self-sufficient life. Yet the reality of living in a space of 15 square meters or so, is daunting.

For those who are curious to know what tiny house living really entails, there is now an opportunity to try.

Just outside of Maryborough, about an hour from Ballarat, is Pyrenees Tiny House – an enchanting two-bedroom house that offers the ultimate secluded escape from the city, and the perfect opportunity to try tiny house living.

Pyrenees Tiny House is the creation of Kevin and Laura Martin, a couple whose careers and skills have combined to bring this charming getaway to life.

As a builder, Kevin has been constructing custom portable cabins for nearly 10 years. Building tiny houses is a new avenue for the business.

“I lived on the ski fields in Canada for a while and we had tiny homes for our accommodation, and I knew then it was a concept I wanted to bring back to Australia.

“But when I first started the cabins, I wasn’t ready to make tiny houses, and there wasn’t the market for them 10 years ago. They require a lot of extra work and planning, and therefore additional costs, and when I started the cabins, people weren’t willing to pay those higher prices.”

However, the appeal of tiny house living is on the rise around the world, including Australia, so Kevin, with some encouragement from Laura, decided to finally give it a go. Kevin built the Pyrenees Tiny House and through Laura’s expertise, has turned it into a unique accommodation option on Airbnb.

Laura has spent her professional life working for major hotel chains. Having studied Hotel Management, opening her own accommodation was an opportunity to get back into a most loved profession.

“Hospitality is a passion of mine. I’ve always loved the hotel industry and I’ve used my experience to make the Tiny House special.

“I like to personalize everyone’s stay. On Valentine’s Day I left a small gift in the house for the guests. Another customer booked the Tiny House as a birthday gift for her parents, so I arranged a birthday card and note. We also had a new mum come and stay for a much-needed night off.

“When guests share that kind of information with me, I like to add a little something extra to their stay.”

The Pyrenees Tiny House measures seven metres long, and 2.4 metres wide. It has a high ceiling of 4.7 meters, which allows room for a loft bedroom.

“When we started designing, we knew we wanted it to sleep a family or a group of friends. We also wanted to make it accessible for everyone, no matter their age or stage in life.

“We chose luxury features, such as timber bench tops, black bathroom and kitchen fixtures, lined boards for the floor, and of course, a coffee machine.”

Filled with modern features and creature comforts, the Pyrenees Tiny House is in a secluded location, nestled beneath the trees of a working farm, and on the doorstep of a national forest.

“Our guests love that it’s completely off the grid. It operates entirely on solar power and tank water. When you visit the Pyrenees Tiny House you can completely disconnect and simply enjoy the quiet.”

Kevin’s experience building cabins gave him sound footing to move into tiny houses, but there were still things to be learned.

“Tiny houses are on wheels, and that requires a completely different chassis to a cabin. I had to have a trailer specially engineered. The structure needs to be reasonably light so it can be transported, but still be sturdy.

“Also, as a home, it needs more cupboards and storage areas. This one is for accommodation, so we kept it simple, but a permanent tiny home needs a very clever design.

“The whole experience has taught me a lot about what can and can’t be done, but it really is an economical housing option. A tiny house like ours would cost a buyer $80,000. A new home with the same features would be closer to $300,000.”

Kevin’s business in cabins and now tiny houses remains a customised service, giving buyers the freedom to create their own design.

“Most people have an idea of what they want, from researching online or visiting other companies and builders. I don’t have a set plan to work to and that’s been the key driver to my business from the beginning. People can come and see what we have, and then tailor it to suit their needs.”

Kevin and Laura, together with their three girls Talia, Elise and Pippa, are excited to welcome more guests to visit their farm and the Pyrenees Tiny House, and experience tiny living in total peace and quiet.

“We’re coming into a great time of year. It’s perfect weather for bonfires, marshmallows and sitting under the stars. Guests are welcome to tour the farm, or bush walk through the forest. We live in a beautiful part of Victoria, rich in gold mining history. We’re surrounded by wineries and charming towns. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in country Victoria.”

Accommodation bookings are available seven days a week and can be made by visiting the website or through Airbnb.

Kev’s Cabins and the Pyrenees Tiny House can also be found on Facebook.

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