How a couple and their baby live in a 196-square-foot house near Elgin
Want to live in a 196-square-foot house with your spouse and baby boy? Make sure you have headphones.
"If we need time to just cool off, I usually put my headphones in and read a book, and (my husband, Alex) will usually put his headphones in and play a game or something on the computer," Korie Veidel said. "I always say that headphones go a long way in tiny house living."
"When we fight, we still have to live with that person at all times," Alex Veidel said. "There is no getaway spot, which I think forces us to kind of deal with things."
The Veidels -- he's 22, she's 26 -- moved in as newlyweds in November 2014 into their tiny house outside Elgin in unincorporated Kane County. They quickly learned that the basics of marriage -- doing the dishes, picking up dirty clothes and telling your spouse if you're having friends over -- were magnified to the nth degree.
Simple things like installing two shelves and a coat hook rack made all the difference in keeping the peace, they said.
"One thing that's unique for us, living in a tiny house, is how often we have to clean everything up and how conscious we have to be about, like, where we put things and the messes we make," Korie said, "because every single thing we do affects the other."
On the upside, "It really helped us build good communication skills," Korie said. And it only takes 45 minutes to give the house a deep clean.
The Veidels were featured this month in an episode of "Tiny House Hunters" on HGTV, which they said they can't comment on as per contract. They told the Daily Herald they used their life savings to buy the $28,000 house online -- sight unseen -- at tinyhouselistings.com, and hired a driver via u-ship.com to haul it from California.
Seeing it in person was "surreal," Korie said. "It was like, 'Oh my gosh, I am going to live here.'"
"It actually looked big, because it was empty," Alex said. "It had some furnishings, but it had a lot of space."
Korie and Alex Veidel and their baby Abel live in a 196-square-foot tiny house outside Elgin.
- Rick West | Staff Photographer
Their home, which has a 144-square-foot floor plan, sits on a trailer frame and has water and electricity hooked up to it. As for what county permits may be required for all that, well, they believe they fall in a "gray area," they said.
After 11 months, along came Abel, now 9 months old. "It was easier before the baby," Korie said. "But everyone thinks it's easier before the baby."
Their 8-by-18-foot space contains a couch that faces a 42-inch flat-screen TV mounted on the wall, a bathroom with a composting toilet and standup shower, and a kitchen with a countertop convection oven. They also bought a freezer to keep vegetables from the garden.
There are two lofts, one for their king-size bed and one for storage, which add 52 square feet of space. The baby's crib takes up a corner that used to house an L-shaped dining bench.
Climate control consists of a portable air conditioner and an electric baseboard heater, plus oven heat on especially cold days.
Korie recently quit her job as a high school English teacher while Alex works two days a week in his father's tool and die shop in Hampshire. His salary is enough to pay for their expenses, they said, with electric bills as low as $1.30 a month in summer and $30 a month in winter.
Inviting friends over means having bonfires outdoors. "Once it rained and we had to shove a bunch of people inside the house," Korie said. Four people, to be exact.
Their biggest source of conflict has been Alex's guitar playing. "We both had to compromise on that because I tend to like peace and quiet," Korie said. "Now I don't mind it as much because the baby really likes it."
Alex and Korie Veidel said they are "good at passing by each other" in their 196-square-foot home.
- Rick West | Staff Photographer
The couple, who were friends for years before getting married, said they mostly wanted to save money, but also liked the idea of living minimally.
"It really forces you to think creatively about how you are using your space, and looking at things like normal people don't look," Alex said. "Like, going through your stuff every two months to see if there is something you want to get rid off."
Korie agreed. "It's not like we'll live here the rest of our lives. I kind of wanted to live here as an experiment and see what happens when we take everything away."
Before having another child, the Veidels said, they want to move to a larger house -- of 368 square feet. They put up their home for sale earlier this summer and interest has been negligible, although they hosted well-attended informational gatherings via meetup.com.
"We didn't know what the market would be like -- nobody knows -- so we figured we'd just list it and see what happens. Anything will sell if you price it low enough."
Despite it all, the Veidels say their life is "remarkably unremarkable."
"While there are certain things that we have to do differently, when it's just your life," Korie said, "you just live your life."