I know some really amazing people, and a bunch of them have been part of my journey to the tiny life, whether they knew it or not.
The first person to trust me with working on her home! Vivian has never been shy about customizing her home to fit her needs and style, and she enlisted me as a curious high schooler to help with all kinds of things—from painting cabinets to texturing walls to sanding and polyurethaning wood floors.
Coming from a home where painting walls was considered a major project, it was really cool to realize I could get more creative, and didn't necessarily have to pay someone else to do the work. I could learn.
Vivian was also a model for me because she purchased her first home on her own—something you don't always hear about. I decided then that if I wanted to be a homeowner, I'd never feel like I needed to wait for a partner to make it happen.
After a hatha flow yoga class one Friday night, a group of women went out to eat Thai food together. Eliana was the teacher of that class, and happened to be sitting across from me.
She mentioned that she was building a tiny house with her boyfriend and was so gracious in answering tons of questions from me, thereby rekindling my interest in tiny houses and my hope of home ownership in the Bay Area. In less than a week, I'd decided this was the path I wanted to go down.
I've known Victoria since junior high when we were in choir together, and we ended up living together in college. Besides my Mom, she was the first real model of minimalist living I'd seen, although neither of us called it that at the time.
For Victoria, making tea isn't something you do in a rush on your way out the door every morning. She was meticulous about it—boiling fresh water, timing the steep, and enjoying the cup at the table. I, on the other hand, was lucky to throw a bag of Earl Grey into a mug before I ran late to class.
The way she cleaned her bathroom was also fascinating for me to watch. She did it every week, first of all, and she emptied the entire contents of the room each time. Needless to say, her bathroom was always cleaner than mine.
Victoria was (and still is) a model of the pleasure of simple routines well done, and since living with her I've strived to achieve the same kind of order at home.
Roxanna is another long-time friend from my choir days, and we've remained close as we each went to different colleges and pursued our careers. Not too long ago, Roxanna decided to take a job that would allow her to move back home with her parents and brother.
Not "force her"—allow her.
For Roxanna, spending lots of quality time with her family is really important, and what I admired is that she doesn't just say "family is important to me"—she made significant changes in her life that show how important family is to her.
On top of that, Roxanna is one of my more financially-attuned friends, and she knew that living at home would also allow her to save substantially more than she could otherwise on a fine arts salary.
These are the kinds of choices I admire in people—big changes to align your actual life with the values you express as important.
I first spent quality time with my godmother Paula when I was in college and visited her to look at NYU for graduate school.
I absolutely fell in love with her home and how she lived her life.
Paula had been single for a long time and didn't have children—a life I could see myself having as well. Her home was filled with things she genuinely loved: art, books, vintage cookware, family heirlooms.
It was a conscious curation.
Since then, I've tried to make the same kind of choices about what I own and how my home feels, and a tiny house feels like the epitome of that (and how perfect—she was also the first to tell me about the existence of tiny houses!).
I've known Lisa less than a year and I've been privileged to help her build her 21' tiny home here in the Bay Area.
Lisa has children around my age who've been helping her with her project, but she's been a one-woman show in a lot of regards, working on the house full-time off her own hand-drawn designs.
While Lisa had more building experience than I currently do when we started, she was new to a lot of things. She taught me to use drills, tack on Tyvek, install windows, and run electrical wiring.
I'm not going to lie: Liz Rose has pretty much been inspiring me on all kinds of things since college. From living all over the world to starting her own design-for-good business in her early 20s, this girl shines.
When I visited her incredible 3-level, former school attic loft in Pennsylvania, I was impressed by how such a small and open area could be so cool. (Somehow I wasn't able to find a similar small space in the neighborhood and ended up in a 3-bedroom townhouse. Oops.)
She still keeps up the cool in her Washington D.C. studio, not to mention her under 100-squarefeet WeWork office space.
I can honestly say I don't think I'd have considered living in a studio apartment if it wasn't for her showing me it can be really lovely.
When I met Teresa, she had the cutest small house I'd seen (it probably didn't hurt that she's a designer and has great taste).
I remember being really impressed with the kitchen renovation she and her husband had done through the power of IKEA and time.
When they got pregnant with twins, they renovated their attic to be a master bedroom—adding creative storage and a bathroom to boot.
I'm grateful for the influence these women have had on my life, and I hope they're all able to come visit me when my tiny house is done!