I’m not sure whether it was my massive Polly Pocket collection, or my obsession with teeny wartime houses along Lancaster Street in Kitchener; but I was obsessed with compact houses as a child.

I dreamed of growing up and owning an immaculate tiny house, with everything in its place.

Today, I own a three-bedroom townhouse that I’ve filled to the brim. (Please don’t open a closet if you visit.)

I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with an eye to purging and cleansing my house of anything that doesn’t bring me joy.

Those hand-me-down dishes? Gone.

Four beautiful leather purses that I’ve bought over the years but never use? Look for them for sale shortly on my Twitter account.

In my fantasy world, I’m once again moving, this time downsizing to a small older triplex in the Rosemount area, where Eloise, my cat, and I will live in a perfectly curated home that is filled with minimalistic — but meaningful — possessions.

While this may sound crazy to those who know me, there is one person in Waterloo Region who’s trying to do all that and more.

Alannah Bird, Customer Experience Manager at Bridgit, a Waterloo Region company whose mobile software lets general contractors, engineering consultants, architects, owners and subcontractors collaborate to manage construction-site tasks in real time, is currently building her own dream tiny house.

Bird has spent the last few years slowly downsizing her home and possessions. She’s lived in tiny Toronto condos, small AirbnB rental rooms and even the floor of the first Bridgit office.

She streamlined her possessions to just what she needed and liked. She wanted the option of having less of her money going towards living expenses, and more of it going towards activities she liked, such as travelling.

“I don’t need to be in my house all the time,” Bird said. “I have no interest in throwing dinner parties or decorating.”

And then she watched the documentary, Tiny: A Story About Living Small, about one couple who built a 120-square-foot home. (Spoiler note: according to a Globe and Mail article last weekend on tiny homes, the couple never lived in the house full-time).

Bird decided she wanted her own tiny home. Tiny homes, by the way, are commonly defined as a home smaller than 500 square feet. Working for a construction startup in Waterloo Region, she said living in this town is inspiring.

“You feel like you can try anything,” she said of the entrepreneurship mentality.

So with no actual building background, but with a desire to know what her construction industry customers experience, Bird decided she wanted to build, and not just buy, her own tiny home. Check out her blog if you’re interested in following Bird’s tiny-home experience.

By chance, she found a designer in New Hamburg with tiny-home know-how, and the two set off to build a 130-square-foot house with a loft, 11-foot ceilings, lots of windows and a roof-top deck.

One year later, Bird has learned a lot about design, home-building and construction delays. Originally, she planned on moving into her new home in September 2015. She is still building in her evenings and spare time.

She has a deadline looming, though. The lease on her Kitchener apartment runs out at the end of January, so she will be moving into her not-quite-finished tiny home by then.

“The drywall is complete,” she said. “I just need to finish the plumbing, kitchen and all of that. So it may be very rustic when I move in.”

Bird will move her tiny home from the New Hamburg workshop where she’s building it, to a farm in Baden, which is allowing her to set it down on the property and connect to hydro and water supplies.

“Building my own home has been the coolest part,” she said. “You know everything that is going in your house.”

Bird knows that her home isn’t a forever place. She can’t imagine sharing the space with someone else.

“That would be crazy,” she said. “These aren’t meant to be family homes.”

She expects to eventually park the house on some family cottage property in Quebec, and use it as a summer home.

“This is my life lesson in minimalism,” she said.


If you need me this weekend, I’ll be cleaning out my closets. If you want something more exciting to do, I see and hear that  . . . the Kitchener Market (300 King St. E., Kitchener) is hosting a Decluttering Step-by-Step workshop on Saturday, Jan. 16, 10-11:30 a.m. The free event will teach you how to start and finish a clean-up job, plus pass along strategies to maintain your clutter-free space . . . Also on Saturday is the David Blatherwick: Thick with Light opening reception at Open Sesame (220 King St. W., Kitchener attached to City Hall). The art show features Elora-based artist Baltherwick at the funky new art gallery/ gift shop that opened in the fall. The reception is free and starts at 5 p.m . . .  Finally — this is a little bit out on our calendar — but I know tickets are selling quickly for the second annual Flash contemporary photography celebration. Join professional and amateur photographers on Friday, Jan. 29 at the Tannery Event Centre (151 Charles St. W., Kitchener) for an evening of food, drink and a showing of photography. The keynote speaker is Camille Seaman, a Native American photographer and TED fellow whose haunting images of melting icebergs at Earth’s polar regions have drawn more attention to climate change. The event starts at 6:45 p.m. Tickets cost $15, which includes appetizers. There is a cash bar.


About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.