The Middle Ages. A time where dragons conquered the sky and castles covered the earth. Massive stone towers seemed to grow out of the Earth, connected by walls that housed hundreds of soldiers. Travel across the drawbridge, inside the walled kingdom, and there would be acres of gardens. Beautiful flowers birth color into the world as they lead you into the great hall. A meeting place for people of importance to gather. Hundreds of feet underneath, prisoners cry for help as they sit in their captor’s dungeon. Dozens of rooms, decorated with wealth and victory, sit within the walls awaiting discovery. All before arriving to the lord’s chamber. One room, the size of a small farm, decorated to the king’s desires and dressed with only the finest decor.

Austin and Jenna Ernesti Tiny Home
Austin and Jenna Ernesti’s lovely home on wheels is tiny, full to the brim with love. Photo credit: Skyler Nykoda Mueller

The medieval period was a time of stature and possession. Castles and wealth proclaimed one’s greatness, and bigger was most certainly better.

Fast forward thousands of years and things have certainly changed. One of the most noticeable things is size, people are beginning to realize that bigger, isn’t always better. From small phones and compact cars to tiny houses, we are a far cry removed from the intimidating castles of old.

A Home, Regardless of Size, is a Man’s Castle

This was most certainly the case for Austin and Jenna Ernesti. For Austin, the dream to live minimally has always been appealing. “The transition for me was easy.” Austin says, “For her, not so much.”

Jenna discusses how hard it was to get rid of possessions, slowly transitioning to living tiny. She explains how when you live tiny you have to compromise. “Everything you use has to be multi-purpose,” she says. “Whether it’s a table that functions as a seat, or a bench that converts into a bed. Everything has a dual purpose, and that really makes the difference.”

So how did the tiny lifestyle become their lifestyle?

“It started out with just an idea,” shares Austin. “I was sitting on the couch and I found a picture of a tiny house. I remember calling to Jenna and asking her if she would ever want to do something like that. When she said yes, that’s when it was game over.” From that point on Jenna began researching, downloading blueprints, and drawing out floor plans. And when the ball started moving, it just started rolling on its own.

The Building of a Small Kingdom was Not Done in a Day

Austin and Jenna Ernesti Tiny Home Inside
Tiny stairs lead to the bedroom, while underneath the kitchen surprisingly provides plenty of cooking room. Photo credit: Skyler Nykoda Mueller

Austin and Jenna built their tiny home on a triple-axle trailer. “We began planning our build three and a half years before we actually started building,” Austin says. “We got married, and the next day we started building.”

“So Instead of doing a traditional wedding registry, we did a registry for building materials or labor hours. Building our home was our honeymoon.” Jenna heartily adds.

After 10 months of sweat, tears, and joyous laughter, they had finally completed their dream home. “We were fortunate enough to have friends and family with certain skills that helped out with the build,” Austin shares. “Whether it being welding or carpentry, everyone who helped had an impact on our home, and each one signed their name on a piece of the house.” He points at a signature on the staircase.

Financial Resistance is Feudal

Beyond the walls of the kitchen, sits a full sized bathroom. Photo credit: Skyler Nykoda Mueller

“For us, the money savings is amazing.” Austin explains, “but with that, you have to be able to supply the startup capital.” With current laws, tiny homes don’t qualify for a mortgage, so the only loans banks will support are personal loans. Rates will be higher, which means payments could become overwhelming.

And for most tiny home dwellers, Austin and Jenna included, financial responsibility is key. “It’s definitely not for everyone,” says Jenna. “If you don’t love the idea from the start, or do an extraordinary amount of planning, it’s easy to go overboard.

“We know a lot of people who have needlessly spent chunks of money by ‘just winging it,’” Austin adds.

They ensure that planning and financial responsibility must be priority for those interested in going tiny.

Getting a Round the Table

Austin and Jenna Ernesti Tiny Home Inside 2
A storage loft and chairs make up this cozy nook inside the Ernesti’s tiny home. Photo credit: Skyler Nykoda Mueller

“The biggest drawback is probably having guests over,” Austin admits. Through a very thorough planning process, their daytime couch unfolds into a full-size guest bed and a storage area in the loft was made the perfect size for another bed as well.

Jenna explains how they have the room for many people, but most of the time it’s their guests who decline staying over. “It’s just out of most people’s comfort level to sleep in such close proximity to others,” she shares.

A fold up table subtly sits next to the couch disguised as a seat. When unfolded, the massive table provides plenty of counter space for guests to eat. “We have holiday parties here all the time and people love it,” says Jenna. “There’s an abundance of room in here for everyone. We can even move the table out of the way and have dance parties right here.”

The open floorplan was clearly made with spontaneous dance parties in mind. And who doesn’t love a good dance party?

A Queen and King, Happily Ever After

Austin and Jenna Ernesti Tiny Home Owners
The Ernesti family, Austin and Jenna and their playful dog, snuggled up in their favorite spot. Photo credit: Skyler Nykoda Mueller

Living tiny may not be for everyone, but for Austin and Jenna it is a dream come true. With the financial freedom it supplies them, they are excited for where they will be in the future.

“I think the best part about it is that if anything ever happens, say the country falls to pieces, we’d sit comfortably knowing that our home is ours – and knowing that just makes it a little easier to breathe.” Austin says.

Jenna adds the fact that if they needed to move, they wouldn’t have to worry about packing and leaving a place they’ve fallen in love with. For them, their home goes where they do.

Home is most certainly where the heart is – upon entering the Enersti residence it’s clear that even though their home may be tiny, their love for it is as big as a castle.


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