BY Becca Opp & Tracy Nicholson
PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY Travis Beauchene
Across the country, people are making big lifestyle changes by living small. Within these pages, we have curated content that reflects the concept of “intentional” living. We’ll introduce you to tiny homeowners right here in the FM and surrounding areas who built their homes in less than 700 square feet. See inside of these efficient designs and find out why going tiny was the right decision for these innovative individuals.
Tiny Home Tour: Travis & Brittany Beauchene
Upon first impression, Travis and Brittany Beauchene are like any young, married couple. However, with their little family on the grow, this couple decided to think big and build even smaller. Re-evaluating the traditional American dream, the Beauchenes defined their values and discussed how they wanted to instill those values in their daughter, Millie. Forging their own path, the Beauchenes set aside their materialistic belongings and are instead focusing their energy on creating experiences.
THE SMALL SPECS
500 square-foot footprint
160 square-foot loft
660 square feet total
A TINY TEAM
Both aged 28, Travis and Brittany Beauchene have known each other since kindergarten. The two own and operate a creative business, STUDIO THREE BEAU, where Travis is an artist, photographer and graphic designer and Brittany oversees the administrative details. The two also live in a 660-square-foot space where they work from home and are raising their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Millie.
“We’re a really good team,” Travis Beauchene said.
“We love working together, for sure. I like to be involved in whatever he’s doing. Millie and I will hang out in the studio when he is painting or working. Millie loves to help paint. She says ‘pay-pay’ all the time and wants to be involved,” added Brittany Beauchene.
HOW IT BEGAN
“It really started once we knew Millie was going to be born. We had long conversations about how we wanted her to grow up. From there, we realized we wanted a small space and to put value on experiences, the outdoors and to not be materialistic-having fewer things, but appreciating those things more,” Travis Beauchene explained.
When Millie was born, the Beauchenes were living in an 1,800-square-foot home in Moorhead that they loved. However, the Beauchenes soon realized they were not utilizing all of the space.
“We had a ton of stuff in storage in the basement, no clue what was down there, and we just looked at each other and said, ‘What are we really doing?'”
“We had a very small kitchen in that house, which was almost a deal-breaker, thinking that we needed this big kitchen. I found that I wasn’t even using the whole kitchen, and we were always on this couch or in this little area. We had purchased all these things and spent all this time on these rooms, and I walked through it,” Brittany Beauchene said. “We had a ton of stuff in storage in the basement, no clue what was down there, and we just looked at each other and said, ‘What are we really doing?'”
“We had some trees at that house and were a bit tucked away, but just found that was a gateway to, ‘Oh my gosh, we want even more. We’d love to have a little more land and be more private.’ We wanted some water and found out that was a big value for us,” Brittany Beauchene continued.
That was how the couple began thinking about building a tiny home. It also wouldn’t be the first time that Travis and Brittany Beauchene shared a small space. When they lived in Washington D.C., the couple had a 400-square-foot studio apartment. “We loved it. That was a big eye-opener, in D.C.,” Brittany Beauchene recalled.
“We went into it saying, ‘We’re not going to move forward with this until we find the right lot. If that’s five years from now, so be it,'” Brittany Beauchene explained. However, the couple was so excited that they were looking at lots every weekend.
Late one night in their Moorhead house, the Beauchenes found their lot by pure luck after about a month of searching. “Millie couldn’t sleep, so I was on the couch with her. I was looking in our price range for lake lots. We found one that was for sale next to our current lot,” Travis Beauchene said. They then contacted the realtor, who told them about an unlisted, adjacent lot.
“We went there, and we just felt it,” said Travis Beauchene.
The lot is located in Rochert, Minnesota, which is a small township about 15 minutes northeast of Detroit Lakes. It’s by the Tamarac Wildlife Refuge, Cotton Lake and Pickerel Lake.
Their acreage has a peninsula that juts out onto the water upon which the Beauchenes have made their tiny home. On the other side of the pond is Minnesota state land, so no one can ever build on it. Although their land appears to be secluded, it is just 10 minutes from big amenities and their nearest neighbor is only 600 feet away.
THE TINY HOUSE
Travis and Brittany Beauchene’s home is a permanent structure, meaning that it is not on wheels. The whole process took a year-and-a-half from start to finish, while the build itself took only nine months.
The Beauchenes designed the structure and chose all of the finishes, then partnered with a builder to make their dream a reality. “It wasn’t a spec home. We did draw it out with pen and ink. It came from the brain, and that was really fun,” Travis Beauchene said.
“We researched like crazy to find everything from light switches to faucets,” added Brittany Beauchene.
In the main living space, the south view shows the Beauchenes’ kitchen. To the right, additional storage on castors can convert into a table when pulled away from the wall. In the loft, you can see a beautiful, yet functional closet where Travis and Brittany Beauchene keep their clothing. You can also see the pine ceiling, which the Beauchene’s stained themselves to look like reclaimed wood.
“One of the biggest challenges was utilizing every square foot. Our kitchen was a bit of a challenge too, because we were used to buying in bulk and now we buy everything for a couple days in advance. I don’t know if I’d call that a challenge though,” said Travis Beauchene.
“I had way more perceived challenges going into it,” said Brittany Beauchene. “After they poured the foundation, we were walking around and I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is it.’ We taped out the house to plan where we wanted furniture in the driveway of Travis’s parents’ cabin. Our house fit on a driveway. The biggest surprise for me was that there weren’t challenges. Cleaning is a dream. The honey-do list has gone to the outdoors.”
“That’s a list that I love,” Travis Beauchene elaborated. “We get to do these things. That’s a very fortunate way to look at it.”
“My dream is to have a little homestead and be as self-sufficient as we possibly can. I love the challenge of that. What exactly can we live off of and how can we bring that about on our own, teaching Millie to work alongside us and find value in that way of life as well?” Brittany Beauchene said.
RAISING A TINY FAMILY
For the Beauchenes, raising Millie in a tiny house feels right. Brittany Beauchene shared, “It feels very natural. It feels right, like we’re giving Millie her best chance. I want her to look back on her childhood and think, ‘That was a magical time.'”
“We feel that now when we wake up and look out at the water,” Travis Beauchene said. “I just want her to have a space and a life that feels that way all the time, if I can. Now I feel like we’re in the space and the headspace where we can give her that. Spaces can transform who you are. That’s been very amazing.”
Even envisioning Millie getting older, the Beauchenes have already started talking about how to best give Millie privacy.
“I see her having her space here too. She has her room, and we’ve talked about building her a little clubhouse and being able to offer her cool things like that,” Brittany Beauchene said. The couple also plans to homeschool their daughter in the space.
In Travis Beauchene’s studio, located just down the drive from their tiny house, Millie gets to experiment with art.
“It’s really neat with the space, just what Millie is exposed to,” Travis Beauchene said. “She’ll be working with me. Right now, I’m working on this huge painting for our house. I’ll be holding her in my arm, and she says, ‘Cool da-da.’ I love how she’s seeing all of this stuff right up close, and its not just in a book or on a digital screen.”
However, the Beauchenes realize that tiny house living isn’t ideal for everyone. “We never want to say, ‘This is the way to do it.’ We always preach that you should stay true to yourself and this is our truth,” Travis Beauchene articulated.
The Beauchenes’ tiny house features a full kitchen along the south wall. Floating shelves give the space an open feel. You may also notice a few space-saving hacks including a magnetic spice rack, magnetic knife strip and half-sized appliances.
The north view shows the Beauchene’s shelving unit with a built-in space for their piano. You can also see the cement floors, which is the actual foundation that Travis and Brittany Beauchene sealed off themselves. This is the main source of heat, which the couple has found to be both efficient and economical.
When taking in the east view, you can see why the Beauchenes fell in love with their lot. In the corner, there is a standing desk where the couple does online work for STUDIO THREE BEAU.
The loft serves as the master bedroom. It also has access to a patio which doubles as a car port. In the winter, Travis and Brittany Beauchene fit both of their cars underneath the overhang.
Millie’s room is on the main floor and is large enough to fit a queen-sized bed. Also in the room is a very special piece of art. “We have a drawing in Millie’s room that we did together as kindergartners. We recognize each other’s handwriting. It’s the real deal, so we framed that and that’s on one of her walls,” Travis Beauchene said.