Have you ever heard of Marjolein in het klein? If not then it’s about time! 3 years ago the tiny house movement in the US stole Marjolein’s heart. However at that time, the word tiny houses has not arrived in her home, the Netherlands, yet. So she decided to take it in her own hands and started the tiny house movement in the Netherlands.
Why did you decide to move to a tiny house?
I used to live in Langedijk with my boyfriend at the time but we broke up and the house was too big for me. After living there for 12 years I wanted to change homes, somewhere with more nature around me was the most important thing. I really missed nature.
My dream since I was a little girl was to live in a little house in the woods so I looked for another house and all I could afford was really another apartment which I don’t like very much. I want a garden, I like to grow my own vegetables and herbs and have chickens and live a little more self-sufficiently.
I also wanted to decrease my ecological footprint cause I am really concerned about the state of the earth and the impact we are having on it and I want to pull in my weight.
So I was thinking, what house would make me happy and I was thinking, I want a small house where I use less water and energy and if possible even generate my own energy and be self sufficient in that too.
I also didn’t want a really high mortgage on my house for 30 years, I wanted to have the freedom in live to follow my heart.
So all in all it was a combination of my need for more nature, a smaller footprint and more freedom.
How was the transformation?
When I started I was quite naive. I thought I could just find a farmer with a big piece of land and he will rent out his land to me. But that’s not allowed in the Netherlands. There are no specific legislations for tiny houses so you have to work with the rules for normal houses. You have to comply to the building code. There’s a lot of rules that just don’t really work for tiny houses. The land zoning also needs to be living and that’s the most expensive, project managers are stealing away a lot of land and if you do find one, there are restrictions as to how small a house can be. In the past people were building apartments so small, they were not healthy anymore, so it’s basically against exploitation but in this new housing type it’s working against us.
How was it to let go of almost all your belongings?
Fortunately, I wasn’t really attached to stuff. But of course with free space comes stuff, so I had to get rid of a lot. I used the KonMari method, and it gave me a flying start. Marie Kondo is a Japanese declutter guru. With her method you work in categories. You start with clothing and throw everything you own on one pile, you pick everything up one by one and feel if it sparks joy, then you get to keep it and if it doesn’t you get rid of it. It works. I did it with clothing first and then books. Those were the two hardest for me. And when you know you’re moving into a tiny house you’re also motivated to throw away things.
What do you miss most of what you threw away?
I don’t miss anything I got rid of. You don’t need as much as we are made to believe we do.
We get bombarded by the messages that you will be happy or thinner or more successful if you get this or that item. And a lot of people get anxious, stressed, unhappy because we see what’s wrong with the society but we don’t know how to change it, so we try to fill this void with addictions and buying stuff cause it makes us feel good for a little while.
The hardest problem is that there is a lot of inequality and climate change and pollution and we need to fix that.
You also give lectures about the tiny house life, what do they evolve around?
The benefits of living in a tiny house and the freedom it brings. A lot of people want to change but don’t know how, and this is a fun and achievable way to move towards a greener lifestyle. It has impact in a lot of areas in your life. The 4 main benefits of living in a tiny house are: You save money • You declutter your home • You reduce your ecological footprint • You make time in your life to spend with loved ones. And it makes me happy this house. I love my house.
"By making a conscious choice for small and sustainable living you can actively contribute to a better functioning society and a healthier planet, while at the same time you create the freedom to follow your heart."
Why is the tiny house movement becoming more mainstream?
We can’t ignore the facts anymore, and nature is hitting back. I think we are also getting tired of the rat race, and we feel in our hearts that it’s time for change.
We need to find the time to feel again, we’ve been living from our heads too much and not from our hearts. We need to live from our hearts more. To do that you need time. And to have time you need to not have to work so hard. And if you want a live in which you don’t have to work so hard you need to bring down the costs of your living. You can do that by living in a small house. I really believe we need to have more time to just sit and contemplate. Also not hide in our screens. I think the key is to take time to stop, look around and see nature and feel what’s going on inside of you.
If I would want to move to a tiny house now what would be the first steps?
I developed an online workshop on marjoleininhetklein.nl on how to move to a tiny house from A-Z. It will take you through which regulations are important to know and how to get in contact with the city counsel for locations and which groups there are to get in contact with.
You can also always come to one of our open house days, they are for free or contact me for counselling sessions for people that want to live in a tiny house. Cause there’s a lot of people who have that dream but have no idea how to make it happen.
I also set up tinyfindy.nl which is like a real estate platform for tiny houses. It’s also for plots of land and products for tiny houses like solar panels, composting toilets, building materials.
But before that, it’s a big thinking exercise: What do you want in a house? How do you declutter? What do you have to think about when designing a tiny house? How do you get financing and insurance?