Big Steps Towards Tiny Living

Our tiny house just arrived! She is beautiful in every possible way: shape, touch, smell and spirit. Her name is Kolelibka and I am basically in love with her and all the possibilities she holds. And yes, of course she is a woman, a phenomenal woman!

Villi's and Michael's Story

Kolelibka is the first thing bigger than a vacuum cleaner which I (partly) own and I cannot hold my excitement about it. She is the culmination of 2 years of obsession with Living Big In A Tiny House and Tiny House Nation (as well as any tiny house photo under the Pinterest sky!) plus all my savings.

This adventure has been both a long and at the same time a very short journey - it was all happening during the Covid pandemic so the concept of time was a bit blurred. Basically, when Covid first started in March 2020, my boyfriend and I were stuck inside a dark London flat dreaming of green fields and lush forests. The only virtual escape was the above-mentioned tiny house show obsessions and a bit of browsing through property websites for land in Bulgaria (FYI, I am from Bulgaria). Back then prices were shockingly cheap (obviously, we were also shockingly ignorant about what to look for) and that got us believing that it would not be that unrealistic to actually buy land. With this belief in mind and a good property lawyer in Bulgaria, we managed to avoid being scammed by a few agencies (who tried really hard!) and after a few months of searching we bought a beautiful piece of land in a mountainous village an hour away from Sofia. The name of the village is Etropolska Ribaritsa if anyone is curious. We didn’t end up buying a 'shockingly cheap' piece of land as in the process we found out what is important for us: regulated land accessible by road and access to existing connections to water and electricity, with a relative proximity to 'civilisation' (aka a grocery store)…

Having bought the land we then spent a year wondering what to do with it. We bounced from one alternative to another. First, it was a container house… some of the downsides included too much work on isolation - having big windows would have impacted on its structural stability, and the idea of living in a metal space scared me a bit. Then, we moved onto the next idea - a yurt! Turns out Bulgaria has an ancient yurt making tradition as one of the country’s founding tribes came from the Mongolian region. The yurt idea didn’t win either as it would have been quite expensive for a pretty basic construction (of course, all completely handmade so totally worth the price but still a bit out of our budget for what we would be getting). Finally, the tiny house idea re-entered our minds and I remembered a cute Bulgarian tiny house company which a friend shared with me the year before - Koleliba!

I called them immediately and before I knew it I was in their warehouse in Ruse, viewing a nearly finished tiny house they were building for a French client. I fell in love at first sight! I loved everything which I saw that day - the people, the designs, the materials, the care and attention. It didn’t look like Bulgarian quality at all, everything was precise and done so well, you could feel the fine craftsmanship in every detail. It was decided there and then, we were going to have a tiny house with Koleliba!

After the visit to Ruse, I basically didn’t sleep for two nights from excitement. My head was projecting a crazy hologram - like vision with all the 2 years worth of accumulated ideas from videos and pictures of tiny houses. It felt like being in the Matrix where I could construct and reconstruct ideas just with one blink. By the end of those two days and two nights, I had basically drawn the entire plan for our tiny house - even including furniture drawings and color schemes! A week later, we had the first design call with Hristina (the founder and architect at Koleliba) and she turned my drawings into professional architectural sketches straight away.

Once we had the final sketch we took a trip to Bulgaria to select all the materials, furniture and technology for the house. We did two full days of going to all sorts of shops and we basically selected everything — floors, paint colours, air conditioning, washing machine, boiler, tiles, bathroom and kitchen facilities, curtains and other textiles… everything! This meant that we had made all the decisions which needed making and we were only waiting for the actual build to start.

We wanted to have the house ready for the beginning of June so the build only started in April. Once they started, everything happened amazingly fast, the whole house was built in less than two months! Koleliba delivered the house exactly when we originally agreed, another sign of their professionalism especially given the disturbance in the construction industry due to the war in Ukraine.

The house was driven from Ruse to our village in just 5 hours on a lorry platform and then the Koleliba team worked extremely hard to install it in just 2 days! It all happened so quickly, I couldn’t believe how one day we didn’t have anything on the land and then the next day we had a fully furnished home. We now just need to do a bit of work on the land (e.g. get the property fenced, build a shed) and have some gardening fun!

For the garden actually, we will get some professional advice from a permaculture designer who will help us decide where and what to plant in accordance to the core permaculture principles. For those of you who are curious, permaculture is a land design system for ecological and sustainable living.

We are just so excited to embark on this tiny living adventure and also to share a bit of it with those of you who would like to visit and try it out too. From spring 2023 we will be renting our Kolelibka from time to time so that more people can experience tiny house living and maybe even re-consider some of the more traditional and sadly unsustainable building practices for their future home. Until then, stay tuned and enjoy exploring any small and big sustainable living practices you come across!

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