A Couple Have Completely Transformed This 450-Square-Foot Home Into Their Own Mini-Mansion

When Ron and Sue Corl purchased a 38-acre plot in the middle of Ohio, they had big plans for what they would build on it. So over the course of the next decade, the couple put their dreams into action until they had created their very own mini-mansion.

Ron and Sue married in 1986. And since then, the couple have always tended towards a minimalist way of living, favouring small apartments to mega-mansions and even taking their lives on the road in a camper van.

However, in 1998 the couple decided to settle down and start work on their dream home. To this end, they purchased 38 acres of land in central Ohio. But money was very tight, and the Corls spent the next seven years living in a trailer.

ADVERTISEMENT

But while their budget was small their dreams were big, in terms of ambition rather than outright scale. Sue in particular wanted her home to look fresh from the pages of a fairytale. So, when the time came to start designing, the Corls based their plans on the cottage from the 1964 Christmas animation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Now that they could picture their dream home, the Corls spent two long years sourcing building materials. Some of the first purchases they made were a set of windows at an auction. They were brand new overstock and sold for just $5 each.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Guillaume Jaillet

Sue and Ron also made their own building materials by chopping down trees on their land, drying them and shaping them into posts. Elsewhere, they sourced items online on Craig’s List and hunted around local yard sales to seek out yet more bargains.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: The Enlight Project

But while their dream house was slowly but surely coming together, the Corls and their pets were still confined to their old trailer. Describing their makeshift abode, in 2014 Ron told home design website Small House Bliss, “It leaked and got so cold in the winter.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Elaborating on the hardships living in a trailer posed, Ron added, “An ice dam would form on the door overnight. We would use a blow-dryer in the morning to get out. Sue would say – ‘Yeah, good times! And don’t forget about our three cats and big dog in there, too!’”

ADVERTISEMENT

Nevertheless, the Corls were eager to get their picturebook home just right. So Ron, a furniture designer by trade, spent the next five years painstakingly building the house to perfectly match his and Sue’s expectations.

ADVERTISEMENT

Describing his methodology, Ron revealed to Small House Bliss, “I’m a furniture designer so my approach was to build the largest cabinet I had ever built! Every piece of wood was custom cut and molded to fit, from the live-edge siding to the striped hardwood interior walls and floors.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ron’s years of toil paid off and in 2007 the couple finally moved into their new home. It had taken almost ten years, $18,000 dollars and 1,300 man hours to complete, but for the Corls, it had all been worth it. “Moving up to a ‘huge’ 520 square foot cottage felt like moving into a mansion,” they joked.

ADVERTISEMENT

The couple have dubbed their abode the “Shiny Tiny Mansion.” Although it is small, it contains all the comforts Sue and Ron could ever need. The space contains a welcoming living room and a loft bedroom, while their foyer doubles up as a kitchen.

ADVERTISEMENT

Throughout the unique property, Sue and Ron have incorporated a number of ingenious space-saving designs to make their humble pile feel more palatial. “The cabinets and bed are built-in to utilize every inch,” Ron told Small House Bliss.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, there were certain aspects of the build that the Corls decided not to downsize. “We could have used a ladder up to the loft, but we knew that wouldn’t work as we grew older,” Ron explained. But he added, “I still designed the steps to save space.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Another area in which Ron and Sue allowed a little more space was in their bathroom. The room measures nine feet square and contains a vintage sink and a large tiled shower area, as well as a bespoke composting toilet dreamed up by Ron himself.

ADVERTISEMENT

To really make the property their home, the Corls set about painting the interior themselves. “We are both artists and decided that the cottage should be our palette,” Ron revealed to Small House Bliss. He went on to add that taking a do-it-yourself approach also made it much cheaper and easier to change track if your original plans weren’t working out.

ADVERTISEMENT

As of 2018 Ron and Sue were still living in their “Shiny Tiny Mansion” and regularly kept their followers up to date with their everyday goings-on via their Facebook page. And it’s safe to say they are now ambassadors of the tiny living lifestyle.

ADVERTISEMENT

In an interview with design website Minimalismissimple.com in 2014, the couple revealed how downsizing their lives had helped them focus on what was important. “‘Stuff’ will never make you happy for more than a very short window of time,” they explained.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Corls added, “Creativity is your best friend– be that quilting, painting, music, writing, woodworking. Even thinking deeply can be a great comfort that is yours alone. We are a society of ownership, yet we never seem to realize that it’s not the owning – it’s the experiencing.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Corls claimed part of the problem with modern life was a confusion between passion and ambition on one hand, and the possession of material things on the other.  As they explained to Minimalismissimple.com, “Desire can be a great driver for our potential but owning kills the desire,” adding, “The stuff you gather internally is where true human potential and fulfillment lies!”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT