Are you dreaming of an expansive, luxurious vacation home for your family after spending nearly six months in each other’s space? How about downsizing? That’s just what we did when we went from a few thousand square feet of living down to a couple of hundred square feet in a Tiny House Rental on Cape Breton Island for our summer vacation.
Sure, we had an ‘in’ with the owner (she’s my sister), but the novelty of renting a tiny house was just what our family needed this summer.
We had toured the inside already, so I knew something of what we were getting. I eyed the height of the lofts cautiously, imagined my youngest, Aly, making the trek from the kids’ loft to the adult loft in the middle of the night, envisioned clothes strewn EVERYWHERE but shrugged it off, piled everyone into the car and headed off to Cape Breton; our first Atlantic Bubble outing since COVID first crossed our minds.
The Tiny Houses are located directly on the Cabot Trail in Belle Cote, Cape Breton. You can book at tinyhousevacations.ca and choose which tiny house you want to book there (there is a “Red House” and a “Boat House”). Each Tiny House is built on a trailer deck and the exterior measures 8.5’ X 22’ and comes with a spiral staircase leading up to the adult loft and a bunk bed style ladder leading up to the kids’ loft. We stayed in the Boat House, named for its interior decor.
Our younger kids (3 and 5) have bunk beds at home so I was reasonably confident they’d all be able to sleep in the double bed in the “kids’ loft” while my husband and I would be at the top of the spiral staircase in the queen bed. From our bed, I had a clear view of the entire space and while “tiny” is an accurate description of what was below me, I didn’t feel cramped or claustrophobic. We had headroom to sit up fully in the bed although we couldn’t stand in the loft.
Unlike tent camping, which is another family favourite of ours, we had a flushable toilet and a full shower in our bathroom, which helped us manage the personal hygiene of staying in a smaller space as well!
The kitchen is very functional. There is a propane stovetop, a microwave that doubles as a convection oven and apartment-sized fridge. For our purposes, it was perfect – we made use of the cooktop and the microwave for leftovers. There were lots of cupboards, so it didn’t seem cluttered.
There is an authentic tiny house wood stove in the Boat House. The weather was too warm for us to use it, but there was a basket of wood available if we needed added warmth. In my experience, woodstoves can be complicated so I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try it – thankfully there is also a simple propane heater! It is also equipped with Air Conditioning for those warm summer nights.
As we hunkered down for our first night, we turned the A/C on as sleeping that close to the ceiling did make it a little stifling. I closed my eyes, exhausted from the four-hour drive, and I expected sleep to come easy. Instead, I found my eyes snapping open at any creak I heard. “Is Aly coming over?” I hissed to my husband James in the darkness. We both listened.
“No.” James replied.
Little sound. “What about now?”
It seems I was a little more nervous about the height difference between our bunk beds at home and the tiny house loft beds than I thought. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, only to be woken up around 6 am by our youngest crawling into our bed. She made it safely, and I needn’t have worried.
Since they could not stand in the loft anyway, I thought all the dressing would happen on the main floor. Any civilized person would go to the bathroom, pull the sliding barn door (an enormous space saver) closed behind them to get dressed. Our children had other, less modest plans. In their hurry to get to the beach, they’d strip down in the middle of the living area, leaving a trail of undies, pants and shirts in their wake. Shooing the children into the bathroom one at a time to change helped ensure that the inside of the tiny house didn’t become a jungle of dirty clothes and random shoes. And fortunately, there was a little nook at the end of the folding table near the entrance that served as an excellent space for the kids’ overnight bags.
With this helpful strategy in place, we could use the space in a fun way. The kids loved the novelty of going from loft to loft (learning how to carefully put their feet down over the ledge of the adult loft to reach the first stair – all part of the adventure!), the kitchen was surprisingly spacious with two defined counter spaces and a double sink.
James got some of his work done on his laptop sitting on the living room couch, and the kids didn’t ask once to watch tv (even though there was a tantalizing and not-so-tiny 49-inch T.V. on the wall). I think the outdoor possibilities helped us survive, no, THRIVE in it all.
The weather cooperated, and there was a little deck outside where we could sit in Adirondack chairs to enlarge our territory even more and or have a little glass of wine once the kids were asleep. The kids had play options outside with the nearby beach they could venture to, accessible wild blueberry bushes and a campfire pit for nighttime fun.
The beach is rocky, so water shoes are beneficial. The plan for the property is to build a dock where people can launch kayaks and swim. The beaches around Margaree harbour, within 4 km on either side of the property are incredible, sandy beaches.
The experience left us all with the beautiful exhaustion that should follow every family vacation, and we felt that, while we had stayed in a tiny house, we had undoubtedly lived large for a few days in our little haven.