This couple transformed their tiny house into an incredible mini mansion

Living in a mansion is something that many of us dream to be able to afford at some stage of our lives. Many of us will never have the means to be able to afford such a huge property, but that doesn’t stop us dreaming that we could live like a celebrity for a while. Lots of the biggest stars live in their own mansions, often having them built and designed exactly how they want them.

Just one of the benefits of being paid millions of dollars for their work. Although some of us can’t afford to have eighteen bedrooms, a pool, and the fancy car to park out the front, we do all want to enjoy the time we spend in our own homes. For lots of people that will mean installing a huge TV set, or just giving the walls a fresh coat of paint to make it an enjoyable place to spend time in.


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One couple, Ron and Sue Corl had spent much of their married life moving homes, and living in places they couldn’t call their dream home. After some time together they both decided they should commit to creating their dream home and finding a way to make their fantasy become a reality.

Have you ever felt like building your own home, with your own bare hands? Ron and Sue chose to transform their 450-square foot home into their very own mini mansion.

Living within their means

Ron and Sue Corl met and fell in love decades ago, getting married in 1986. They haven’t always wanted too much and have been happily married just enjoying each other’s company, rather than spending lots of time and energy searching for material things that don’t interest them. They have always chosen to live within their means and have enjoyed a minimalist-style way of living, always avoiding living in a home that is bigger than what they require. Instead of living in mansions with dozens of rooms, they have chosen to live in small apartments or, as they did at one stage, take their lives on the road and live in a camper van.

Dreaming big

They had always worked hard and after living in a variety of homes over the years decided it was time to settle down, and think about finding their forever home. No homes on the market were really cutting it for the couple, and instead of settling for a house that had been built and designed by somebody else, the couple decided to purchase some land in Ohio. They bought a 38-acre plot of land and spent many years trying to create their own home. They spent ten years planning and saving for the home of their dreams and finally, when all of the stars aligned, they were ready to build their very own fantasy home.

Fairytale home

They had big dreams. After all, this was the home that they had been dreaming of building for many years, so it was always going to be special. Despite their big dreams, they had a fairly small budget, but this wouldn’t discourage them from building their home. They both have an artistic mentality and were happy to challenge themselves to come up with something special on a modest budget. It was time to begin designing their home, and they took inspiration from an unexpected place – the 1964 animation, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Saving what they could

Ron and Sue had spent over a decade happily married, and in 1998 they realized it was time they settled down and started to think about building the dream home they had been pining for. Despite being able to purchase a huge 38-acre plot of land, the couple pretty much drained their funds and were forced to live in a modest fashion in order to be able to maintain and keep alive their dream of building their fantasy home.

Making a dream come true

Knowing that they didn’t have millions of dollars to help fund the building of their dream home, the couple had to get thrifty when sourcing the materials for their new property. It took them a couple of years, but they were getting closer to sourcing all of the building supplies they would need to begin building. They even went to an auction and sourced the windows for their home at an incredibly low price, just $5 per window!

Ron’s business

Ron is a furniture maker by trade, and he runs his own business, Corl Design. He spent much of his life working as an antiques dealer and likes to incorporate plenty of ideas from the past in his new creations for his clients and customers. He has customers from all over the world, from Canada to South Korea, and some of his pieces have even ended up in art galleries. His mantra is; mundane is for the boring, smiles are for all!

Living in a trailer

The Corls owned a large piece of land, and they were making great use of it during the time spent building their home. They were living in a trailer all the time their new house was being built, trying to save themselves as much money as possible. Despite knowing their dream home was slowly coming together, the couple had accepted that, for now, they would be the residents of a cold and leaking trailer. Not failing to mention they had to share the small space with their pets too.

Getting trapped inside

Life inside the trailer wasn’t easy for the Corls, especially when it got to winter. In the colder months of the year, the couple would actually get trapped inside each night due to the fact that ice would form around the seal of their front door. Unable to open the door, they would have to use a blow-dryer to thaw out the ice and free themselves from their trailer. At least they had the warmth of their three cats and huge dog to keep them cozy in the winter.

Sourcing their own materials

Ron and Sue had to source the materials for their home from all over, and even used much of what was around them to do so. They chopped down trees that were on their land before drying them out and using their wood for posts and timber. They also scoured the internet for bargains and made great use of Craigslist as well as finding many hidden gems from local yard sales. They did everything they could to make sure the costs were kept to a minimum.

A slow process

Sometimes you just can’t rush greatness, so the Corls were prepared to take as long as necessary to make sure their perfect home was exactly the way they wanted it to be. Ron made use of his skills as a furniture designer and put much of the house together painstakingly slowly to make sure it fitted exactly his and Sue’s plan. The house took about five years in total to be completed, a time the Corls spent itching to get inside, but knew it needed to be perfect.

Building a really big cabinet

For Ron, the building of his new home kind of felt familiar. He described the building process much like making a cabinet, except this just happened to be the largest cabinet he ever built. Every single piece of wood was handcrafted, cut, and measured to fit inside another. All of the exterior, interior, and even the flooring had to be pieced together using Ron’s skill as a furniture maker. Now the couple can happily live in a home built and designed by them, for them.

Hard work paying off

The hard work had finally all paid off, and the happy couple were able to move into their custom home in 2007. Although it had taken them nearly ten years to make their dream a reality, it was all worth it for the Corls. They had spent around $18,000 and an estimated 1,300 hours of labor to have their perfect house. They joked that moving to their small home felt like relocating into a mansion following their years in their trailer.

Small but perfect

The couple are delighted with the end result. They have a small and functional home that is purpose-built to suit their every needs as well as being filled with all the home comforts Ron and Sue could ever need. There is a warm and welcoming living room as well as a top floor bedroom where the couple can enjoy the sun coming through their windows in the mornings. Ron and Sue have dubbed their self-built little home the “Shiny Tiny Mansion.”

Using every inch

As they weren’t looking to build a huge complex, the Corls knew they would have to get creative with the space they did have. That meant making sure that every inch of their home was being used and much of the items and features of their home are designed with space saving in mind. All of the cabinets, and even the bed, make use of every available inch of space they have, to make sure it doesn’t feel as though they are living on top of one another.

Some compromises

Although they made use of a lot of space, they also had to think about some of the practicalities. They knew they would be able to build a ladder to get from downstairs up to their bedroom, but were aware that in their latter years they wouldn’t find it so easy to climb a ladder. This means they made sure there was a staircase but, even then, designed the steps to make sure they saved plenty of space.

Spacious bathroom

One place they really didn’t look to downsize was their bathroom. They built a huge shower, measuring at nine square feet, as well as installing a vintage sink. They wanted it to be a room that not only was functional but also was fun and a pleasant space to be in. Although they might appear to have a dinky little home from the outside, using the space creatively has allowed them to have light and airy rooms, with adequate space for all their needs.

Designed to their liking

They had built their home from the ground up but wanted to make sure it felt entirely like their own home and not a reproduction of anything else. They put their own spin on the interior design and, considering themselves both to be artists, went about painting everything themselves. As well as enjoying the personal touches they also found it was much cheaper to do the work themselves rather than relying on someone else to do it for them.

Their forever home?

The happy couple have been living in their home since 2007, and it seems as though instead of finding their forever home on the market, they dreamed it up and turned it into a reality. They like to share their home with their followers on social media and regularly update those who are interested in the latest developments in the Shiny Tiny Mansion. They completely embrace living in a small home and are showing everybody that you don’t need a massive house to be happy.

Making room for the important stuff

They have embraced some of the minimalist culture, and think that downsizing their home has really helped them to focus on the things that matter most to them. Instead of having a load of extra rooms filled with stuff they don’t need, the couple have been able to figure out what it is in their lives they see as truly important, and get rid of everything else. They believe that “stuff” can only make you happy for a short period of time.

The experience that counts

The Corls believe that creativity is essential in life; finding something you love to do and not being distracted from doing that is important. They believe that people have become obsessed with owning stuff, without actually taking the time to enjoy the things they do have. Ron and Sue believe it is more important to enjoy your experiences and collecting these over physical things is much more important to having a happy life. They only own things that mean something to them, allowing them to live happily in their little mansion.

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