Homes of the Hunter | Thinking small a big step in the right direction for Louth Park couple

Last year during the pandemic Siobhan and Declan Edwards ended up changing their plans, big time.

Declan is the founder of BU Coaching, a happiness college based in Newcastle. He was expanding his business to the US and moving to Texas.

The couple leased his house (with all their furniture) in Newcastle. Declan had even organised a workplace in downtown Dallas.

Then COVID-19 happened, and the couple realised they wouldn't be going anywhere. They quickly changed their plans and thinking. In August 2020 the couple and their dog, Teddy, moved into their newly bought tiny house behind Siobhan's mother's home in Louth Park.

They have beautiful paddocks and cow pastures all around with few neighbours and fantastic sunsets.

They do use the main house for the toilet and oven. Everyone seems quite happy with the arrangement.

"We pay a tax on baked goods and leave some sweets for Shev's mum," Declan jokes.

At first they thought they'd use the money they saved for Texas to buy a new place.

They went house hunting and quickly noticed a nice caravan for sale on a nearby street.

The 1969 caravan was bought near Gloucester. It had been renovated by a man who paid $500 for it. It was a shell of a home. He gutted it, put in new flooring and completely renovated it.

The caravan still has its original wooden top shelves and features crimson shag carpet in the cabinets. (It's now where the couple keep their cutlery.)

It might have seemed random, but it was quite intentional. They didn't want financial burdens and wanted less stuff. They'd already downsized with the intention of going overseas, and it felt good.

They'd always wanted to try living in a tiny home. They had stayed in tiny houses in Penrith, and in the Hunter Valley for their anniversary and had a great time.

They loved this one, and it was the right price.

"We are obsessed with the tiny house shows, and always wanted to have our own and it fell into place," Siobhan says.

"When Shev's mum came home this was being installed," Declan says.

"Long term we'll be able to travel around Australia with it, especially with me working online."

They downsized again to move in.

The hardest thing for Siobhan was culling clothes and sentimental items. Before the pandemic, Siobhan was working in the travel industry.

She now has three cupboards, four yellow baskets and two drawers under the bed to hold all her earthly belongings.

Siobhan estimates she went from 20-30 pairs of shoes to seven. The olive baskets and the other two drawers over the bed are Declan's.

They've become really good at rolling their clothes efficiently. Winter clothes stay in storage under the bed, and they rotate them seasonally.

"What we've loved since living here is everything is here for a purpose. It matters; it means something," Declan says.

"We got rid of the TV and replaced it with a guitar. We made sure we could fit the guitar down by the bed. We made sure we had a place for board games."

But they didn't want to get rid of their books, so a lot of them - specifically ones on personal development - went to Declan's office in Newcastle. He also works from home twice a week. The small dining/board game table becomes his desk.

It's interesting how his lifestyle choice aligns with his business mission. BU is designed to help people find happiness through evidence-based tools, strategies and the right people.

"I think this has improved my happiness," Declan says of downsizing.

"We did a vision board masterclass before COVID. The vision still sits in my office. There is a little picture of tiny homes. Words like "simplicity", "nature", "slow down". It's literally everything that I'm now living," he says.

The two are happy to live in their tiny home until they decide to start a family. Even after that, they might lease the van as an Airbnb.

"Being in here with a dog is one thing, a kid is something else," Declan says.

It may not be their forever home, but they recommend that everyone give it a go.

"People are like "I could never do that'. I'm like 'have you ever tried?'

"You quickly realise you don't need near as much stuff as you think you do."

This story Thinking small a big step in the right direction for home hunters first appeared on Newcastle Herald.