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In Arizona, a Couple Turns a Small House into Their Dream House

by Sofia Tuovinen

In recent years, I’ve often come across “the small house movement.” Essentially, it’s the idea of downsizing your living space to less than 1,000 square feet in return for increased self-sufficiency, reduced carbon footprint and lower costs. I was intrigued, but I hadn’t come across anyone who had personally taken on that lifestyle. When I found out that Chelsea and Scott Goodson, a creative couple based just outside of Phoenix, AZ, had recently moved into their new “small house,” I couldn’t wait to hear their story.

When Chelsea, an influencer marketing expert and blogger at Chelsea-Bird.com, and Scott, a real estate analyst and owner of home decor business Citizen Home Decor, began looking for a place they could call their own, they too found the idea of trading square footage for coziness, efficiency and convenience appealing. They began researching different options, from tiny houses of no more than 399 square feet, to homes over 800 square feet. Eventually, the couple ended up choosing a barebones 650-square-foot prefab house that they could customize to their own liking.

After taking the plunge into home ownership, it was time to choose where the couple wanted to live. Although their home is technically mobile, they still needed a home base, a spot where the house could be delivered. Passionate about their local community and wanting to stay close to their families, Chelsea and Scott jumped at the opportunity to live on a portion of their family’s 10-acre property in a quiet area of Chandler, AZ. “We’re super close to our city’s downtown area that has the best coffee shop, restaurants and community events. We truly couldn’t have picked a more perfect area for us!” Chelsea shares.

From start to finish, Chelsea and Scott’s house took eight weeks to build. In order to make their house feel bright and more open-plan, the couple made some structural changes at the drawing stage, like moving windows around and getting rid of a half-wall. When the house was delivered, it was a complete blank canvas. “Scott started by installing engineered hardwood flooring throughout the house, and then we moved on to installing our appliances and lighting,” Chelsea recalls. One month after the house was delivered, Chelsea and Scott moved in. The following months were spent rearranging furniture, hanging pictures and making each room feel like their own. By decorating with plenty of white and choosing mid-century style pieces that appear lightweight, the couple has made their small house feel bright, spacious and beautifully thought-out. Click through to see how Chelsea and Scott have turned this small house into their dream house! –Sofia

Photography by Rennai Hoefer from Ten 22 Studio

In Arizona, A Creative Couple Turns A Small House into Their Dream House | Design*Sponge
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Chelsea and Scott wanted their home to be a reflection of their personalities and life stories. Memories and keepsakes from the couple’s 10 years together can be found throughout their 650-square-foot house. Here, some of Chelsea’s favorite treasures are displayed on her nightstand, from jewelry and photo booth strips, to a Dala horse that her parents brought back from Sweden. The mid-century inspired bed frame and nightstand are both from Target, as is the brass lamp.
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This cozy bedroom soaks in sunlight! The pitched ceiling adds a sense of height and makes the room feel spacious and larger than its actual square footage. The couple wanted to keep the decor simple, with plenty of light textiles and some indigo mixed in. The wall hanging is by Woven By Ro via Etsy.
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Chelsea inherited her obsession with hats from her father. A part of her hat collection has been displayed on the bedroom wall — a personal art installation of sorts.
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Chelsea and Scott love subtle humor, as in the TV series Gilmore Girls. This poster, inspired by the show and its imaginary small town of Stars Hollow, is the perfect addition to their bedroom decor.
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Chelsea and Scott relaxing at home with their cats Peter and Boots. Although their third cat Shadow loves to purr away on the bed like the others, he decided to sit this one out.
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On top the the bedroom dresser sits a self-portrait of Scott. The typewriter painting is also his work, and was a sweet gift to Chelsea on one of their dating anniversaries.
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The couple’s small prefab house is transferable, which means that they could essentially decide to relocate without having to move out of their dream home. Chelsea explains what made them choose this type of living: “Scott and I felt drawn to the idea of how efficiently space could be used, the small footprint and how we would have the ability to pick up and move whenever we chose to.”
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“Our office is light, bright and exactly the space I needed for my weekly work-from-home days,” Chelsea explains. The bedroom’s light decor continues into this room, and the small mid-century style desk and chair by West Elm are ideal choices for this smaller space.
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The peg rack in the office is where useful bits and pieces are hung, from Chelsea’s everyday market bag to Scott’s woodworking apron. “Above the peg rack is a favorite painting of Scott’s from high school. With a waxy finish, it’s a reminder that the Arizona heat is no joke!” Chelsea adds.
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When Chelsea and Scott’s house was on the drawing table, the couple wanted to ensure that their home would have an open-plan feel. They decided to get rid of some upper cabinets that would have separated the kitchen from the living area. “Our kitchen may be small, but it has everything we could need and more. Scott does most of the cooking in our family, so he’s fond of the gas stove and prep space -– I’m thankful to have a place for all of our coffee supplies!” Chelsea says.
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“Wood and metal has become a common pattern in our home. We live in the copper state, so these little measuring cups do double duty as they pay homage to our home state and help us to make the most perfect pancakes.”
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The dining area is a work in progress. “We’re on a seemingly endless search for the perfectly sized dining room set, and this space is next on our project list,” Chelsea explains. “Peppered throughout our home are also pieces of Scott’s art, including the top-hat man,” she adds. The window bench by Citizen Home Decor is also Scott’s handiwork, and a favorite bird-watching spot for the couple’s cats.
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Like the rest of the house, Chelsea and Scott wanted their living area to feel bright, airy and warm, all at the same time. Their harmonious color palette and tasteful mix of old and new creates a beautiful and calm space, where several favorite photos and trinkets are displayed. The Sven sofa by Article was the couple’s first splurge after buying their new house, and only seems to get better with time.
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“January 18th, 2014 – our wedding date, over eight years after we first met and fell in love – a date that I just couldn’t help but display on our LetterFolk letter board,” Chelsea 
says.

The custom name banner is by Katie Sterbenz Lettering, the Arizona plaque by Citizen Home Decor.
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Chelsea and Scott added these two windows to their home plans before the build was finalized. A West Elm leather chair and a vintage club chair make up a cozy nook that has quickly turned into a favorite hang-out spot. “[We] have realized that this is the perfect place to sit and have our morning coffee together,” the couple shares.
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“What we love most about our home is how much it feels like us — from our favorite photos, handmade art and a fridge full of iced coffee.” — Chelsea and Scott

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Comments

  • I’m very interested to know which prefab company they worked with. This is something we’re considering for a plot of land we own on which we want to build a small cabin by the river. Thanks!

    • Hi Haley! Thank you so much for asking — we worked with Cavco (cavco.com) and had nothing but a great experience with them. Also, having a cabin by the river sounds like a dreamy set-up! :)

  • I’m tired of the hoopla of tiny houses when there is “free” property to build on. If you can’t afford the dirt, there is no tiny house!

    • Rosa Lee

      Can you explain a bit more? Some parts of the tiny house movement (it’s definitely not a unified movement where everyone has the same goals) are about essentially portability and travel, so while they may be renting or not owning land, the house is still very real. The costs are lower, but a lot of people live in portable dwellings (Airstreams, etc.) and we still consider their homes worth sharing. I don’t think owning land is a necessary part of a house being worth celebrating.

      Grace

      • I’ll admit, it can be envy-inducing to see other people who are blessed with the space (through family connections or otherwise) to plunk down their pre-fab, when we don’t have the same luxury. That said, there are so many ways to create a beautiful and warm home and I love what Chelsea and Scott have done with theirs, especially Scott’s paintings! We have a lot of artwork (of varying skill levels) from family members and friends and I think it’s just so cozy and special.

      • I share some of the frustration about tiny homes as some of the posters, though I don’t think it means this lovely home should not be featured here. I love this post and this home, and good for these two for building a lovely little space. It’s just disheartening to discover with every tiny house I hear about, the owners seem to all have family connections with large properties to share. For those of us faced with dwindling affordable housing options, the tiny house movement is not the solution it initially appeared to be.

  • What a beautiful and efficient space! I’m tired of seeing negative comments. It must feel vulnerable to have your home and decision-making shared on the interweb! I think it is cool that you found just the right spot to place your home! Can you please share the source for your beautiful white duvet cover and shams?

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Greta! The duvet cover and shams are from Urban Outfitters, and while they don’t this exact style online anymore, they do have similar styles from the same brand — Plum & Bow!

  • Big thing’s come in small packages. I am in the cleaning business and every day step into large magnificent homes, all of which have stepped out of a Hollywood catalogue. Don’t get me wrong they are beautiful if that is what you like but we seem to have forgotten that a home is protection from the elements a place to lay ones head and feel secure. I am so ready for my tiny home with a wrap around porch to sit and enjoy the outdoors too.

    • A story about a tiny, prefab home. Would have loved to see a photo of the building from the outside. Far more informative than a close up of utensils.

  • Thank you for showing your floor plan. I’m so pleased the bedroom is on the main level.
    Could you tell me if your toilet is flushing or compost? Also, do you ever see people leasing land for a container home? More permanent. And how they tO into the owners property for electric, water and sewage? So sorry so many questions. Obviously we are very interested. Thank you!

    • Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for your questions! Our toilet is flushing, and I have heard of other people leasing land for similar homes. In terms of electricity, water and sewage, that would depend on the land and what’s readily available, but the owners should be able to point you in the right direction of what you would need. Hope this helps! :)

  • Kudos for featuring what is probably a ‘mobile home’. I personally feel that living in and remodeling these will be the next big thing, especially when so many are located in desirable urban areas where home prices are out of sight. Recently here in Los Angeles, a new one just like this sold for under $50K that was located in a mobile home park just blocks from cafes, shops and great eating spots.

  • This is a lovely bright, well thought through home, though I admit as a Londoner it’s hard to read that living in a 650 sq ft space is a great personal sacrifice. I dream of such crazy luxury :)

    Love what they’ve done with it though. Makes me want to bash out my walls and make more big windows!

  • I’ve seen some people do this movement to small houses. I think it’s a challenge with the space, but when you figure out exactly what are the essential things you need in the house, and you have it, the small space can not be a problem anymore. Instead it’s cozy, comfortable, fitting. I live the idea of a small house too, especially having it be mine, be mobile, I can go wherever I want to live and take my house with me. Also, it can help a lot to the environment. Love the place and how it was finally decorated.

    -Tania

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