Tiny Dreams Cottages offer short term ‘tiny house’ rentals | News

FITZGERALD — Most of us wouldn’t think of living in a house that’s 500 square feet. 

But the “tiny house movement” has been sweeping the nation over the past several years, and recently, it spread to Fitzgerald. 

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Donna and Edward Waller, the owners of Tiny Dreams Cottages, had property on Perry House Road in Fitzgerald for several years.  They tried to sell it, and when it didn’t sell they started brainstorming, looking for ideas on what to do with it. 

They eventually came out with so-called “tiny houses,” which are generally 500 square feet or less, as short-term rental properties on Airbnb.  

“(Tiny houses) seemed like a cool idea, and my husband’s a carpenter,” Donna Waller said. “We said, ‘Well, we can do this, and it would be neat to do short-term rentals.'” 

The Wallers started working on their first tiny house last summer, which was actually a used shell they purchased to which they added cabinets, lofts, etc.

The idea grew from there, with the Wallers deciding they didn’t want to stop at just one tiny house.  

Since starting the project last June, they are up to three of the houses, each a different square-footage and layout.  Two of the houses are already complete and have already been rented out, with the third expected to be complete by the end of this week. 

The first one is a mere 380 square feet with two sleeping lofts, a small kitchen area, a tiny bedroom tucked in the corner, a living room area and a small bathroom. 

While the lofts don’t allow room for guests to stand up, they do provide space for three to six people to sleep. 

“This way, we utilized what ceiling space was already available,” Donna said. “The bathroom is kind of small, but it serves the purpose.” 

The second tiny house is even smaller, at 336 square feet, but it feels a little more spacious with a set-up similar to a studio apartment.  There’s a small kitchen and living area, a queen-sized bed and a bathroom that’s a little more roomy than the first cottage.  

The third is still under construction, but it is two stories and nearly twice the size of the other two at 640 square feet. The first floor contains the kitchen and living area, with a real staircase (not a glorified ladder) leading up to the second floor with a spacious bedroom and adjacent bath. 

Donna said they intentionally altered the layout of each house.  

“We don’t like everything the same, and (we) tried to appeal (to) a broader range of people,” Donna said. 

And though she had no experience in design, Donna took on the task of arranging the layout and designing and decorating the different living spaces with the help of “Pinterest at 3 in the morning.” 

They started the process of building the first tiny house on their own, but with Donna still working a full-time job, they realized a few months in that they need help. 

They hired a contractor around November who has helped them finish the rest of the houses.  

“It takes longer than you’d think to get it all done,” Donna said. 

And although some might not think that short-term rentals and the tourism industry in general would be big in such a small town, that’s not what the Wallers have found. 

Donna said that on the weekend of Fitzgerald’s Wild Chicken Festival, if they had 10 of the houses they would have been able to rent them all out. 

In the short time they’ve been renting the cottages, they’ve had six guests, not including the permanent rental with the second house from Dorminy Medical Center for some of their weekend doctors.  

Donna said even though the third house is not yet finished, she’s had people ask about renting it, and she had people ask to rent one of the houses earlier this year before any of the houses were ready. 

Neesa Williams, Fizgerald’s chamber of commerce executive director, agreed. 

“I think it is going to have a huge impact on tourism and where (people) can stay,” Williams said. 

With more festivals coming up like the Harmony Jubilee Festival at the end of September, which will be in the city’s Paulk Park, less than a mile from the houses, weddings and families visiting for holidays and special occasions, Williams said she sees people utilizing the tiny rentals even more in the future. 

“I don’t think we’re going to have too many problems keeping them rented,” Waller said, adding that the guests they’ve already had have been happy with their stay. 

“We’ve had no complaints, and I think everybody is amazed at (it being a tiny house),” she said. 

Though they have designed, built and decorated three houses in less than a year, Donna and Edward Waller say they don’t plan on stopping there. They plan on building at least two more tiny houses, and they just finished a pavilion on the property as well. 

“We have room for two more, probable even three more,” Donna said. 

But, they admit, they do plan on taking a break for a little while once the third house is completed before they embark on the fourth and fifth.  


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