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Make Myself at Home: Hunting for Tiny Houses on TV

HGTV Turns Reality Show Spotlight on Santa Barbara


I used to live in a house in downtown Santa Barbara that we happily referred to as “the clubhouse.” We had chickens in our front yard, our next-door neighbor was an auto transmission shop, and it was in the funky part of the Funk Zone. But we loved it.

Two of the selling points when we bought this home were the kids’ bedrooms. Eleven-year-old James fell in love at first sight with the upstairs-attic-turned-loft bedroom. Its sloped roof and compact size were cozy and felt like a clubhouse within the clubhouse. Every male that walked up the banister-less staircase to see this hideaway envied James’s ultimate boy cave.

The only cooler part of the house was 13-year-old John’s bedroom, which was actually a separate house in the backyard that he turned into his private retreat. Never mind that one had to walk outside in order to walk inside to use the one and only bathroom. The separation of this studio from the rest of the house, with its own separate entrance and fenced yard, made it the perfect tiny house for one.

Fast-forward a few years and “the clubhouse” still stands and has been spruced up a bit. The boys have grown up and we’ve moved out. But the chickens still reside in their gypsy-wagon-styled coop in the front yard, and the studio, at 250 square feet, is now a prime example of a hot housing trend: the tiny-house movement.

Tiny houses are defined as being under 500 square feet and sometimes as teeny tiny as 100 square feet or less. Proponents of tiny-house living cite motivators such as environmental sustainability, financial stability, living a simpler, more efficient life, and leaving a smaller footprint. Other factions of the tiny-house movement focus on affordable housing and multigenerational living solutions. Some tiny houses are referred to as “granny pods” and offer elder care details such as safety monitoring and medication dispensers.

One current popular housing reality television show is HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters, which will turn its spotlight on Santa Barbara this week. The mother/daughter realtor team Dianne and Brianna Johnson, self-proclaimed real estate reality TV junkies, will be featured on an upcoming episode of the show. Each Tiny House Hunters segment follows the house-hunting process of a particular buyer, guided by their realtor, as they look for their perfect tiny house in a given community.

Dianne and Brianna were contacted by HGTV, who made arrangements for them to meet the buyer, Mark Coradetti, a musician from Nashville who also spends time recording in Santa Barbara. “Tiny homes were new to us,” remarked Dianne. “There are very few in the Santa Barbara area. We loved getting to know Mark, the buyer, and helping him find what worked for his lifestyle.”

The film shoot took place over four sweltering days in September, using three different locations. “The film crew had new challenges with each tiny home, fitting us into the interior shots and splitting us up to make everything work,” explained Brianna. “We enjoyed learning about the filming process. We don’t get to see the show before it airs nationwide, though, so hopefully our scenes don’t all end up on the cutting-room floor.”

HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters Santa Barbara episode is scheduled to air for the first time on Monday, March 28, at 9:30 p.m. I’ll watch in my not-quite-so-tiny home and cheer on our real estate realtor friends turned television stars.

Dianne and Brianna Johnson are agents with Village Properties Realtors, representing both buyers and sellers in all sizes of homes. Reach Dianne and Brianna at (805) 455-6570, johnson@villagesite.com, or athomeinsb.com.



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