NORTH PLATTE — Some might consider it tight living quarters, but Greg and Crystal Mattke find the minimalist lifestyle much to their liking.
The North Platte couple purchased a 440-square-foot home and have remodeled it into what they consider a perfect space for them. With that comes its challenges, but the concept meets their view of life quite nicely.
“About 10 years ago before we met, I started getting interested in tiny living,” Greg said. “I was most interested in what people would think of a tiny house on wheels.”
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Greg and Crystal met about seven years ago and she got bit by the tiny-houses bug as well.
“I owned a Crossfit gymnasium in Oregon and there was a house that sat right beside my gym that was built in 1937,” Greg said. “We finally tracked the landlord down and asked if they would rent it, and they said it was not livable and nobody had lived in it for years.”
The house was 520 square feet, and the couple refurbished it and lived in it until moving to North Platte.
“We were really hooked at that point,” Greg said. “Then Mom got sick here in North Platte — she had cancer — so we came back a little over six years ago.”
The couple lived in the basement of his mom’s home until their current home became available.
“We walked into this place and I actually sold a 1927 T-Bucket in order to do the renovation on this house,” Greg said. “We had the money to buy it, but we didn’t have the money to renovate it. So we sold the hot rod to do what you see now.”
A house on a foundation, however, was not the couple’s original plan.
“That wasn’t our goal,” Greg said. “Our goal was to be on wheels, but we were looking for anything under 500 square feet and this is 440.”
He said they weren’t sure what was going to happen with his mom’s health, so they decided to purchase the house.
“She died about a month ago,” Greg said.
The inspiration for tiny living, Crystal said, came from a woman she knew who was living in a 380-square-foot cottage.
“She told me, you can have quality and live in a small space,” Crystal said. “It’s about quality, not quantity.”
Crystal pointed around the room.
“There’s a lot of things around here, but they’re just things, and I can easily shed them and pick up new things,” Crystal said. “There are some key pieces that are just precious that we hold representative of my grandma, his mom, maybe a special time we shared. But then the rest is just up for grabs if somebody else would enjoy it or need it.”
She said it’s easy to pick up new items as they need them.
“They’re just items, so we don’t feel like we have pressure to keep them,” Crystal said. “There is just something freeing about not having ‘stuff.’”
Greg tapped on a table in the front room and said the table, a lamp and other things represent a portion of his life he worked to be able to purchase them.
“I would rather have a lot less of this sitting around and a lot more money in my pocket to be able to travel and see things,” Greg said.
That’s the reason for purchasing the bus they are currently refurbishing into tiny living quarters.
“The bus popped up on the Marketplace (on Facebook) one day when I was sitting here and saw the bus over in Lincoln,” Greg said. “The hard work had been done.”
He said the seats had been removed and the shower, bathroom, kitchen and plumbing had been installed.
“So it was just a matter of finishing it up and decorating it and making it our own space,” Greg said. “Somewhere between next spring and next fall, we’ll probably put this house on the market and live in the bus full time. It’s just a matter of continuing to minimalize that footprint.”
Both Greg and Crystal are sold on the idea of tiny living.
“That was a big thing when we first got together and we said it often,” Crystal said. “This (style of living) is kind of continuing to prove we’re not about things, we’re about each other and the things you can do, not the things you have.”