You Can Try Small-Space Living on for Size at This Tiny Home Village in Florida
When Krsna Jivani Balynas and her husband, Govinda Carol, set out to build a tiny home in Alachua, Florida, they had almost no construction experience. "We wanted to build one for fun," says Krsna. "Govinda had minimal experience, but we learned from watching YouTube videos and consulting friends."
"We spent time thinking about the layout, but really, we designed as we went along because we bought everything secondhand," says Krsna, who worked with Govinda to source the home’s trailer, windows, sinks, door, and shower at resale shops and on Facebook Marketplace.
After the tiny home, named Shanti, was completed, the couple listed it as a vacation rental—and something remarkable happened. "We put Shanti on Airbnb, and within two weeks it was booked for a month out—and it kept going from there," Krsna says. "People loved it—the reviews were full of praise."
After their initial success, the couple decided to build another tiny home rental—and then another—and it wasn’t long before income from the properties replaced the income from Govinda’s nine-to-five job in information technology. "After just a few months, he was able to quit and build tiny houses full time," says Krsna.
Today, Krsna and Govinda run their own design-build company called Simplify Further Tiny Homes, and they manage 12 tiny home Airbnbs in Alachua. "We own five of the tiny homes, and the rest were purchased by friends, family, and neighbors—we manage the houses we don’t own for a profit split," Krsna explains.
Alachua is located in northern Florida, just outside of Gainesville, where the weather is warm for most of the year—and the tiny homes attract travelers from all over who come to visit the nearby freshwater springs. "When the banana trees around our Raja home grow in the summer, they take over the patio and turn it into a mini tropical paradise," Krsna says. "Our goal was for each of our homes to be a tiny oasis."
The smallest tiny home measures 176 square feet with a single sleeping loft, while the largest is 296 square feet of space with two lofts. "The most important thing to us is an open feel," Krsna says. "We achieved this by creating open shelving, high ceilings, and lots of windows."
The couple’s early designs are clad with LP Smart siding and T1-11 siding, while more recent designs are wrapped in board-and-batten cement board. The interiors feature tongue-and-groove pine ceilings, laminate and tile flooring, and walls made from beadboard, plywood, drywall, and shiplap. "We use solid butcherblock made from Baltic birch for all of our kitchen counters," Krsna says. "We love the natural wood look, and butcherblock can be easily cut to any size, so it’s easy to work with."
Krsna and Govinda also sought to connect the interiors with site by outfitting the homes with sliding glass doors, outdoor tubs and/or showers, and in the case of Shiva tiny home, a rooftop deck. "Our Raja and Goa tiny homes have outdoor clawfoot tubs," Krsna says. "We love taking a bath under the stars on a Florida summer night. The tubs, glass doors, and all of the windows allow guests to feel the outdoor space as part of their indoor space."
Krsna and Govinda offer a range of customized experiences including herbal outdoor baths and activities in tune with the Ahimsa lifestyle—the ethical principle in Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism of not causing harm to other living things. "Govinda was raised in India, so when we created our business, we pulled a lot of inspiration from Indian culture," Krsna says.
Visitors can rent Krsna and Govinda’s tiny homes in Alachua for $100 to $120 a night, and those interested in purchasing their own tiny home on wheels can do so for $31K to $45K.
"Many guests are interested in purchasing a tiny home and want to try one out before committing," Krsna says. "Govinda and I lived in a tiny home together before moving into a larger home to grow our family. We absolutely loved tiny living because it brought us closer together, encouraged us to keep only things we really loved and used, and it gave us financial freedom. After moving into our main house, we missed our tiny home and had a desire to build another one—and the rest is history!"
To book a stay with Simplify Further Tiny Homes, visit the company's website or Airbnb.
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Design & Construction: Simplify Further Tiny Homes / @simplifyfurther
Photography: Kacy Vilches / @kapturedbykacyphotography
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