By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
Of the two of them, Cody is the minimalist in the relationship.
But his wife Ashleigh (Bartz) is learning to be.
“Of the two of us he’s always been a minimalist,” Ashleigh said of her husband. “He has only two pairs of shoes, a few pairs of pants.”
Ashleiigh, who by no means is a collector of stuff, has embraced the minimalist style and is living along side her husband in a 219 square foot print house in Hokah.
Tonight (Jan. 14) the couple will share their story with America as they will be featured on FYI Network’s “Tiny House Nation.”
Their home, which now sits in Houston County just outside Hokah, can be moved to any location which is part of the appeal for the couple.
“We’ve always loved living in the city,” said Cody. “We love La Crosse.”
“But we’re getting used to rural living and we’re really comfortable,” said Ashleigh.
Ashleigh, who teaches 4th, 5th and 6th graders at La Crescent Montessori Academy and STEM school said that because of the family like atmosphere at the school the couple were able to find a location for their home.
“A lot of people buy a lot and you still are ‘stuck’ to one location,” said Cody.
“Thanks to the closeness of the people at my job we were able to find a suitable place for us to have our home,” Ashleigh said.
The home is located on the family of one of Ashliegh’s students.
They approached the Houston County Zoning office for permits to put the home on the property.
“They were really great to work with,” said Ashleigh.
“They basically permit it like a camper,” added Cody.
He said that the couple can live in the structure for a period of 11 months but must not live their year-round.
“But they said they’d work with that,” he added.
Given that tiny houses are becoming more and more common, municipalities are going to need to address the phenomenon in their zoning laws.
“We do wish cities and governments would take a closer look at zoning tiny homes,” said Cody.
Cody, who is a graphic designer and works in downtown La Crosse, designed the home from scratch.
““It started by doing some research in the hope of lowering my environmental footprint,” said Cody. “That lead to research about tiny homes. It’s owning a home without a huge mortgage. The other expenses, materials, heating and cooling is obviously less.”
So Cody designed the home online.
He started with sticking to the legal parameters so the home could be mobile.
“You have to stay less than 13 1/2 feet tall so you can go under bridges and eight and a half feet wide to fit in traffic lanes,” Cody stated. “We can hook it up to an F350 pick up truck and move it if we need to.”
Ashleigh wanted the home to function well so she contributed to the overall design as far as the floor plan.
“We wanted to build in lofts to maximize the space,” Cody added.
“And the lofts add square footage,” said Ashlieigh.
The couple’s bedroom is on one side in a loft form and on the other side is an office where Cody does much of his design and art work.
The lofts bring the overall square footage of the home to 330.
Initially the frame of the home was built, and filming occurred during this process.
Once the frame was done, Cody asked his parents, who live in the Bemidji area, if it could be stored on their farm.
A crew of 10 producers followed the home and the couple as their new living space was created.
Ashleigh got to add her “Bohemian style” and the couple chose features, functions and finishes that fit both their styles.
“I like a lot of plants,” said Ashleigh. “So they built us an ‘herb garden’ where we can have fresh herbs, vegetables and plants, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.”
Ahsleigh, who is vegan, said that was an important feature for her in the home.
“We’re both artists so we wanted a visually pretty home as well,” added Cody.
That led to details like stairs leading up to the loft which serves as an office being see through.
“So you can sit on the couch and be able to see through to the whole other side of the house,” Cody said. “That really gives the home an open feeling.”
Filming happened in August, with much of the process taking place in the metro.
The couple moved the home to Hokah in late August.
“The show really focuses on the people and why they decided to live in a tiny house,” Ashleigh said. “We love the freedom it provides our life.”
“Not having to be burdened by a mortgage is really liberating,” said Cody.
The show wi
ll also be featured online and can be purchased on iTunes after it airs.
FYI Network appears on channel 266 on DirectTV, On Dish Network, it is featured on channel 119. On Acentek, it can be found on channel 106.