August 24, 2016
Hatteras Island couple’s tiny house will make a big debut
By JOY CRIST
Island locals who love binge-watching home improvement shows may be in
for a surprise this weekend when a pair of potentially recognizable
faces appear on the popular FYI network series, “Tiny House Nation.”
The couple is Alexa Nota and Allen Johnson, and
their participation in the show – as well as the resulting
215-square-foot home – stems from their green tendencies, their love of
travel, and their overall appreciation of the tiny house.
It all started with a long-term goal to spend the
bulk of their time traveling – a mutual passion that has spilled over
into the creation of their popular online magazine, Travel Well
Magazine, which focuses on travel, health, fitness, eating well, and
being green, among other tempting or active topics.
At first, Alexa and Allen started researching
recreational vehicles as a means for long-term travel adventures, but
soon stumbled upon a new idea while on a trip to Hatteras Island. While
driving along Highway 12 during the prime kiteboarding and
windsurfing off-season months, they noticed handfuls of kiteboarders
effectively living out of campers while staying on the Outer Banks.
“It was a light bulb moment for us,” says Alexa, “and soon afterwards, we began researching tiny houses.”
They reviewed and studied tiny houses and other
options for a couple of years until deciding to apply for the FYI
television show, "Tiny House Nation," in late 2015. By that time, the
couple had already relocated to Hatteras Island, where Allen currently
works as a personal trainer and Alexa works as the marketing manager
for Outer Beaches Realty.
“We applied [for the TV show] last December just for fun,” says Alexa, “and then they got back to us in February.”
From there, Alexa and Allen underwent a casting
process, which took roughly a month, and eventually went to Chicago for
the 10-day taping of their episode, and the corresponding construction
of their tiny home.
“Our builder had a few pre-set layouts,” explains Alexa. “…and as part of the show, they did all sorts of upgrades.”
The end result is a fascinating, yet charming,
little structure that has a custom roof line, a lot of green extras,
and surprisingly more room than one would expect.
“Most people are surprised by how homey it really
is,” says Allen. “Though it may seem a little crowded if you have six
or seven people in here.”
The interior is neat as a pin, with a bathroom
and nice-sized shower -- one of Allen’s special requests -- a loft /
bedroom, a modest kitchen, and a bright living area. There’s room to
stretch out with a cup of coffee, and a nice dose of natural light
streams onto the sofa through surprisingly large windows – an attribute
that the couple’s two sunbathing cats, Lola and Ursula, certainly seem
“As long as they have plenty of places to sleep, they’re fine,” says Alexa.
There are also some unique re-purposed touches
found throughout the home, including a desk that folds up into the wall
when not in use and is constructed from a pair of old farm jacks.
“You’ll see some of the special [parts of the home] and things that we added during the episode,” says Allen.
And in addition to being a stellar long-term
travel vehicle – it can be transported on the frame of a trailer
like a boat or a camper – the home has a couple of other not-as-obvious
benefits as well.
“The tiny house is a better solution for being
able to travel, but it also suits us because we’re pretty green, and a
tiny house leaves a smaller footprint – both literally and
figuratively,” says Alexa.
there are a lot of green attributes besides the size, which
automatically makes it more efficient to cool or heat. Alexa and Allen
have utilized energy efficient lighting, propane for the stove, and as
many sustainable materials as possible for both the construction and
ongoing maintenance of their home.
And in addition to being inherently green, the
fact that their home can be attached to a pick-up truck and moved with
just a few hours’ preparation certainly comes in handy during hurricane
“Being able to take our home on the road is [a
benefit] we have definitely thought about since hurricane season
started,” says Allen. “After all, how many people can just move their
And while the couple’s long-term goal of
continuous travel still looms maybe five, 10, or 20 years down the
road, for now, they are comfortable in their tiny house, and very happy
on Hatteras Island.
“I love the beach,” says Alexa, “and it’s so nice
to be able to go to some of the most remote sections and have the beach
all to yourself.”
“And it’s really nice during the winter here” says Allen, who has clearly already embraced a favorite season of many locals.
Their finished home, which was completed in March
2016 during the show’s taping, is already well-lived in and well-loved
– by both the human and feline members of their family. The episode of
"Tiny House Nation" featuring their home is scheduled for Saturday
night, Aug. 27, at 9 p.m. More information is available on the
FYI network website, http://www.fyi.tv/.
In the meantime, Alexa and Allen will continue to
live and work in their Hatteras Island tiny house, entertaining friends
who are continually surprised at how charming, homey, and inviting the
interior of the home actually is.
As it turns out, when you have a passion for travel, travel writing, and being green, a tiny house seems to be a perfect fit.
“We’ll always stay pretty small in our houses,”
says Alexa. “We won’t have this house forever, but our future homes
will always be small.”