In 2016, Annie Jomphe and Martin Readman decided to change their lives, leaving behind a successful career in construction and renovation in Quebec and Alberta.
“We had the big house and lots of everything and we kind of stopped and went on a two-year sailboat trip with our family, our three kids,” said Jomphe.
“Our values and our perceptions of what we need to be happy changed. We decided less is more and we wanted to help people have a comfortable house — well-designed, well-organized, well-planned and high-quality house but smaller, and less investment, for sure.”
Returning to Canada, Jomphe and Readman chose Penticton as the home base for their business, Sitka Concept, focusing on restoring vintage Airstream trailers and building tiny houses.
They’re currently living in a renovated Airstream with their three children, carrying on what they learned while cruising through the Caribbean aboard a 44-foot sailboat for two years.
“When you live in a small space, you live more and you have less,” said Jomphe. “You don’t have that much space to buy a lot of material, so you go outside, you play with your kids, see your friends, you do what you want to do more.
“You can work less, too, because you have less payments. It is a whole philosophy of a different way of living.”
Having adopted a minimalist lifestyle themselves, Jomphe said their design philosophy is to offer homes and renovations built with simplicity in mind and using self-sustaining materials.
Jomphe said it takes about three months to go “from a very old and scary Airstream to a beautiful gorgeous fine Airstream.”
The design of the interior reflects the client’s wishes, like the one that is currently their family home.
“We designed it for us, for five people, so we have bunk beds, a little workspace, an actual bedroom, but we can adjust to what the clients need,” said Jomphe, explaining how the family manages with so many people in a small space.
“We play a lot outside. It might be a little trickier with winter. We’ve been living in tiny places in the summer and in the south, so that was just fine, but here in Canada it is a little bit colder, so we will see how we adjust with that.”
Like many communities, Penticton is suffering from a shortage of affordable homes. Jomphe said tiny homes could help, with their smaller footprints and lower construction costs.
“We arrived here not long ago, so I want to meet with the mayor and see how we can insert them so it is not so expensive and affordable for people to have a house, a good quality house but on a smaller scale,” she said.
“It could be a good solution for sure. It could be a bit like townhouses or condominiums, but it is a private house. It has everything a family needs, but it could be a little more affordable than the big houses.”
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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