Home Sweet Tiny Home

By Sarah Wassner Flynn | March 27, 2017, 10:46 a.m. (ET)

bike on trainer 

When recently-married pro triathletes Katie and Tommy Zaferes daydreamed about their first home together, they didn’t envision a sprawling estate or even a tidy colonial. There were no plans for a tricked-out home gym, an indoor lap pool or soaring walls where they could display their impressive collection of awards from racing around the world. In fact, the couple wanted just the opposite. They wanted a tiny home.

Enter Tiny House Nation, the popular FYI reality show that hooks people up with their very own, custom-designed mini-home. On March 25, the Zaferes’ and their brand-new Santa, Cruz, Calif., house — all 370 square feet of it — were featured on an episode. Here, we caught up with the couple about their stint on reality TV and details about their dainty dwelling. To see more photos, visit the gallery.

USAT: So, a tiny house. What’s the draw to living in such a small space?

Katie Zaferes (KZ): Since we travel for nine months of the year for training and racing, we don’t need a huge house — just a comfortable, cozy place to hang out. I’ve always been intrigued by tiny houses, so when we were looking for a place to buy, I brought it up to Tommy. He agreed it was perfect for us.

Tommy Zaferes (TZ): And I thought, why not look into getting on the show? Fortunately, we had a connection, so we took it from there. They set us up with a contractor and then the show’s hosts worked with us on designing a house to fit our lifestyle. And it’s a great investment for us. We don’t have guaranteed income with this sport, so long-term, it’s great to be able to pay something off in full and save money.   

USAT: Was it tough to pare down your stuff before you moved in?

TZ: I’ve spent so many years living out of a suitcase traveling as a pro that I get rid of stuff on a regular basis. And paring down is a big part of the show. They had us focus on what we use and what we need.

KZ: The process was more difficult and stressful for me. It took time deciding what’s important: The things we need for our job, the awards we want to hang on to, the sentimental things.

USAT:  But any triathlete knows, that the sport requires a lot of gear. What will you do with your bikes, helmets, shoes, and everything else?

KZ: We have a bike storage area outside on the back of the house. It’s one of my favorite features — it’s safe and secure, and there’s a great work space for basically anything we need to do bike- or tool-wise. Also, we have a pretty sweet coffee table that turns into a beautiful bike trainer station.

TZ: The designers took all of our equipment and our needs as professional triathletes into consideration. The place is only 8 feet wide and 28 feet long, but has great storage, like a space for our clothes and shoes underneath the staircase leading up to the loft where our bedroom is. But at the same rate, we wanted a home where we don’t have to think about triathlon when we’re in it. We didn’t want to stare at our bikes on the walls or have our gear everywhere.

To read the full Q&A, check out the Spring 2017 issue of USA Triathlon Magazine, which hits member mailboxes in late April.