Get Off the Grid: Minnesota start-up rents out tiny vacation house in Fall Creek
In Fall Creek, there’s a 64-square-foot window facing out into five acres of private woods. From the queen-sized bed, one can watch nature go about its business as squirrels, rabbits, birds, and the occasional deer meander past Off-Grid Tiny House.
The house – which features two queen-size mattresses, a kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, and a large space for groups to gather in – is available for rental on Airbnb. Its owners, Duff Davidson, Danny Lindstrom, Ben Cherrey, and Eric Johnson, are University of Minnesota graduates based out of Minnesota.
“We all have a passion for camping, for getting outdoors,” Davidson said. They have lifelong histories of long-distance road trips to fantastic national and state parks, and they’ve all experienced the difficulty of finding a place to stay while enjoying them. Campsites are often booked out months in advance, resulting in staying in expensive hotel that are too far from the action, Davidson said.
“People should be able to experience nature, but have a comfortable place to do it,” Cherrey said.
Lindstrom, who studied architecture, designed the team’s first tiny house. He tried to marry the aesthetic of the house with the land around it, embracing nature while keeping things contemporary. He also wanted to foster the sense of camaraderie campers develop by including a functional social space with a view of the outdoors. Groups can enjoy a game of cards or a drink around the table inside, or songs around the campfire just outside.
“If people want to go out there and go totally off-grid and throw their phone in a box, that’s totally possible,” Davidson said.
Once the plans were ready, they purchased a trailer and began building the house in their driveway in Minnesota; they just needed to find a parcel of land to place it on. During their search for a midway point between Minneapolis and Chicago, they found Fall Creek.
“We fell in love with the land we found out there,” Davidson said. The privacy of the land and its proximity to Eau Claire made it a perfect choice. Many of the places they looked at were too small-town or too big-city; the Chippewa Valley was the perfect balance between the two, and with a multitude of festivals and fairs located in the area, and a university to boot, it was a great choice, Cherrey said.
He, Davidson, Lindstrom, and Johnson built the house – from frame to finish – themselves, funding the project from their own pocket and through small loans. They began renting the tiny house in the winter and had immediate response.
The tiny house has been host to families, couples, crews, and individuals from all walks of life. Guests travel from the Twin Cities, Chicago, Appleton, Green Bay, and Eau Claire for a visit. Their first guest spend several weeks at the house as part of a meditation retreat. A student working on a master’s thesis on audiology followed, and then an artist went there to record an album.
“We hope that what we’ve created will inspire guests to create something as well,” Lindstrom said.
Off-Grid is currently in the process of building a second tiny house. Lindstrom wants each unit to be unique, while still embracing the team’s goal of connecting people with nature through design. They expect to launch their second home in Fall Creek in late June or early July.
More information about Off-Grid is available at www.offgrid.place.