For the past two years, Miranda Aisling has lived inside a 160-square-foot tiny house, affectionately called Aubergine.
While small in dimensions, the space includes everyday amenities like a refrigerator, sink and stove, as well as a composting toilet and greywater shower. There’s even a little bay window seat where Aisling sits and knits or reads books.
Aisling said she decided to downsize and try out life in a tiny house due to the financial aspect of living. About five years ago, she read an article about a couple in Portland, Ore., who had done some math and realized that, in 10 years, they had spent $60,000 on rent.
“So, I started doing my math, and realized how much I had spent in Boston so far, and that’s when I turned to tiny houses,” Aisling said. “I built the tiny house out of my life savings. The cost of materials was a little under $30,000. But now I live rent free and mortgage free, and because of that, I can work full-time on a non-profit that I’m starting,”
That non-profit, Miranda’s Hearth, seeks to create a community art hotel that includes hotel rooms, artist work spaces and community meeting space.
“We want to combine for-profit hospitality with non-profit community art to create hotel rooms where everything around you is handmade by local artists,” Aisling said. “Our approach was, rather than ‘build it and they will come’, bring them together and they will help build it.”
Aubergine is actually a kind of prototype for what a community art hotel room would look like. The tiny house boasts many interior features that were handmade by artists, from the folding stairs to the floor cloth.
Having hosted several community building events with much success, Aisling said, about a year and a half ago, she started looking for a building that could become a community art hotel.
“One of our board members went to Gordon College and recommended that we look at Beverly, just as one of our possible sites,” Aisling said, adding that she has had many positive meetings with city officials. “At this point, we’ve decided that, if we can make it work in Beverly, we will.”
One location being seriously considered is the now-vacant Briscoe Middle School, which is a huge space in which Aisling sees great potential.
“We’re open to other places,” Aisling said. “Briscoe is the first one that came up. I think if we could make it work there, it would be amazing. Whether we can make it work there or not is a big question mark. And if we can’t, we’ll look for another space.”
Through three community meetings that will be held over the next few weeks, Aisling said she hopes to not only spark conversation and excitement about the idea, but also gauge interest from folks who might like to be directly involved.
“We’re looking for help,” she said. “We’re looking for partners, we’re looking for investors, were looking for advisors, anybody who might chip in.”
In addition to those meetings, the tiny purple house, situated at 7 Winter St., at Montserrat College of Art, will be open for tours and walk-throughs several days each week through the end of July. The first weekend, Aisling said over 250 people had stopped by to take a look at Aubergine and ask her questions about tiny house life.
Aisling said she is incredibly grateful to Montserrat College of Art for hosting her, offering up a parcel of land where she could park Aubergine for the month. And the feeling is mutual
"Montserrat is excited to host this project to enhance our arts and culture district in Beverly," said Jo Broderick, Dean of College Relations at Montserrat College of Art.
Open house hours are listed at www.mirandashearth.com/beverly; folks may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a tour.
To learn more, visit www.mirandashearth.com.