Tiny House: The Teenager Edition

Cindy Blažević

This photo has a quaintness and gentleness, especially with the elements of the white wooden ladder and the tree in front of the cabin. It matches the story of the tiny house—created by a teenager during the pandemic to retreat from her family—to an appropriate technique, taking a soft approach to the image. – Jury Comment

15-year-old Ila Martel built this Tiny House as a reprieve from her family of five when pandemic lockdowns persisted in 2020. When her family moved to their small farmhouse to escape the Covid-y city air, Ila had the idea to build a space of her own where she could go to write and be creative and occasionally sleep away from her family.

So she engaged the help of her engineer dad. Together they sourced lumber from the hardware store and gathered pallets and windows left by farmers on the side of the road. She designed the windows to swing out for ventilation, learned to roof and to use board and batten. Altogether, the build took between three and four months, mostly on weekends and relying heavily on a trial-and-error approach. Thrilled to have a place of her own, she lived out of her Tiny House for an entire summer. The inside boasts a canvas sleeping hammock, a tiny desk and stool, books, a typewriter, a string of fairy lights, wallpaper comprised of pages torn from hip magazines, and teenage ennui. A rain barrel and solar generator keep things functional. But, because the structure sits on pallets and because she forgot to anchor it, one day last fall the wind huffed and puffed and blew her little house down. She’s since fixed it.

Location: Ila Martel, Tiny House, 2020, Mulmur, Ontario