Sun Peaks skier and filmmaker Kieran Nikula has embarked on a project that’s had a significant personal impact, refining his lifestyle philosophies while helping to grow his skiing career.
It began with a six month stint living, skiing and filming out of an old Ford Elite Motorhome. He began to see the world a little differently.
He noticed he didn’t really need that much and didn’t miss that much. He picked up some small scale living tips and continued to simplify his living situation, learning to keep his living expenses as low as possible to allow for more time spent pursuing deep snow.
A small travel trailer in the woods became his home before moving into a 320 square foot space, which he simply calls ‘The Cabin’. Combining the DIY skills he’d honed so far with studying YouTube and trial and error, he embarked on building an addition, growing it to 400 square feet, still micro by most North American dwelling standards.
“Concentrating on saving money, learning the concepts, designing layouts and figuring out how to make everything work well together, for a year and a half has effectively reshaped my thinking,” said Nikula. “I’ve gained a different outlook on myself, what a person needs, the world, and how to use the momentum of my actions to build happiness.”
He shares the cozy space with his wife, Bee and their dog Rowdy, who have both benefited from Nikula’s new perspective and work on the Cabin.
Bee said she no longer finds herself overspending and has been able to make a significant dent in her student loans.
“Overall the cabin has taught us to be patient and to respect each other’s space when needed,” she said. “Our home is controlled chaos. Everything gets placed strategically and for a reason, but I don’t think either of us would do it differently. We’ve been crammed in here together for over a year and now we’re married!”
By living small, Nikula has made some big discoveries; namely, that if you don’t need money, you don’t have to go to work to make money.
“I began to recognize how little I actually need to spend to live happily and comfortably,” he said. “Recognizing how little I need is humbling. Small scale living changes the way I feel about material objects. If I need less material possessions, I won’t need to work so much. That’s what everyone wants.”
He now feels that building and creating are more satisfying than buying and spending.
“Actively thinking about my tiny home and constantly working towards completing each individual project creates a new mental pathway, pointing me towards fixing that broken item, or building that new piece of furniture I need.”
And each successful component not only saves money, but builds confidence and makes him question what else he’s capable of doing for himself.
Skiing for several sponsors, as well as filming and skiing in B.C.’s backcountry, Nikula has found that skiing at professional level and developing his career is extremely expensive. That’s where the benefits of small scale living have had the greatest impact.
“Being out on a mountain, flying down it on my skis is far more important to me than having money, a fancy vehicle, or that new phone,” he said.