When Kate Jones sent in her application to be on HGTV's Tiny House Big Living, she didn't think much of it. It was done on a whim. Plus, Kate says she and her husband Mike, never win anything. And then HGTV came calling . . .
When Kate Jones sent in her application to be on HGTV's Tiny House Big Living, she didn't think much of it. It was done on a whim. Plus, Kate says she and her husband Mike, never win anything.
Her application described their family's beautiful setting on the Quail Run Quarry that they own. The crystal-clear water of the old quarry provides for magnificent vistas and serves as a popular scuba-diving spot just outside of Rolla.
Close to a year after filling out the application to be on this popular cable program that follows the construction of houses with typically less than 500 square feet, she got a call. It was from a producer who asked her if she and husband were still interested.
“We said, 'yes',” noted Kate, “still certain we would not make the final cut.”
“It was a lengthy process just to get picked,” she said. “We had to submit pictures of our property and create a tiny-house floor plan. As we got down to the final round, we had to do a Skype interview. We got the call in March and were shocked. We broke ground in April.”
After being selected, the HGTV network sent out a crew member to install time-lapse cameras to be used by the show on the site of where the small house was to be built. As she was installing the cameras around the quarry, Kate said the crew person suggested that the Jones' project should be bumped up to the network's more prestigious show, Tiny Paradise. So it was.
“The producers liked the quarry and the fact that we were the only applicant from the Midwest,” Kate explained.
Every TV show needs a good plot. In this case, the Jones' half hour program was built around the fact that Kate and Mike needed more space where their six kids and extended family and friends could enjoy visits to their backyard water paradise.
“True story,” quipped Kate.
The couple had to hire a local contractor,and HGTV gave them a chunk of money to build the bells and whistles for the tiny home. Mike and Kate chose Brad Lewis Construction as their builder.
“I couldn't say enough about Brad and his team. They were fabulous,” Kate said. “There were several days when he and his crew were here well past midnight.”
The filming of the construction took place over three, two-day visits from the HGTV production team. First at the beginning of the build, half way through and at the end.
The reveal of the new 290 square-foot mansion took place over Memorial Day weekend.
“HGTV's crew flew into St. Louis and rented vans and hauled all their equipment down here to Rolla,” Kate explained. “Our garage became their base camp. It was quite a production. Mike and I estimated that they shot 50 to 60 hours of video for a half-hour show.”
Thanks to HGTV, the tiny house, which is just a few hundred feet from the Jones'
“real home”, includes a spacious outdoor deck, floating dock, slide and diving board all just outside the front doors. As well, there is a turf driving mat for hitting golf balls into their quarry. Inside the diminutive structure, there's a full kitchen, living room and a king-sized bed above, in the loft.
“It's county chic,” said Kate. “It has local barn wood and furniture built from some of our family. We had to be very creative in our use of space, as you can image with such a small floor plan.”
Their episode entitled, Tiny House on the Quarry, first aired on HGTV during the last week of July. The Jones' friends wanted to have a viewing party, but Mike and Kate enjoyed the premiere of the program within the comfort of their own home.
Kate said that it didn't take long after the show began before their phones were ringing and buzzing off their hooks from well-wishers—mainly family and friends, who were enjoying the program.
“We had to turn our phones off,” said Kate. “In 30 minutes, we got more than 400 text messages and phone calls.”
The fame didn't stopped there. Kate has become a local celebrity ever since the show aired.
“I've been stopped in Walmart just about every time I go there from total strangers who said they saw me and enjoyed the show. “I've become known as the 'tiny house lady'. It's very strange.”
Kate added that Brad Lewis Construction has received a few calls for prospective jobs from the broadcast. One has come from a couple who wants to build in St. Louis, and another in Branson.
In the end, Kate said the whole experience was a blast. She and her husband couldn't be happier with their small piece of paradise on the lake. They've already had it rented non-stop on Airbnb since June.
“Since our project, I've enjoyed watching the different episodes of Tiny House Paradise,” Kate told The Rolla Daily News. “They are all so vastly different in their construction, style and feel.”
Add to that—location. After Rolla, the crew was headed to Costa Rica and the TV show staff has built in Hawaii and Mexico.
The Jones family, however, isn't complaining. They are tickled pink that their quarry bungalow has put Rolla on the paradise map.