More Johannes than Martijn

March 02, 2023

Videos related to tiny-ish homes are a thing. I think the first variant I fell into was walkthroughs of really small Japanese apartments. I reach my limit pretty quickly, but a few concise videos on places and people who make really efficient use of space and carefully selected things can be just the thing I need sometimes. Once that had been watched, there were of course a lot of apartments in my recommendations, but also other types of tiny homes. Most did not catch my interest at all, but for some reason I watched this one video where a young guy had renovated a small stone house in a Welch village in a very nice way. Before shots, plans and ideas, execution, after shots, reflections. Fun stuff.

Then, I was recommended one of Martijn Doolard's first videos about renovating his two stone cabins in the alps. I thought I could be starting on a short series about getting them in order, but no. This was one of those really long-term diary projects. The first video was from October of 2021, and as of today he still is not living in the cabins but in a (quite cosy-looking, I have to say) tent next to them. His videos are meditative to watch, with long, calm shots of work being done in the beautiful mountain environment. Full screen and 4K resolution is highly recommended to get the most out of the views. This is definitely not about getting to a goal, this is about being on the journey.

One thought which struck me early on was just how precarious it is to try and live in a place like that - and even more so before you have actually made your intended home liveable. Martijn is doing a lot of work alone (I have tried very hard to not think about the extra work needed to place and move cameras as he goes along), and it would not take much of an accident to be in trouble. It also struck me how much work everything takes, and how one's own aging might quickly and definitively put a limit on how long you can live in and maintain a place like that.

Now for the plot twist: I was watching one video where Martijn got stuck. I think it was the car getting stuck in snow and unable to even get to the road (speaking of incidents which could be catastrophic if alone on a mountain). Whatever the situation, Martijn got help from his friendly neighbour Johannes who lived on the other side of the mountain. He seemed like a very nice guy every time he appeared in videos, and even filmed some segments himself when Martijn happened to be away. Youtube's algorithms did their work, and finally recommended me a video about Johannes' home.

In stark contrast to Martijn's, Johannes' house was completely done, including a wonderful terraced garden. Johannes had made the house livable in a couple of months saying something along the lines of "I needed to be quick, because I was intending to work here, not work on the house."

That struck me as the big difference between Martijn and Johannes, and I also realized that I am firmly on the Johannes side. I would not want to spend years in the process of fixing up a place, I would want to fix it quickly and then use it to be there and do things. I would love to spend weeks or months living and working in a house like Johannes', but would I be excited about maintaining it? Would I look forward to fixing the gutters, mending the roof, and getting supplies from beyond the mountain when needed? No, most likely not.

I guess this also explains why I find the coffee breaks and cooking some of the nicest bits of Martijn's videos - they are about using the things and being in the place rather than sowly rebuilding it.