Living on a Prayer

A Mantachie couple is now at home in an “almost” tiny home they built from the ground up.

Written by Abbey Edmonson | Photographed by Joe Worthem

With meticulous planning, benevolent friends and lots of prayers, Rebecca and Bennett Verdon designed and built an “almost” tiny home in Mantachie. The idea for what they now call “RV Farmhouse 2020” began as a drawing on a napkin.

Bennett worked as a truck driver about six and a half years ago. He lost his job after crashing and totaling a company truck, so he later began working at Cooper Tire in Tupelo. Following the sudden change in income, Rebecca and Bennett sold their home to one of their daughters and downsized into a fifth-wheel camper.

“We were in our camper about two years, and I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel like home,’” Rebecca said. “I wanted my space. So, we started looking, and I drew out on a napkin one day what I wanted.”

Rebecca is currently a volunteer at Connect Church in Tupelo, but her favorite job is being a grandmother to her seven grandchildren. She loves to host friends and family any chance she gets.

“My way of loving people was through my home; and when I lost my home, I felt like I’d lost that part of me,” she said. “This project opened that up and gave that part of me back, that decorative side, creative side and hospitality side of me that I felt like was missing.”

The couple received a loan to fund their new project. A quaint pond drew them to the location they chose in Mantachie. Rebecca also loved the availability of outdoor space for group activities. They bought the property in September 2019 and moved forward with their building plans.

Rebecca designed the layout of the new home herself. She wanted a large communal space that was big enough to host gatherings, and she wanted a spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower. The bedroom was optional, thus resulting in the studio-style layout.

Unfortunately, a long rainy season followed shortly after they closed on the land, preventing them from pouring concrete for several months. When the contractors eventually did get the concrete poured and the building up, COVID-19 had already begun spreading across the nation. While the initial shutdown of normal life was a hindrance for most people, it allowed the Verdons some much-needed time to work on the interior of their new home.

Rebecca spent months researching decor details she liked. She said she wanted to go for a “farmhouse style with a camper twist.” Using inspiration from house flippers like Chip and Joanna Gaines, Rebecca saved and filed numerous examples of what she wanted. Inside the home, visitors can find wash-basin sinks, rustic wooden and antique features, a kitchen counter made from a thrifted church altar and many more farmhouse details. The entire process of building and finishing the almost tiny home took around six to seven months, and the overall price tag was $65,000.

“I guess you could say I had champagne taste on a beer budget,” Rebecca said.

Rebecca designed the garage with the future in mind. While it currently houses their old camper, it can be converted into a master bedroom and bathroom with a one-car garage if needed. Rebecca said they could also expand by building upwards; however, they are more than content with the space they have right now.

This project is not a first for Rebecca. She previously flipped a house for one of her daughters after her daughter got married. The only part of the original house they kept during that project was the bare-boned infrastructure.

Rebecca’s favorite elements in her new home are the items donated by her friends and fellow churchgoers. Lumber prices rose right as the Verdons started looking for materials for their walls. A friend of Rebecca’s at church decided to replace the cedar in his house with vinyl. He offered the cedar to Rebecca, and now it lines all of the walls in the home.

Another friend wanted to replace the wooden fencing in their front yard. Rebecca repurposed the wood posts into a feature wall behind the fireplace and a custom vent hood cover in the kitchen.

“I really love the fireplace,” Rebecca said. “I think it adds a lot of character with the turquoises and the grays in there. It accentuates the 10-foot ceilings I have in there.”

Connect Church sold old pews and other items to fundraise for a new community teen room, so Rebecca bought the old altar and installed it as her kitchen island. The words “In remembrance of me” are still inscribed along the edges. The gray countertop that perfectly fit the rest of the kitchen was also a donation from a friend.

Rebecca says she feels very proud of the home she’s created. However, she doesn’t take all of the credit.

“Even when you’re at the bottom of the barrel, you can pray, and God will bring a way,” Rebecca said. “You don’t have to have everything new; you don’t have to have as much stuff. What matters is finding the place where God wants you to be, and to be able to share it with others.”