While North Shore Collinwood is well-known for its spacious houses and its slightly cozier beach cottages, Tim Nevits has found a way to make his home in the neighborhood an intentionally tinier space.
After a one-year stint in China and nine years in New York City, where he studied musical theatre writing and saw one of his shows enjoy a successful run Off-Broadway, Tim found family ties in Cleveland calling him home.
“My nieces and nephews were getting older,” he shares, “and I wanted a chance to be an uncle before they were all grown … There’s something to be said for reconnecting with family.”
Several years later, he still misses New York but doesn’t regret his decision at all. Since his return, he has carved out a new home at the Euclid Beach Mobile Home Park. Tucked between Collinwood’s lakefront parks, library and brand-new recreation center, Tim’s house packs a punch in an incredibly small package … with a ground floor of less than 150 square feet, topped by a small lofted bedroom.
While it’s been slow to arrive in Cleveland, this home is just one example of the growing small house movement, an intentional effort to reduce clutter, cut home expenses and live in a more ecologically sensitive way. For Tim, the idea of owning a small house has long been on his radar. He first encountered the concept while teaching an English course in New York. After leading a lesson on the topic, he promised himself that if he returned to Cleveland, it’s something he would take up.
That decision has been a good one for him. “I’m not good at organizing, not good at ‘things'”, says Tim. “I have so much less to worry about [with a small house], and I’m really grateful for that. It’s been amazing.”
The location of the house has been equally rewarding. He enjoys the winding roads of his neighborhood and the pastel 50s-era trailers of his neighbors … As well as the other residents themselves.
“There’s a real sense of community here. In New York, you don’t talk to your neighbors. Here you talk to your neighbors … And if you don’t, they talk to you.”
One of the biggest advantages, however, has been that the move has provided him with the time and space to focus on the things he loves most. He is currently working on the second draft of a new musical adaptation of a Shakespeare piece, one that he ultimately would like to show nationally. In addition to his art, he’s gotten a chance to carve out more time to explore his new neighborhood, riding his bike around Humphrey Park, catching Project Pop-up Gallery‘s outdoor movie screenings, and picking some new favorite places for food, including the Callaloo Cafe and Bar and the Beachland Ballroom (“The Beachland Ballroom brunch is to die for … One of the best brunches I’ve ever had”).
Amid all this exploration, Tim has been struck by the revitalization taking place in Collinwood, a process he notes has been underway for a long time but now seems to “really have taken off”.
“I’ve been watching entire buildings change color, with gobs of paint,” he says. “The transformation has been striking. There’s always a new thing popping up that you wouldn’t expect.”
From the living room of his small house, with a lake breeze kicking up outside, Tim lends his encouragment to artists thinking about relocating to the unique neighborhood.
“If what you need is space to work on your art – space mentally, spatially and financially (because it’s cheap!), Collinwood’s the perfect space for you.”
“It’s got a history you can look back on … There’s an echo of what was once here, and I find that inspirational. It’s kind of charming. If you’re looking for community personality, that’s what makes it.”