Four-wheel driving free spirit Tiana is building her off-grid dream home
- Tiana Walton is obsessed with camping, four-wheel driving and adventure
- The automotive photographer is now building her own off-grid tiny home
- She wears Steel Blue work boots because “they’re comfortable, they’re cute and they’ve got zips!”
Are you living to work or working to live?
It’s a question many of us ask at some point in our lives, but Tiana Walton, from near Chester in the UK, has asked it of herself at a far younger age than most of us.
Fresh out of university, and after just a couple of years of regular work in her profession as an automotive photographer, Tiana made a big decision: the rat-race was not for her.
“I’ve had four 9-5 automotive photography jobs since I left uni,” she said. “They were great jobs, but I didn’t last longer than six months in any of them. I was like, ‘I’m just not doing this’. I do not want to be in a situation where I have to pay rent every month and my bills are higher than what I’m bringing in.”
Going off-grid and camping for life
Her solution? She’s building her own off-grid tiny home on her family’s smallholding, out of a 27-foot (8.2 metre) hay bale trailer with an old lorry refrigeration unit. She’s doing as much of the work herself as she can, using second-hand materials.
“I’ve just put a roof on it,” she said. “I’ve got my stove and my bed. I have a kitchen, but it’s not fitted yet. I haven’t got a shower, toilet or sink yet. I bought some second-hand flooring, which looks great. It cost me £35 and I fitted it myself. I’m learning so much throughout this project.”
Building your own off-grid home is a pretty extreme way to escape the nine to five, but Tiana said it was a natural fit for her.
“I’m obsessed with camping,” she said. “I will do anything as long as it’s outside. I don’t like being indoors. I’m also re-using everything and trying to do it as environmentally consciously as possible. Being off-grid, it’s going to cost me less in the long run, even if the investment is quite high.”
Tiana said she has picked up a lot of skills, from woodworking to welding to fitting stoves. Where she’s had to hire a professional tradesperson, Tiana said she liked to watch them work and learn from them.
“I volunteer to help, which really means getting in the way!” she said. “But it means if something breaks, if I know how it went in, I can probably fix it, or at least have a chance of repairing it.”
Obsessed with photography and four-wheel drives
To pay for her home building project, Tiana freelances in her trade as an automotive photographer for events like Ultra4 Europe, an extreme racing company hosting events across the UK and Europe.
“I’m quite creative but I didn’t get the drawing or painting gene, but I really liked art,” Tiana said. “So, I got into photography, which I was naturally good at. At uni they said you have to specialise in a kind of photography, so I specialised in automotive.”
Tiana has her drone licence, which allows to her capture some amazing images of vehicles racing or in the wilderness.
Obsessed with four-wheel drives and going camping with her dog, Pickle, Tiana owns three vehicles she calls her pride and joy: A Toyota Hilux MK7 with a roof tent, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series and the latest addition, a 1991 Toyota Townace camper.
“(The Land Cruiser is) a UK spec, which is super rare, because they’re all imports, normally,” Tiana said. “It’s only done 130,000 miles, which is low mileage for its age.”
Why Tiana wears Steel Blue work boots
Tiana first came across Steel Blue work boots when she saw social media influencer Danielle Simpson wearing them.
“She has a ’79 Series Land Cruiser and she’s just really cool and she had the jungle boots on, and I was just like, ‘I want those’,” Tiana said. “They’re fantastic because they have zips, so you don’t have to lace them up, they look cute, and they don’t hurt your feet because they’re so padded and squishy. It’s just three big wins, right there.”
You can see Tiana’s photography, her tiny home and her four-wheel drives on her Instagram.