So, we stayed warm inside a rented studio space—and researched and shopped and sketched out interior plans. We ordered our Kimberly woodstove, Dometic alcohol-burning stove, Eco-Privy kit and our SolSolutions solar generator. We resumed our tiny house build in April of 2015, and it took just three months to finish the interior space. We moved in that August.
This New Year marked our 18th month of living in the house. I'm happy to report we love it even more than the day we moved in. Yes, there are some things we would do differently (see below), but there's so much that makes living here better than any of our previous houses. We've learned it's absolutely possible for two adults to live comfortably in an intentionally designed, 250-square-foot space.
Now, a list of the first ten why-I-love-my-house reasons that come to mind:
1. Cleaning and upkeep. In a half-hour I can vacuum, dust, wash dishes and do any general tidy-ing up needed. No stairs to run up and down (as in our previous houses), no unused space to maintain.
2. Climate control. When it's hot, our many windows (including six clerestory windows) plus three ceiling fans keep us compfortable. It doesn't hurt that we're on the side of a mountain with trees for partial shade. In the winter, the clerestory windows let the warmth of the sun into our space. For cold winter nights, our wood stove keeps things cozy. The rest of the time an oil-filled, radiant heater is enough to keep things at a base temperature. (More soon on the new heater we're installing.)
3. Light. With three glass doors and 11 windows, our space is light-filled even in winter. And I'm someone who needs sunlight!
4. Seamless indoor/outdoor space. The windows also make the forest feel like an extention of our living space. Having three exterior doors means we can be outside in a second from anywhere in the house. And with a deck wrapping around three sides of the house, we walk out the doors to rocking chairs, an herb garden and spaces to grill and eat.
5. Ground-level sleeping. Yes, our bed takes up significant floor space, but I'm happy we don't climb a ladder to get to bed. And Bill is especially happy not to sleep in a confined space. Lofts work wonderfully for many people; they're just not for us.
6. A spacious kitchen. We have a giant sink, which we use all the time whether doing the dishes, washing things out, soaking labels off beer bottles (for homebrewing!), etc. We can put butcher block inserts over the sink for more counter space, but even without the inserts we have abundant open counter space, because our dining table doubles as an extension of the counter. With more than four feet of space between the counter and the opposite wall, nothing feels cramped in the kitchen area.
7. Extending over the sides of the trailer. For people not planning on moving a house much (or at all), it makes such a difference going wider than the 8.5-foot width of a trailer. Tiny houses that stay inside the wheel wells, are even narrower, with about 7 feet of interior width. Our house is more than 11-feet wide inside. Yes, we'd need a "wide load" permit to move this house, but we'll deal with that if/when the need arises.
8. Shower elbow room. We could have saved space in the bathroom by going with a smaller shower, but we're happy we didn't. Our 54" x 24" stall feels just right, and we're generally happy with the corrugated metal walls in the shower.
9. High shelves. I kept a lot more things than true minimalists do. I have my grandmothers' china and silver, my uncle's old books, souveneirs from our travel, beautiful artwork by my sister Jill Jensen and much, much more. Some of these "treasures" sit on shelves over the bedroom windows. More on shelves over the kitchen windows and more still on shelves over the TV and sofa. Though we have a lot packed into this house, we have sufficient storage for non-decorative items, and we work to keep the house uncluttered otherwise.
10. Our screen house. OK, techinically this isn't part of the house, but our 160-square-foot, freestanding screen porch is a big part of why our house doesn't feel small. In good weather, we spend much of the day in this open-air space. Built partially out of reclaimed materials and left primitive (no electricity, no running water), it was cheap and quick to build. It feels as though we're sitting in the middle of the forest—just without the bugs or rain.
Are there things we would do differently? Yes! And that will be the subject of a future blog...
Please click on the pictures below for more details.