Sometimes I feel like when you open this blog, a dramatic voice should pronounce, “These are the days of our tiny lives…” while our names scroll slowly from the top to the bottom of the screen, and a melancholic music plays in the background. Slow-motion, Tiny House-style soap opera.
It’s been about nine months since we first declared “We’re building a Tiny House!” and we’re only just now getting into the nitty-gritty of the designs (since now it’s two TH’s we’re planning). We’re still simplifying, and learning a lot from staying in a pretty tiny space already (a roughly 400 square foot cabin). Now that we’re living with less things in a smaller space, it is much easier for us to identify what is useful and pleasing and what is not. If it’s not, it simply goes into the “go” pile.
Here are some of the highlights of the past month, pertaining (directly or indirectly) to our Tiny House venture:
- We’re accumulating materials.
This is very new, after spending so much time getting rid of things! I love cruising thrift stores. It’s an activity I’d put aside as we downsized, but now my desire to seek treasures can be fulfilled again! With a running list in my head and a measuring tape in my purse, I am seeking deals on materials from kitchen supplies to lighting fixtures to hardware (such as hooks, hinges, handles).
We’ve also taken to browsing our local steel yard, an apocalyptic-like environment that I’ve always been oddly attracted to. On our last trip, we dug through the mountains of steel for so long that they forgot about us and actually locked us in: we had to climb the fence to get back to our car. We returned the next day to retrieve and pay for (at an incredibly reasonable price) our dazzling stainless steel double kitchen sinks, angle iron (for Donovan to practice his welding skills), folding chair (easy to store and great for parties), aluminum siding (which Donovan is going to experiment with—can we make it look beautiful without toxic metal paint?) and one pristine cat bowl. We also had fun talking to another “steel picker” on site.
- I’m trading my Jedi organizing skills for a space to store our Tiny House materials.
Yes, the shipping container was meant to act as storage and shop, but the reality is, we need more covered space as we accumulate wood siding, appliances, sinks, tubs, salvaged hardwood floors, and the like. There’s a spot on The Blackberry Farm where we live that has been longing to be put into order, so we proposed getting it into shape (sorting, trashing, and recycling items that have been sitting there for years) in exchange for storing materials there. This is totally my scene, as I can indulge my inner German housewife and get obsessive about cleaning and organizing. Plus, I get some free tile out of the deal! It was slated to be tossed into the foundation of the next house being built on The Farm and will instead be used for creating mosaics in my T-House.
3. We’re saving money.
Lest you think we’re trust fund babies and have no financial hurdles to building not one, but two tiny houses on wheels, let me present to you Exhibit A: my *single pair of shoes.
*I do also own a pair of rubber boots I don for the rainy season, some 8 year old Chaco sandals I scored nearly new from a free box at a retreat center, and some greasy flat-souled Mary Janes (my “dress-up” shoes)–but my Keens (which, like most shoes I’ve owned, came to me as hand-me-downs from my dear mother) are the ones I’ve worn day in and day out for the past several years.
As my mother pointed out, even if I were lavishly rich, I’d still shop at thrift stores and wear my clothes and shoes into the ground, because that kind of shopping satisfies my ecological values, my desire to make do with what I have, and my need to avoid shopper’s overload.
The point is, though we live fairly simple (for Americans), we are realizing our money-making potential as electrical partners, and we are thrilled to be able to work just a few days a week to meet our financial and time desires. To this end, I’ve officially become a member of our LLC, Tread Light Electric (aka Integreen Energy Solutions), and we’re budgeting and saving for our future(s). Yay!
4. We’re designing.
We are learning so much about ourselves and each other as we design spaces to fit us.
Since we decided on building not one, but two houses a month ago, the decision makes more and more sense to us. A Tiny House is such a precise and individual reflection of its builder/resident, and I can not imagine how a couple goes about building a single house to satisfy them both. I know it certainly didn’t work for us to try. Now that I have free rein over my project, I am completely engaged and excited about it, whereas before there was always this awful hesitation. Now I know I am planning for a home that will suit me alone, and my imagination and determination are sprinting ahead.
5. We’re building a wall.
Not the kind of dumb-ass fear-mongering wall put forth by our so-called president, but a handsome, salvaged-barn-wood-clad wall, into which we’re installing a lovely glass-paneled door that Donovan has carried with him for over twenty years. The wall is being built in our shipping container, to separate our shop from what is transitioning to a guest room, as we’ve realized how necessary having such a thing is to us and our visiting family and friends. We’ve bought a cute little sleigh bed from the Salvation Army (“guaranteed bed-bug free!” I was assured by a saleswoman there), and we’re both making plans to use the space for our private pursuits. So much so, that I think we’ll have to have a sign-out sheet for the space!