by Josh Steppling
Situated in a historic district, the 202 House had not been updated in over 50 years. The less than 700 square feet of space lacked sufficient natural lighting and hid its historic charm under decades of neglect. There were a lot of renovations needed to get this small, quaint home up-to-date, but it had a lot of potential and character that just needed to be brought to life.
Photography by Trimark Properties www.trimarkproperties.com
The first order of business was to restore those historic features. Shelves and built-in nooks from the house’s original construction in 1920 were recovered to accentuate the property’s historic appeal. The original hardwood floors were sanded, stripped, and covered in stain and polyurethane.
The kitchen and bathroom floors were the two spaces that didn’t have much that could be salvaged. Flooring in these rooms was replaced with a reclaimed ceramic stone tile. The bathroom was gutted to include a pedestal sink and a new shower with tile-surround. We had the entire kitchen stripped. We removed the drywall, the flooring, the counter-tops, the cabinetry—much of the wood had decayed and everything had to go. New appliances and plumbing framework allowed for the kitchen to lend a historic-luxury attractiveness. Space had to be created for a microwave and dishwasher. A testament to the property’s maturity, these appliances weren’t invented when the house was first built. Granite counter tops and custom wood cabinetry gave the bathroom and kitchen a rustic and inviting appeal.
The goal in this small home was maximized livability. The thesis for this project was that you don’t need more square footage to create a comfortable, engaging living space, and the results speak for themselves.
by Robin Boucher
Britt and I built our small house (the left one in the attached image) in 1983 while he attended Virginia Tech to study forestry and I taught art. Everyone thought we were crazy building such a small space, but it was perfect for us. It is 20 x 22 with a full walk-out basement, an open mail level and a 22 x 11 loft. We built as sustainably as possible, recycling, using local products, not overdoing, and building well. In 1993, we built the art studio (24 x 30) so I could work at home. Again, everyone thought we were nuts, this time for building another small house on our land. I didn’t want to work in my house and also I didn’t want to destroy the lovely landscape by building something that required heavy machinery in the woods. Over the years we have found that people who visit come from two camps…they either ask us right away if we plan to connect the buildings, or they think it is great just the way it is.
About 5 years ago, when our children needed more space (as did their parents), we turned the studio into the “day house” relegating my art-making space into an 11 x 14 loft at the top of the spiral stairs in the studio and turning the downstairs into our daytime living space. Today the studio (Day House which is on the right in the photos) contains our living, dining, kitchen, pantry, my mini studio and bathroom. The Night House contains our bedrooms, a bathroom and in the basement my husband’s office and our laundry room.
When people ask how it is walking outside to our bedrooms (especially in rain or snow) I jokingly call it “Camp Boucher” where we are on vacation all year long. The nice thing about our design is the flexibility of space. As our space needs change we have been able to adapt every room to a new function (we removed the kitchen from the original house when we turned that space into a master bedroom…it was easy because it was rustic to begin with). The hard part about itis that the banks and mortgage companies hate it because there are no comparables and it is just plain different. We have avoided adding on and tried to make do with what we have. And it is a lovely place.
by Paul and Shari Roten
I covered the Rotens “Ideabox” inspired Small Home back in December of 2012 and they recently sent me an update to share with you.
We’ve had a crazy few months, but wanted to share some of our news! Mother’s Day was spent moving into a 29ft camper on our 10 acres within a hundred feet or so from our future home. We left our management position due to Shari’s injury, so once again, it was time to start anew. And what a place to start!
We spent a couple days getting things organized in the camper and in our future home as we had no other storage building. Then the raised beds were built from 4x4s and we got our gardens planted! Food is always nice to have, especially when you’re roughing it.
We’ve been blessed by Paul’s new job just 15 miles away where he can utilize his skills and gifts. And we also now have the Camas center where we can get refreshed every day. The hot tub is pretty awesome too for the injury and other aches and pains.
On to the house! We’ve dealt with building codes and inspections, have had a few corrections to address, but up to this point, its been a cash jo with no debt. That’s HUGE to us. However, when you live in extreme NE WA, you have to be prepared for winter. A trailer for two plus three Boxers, one with pups on the way, isn’t going to cut it. We endured much stress as the bank account allowed just enough to cover a few bills each month and we’ve done some creative cooking thanks to Dollars and Deals!
We’ve had an incredible angel come into our lives. We asked for guidance, and he made a proposal AND told us “I believe in you”. It was one of the most humbling and emotional moments we can think of in our lives. We are truly blessed. It is amazing how things work when you take the high road and do the right things on life.
We have a plumber, an electrician, a sheetrock installer and painter in the wings!
Just past our septic test hole inspection with FLYING colours so its on to approval of the design, then installation! That’s a huge hurdle!
We have paint colours chosen, our tile stocked, and plan to hit IKEA on Saturday to pick up all our kitchen cabinets! They are our favorite!
Our 5th anniversary is November 21st, so the plan is to be in and hosting an open house by then!
I’ve had our tiny backyard cottage as a rental on Airbnb now since June and we’ve had over 20 visitors who’ve been both charmed and confused by the size of the cottage, awed by the location and inspired by the space planning and design. Airbnb is a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Our cottage (which we remodeled last year) has been enjoyed by people from all over the world as a quiet place to stay while in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area.
If things continue to go as well as they do, about 20 percent of our income could come from this rental and this great service, allowing me to not have to work full time anymore. However, it has not been without its ups and downs. Several people have felt that the cottage is too small, the water tank is limited in hot water and the location a little out of the way. Albeit, some visitors have found it perfect for their needs. It can be difficult to include every need and want, but I’ve come up with five tips that could help you rent out your own tiny house on Airbnb.
1. Location, location, location…but not how you think
Our cottage is centrally located to many places: Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Yosemite. It’s also out of the city, which allows our visitors to have a quiet getaway while still being about 15 minutes away from groceries and town. However, the majority of our visitors happen to be coming across the country — coming to or from San Francisco. If you market your tiny house as a way station to another location, you could bring in more visitors.
2. Offer a unique experience
A lot of visitors to the cottage were intrigued first by the name of our property and the bright colors of the house. Then they saw that we offered access to wilderness areas (complete with wild horses), a trampoline, plenty of parking, a giant vegetable garden they could peruse and their own kitchen and bathroom.
3. Be an expert in your area
Some of our visitors have been very happy with the advice I’ve given them about our area. I’ve told them the best places to go hiking, the best restaurants in the area and tips on how to avoid crowds. Be an expert in your own area and make yourself available for questions.
4. Check with your insurance and put it in writing
If you list your tiny house with Airbnb, your property is covered for loss or damage due to theft or vandalism caused by an Airbnb guest for up to $1,000,000 (in eligible countries). I also called our insurance company to make sure that we would not be liable for any injury to a guest as long as they were on our property. It turns out that bodily injury is covered under our insurance with any structure on the property. I have a small information packet in the cottage that outlines the rules of the property and for visitors to use our trampoline or swing at their own risk.
5. Be ready for last minute requests
Several of our Airbnb requests have been for that night or the next night. I’ve had to scramble at the last minute to clean the cottage and make it available for the next person. Be prepared for last minute requests and have extras of everything including bedding, towels and bottles of water and make sure the tiny house is heated or cooled depending on the weather.