Tina Larkin and her Purple HarpMobile

by Tiny Larkin

I’m a musician, visual artist, traveler and dog lover. As long as I can remember, I’ve always been interested on living simply and having a small carbon print upon the Earth. I always wanted some sort of teardrop or small RV in order to have a home on wheels.

trailer exterior

The 2008 economic crash and continued downturn of our economy prompted my decision to stop paying rent. I have bought and sold about a dozen houses, flipping them after living in then for a year or two. The current economy precludes my ability to keep doing this. After several years of research and touring as a musician, I made two important decisions…

  1. As a harpist, fiddler, and composer,my talent is best appreciated on the west coast. So to be musically focused on the area of San Francisco to Vancouver, I need
  2. A portable tiny home,which must be towable by my current car,which is a 4-cylinder Hyundai.

I designed a tiny, almost tear-droppy like trailer to go atop a 4 x 8 ft. Harbor Freight trailer chassis. I chose this model because it weighs only 230 pounds and was inexpensive. I decided that the entire trailer needed to weigh less than 600 pounds. I based this on the tiny trailers built by Abel Zimmerman and the Whittled Down folks, and others, all of whom designed their trailers to be used with 4 cylinder cars. I chose 1?4 inch plywood and 2×2′s for my building materials. I decided to use exterior grade silicone for all joints and edges, and a rubber spray coating for the roof, which might also get another cover as the summer progresses. The lavender color is wood stain, not paint.

interior

Before I even got my trailer hitch installed on my car, the naysayers pounced. Most, but not all, were men.

“You can’t tow anything in that car! The owners manual says so!”
“You’ll destroy your transmission!”

“You better use 2×4′s and 3?4 inch plywood! Otherwise that thing is gonna explode going down the highway!!!”
“It’s not safe! You’re just a woman, and travelling alone! You’re nuts!”

It is a good thing that I never listen to the naysayers. I did my homework, so knew what I did know and did not know, and I knew where to find the info I still required. I was able to recognize when others spoke out of their own fear or envy. My online and in-person homework showed me that this venture was, and is possible.

harpmobile

A Seattle friend, Brad Maas, helped greatly in the building of this PurpleHarpMobile, as I have named her. He lent his yard space, tools and knowledge in this venture. Many thanks to him.

The PurpleHarpmobile has more windows now, (that I made after theses photos were taken) and is fragrant with natural wood inside and my favorite essential oils. I live in it full time and can cook inside or out. There is neither real heat, nor electricity, but I have a Mexican terra cotta planter. Four tea light candles inside and a metal bowl over it create a small and charming heat source. I will purchase a solar panel this summer. I am going to custom decorate the exterior this month.

Tina and trailer

So far, I have performed in Seattle, and have done a bit of camp hosting in Oregon. I am about to begin exploring the music scene and tiny house community in Portland. My plan is to use this HarpMobile for Music Festivals, and maybe sell it down the road, and then build a tiny house! Tiny House Blog, and other online info, has been a huge help in making my dreams a reality. Thanks for reading!

email: tinalarkinmusic@live.com
Website: tinalarkin.com

harpmobile at Lake Trillium

Living on the Grid in a Tiny Space

by Juan

I have always been intrigued by small spaces and when I was stationed in West Berlin in the early 80′s, I noticed that the people there had little “Gardenplatz” structures in a certain area in the city specifically set aside for that.

These were little cabins in a fenced in area where the owners could take a little holiday and do some gardening. They grew flowers and vegetables there. This was during the time when the Berlin wall was still up and real estate was at a premium. When the wall went up, Berlin was basically surrounded and cut off from the rest of the world. Berliners had to make do with what they had on hand.

These little cabins provided them with a getaway while still in the city. It was a place of peace and quiet and an escape from the harsh reality of the cold war. Then when I saw Jay Shafer’s Tiny Tumbleweed Homes years ago I knew this is what I wanted to do. I haven’t yet decided on what to build, but in the meantime I’m living on the grid in my little camper. I bought my first motorhome while stationed in Alaska in the early 90′s.

I had a little four cylinder Toyota motorhome that we took all over Alaska and did some camping and gold panning. Now I have a 15′ Riverside Retro 155 travel trailer that I have been living in for the last 4 months at a local mobile home park on a river in Naples, Florida. I’ll include some photos of my setup. Custom Batman graphics by my sons at Bay Printing, Bay St Louis, Mississippi.. Once again, thank you for all the information you put out on this old concept turned new, tiny houses.

Pensacola

Traveling through Pensacola, FL

Naples

Naples, FL my homebase

Gulfport

On the road to Gulfport, MS

bathroom

Bathroom door with mirror, grandchildren art wall to the left.

bed

Full time bed, 3/4 size mattress, storage underneath.

kitchen

Kitchen area, sink two burner stove, fan vented hood and microwave above the stove.

Dinette

Dinette area with my computer on table. Storage under both bench seats and drops down to twin size bed.

Bumfuzzle Bus

Followers of the Bumfuzzle adventures have seen the intrepid couple go from sailing around the world in a catamaran to driving around the world in a VW bus. Their latest adventures: sailing in a beautiful, but cranky, 43-foot Spindrift Pilothouse in Mexico has come to an end and Pat and Ali have moved their two small children aboard a 27-foot 1966 Dodge Travco camper to explore the interior, rather than the coast, of the Americas.

bumfuzzle-bus

Pat and Ali have always been up front with what they spend on their tiny homes on wheels and water. The Spindrift was eventually costing them too much money in repairs and docking fees. When traveling the interior of Mexico, they were essentially not living in their boat—but still paying for it. Pat writes in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“In my opinion keeping a boat that you aren’t using is one of the stupidest financial decisions a person can make. Two years, $500 a month dockage/hard storage is $12,000. Paying somebody to keep an eye on it $2,500. Coming back after two years to repair everything that has been neglected or just simply stopped working while you were away, another couple of thousand easily.”

bumfuzzle-dining

bumfuzzle-bus-interior

bumfuzzle-bus-bed

bumfuzzle-bed-kid

Still wanting to travel, homeschool their children and live in something with a little style, the couple purchased the vintage Travco online sight unseen for $9,000 and added another $12,000 of repairs and additions including solar power, custom mattresses and new upholstery. The bus has a living space with a dining table, a fold-out couch, plenty of seating, a back bedroom with two beds for the children, closets and a bathroom.

bumfuzzle-bus-storage

bumfuzzle-bus-family

bumfuzzle-bus-winter

The bus (just like their other modes of transportation) is clean and minimalist without a lot of toys or clothes. In fact, when the family of four left Mexico, they only had six boxes of belongings. Pat says in the Bumfuzzle blog:

“Six boxes. We have two kids. Are you wrapping your head around this? Because I’m not. I really don’t think about our minimalism as minimalism, if that makes sense. I never think about it at all. It just is. I guess we’ve lived this way for so long now that it has become second nature—it’s no longer a conscious decision. In fact, it’s not a decision at all. But I think it is a way of life that enables us to go on doing exactly whatever the heck it is that we want to do. Being able to load all our belongings on an airplane for $200 makes that big move from one country to another feel a whole lot more doable than wondering, “How could we move? How could we change course? How could we get all of our stuff from here to there?” For people like us these would be the worst questions we could ever find ourselves asking. We need our mobility. It’s a part of us.”

bumfuzzle-minimalist

Photos by Bumfuzzle.com

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]