by Ann Reynolds
As an architect, my best ideas emerge from restriction, and my best clients have always been those with limited resources. What I hadn’t planned on though, was becoming my own worst client.
In this last recession, I lost everything, including my job. I was forced to sell my properties fully furnished, just to close the deal. The heartbreaker was losing the 1700 square foot warehouse loft I’d renovated into a stunning art gallery. Before I laid the carpet, I in-line skated the full seventy-foot length a couple times just for fun.
This sale too, would only close if everything on the walls were part of the deal. I lost most of my art collection, and valuable pieces I bought in India, Nepal, and Thailand. I fit my bike, my saddle, and my clothes into a Minivan and moved from the Bay Area to another state, hoping to buy a property with cash.
But one disaster after another cost me more money. When a water main exploded under the floor of my rental unit, the flood destroyed everything I’d just bought at Wallmart. I couldn’t get a loan anymore, so I moved back to California to hunt for income.
This time, I rented an even tinier place, and furnished it with “elegance” from Goodwill. At first, my tiny Sausalito houseboat studio seemed idyllic, until I started unpacking. My frustration quickly turned into huge appreciation for Kent Griswold’s site, and all the clever people featured in it. Tiny houses always seemed so romantic, so practical, so “green.” What was my problem?
As I confronted the most challenging space planning of my career, the reality of my losses hit me like a tsunami. So I focused on the stability of the horizon and the future, like I did when two of us crossed the Pacific from California to Hawaii in a thirty-foot boat.
The day finally came when I could navigate my studio and actually find something. I found something else too. I could be happy with a whole lot less and live on another boat that was going nowhere.
by Susan Stacy
I love the Tiny House Blog. I came across it a few years ago when I was looking to downsize and I fell in love with the “Tiny Texas Houses.” I dreamed of having one on my five acres one day here in Texas. I was looking through Craigslist one Saturday about two years ago and came across a small house to be moved.
I decided the idea was crazy at first, but kept going back to look at the picture house so I called to go see it. It is 400 sqare feet and sat in a pasture about a mile from where I grew up. I never noticed it although I passed it each day on the bus. I bought it and had it moved to where I live about 15 miles away.
I put a tin roof on, a porch, and painted barn red over the pepto bismal pink. I tore out a lot of stuff in the kitchen and bathroom, but left the upper kitchen cabinets, painted them, and removed the doors. The exterior doors were in bad shape so they had to go. I love living in my little “Bear Cabin” as I call it now since I have it decorated with bears inside!
Keep up with Susan’s house on her blog: http://susansimplified.blogspot.com/
by Ethan Ramirez
My name is Ethan Ramirez, several months ago I posted pictures of my first tiny house. A 100 square foot silver rectangle that my girlfriend and I built and lived in…at the time. Well since that time a gentleman approached me asking if I would be willing to sell him our house. I was so excited I told him yes immediately, because I had so much fun building the first one and was already thinking of how I could do it again. This time more efficiently and dare I say it, smaller.
The gentleman told me the lease on his rental house was up in February and without much thought I told him great I will have it available. Keep in mind he approached me around late October/early November giving me around 3 months and with my job of working overnights I have several full off days during the week so I figured sure my girlfriend Kelsey and I could totally build another in 3 months. Well turns out that November was a pretty rainy month so we had to scratch November out of the picture and then came December and with it the Holidays and travel so we went a head and scratched that out as well. Which had us frantic and left only with January and February.
Well after putting on our “grown up” pants and “work ready” gloves (we actually don’t work with gloves) we got down to business building our tinier tiny house. This house was to have only 8ft ceilings so we could fit under trees if needed, because Texas summers can be brutal. We also wanted to have a 20% smaller footprint. Well ladies and gentlemen I am happy to say that after 6 weeks of sun up to sun down off days we did it!
Our tiny house 2.0 as we call it is complete and we have moved into it. The house consists of a kitchen space with similar plumbing to the last house (water crock fed sink) an “office” which consists of a standing desk with storage beneath it, a sleeping area and living room. We decided to place the bed on the floor in this house because last summer we found out exactly how hot air rises and decided that if we put our bed down low and our a/c unit up high we will get a much cooler sleep.
Inside the sleeping area we have placed shelves inside the joists of the lofted living space where we store underwear and other items used either before sleeping or just after waking. The living room consists of a couch with storage underneath for media and across from it an entertainment center neither of which were in the last house (our movie collection felt neglected). The sleeping area has a height of 3 feet inbetween joists so we can both sit up and read before bed and the living room has a height of 5 feet so it is too short to stand in but in a space that is only 5 feet wide there is not much ground to cover to get to your seat.
We did not put any drawers or doors on any of the storage instead using curtains giving the space an airier feel (or maybe we were lazy who knows). We live on an organic farm with other people living in small structures and tiny homes and have a community bathroom that has a plumbed toilet and washer and dryer along with an outdoor shower. When the weather is too cold for outdoor showers we use the city rec center which only costs us $80 a year which turns out to be cheaper than a water bill.
Most of our cooking is done on the grill outside and we also have a small toaster oven. I believe that about covers most of it (not that there is really much to cover in a tiny house) Oh wait the house is about 80 square feet and yes both Kelsey and I live in it full time. If there are any other questions be it about building a tiny house yourself, about our tiny house, or what ever they might be you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you and good night.
Michael and I knew that we wanted something smaller, but even more so, we knew that we wanted our own land. Michael was raised on cattle ranches down in Alabama and Mississippi. He has many head of cattle that he wants to bring up to where we currently live. We always talked about buying a place or building a place, but neither of us are machine inclined. So we knew that we were going to hire someone that could build our tiny cabin for us.
We bought a historic hundred and four-year-old cottage in the antique district also known as Goodlettsville about 20 minutes away from downtown Nashville three years ago. Previously we were in a one bedroom apartment so when we bought this cottage we felt like it was so much bigger being that it has three bedrooms. After living in it for a while we realize that three bedrooms were not necessary for us we actually use the master bedroom as a den and media room and we sleep in a smaller bedroom and then of course the third bedroom has been used as a guestroom and catchall.
Mike and I have always talked about gardening cattle and having acreage someday. I came across Tiny House websites and blogs about a year ago online. Even though we knew we wanted to downsize Mike wasn’t too keen on the small tiny houses that were 6 x 6 on trailers from the get-go. However through the past year we’ve done a lot of research and decided on the size that could work for us.
Mike and I garden extensively. The whole backyard is a working garden. We grow our own food and we know how to preserve. We also have kept hens for years. We had the Mennonites in Dickson Tennessee build us a rather nice-looking coop, and we exchange our vegetables and eggs with the neighbors in our community. What we can’t eat, freeze, or can we give to family, friends, and Church folk.
We found a company up the road in Greenbrier Tennessee at the Amish general store that builds sheds and small cabins. The company is actually just over the state line in Kentucky. Their quality of work and customization options were second to none. As soon as I spotted what they call a “vinyl Quaker cabin,” I immediately talked to Mike and said I think I found the cabin we’ve been looking for! It is 288 sq ft, not including the sleeping loft. At 12 x 24 it was very easy to have it delivered.
Depending on their order load, your cabin will be delivered within 4 to 6 weeks. Ours took about five weeks, because we had fully customized it. We have windows in the sleeping loft, double glass doors on the back that could lead out to a deck, and extra height added.
Our goal is to be off grid as much as we can be. We are choosing no electricity, plumbing, etc. We will use wind, solar, rain water, propane, kerosene, composting toilet, and wood. Keep more hens and grow our own food.
We are excited about our journey and we know that this is the right fit for us, it may not be for everyone, but Mike and I knew that this was coming, even before it was in front of us.
We are excited to insulate the tiny cabin, put up some sort of wall materials such as bead board, and we received leftover hardwood flooring from some friends.
Our plan: within the next 12 to 18 months to be fully off the grid on our own homestead, growing our own food, and looking for alternative fuel options.
Our next venture is finding a good used tractor!
Shon & Mike