Sailboat – Less is More

by Cheryl

My life was wearing me out, so four years ago I left a high-rise condo in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and moved aboard my Valiant 40 sailboat, Koyah. My condo was 750 square feet, which is small enough… but Koyah has less than 250 square feet of living space (though it’s hard to be precise about living space on a sailboat.)

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I’ve moored my home in various neighborhoods around Seattle and the Sound, from Fremont to Shilshole/Ballard to Anacortes up north, but I’m currently living in La Conner, Washington.

I’ve made the living space on Koyah comfortable with small but pretty decorative touches. Many people who come aboard are surprised by how homey it feels. The bunks are cozy, the narrow salon makes a great conversation pit, and the galley is always well stocked. We’ve got everything we need to be happy in this small space.

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Compared to life in a condo in the big city, life on a boat is simpler and more meaningful. The living space is small, so my boyfriend and I spend plenty of time out in our environment. We’ve built a small hydroponic garden on Koyah’s aft deck and use what we grow to supplement foraged meals. Fresh-caught Dungeness crab is a favorite, and we love gathering mushrooms in the woods near us around La Conner. We’ve both taken up the hobby of carving wooden spoons from driftwood and other found wood, too.

One of the best parts of living on a boat is the view. It beats looking at city streets and traffic any day, and if you get sick of looking at the same waterway, you can head for the islands and anchor somewhere else for a change of scenery.

Since downsizing and simplifying, I’m working fewer hours, but I actually keep more of my paycheck than I did when I was paying for a condo and living in the city, working 40+ hours a week. Changing my lifestyle and going small has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I feel like I’m finally living my own life instead of allowing my lifestyle to control me.

By the way, for those who are wondering, it takes more moxie than money to make a change like this. You can follow us at http://facebook.com/handsandropes for tips on how to live well by living with less.

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Solid Build Small Cabin Kits

Solid Build designs and sells outdoor wood kit sheds and small cabins. The Chicago-based company’s kits can be used for various purposes including small cabins, garden sheds, garages, greenhouses and guesthouses. Solid Build offers four small cabin kits that range in size from 195 square feet to 560 square feet and are priced between $8,495 and $26,225. However, even some of their less expensive sheds are nice and solid enough for a tiny house.

The materials used in the kits are 100 percent natural, untreated wood that is FSC certified. In fact, for every purchase, Solid Build plants five more trees in participation with the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign. Each cabin is checked and monitored throughout production so that each part of the kit, including the windows and doors, will easily interconnect. Assembly of each kit can be completed with basic tools and a small team.

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The cabins’ interesting details include wide overhangs, decks and porches, tongue and groove Norway spruce walls and opportunity for insulation. Solid Build’s website not only has a wide range of photos of finished buildings,  but some nice videos from customers that show completed kits in various sizes.

Fine_garden_shed Garden_shed_design Huge_modern_shed

Small_cabin-kitshen Small_cabin_lights

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Photos courtesy of Solid Build

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Dee Williams on the One Question to Ask Ourselves Before we go Shopping

Dee Williams on the 1 Question to Ask Before we Shop – TINY: A Story About Living Small from TINY on Vimeo.

If you’re into Tiny Houses, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Dee Williams. In 2004, Dee sold her 1,200 square foot house in Olympia, Washington and moved into an 84-square foot Tiny House that she built herself, from scratch. Today she’s still living tiny and has become an author and major spokesperson in the growing movement to live minimally.

Merete and Dee

I met Dee in 2010, when Christopher Smith and I filmed her for our documentary, TINY: A Story About Living Small. TINY chronicles our own process of building a Tiny House from scratch with no building experience and profiles other people (like Dee) who have radically downsized their lives. As we built our house and traveled around the country visiting other ‘Tiny Housers’ we were motivated by one central question:

“What makes a good home?”

If Home wasn’t defined by space or stuff, we wondered, then what was it?

What struck me about Dee was her honest and straightforward approach to life. In many ways, this is born from necessity: Dee decided to downsize shortly after she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Though she’s healthy and going strong today, the precariousness of her health has helped her to prioritize. While it may seem extreme to think about death every time we embark on a shopping spree, it’s true that impermanence has a way of putting everything into perspective and reminding us of what matters most.

Dee's house

Dee’s point isn’t so much that we shouldn’t buy that new pair of pumps or the flatscreen TV, but that it’s worth noticing what kind of life we are cultivating with each choice and purchase we make. It’s fun and sometimes necessary to buy things – but let’s make sure our possessions are highlighting and not hindering our connection to the people and experiences that make our precious, short lives worth living in the first place.

The above video is an excerpt of a 12-minute extended interview with Dee Williams that appears as a special feature on the DVD of TINY: A Story About Living Small. You can also rent or download TINY on iTunes and Vimeo on Demand.

TINY Film Poster Image