Furry Friends and Tiny Houses

Are they a good idea?

by m.j. boyle

According to the Humane Society, 62% of all US households have at least one pet and in 2012 more than $50 billion dollars (yes, with a “B”) was spent on their care.

Do you have a dog? Then you have a lot in common with the 47% of the population who own one.

Prefer a more mild-mannered companion? The number of cat owners reflects, rather amusingly, that we are as likely to own a cat as a dog; since 46% of us do.

If you’re thinking of downsizing, and moving into a tiny house you probably have a pet. And given that 82% of you also have children, this makes the decision just that much more complicated. Where will they all sleep? Eat? “Go”? We worry about all the little details of their lives. It’s no wonder why so many of us refer to our pets as “our children”.

I am an animal person. I love them all. I have owned and raised horses, cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters, parakeets, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, and even raised pigeons for a time. Given, however, my currently hectic raise-kids-work-build-tiny lifestyle I only have two cats now. One is mine, and one is my daughter’s.

gerbal

A cute little gerbil in a tiny little sweater…

I guess you could say that having animals in my tiny house is a given. I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t have at least one, and I sincerely appreciate the “life” they add to a household.

So, where will they all sleep? Eat? “Go”?

Litter Box or Yard? – From the start of my tiny house design, I thought my litter box would hang on the outside of my tiny house (envision a “removable” shed) and accessed via a cat door. But, as the design has morphed, I recently discovered that I have enough space under one section of the stairs to add a litter box there. Easier to clean and access. Yay! And even though my cat loves the outdoors, he won’t “go” out there. So, an indoor litter box it is. Sometimes I think about getting another dog. (my 13 year old Golden Retriever died last year) And while the where-to-go decision is obvious (aka outside) I have to admit that having marmoleum flooring in my tiny house makes the idea of having another dog closer to a reality. Carpets and dogs (and especially puppies) don’t mix. Accidents happen. And, dare I say, wood floors don’t always fare well either. Continue reading

Daniel’s Lithuanian House Update

by Daniel Combellick

For those unfamiliar with the project, It was started the summer of 2012. I have 12 acres just 30 minutes north of Vilnius, Lithuania. 2012 saw the completed exterior shell, which I originally planned without the full bath. 2013 I insulated, drywalled, plastered, wired, and installed the woodstove and chimney. Spring of 2014 I decided to make this my permanent residence. therefore, early in 2014 I began the bath/laundry/ rear entry. The bath would have a lavatory, toilet, shower, and clothes washer. This I accomplished in a space of 75 sq. ft. I also added on an oversized airlock for additional storage space.

Another reason behind the change of heart on the bath is I would like to have a place for people to come and stay, and not everyone would be excited by the prospect of too few amenities. During summer months I can move back into the old log house, and this house can be rented out to people who would like to experience this kind of living, this remote location, learn about building if it interests them, or who just wish to get away from – wherever they are- and just about everything else for that matter.

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You can see the beginnings of the formwork on the left for the rear airlock/entry. Continue reading

Dual Purpose Pillows

by Connie McBride

From a three-bedroom Cape Cod in a quiet neighborhood, we moved our family, including three small boys, into a home of less than 300 square feet. With our new home came a new lifestyle: we were now “cruisers,” living and traveling on a small sailboat. We had planned and schemed for years and were confident that we could both live in small spaces, and comfortably raise our family while traveling through the Caribbean. When the five of us tried to move what we considered “essentials” onboard, though, the space quickly shrank.

While I was chastising the boys for bringing too many toys and my husband, Dave, for his multiple lockers full of tools, I discovered that I too had overestimated our boat’s capacity. I was left with 10 sarongs and skirts that would not fit in my clothes locker. After questioning why I even own 10 sarongs and skirts, Dave jokingly gave me the same solution we had been telling the boys, “Guess you’re going to have to sleep with them.”

cat and pillow

I glanced at the throw pillows we had inherited with the boat but planned to throw away. The stuffing was mildewed and not worth trying to save, but the shells were salvageable. I smiled, thanked Dave for the suggestion, then got to work.

I cut along one seam of each pillow, removed the stuffing, washed the shell and sewed Velcro on the inside of each cut edge. Next, I folded the clothes to the width of the pillow and rolled them, placing them on top of each other, filling the shell. I Velcroed the edge shut to complete the “pillow.”

After a few years we replaced these aged pillow shells with covers designed to go over throw pillows. They have a flap on the back, eliminating the need for Velcro. I have learned not to store anything with zippers or buttons in the pillows because we do still lean and lay on them. These clothes storage pillows are uncharacteristically heavy, but they are comfortable and look good. Best of all, I don’t have to sleep with sarongs and skirts.

Connie McBride

pillow cover

Family of 5 and a Cat Traveling the Country in an Airstream

by Dan

About 4 years ago, when our first born was only a year old, we caught the road tripping bug and decided to buy a small travel trailer. We began traveling locally in California and Arizona and fell in love with the lifestyle.

t&b trailer

A year later, as we were expecting our second child, we upgraded to a 25-foot Airstream and began contemplating longer and more extensive road trips. Being self-employed in the software industry, we were able to work from anywhere. Even though our home in California was a small bungalow less than 1,000 square feet, we felt like it was a lot of space for our little family of 4.

family of 4 and a trailer

When our second daughter was just 5-months old, we packed up and left our house for a cross country road trip. Unlike most other road trips, this one was not a vacation but rather a working, living, and learning experience on the road. For the next 4 months, we lived in our Airstream with less than 200 square feet of space. We learned to live small, conserve our resources and were surprised that we were happier than ever. Continue reading

Tiny House Neighbors

A couple of weeks ago Merete and Christopher were here interviewing and video taping me at my house for their soon to be released “Tiny, the Movie.” They had already spent some time with Jay Shafer and were making the rounds in Sonoma County. After we were done we went out to have some lunch and they asked me if I had featured Cat and Pacifico’s tiny gypsy house outside of Healdsburg on the Tiny House Blog.

Photo Credits: Kent Griswold

tiny gypsy wagon

I hate to admit it but I did not know who they were talking about. I had a tiny house couple living just a few miles from me and I did not know it. Merete gave Cat my email address and Cat connected with me shortly after Chris and Merete went on to their next interview.

It took another week for us to get together, but this last Sunday I had the time to go up and visit them. I ended up spending about three hours with them, and had a wonderful brunch and tour of their home.

Cat and P

The home sits on 50 acres on the west side of Healdsburg, California. You would never find it without directions, but it is only 10 minutes from town.

Continue reading