Wishbone Tiny Homes

The Asheville, NC based Wishbone Tiny Homes has not only been making waves with their exquisite craftsmanship and interesting architectural details, but the Wishbone team have a three step process set up to walk new owners through and into their ideal home. It all starts with a dream and defining exactly what the tiny house will be: a primary residence, an office, a rental or a transition space.

“The dream phase is the most important,” said Teal Brown, the son in the father and son building team. “It’s where the inspiration for the ultimate design comes from. Nothing is off the table. We collect links, videos, images, screen shots, poems, emails—anything—and create our own version of a Pinterest board for each client. We also use a questionnaire. All of this information gives us a sense of the client’s unique aesthetics and design preferences.”

Next comes the design phase and the final building phase which is where the precision craftsmanship and locally sourced materials come into play.

“The design phase brings a healthy dose of reality to the situation,” Teal continued. “After an in depth interview about lifestyle and possessions, we draft a floor plan and exterior elevation. We then create at least two more iterations of the design before arriving at an agreed upon final design. Once a final design is in place, we get to work building the client’s dream tiny home! The entire process can take anywhere from 12 weeks to a year, depending on the client’s timeline and our production schedule.”

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Their current model home showcases the team’s woodworking skills (they love cedar) and their unique doors.

“Everyone notices our doors,” Teal said. “Since my dad has been honing his door-making craft the last 17 years, he knows a thing or two about them.

Along with attention to detail, Wishbone has listened to customers’ requests and realize that they want a place that feels like a home.

“We seek to incorporate as much of the client’s furniture and keepsakes as possible to provide familiarity and charm,” Teal said. “Most people like this design approach. Aside from that, people want stairs, downstairs bedrooms, off-grid capabilities, solutions for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), and Universal Design concepts for ADA compliance.

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Wishbone is just finishing up a 24 foot modern shed-style home for a couple in Philadelphia. The house has a cozy den, two lofts and a large galley kitchen as well as a large shower and a climbing wall. A dog crate was built under the stairs and the house is powered with a 1 KW roof-mounted PV system with 4 6V 420 AH batteries.

Teal said the best part of building tiny homes is the people they encounter and work with.

“Almost everyone who wants a tiny home is at an interesting point of their lives and has a great story to tell. Getting to work with my dad is great too.”

The challenges the team has run into are the financing of tiny homes, legal gray areas and plumbing. Wishbone currently does not sell plans, but does create custom plans.

“We firmly believe that if you are going to live in a tiny home, it should fit you like a tailored suit,” Teal added.

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Photos courtesy of Chris Tack and Wishbone Tiny Homes

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Gregory’s Homeless Homes Project

Many readers of the Tiny House Blog might know Gregory Kloehn best from his Dumpster home that was featured on Inside Edition and the Rachel Ray Show. Gregory now has a new project in the works. The Homeless Homes Project, which features tiny structures built out of illegally dumped garbage and industrial waste are becoming more than an environmental stance or garbage art. These little homes are fast becoming a collaborative project between different groups who want to help shelter people who live on the streets.

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With names like R2D2, Romanian Farm House, Uni-bomber Shack and The Chuck Wagon, these structures are built from pallets, bed frames, futon frames, doors, plywood, OSB, paint, packing crates, car consoles, auto glass, refrigerator shelves and anything else Gregory can find in local dumping areas around his home in Oakland. He looks for anything that has real wood, tempered glass and sturdy frames, and only purchases nails, screws, glue, paint brushes and saw blades. When a home is completed, he pushes it into the street, take a few photos and then gives it away.

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“From that point on, I have no more say in it,” Gregory said. “The homes take on a life of their own. One was stolen, one was sold, one was firebombed, one is in a neighbor’s backyard with dogs living in it, the rest are still on the streets with people living in them.”

Gregory’s initial concept of these homes was not to house the homeless but came about because of some research he was conducting on homeless architecture and the various structures built by people who live on the street. He was inspired by their resourcefulness to take found objects and create homes and a livelihood from them.

“I was inspired to take these same materials back to my shop and put them together in a more permanent fashion,” Gregory said. “After about a week of collecting and building, I had a 21st century hunter/gather home, built from the discarded fruits of the urban jungle.”

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“This sat at my studio for a number of months, just collecting dust,” he continued. “One rainy night, Charlene, a homeless woman I’ve known for some 10 years, asked if I had a tarp for her.  I told her I didn’t have one and I went back inside. As I walked past the home, it hit me, I should give her this. I ran back out and told her to come back tomorrow and I would have a home for her.  She and her husband Oscar came back the next day. I handed them a set of keys and a bottle of champagne and watched them push it down the street. It felt so good that I started making another one that same day.”

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Gregory’s now working on the projects with several community groups and people who come to his shop to help. The plan is to move into a larger space that can accommodate workshops and larger builds. He said his Dumpster home project taught him many lessons that he’s applying to the Homeless Homes including sticking to his original vision.

“Regardless of what others say, or what you may even say to yourself about an idea, if you think it has merit and you want to do it, you should just do it,” he said. “Don’t let petty details derail your desires, you can deal with those later, what’s important is the essence of your ideas.”

Gregory’s interest in tiny homes came from building a lot of different homes and condos over the years and realizing that the smaller projects actually made him happier.

“There is a spontaneity and playfulness in making small homes that traditional houses do not offer,” Gregory said. “It reminds me of making forts as a kid, no city planners, no architects, no crews, no bank loans, just my ideas and my hands.”

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Photos by Gregory Kloehn

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Tiny Iceland Cottages

On my way back from Copenhagen, I stayed for a few days in cold and dark Iceland. This fascinating and stark island in the North Atlantic is fast becoming one of the top places to visit in Europe — with or without Eyjafjallajökull blowing it’s top. Reykjavik is stylish and easy to get around in and the rest of the country is a mix of mountains, seaside, towering cliffs and, of course, hot springs like the famous Blue Lagoon. It’s interesting how the Icelandic tourism industry has turned this essentially inhospitable land into a place that is comfortable to stay.

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While most Icelanders live in modern homes and apartments, even up until the 1940s, many lived in tiny houses called turf homes. Since wood was so hard to come by on this nearly treeless island, farmers scavenged driftwood from the black sand beaches, marked the wood with a brand to show that they belonged to his family, and planed them down to build small homes. These homes were then surrounded with turf as insulation. These homes were not heated as there was a real fear of fire burning down the precious driftwood homes, so a separate “fire house” was built to hold a fire and cook food.

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While there are some beautiful hotels in Reykjavik and the main touring areas in the south and east part of the island, I kept seeing tiny cottages nestled up against the volcanic mountains topped with creeping glaciers. Many of these cottages are available for rent all year long and feature small kitchens and amazing views.

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Hvoll Cottages

The Hvoll Cottages near the small town of Vik is about two hours from Reykjavik. “Vik” means “bay” in Icelandic and these cottages have access to several black sand beaches, rock outcroppings and many of the waterfalls and parks in the south. Vik has become more famous since becoming the setting for many scenes in the Games of Thrones TV series. Also near Vik are the Hotel Laki cottages. These little cottages are for two to three people and have simple beds, cooking facilities and showers. Most of these little cottages are heated with steam or power from local geothermal power plants. Continue reading