Just Because You Can Build A House Doesn’t Mean You Can Tile!

By Catherine Zola

Wood and nails for anyone who can use tools and has built a book shelf can be conquered to one degree or another. Plumbing however, is a problem. It took me three tries to get running water in my tiny house WITH help! I used my welding skills from college sculpting class, and wished I had learned more in algebra so I could calculate materials etc. But I didn’t cry until I got to wash my first dish in two years in warm, indoor running water. But those were tears of joy.

The shower however has been another story altogether. For the last two years I have showered in the garden, behind a rose bush, under a water tower. For six months of that the water was warmed in the hose by the sun until I discovered a wonderful invention called an outdoor propane water heater. Who knew such things existed. My outdoor shower recently got an upgrade with some free sliding glass doors that providence sent to me, probably out of pity. They help keep the elements at bay and provide a wonderful view of the mountains until I figure out the mystery of indoor shower creation. Which after two years and three months I am still doing.

shower prep

And here is how it has been going:

Let me start with this: It is particularly important to trust the timing in projects when you don’t know what you are doing. It takes time to research materials, to discover new angles, to invent solutions when none exist, and to make modifications to fit insurmountable personal or material limitations. One needs to mull things over, cogitate, acquire new knowledge and skills for a huge project such as building a house. Unless of course you are lucky enough to be a carpenter. I have complained about how long an indoor shower has taken to figure out but if I had rushed I would never have found Schluter Kerdi.


I bought the heavy cement board one usually lines showers with but took it back after some consideration. Each panel was so heavy I couldn’t fathom fitting it into a house with weight restrictions. There has to be a way to make a shower water proof without that nonsense I cried. If I had not designed my tiny shower with a bench I would have broken down at that point and bought an RV plastic shower. But no, I had to do things the hard way because I figured if I was going to go to the trouble of building my own house I wanted it how I wanted it and that’s final! But I paid. It took me months of searching for alternative water barriers and cheap, thin, lightweight, glass tile. Finally found the tile: Bright orange was the only color they had. Good thing I like orange! And then I went into a tile place in town and the nice man behind the counter told me about Schluter Kerdi – a European shower system that uses cement and thin water proof paper. It was expensive and a lot of work, but I got it installed.

more shower prep

Then came the nightmare of cementing over that and placing the tiles. Something I should have taken a class on before attempting. Or maybe at least watched a couple dozen youtube videos. I am finally at the caulking stage and using a dark green color to tone down the color of the tiles. The bench of course just added to the pain and headache but in the end it really does compensate for the tiny size of the shower by allowing you to sit down to wash your hair etc.

Despite all the trauma and time I’m mostly pleased with the bathroom’s design because it is open and contributes to an ample feeling to the house. If you clock how much activity a bathroom gets it is small in comparison to the amount of space it takes up in tiny homes. I wanted the space to be usable when it wasn’t being used as a bathroom so I altered the original design and removed the door, and widened the doorway so the light from the bathroom window would enter the kitchen. Now the bathroom bench is usable for visitors to sit on while I cook.

Schluter Kerdi paper (coincidentally the same lovely orange as the cheap tile I found), paper backed tiles from hell (but they were 2.50 a sheet as opposed to the $15+ glass tile normally is) You get what you pay for my mother always said. And the paper removed. Ooooh almost looks like a shower. Wow!

To follow Catherine’s blog go here: catstinyhome.wordpress.com

shower almost completed

Ella’s Tiny House Update

I featured Ella back a few months as she was in the process of building her tiny home. Ella just sent me an update and tells me the house is completed. Ella says: “My house in FINALLY done! It’s been a little over a year since I started and it’s so exciting to see a house instead of a bunch of scattered projects.”

Ella has moved just about everything into her tiny house and says it still feels airy and has surplus storage. She is surprised by that as she expected to have every nook and cranny filled to the brim with things she could not part with.

Ella and her tiny house

Ella is enjoying living in her tiny home and it feels very natural. She loves that everything is close at hand and it makes life easier by being this way.

She has two kittens that have joined her in her tiny house arrangement and they are adjusting too. Learning to climb the ladder and finding their special places. Continue reading

Visual Tips to Help a Small House Live Larger + Master Bath Remodel

Deb Durham blog #3 (small house feature)

Hi there! Last time I featured this home’s bathroom/laundry/soaking tub remodel solutions within the existing footprint of the home. I renovated this 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,200 sq. ft. all adobe home outside of Santa Fe, NM.

house floor plan

Now I’ll show you how to visually expand the space throughout a home with choice of materials, colors and furnishing selections plus one more remodel for the master bedroom space since many asked about the master shower and why I did not put the soaking tub there. Again, your idea of small may be smaller than this home, but these tips will apply anywhere you want to get a bigger bang for the buck out of your square footage.

Continue reading

Save Thousands on Your Micro House Project

Kevin Coy recently sent me a video on how to save thousands on your micro house project. In the video Kevin explains that buy buying a used RV, for a small sum, and then removing the important internals such as: heating, air conditioning, kitchen appliances, propane bottles, shower, toilet, and hot water heater can save you a ton of money. Keep in mind, it is important that you are careful when removing these items, but think of how much you can save by repurposing instead of buying new!

You can subscribe to Kevin’s series of videos on his channel here and follow him on his blog at http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/

Thanks Kevin for sharing your knowledge on the renewable way of buildin g a tiny house.

Kevin Coy

Folding Shower for Small Spaces

For a tiny house or small studio apartment a folding shower just might be the answer. This shower when folded up looks like a built-in cabinet. It is easy to install and remove and comes in several different colors. The shower uses thermostatic valves to pour hot and cold water for a relaxed shower experience. You can learn more at the Supiot website. If you are the do-it-yourself type person, take this idea and create your own version.