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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
Photos by Gregory Kloehn
The Columbia Missourian recently ran a story about university student Alicia Harris and the tiny house she built with her father, Paul. The 180-square foot house was built for only $22,000 over the course of two months and Alicia lived in it while interning in Amarillo, Texas last summer.
Her tiny home was built on a 7 1/2 foot-by-18-foot flatbed trailer and contains a small kitchen, bathroom with a shower, a loft bedroom and living space with a full closet. The minimalist interior is full of wood accents. The trailer is currently parked in an RV park in Columbia, Missouri while she finishes school. Alicia shares the tiny space with her large Great Dane, Roscoe.
Alicia’s house was based on a blueprint from the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and her desire to be mobile and not tied down to high housing costs was the catalyst for this type of home. She also appreciates the low utility costs.
“A perfect example: My first month’s electricity bill was $4, and the second one was $10,” she told the Missourian, “and that was living in Texas in the middle of summer.”
Photos by the Columbia Missourian
Sunset magazine, a home and lifestyle magazine about the American West, has embraced the tiny and small house movement with several features on tiny houses and trailers. Tiny house dwellers who enter their Small Space, Big Dreams Home Awards could win a $250 Container Store shopping spree and could also be featured in a future issue of the magazine.
Until January 31, 2014, Sunset is accepting photos and descriptions of small and tiny homes and how you use the space. They are looking for space-savvy ideas as well as alternative ways of living including floating homes and homes on wheels. The award categories are:
- Whole House: If your entire home is space-savvy, show it off. There’s no square-footage limit—it’s how you use the space that matters.
- One-Room Wonder: A single space filled with ideas for maxing out the available room. Kitchen, bath, kid’s room, or multiuse? You decide.
- Outdoors: Show us photos of how you make your compact yard, tree- house, patio, deck, or shed seem roomier than it is.
- On Wheels or On Water: If your home floats or rolls, we want to see how you’ve kitted out the unconventional space.
- Satellite Space: Guest cottages, writing sheds, the party barn—we’re looking for outbuildings that live large.
To enter, upload 2-6 photos and descriptions (100 words or less) on the use of your space. Entries will be judged on quality of photographs; creativity in the use of space; use of language to describe the small space functionality; and appropriateness to award category. The magazine will not accept photos depicting people. Winners in each category will be notified by April 15, 2014.
Photos by Sunset magazine
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.
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.
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.
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 »