Two Things I Would’ve Done Differently

blizzardhouse

Previously I discussed some of our best tiny house decisions and investments.  While we love everything overall, there are some things I would do differently if I could build it again!

Windows.  Most of our windows had to be ordered new and are from a pricier brand.  They are nice, but we definitely could have saved money in this area if we searched for more windows from bargain building stores and worked those sizes into our design (we were able to do this for 2 windows, so that’s better than nothing!).  Sometimes, local window suppliers (or people on Craigslist) will have perfectly good windows for very cheap that were mis-ordered.  Their loss is your gain!  If we had the time, we IMG_2188_Fotorwould’ve looked for more windows in roughly the sizes & styles we wanted then worked the design/framing plan around them.  Even a small new special-ordered window (like the ones in the photos) can cost over $250!  So I’d recommend looking around for windows before finalizing your construction blueprints.

On the plus side, special-ordering your windows means that you can have them delivered all at once and they are guaranteed to match and be the exact sizes you want.

Choosing your windows first does have downsides: it takes lots of luck and driving around to find the right windows, especially if you want them to be the same color.  And this method won’t work if you don’tIMG_1069 have much flexibility how the structure is framed, such as if you are unable to edit your construction blueprints.  For instance, if you bought building plans online and aren’t familiar with framing best practices (stud & header requirements, etc.), I wouldn’t go messing with the window sizes and placement.  Different window manufacturers offer different sizing increments, so pay attention to this if you use a different brand than is specified in your plans.

Flooring.  Towards the end of our build we needed to save money and therefore chose the cheapest flooring we could find.  You get what you pay for!  Like most bargain laminates, it dents easily and is vulnerable to water damage.  We also made the mistake of choosing a very dark color, which ironically does not hide dirt and dust well at all.  At least we know when the floor needs cleaning, and it does look nice when it’s clean!  If I could do it over, I would spend a little more on a water-resistant, scratch-proof flooring.  Flooring really takes a beating in a tiny house especially in the New England climate so it’s wise to prioritize durability.  Luckily it’s not too much kittycouchwork to upgrade the flooring later if we need to.

The good news is that neither of these “dislikes” are that bad.  Pretty much everything else about the tiny house I would have done the same. Which is amazing considering we had no idea what we were doing!

 

 

Product Reviews: What’s Hot and What’s Not

What we think about our tiny house purchases…

flameHampton H12 Stove.  This is probably my favorite purchase.  It heats the tiny house no problem: in about 20 minutes it can heat up the house by 5 degrees, which is great for when we get up in the morning.  We keep the heat at 56 when we sleep!  I know that sounds chilly but since heat rises and the stove is directly under the bedroom loft, we stay warm.  I would not have chosen a bigger or more powerful unit; this one is just right and so darned cute.  It comes with a remote control thermostat and is not too hot to sit in front of like a wood stove or electric heater might be.

Tankless water heater.  I have mixed feelings about tankless water heaters.  On the plus side, we get unlimited hot water.  And it gets plenty hot.  Our heater is from the brand rinnai-v65ip.jpg;width=400;height=400;bgcolor=White;scale=both;.jpegRinnai and is energy efficient and direct-vented, meaning it draws combustion air from the outside (i.e., better for indoor air quality).  On the downside, the water doesn’t come out hot instantly like it would with a tank heater.  So it’s a bummer if you just want to wash your hands or 1-2 dishes, as  it’s not really worth it to heat up the water for like 20 seconds of use.  On the upside, a tankless water heater can be mounted to the wall instead of resting on the floor.

Roxul insulation.  A winner here!  I know a lot of people go with spray foam for tiny houses to make them super efficient but I think Roxul is the best bang for your buck.  ItFullSizeRender performs better than fiberglass.  It is water-resistant, great at blocking sound, and fireproof.  We even have little shreds of Roxul that came with our gas stove to function as glowing “embers”.  You should wear gloves and a dust mask when handling it but it’s safer than fiberglass and won’t shift or sag.  It is a great compromise between price, energy efficiency, and ease of installation.  Learn about our experience installing it here.

Magic Chef Fridge.  The perfect size.  Not too loud.  Freezer on bottom.  Comes in 3 colors.  Affordable.  You can’t get any better than that!  This fridge doesn’t stick out much beyond the counter which provides a sleek look in any kitchen.  You’ll also notice our wonderful FullSizeRender.jpgmagnetic knife holder (we got ours on Amazon).

In other news we are glad to report that we were able to get insurance for Rose Home!  This is amazing because it is very difficult to insure a self-built tiny house on wheels.  Hopefully nothing will ever happen to Rose Home but it’s nice having the peace of mind.

 

 

How We Fit Our Stuff in 300 Sq Ft

img_1028

**News Flash** Thinking of going tiny?  We are offering a Tiny House Workshop AND tour on April 22!   

ikeadresser
Entryway storage

We’ve been working on making storage space for our belongings – not an easy feat!  We spent the last 2 years culling our clutter and slimming down our wardrobes.  Stuff doesn’t accumulate overnight, and it doesn’t go away overnight either.

Here are our tips for maximizing storage potential!

  • Muddy shoes and bulky coats can quickly make a mess.  We have coat hooks and a table near the door to keep outdoor gear from invading the house.
  • Hanging clothes takes up space, so fold when you can. Open shelving is great!
  • Have a mix of lower and upper storage, with your most-used items stored between
    fullsizerender-2
    Loft clothes storage

    waist and eye level.

  • Fold underwear & socks!  I was skeptical about this, but it is so orderly and frees up a lot of space.  Put socks flat on top of each other.  Fold ankle down to the heel and tuck toe inside – makes a perfect bundle.img_0806
  • We have 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 spoons, 4 mugs… you get the idea.  Having fewer kitchen items also ensures we stay on top of doing dishes!
  • Embrace simplicity.  Sometimes one quality item in a given category is all you really need.  Your lifestyle and climate will determine whether the “rule of one” is feasible.  I have 4 winter coats, but since the coats are very different and winter is like half the year here, that’s a good number for me!
readingnook
Lofts offer great storage … or a place to curl up with a good book 🙂

Cat on the Roof!?

lookingdown

Cat Pro Tip: Surprise them when they least expect it!

At least he’s safe and sound now, but would’ve been nice if he cleared the snow off while he was dancing on the roof  ^_^   Afterwards I let him nap on the fullsizerender-1bed… on my beautiful linen duvet.  I can’t seem to stop spoiling this little mischief-maker!
In other news the tiny life is great!  We entertained more friends last night.  Our propane stove has been keeping us toasty, though it needs to be filled once a week when the weather’s this cold.  It’s a bit inconvenient when the propane runs out since it doesn’t give much warning.  At least the fill station is close to our gym and grocery store.  At some point perhaps we’ll  get a bigger tank, but the 40lb tank is the largest we can carry around.  Hopefully warmer weather is around the corner!

rooftop2

 

My New Hobby Is Terrible for Tiny Living

img_0933

What’s the hardest thing to do in a tiny house?

Is it showering?  Nope, we have a normal 3′ x 3′ shower.  Using a composting toilet?  No, got used to it.  Changing the sheets?  Well yes, that is annoying…but not even scooting around on the floor to make the bed compares to the difficulty of my newest obsession.

I got hooked on a hobby that is pretty much a nightmare for living in a small space.  That hobby is QUILTING!

If you sew, you know how much space is required: you need a giant table to spread out your fabric, cutting mat, and sewing machine.  You need an ironing board and storage for fabrics.  You need a big open space to spread out the quilt layers.  I guess all my quilts willnatesewing be under 5′ wide, which is the widest useable part of the house!

How did I get addicted to quilting?  I got this antique sewing machine from my aunt.  It’s so old it was made in West Germany!  I wanted to make a quilt because we need a nice-looking blanket.  Plus, Nate’s mom has tons of fabric that is begging to be used, and I enjoy having a project to keep me busy (and from catching cabin fever again).

Making it work.  The sewing supplies tuck away in the 9″ crevice separating the bathroom and living room.  No space goes unused!  The downside of sewing is that it makes a complete mess: lint and thread pieces EVERYWHERE, so each session is followed by a thorough cleaning.

Quilting in a tiny house is a challenge, but it’s sew fun!

nateblankets
The finished mini quilt!  Blanket trifecta is sooo cozy!

 

 

Entertaining & Cooking

nate-couch

Entertaining

A house becomes a home when filled with great food and warm hearts.  Our first dinner party at the tiny house was a success (check out my friend Sarah’s wonderful tiny house)!

kittystairs3
Kitty thinks the treads are comfy to walk on and nap on

Rose Home is great for entertaining because the stairs fold up against the wall to make
extra room.  That way more people can fit at the table (the main purpose of the white “bench” is actually to hide our plumbing and the trailer fender!).  I hope to make a pretty cushion for it soon.

Speaking of the stairs, we love them!  They go up and down in a snap and are sturdy to walk on.  A lot of work went into making them thanks to our carpenter friend Colin.

Cooking

Cooking in a tiny house: cramped chaos or piece of cake?  While it’s difficult to change the size of your kitchen, certain cooking methods can make things a whole lot easier.

Most meals are cooked on the grill, in the crock pot, or on the hotplate.  Grilling beats crockpot, crockpot beats hotplate.  And not cookingtiny-house-party obviously beats everything 🙂

I know “hotplate” doesn’t sound very upscale or good for people who cook every day.  I was skeptical at first and thought we had to have a “real” stove with multiple burners.  But the hotplate is great.  It gets hot and cooks pretty evenly, and we never need more than 1 burner at a time.  When we’re not using the cooktop, it is stored in our cabinets out of the way.  That way we have maximum uninterrupted counter space.

We do have a good-sized toaster/convection oven, but we haven’t used it much.  Our electric kettle, on the other hand, gets used daily!  In fact I think it’s time for some tea now  ^_^

tinyhouseteatime
Evening tea sweetened just right with honey from our local bee farm

 

 

Catching Cabin Fever

It was a bad combination of circumstances: Nate was sick or at work, I didn’t have access to a car, it was the middle of January, and my semester didn’t start for another week.  So naturally, I’ve been in the tiny house a lot.  It might sound ideal – staying home and having time to do whatever.  Well, for me it got old fast.  Not being able to go anywhere for days isn’t my idea of fun.  Especially when your house is really, really small.

Nate once said that solitary confinement sounds like a treat instead of punishment.  He finds it restorative to be alone at home all day with nothing to do.  For me, going out and doing something or interacting with people is restorative.  We are so different sometimes!

What to do when you have cabin fever, your sweetie has an actual fever, and you’re cooped up in a tiny house in the middle of winter?

  • Create something.  That includes cooking something tasty
  • Clean and do laundry. Our kitchen, floors, and bedding are all sparkling clean now…
  • Connect and contribute on the world wide web.  If you need to buy something, take advantage of online researching and shopping.
  • Hang out with pets.  Take photos of them being cute and post them everywhere (guilty!)

In the end, I learned to make my own fun and productivity even in a tiny house.  The next time I have an insane amount of things to do, I’ll remember savoring the solitude.  And now that I’ve finished this post, I’m off to take some more of my own medicine – and give Nate some of his  ❤