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.
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 ❤
If you follow our Facebook page, you’ll know we are fond of a certain feline that likes to visit our tiny house. He thinks it’s his clubhouse, naturally, and loves to explore all the nooks and high-up places.
Sometimes he beckons at the door, wanting us to let him in his “big house” (Nate’s mom’s house). Other times he wants to hang out in his “clubhouse” and search for messes to make, or – if we’re lucky – simply a place to nap.
We look forward to getting a pet of our own someday but in the meantime we are enjoying this little guy — even if he does get into mischief! He loves exploring the depths of our cabinets and testing the integrity of our windowsills. As I am writing he is perched sleepy-eyed on the cabinets overhead, finally tuckered out. When he wakes he’ll be cuddly, but not for long. He has a busy day ahead.
In other news, our stairs are here! (As you can see they are kitty-approved). Our helper Colin designed and built them. They are much easier to use
than a ladder and give us more storage space (eventually we’ll put storage cabinets underneath the stairs).
When building or buying a house, some things are worth splurging on. Below are our top recommended investments for new homeowners – especially for a tiny house!
4. Big sink and adjustable faucet
An oversized sink means you can pile up dishes and do them at your convenience (fun fact, we can fit all the dishes we own into our sink!) We love being able to easily wash bulky items without getting water everywhere. We also have a pull-out faucet which allows us to spray water where we need it – great for cleaning deep pots and the sink itself!
3. Powerful exhaust fan
Our bathroom fan is a lifesaver when battling indoor humidity. Moisture from cooking and showering builds up quickly and the fan gets it out. The fan can also vent out cooking smells. In fact, it can exchange all the air in the house in under 30 minutes! In bad weather especially, using the fan is way better than opening windows.
2. Gym membership
Not only is joining a gym good for health, but it gets you out of the house. We enjoy working out together and taking group classes. I also love showering at the gym for many reasons –
Reduces condensation problems at home (see #3)
The sauna feels luxurious after showering!
Less laundering of towels & cleaning our shower at home
The promise of a nice shower incentivizes me to go to the gym… and exercise too, of course ^_^
1. Comfy Couch
When we’re at home, we spend a lot of time hanging out on the couch. A bench-seat or daybed wouldn’t cut it for me. I wanted a couch with a supportive back and cushy arms. A sofa small enough for snuggling but big enough for napping or chatting with a friend. A couch brings people together; it makes our house feel like home. And for that reason, a good couch is a priority!
It’s been almost 3 weeks since moving into our tiny house! Now that we’ve settled in a bit, here’s how things are going so far:
Cooking. I was worried about how our cooking routine might change when transitioning to tiny, as we have only a crockpot, microwave, and single burner hotplate for cooking appliances. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve been shifting more from big made-from-scratch meals to sandwiches, salads, and other easily-prepared foods (e.g., veggies & hummus; protein smoothies). Meals like this require minimal clean-up, which is important for our sensitive greywater system. And since we wash everything by hand, it’s easier on us too!
We also grill a lot outside – even in November! We learned that cooking indoors can contribute to excess smells and humidity in such a small space. Fortunately, we can run our bathroom fan to vent out stale air. While the crockpot doesn’t put steam into the air, it’s not the most pleasant thing to have everything smelling like chicken pot pie for a day or more (we actually did make pot pie in the crockpot, pie crust and all!) Other meals we’ve made in the tiny house so far include tikka masala, pesto pasta, and tacos. Not bad!
Storage. For being only 300 sq ft, our house has a good amount of storage. We have plenty of cabinet space for dry goods and cooking stuff. We even have a dedicated hutch for our dishware. Right now it’s just plastic plates and old mugs, but hopefully soon we will have some cute dishes…though we don’t need many! Clothing storage has been more of a challenge, but we managed to fit both of our winter wardrobes (minus our few pieces of extra-fancy attire). We just assembled our coat closet and dresser from IKEA. Of course, we will need to switch out clothes when summer comes, but we are accustomed to doing that anyways.
The bathroom is also coming along nicely! This week we installed a medicine cabinet and
corner shelf unit. With ample space under the sink, there’s not much more storage needed!
It’s so fulfilling to be finally able to enjoy our hard work! Yet we are far from done! There are still lots of little improvements that we’ll be working on over the winter 🙂
Fireplace. Mere days after finally moving into our tiny house, we discovered a big problem with our propane fireplace! Upon removing the glass for routine cleaning, we noticed huge amounts of soot in the firebox and on the artificial logs. Something’s not right, and we can’t run the fireplace until we figure out what.
Luckily, our electric space heater is doing a decent job keeping the house warm. Thank goodness for our great insulation, electric blanket, down duvet, and hot tea! Hopefully we can get our fireplace running properly before the truly cold season comes.
Humidity. A chronic nemesis is indoor humidity. Getting it below 60% in the tiny house has been a challenge (for the record, relative humidity should be around 40-50%, and even lower once the weather gets below freezing). What happens when it gets too high? First, humidity makes the air feel sticky and provides an environment for mold, dust mites, and other nasties to flourish. Most importantly, it contributes to condensation forming on window panes, which can cause damage if the water is repeatedly settling on the wood frame. And if condensation is on the windows, it is probably happening inside the walls… not good!!!
Did you know that you emit 1/4 cup of water into the air PER HOUR just from breathing?? After a night’s sleep, that means a lot of excess moisture in a small space. While our tight building envelope is great for keeping heat in and preventing drafts, it’s bad at allowing humid indoor air to escape. We run our bath fan for about a half hour each day to keep the humidity in check and slowly infuse fresh air into the house. We found that this works better than a dehumidifier, and probably uses less electricity.
We learned that other preventative measures can help control humidity, such as:
Limiting houseplants – they emit water vapor into the air
Covering pots and use kitchen exhaust fan while cooking
Using a bath fan while showering (and/or opening the bathroom window)
Not hanging laundry indoors to dry
Limiting use of gas ranges – water vapor is a by-product of burning gas
Now it’s time to sit back on our cozy couch and plan our next set of projects…
Now that we have our loft ladder and water system ready, we are almost ready to start sleeping in the tiny house! As you can see from the photos below, the aesthetics are coming along, but we have been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work with our water system to get the house livable.
Earlier this week we wrapped our new 75′ water hose with aluminum foil, heated wire, and wrapped everything in foam insulation. It took forever, but this will ensure we have running water all through winter.
Nate worked hard on the greywater system. It is basically a 3′ deep hole filled with rocks and wood chips to filter outgoing water before it seeps into the ground. Of course we will need to be super diligent about what goes down the drains. It’s not a high tech system, but we don’t plan to use a lot of water for the time being. We are basically “test driving” the house over winter and can keep showering at Nate’s Mom’s house or at the gym (if we get around to joining one!). In spring we plan to move the tiny house to a semi-permanent location…still working out the details.
We also filled our 40lb propane tank so we can use our fireplace. It makes the house warm fast, and the heat lingers even hours after shutting off the fireplace … I am confident we will have no trouble staying warm, especially up in the lofts.
A few years ago, my roommates and I overflowed an entire dumpster upon moving out. It was astounding to see how much *crap* had accumulated in one house. From then on, I vowed to simplify my belongings – especially my wardrobe. Below are some of the questions that helped me to pare down my clothes – which resulted in me feeling happier, more organized, and better-dressed.
1) Does it fit? If it doesn’t fit at this moment (and you aren’t jumping to get it tailored), there is no reason to keep the item no matter how expensive it was or how much (or little) you’ve worn it. Consider investing in outfits that will fit comfortably even if you lose or gain a few pounds. 2) Does it look good on me and is it comfortable? If you don’t love it and feel good in it, why wear it? Clothes that you have to worry about aren’t worth the trouble. 3) Are there rips/stains/missing buttons/broken zippers, etc? Am I willing to fix such problems? Clothes only last so long. If it seems outdated or in poor condition, consider finding it a new home.
4) Have I worn it within the past year? If all the seasons have passed and you still haven’t used it, this is a sign you probably don’t need it.
5) If I found this item at a decent price in a store, would I buy it? This is a good question to ask yourself to weed out clothes that are “just ok” or that are getting to the end of their lifespan. If you wouldn’t ‘re-buy’ the item, it’s time for it to go.
6) Do I have multiple similar items that aren’t used regularly? If yes, keep only your favorites and get rid of the extras. For instance, I realized I didn’t need a dozen dresses since wearing dresses is a rare occasion for me.
If you’re hesitant about parting with an item but it fails to meet your retention criteria, create a “maybe” box that will be stored out of sight. If you find yourself going into the box for something, you may want to bring that item back into your regular clothes rotation. But after a few months, it’s time to get rid of anything left in the “maybe” pile!
Conclusion: I do not regret donating even one thing. Now I am better organized and have more space for the clothes I like and wear frequently, plus I’m one step closer to being prepared for the tiny house!
We’re almost move-in ready!!! Here’s what we’ve been up to this fall.
Exterior. We finished the siding on the back of the house, a big project long on our to-do list. There were a lot of vents to work around, but at least this time we had experience.
Interior. Earlier this summer we installed flooring. We were tempted by some beautiful high-end options but ended up going with an inexpensive laminate flooring. It still looks nice with our color scheme. Recently, we finished our sliding door to the bathroom, installed light fixtures, set up the fridge, built the toilet cabinet, and covered up some exposed water pipes in the bathroom. We installed our kitchen hardware and – with a little help – got all our cabinets in!
Furniture. We love our little loveseat! Our dining table and chairs will arrive next week. We also built a thin table to fill the gap behind the sofa and display our favorite trinkets and photos.
What’s next? More pictures to come as we continue to decorate and finish some small projects. The plan is to move in around the end of the month after we add furniture, hook up our water, and build a ladder to the sleeping loft!