Jan 29, 2015

Three Things Military Life Can Teach Us about Tiny Living



(Guest post by Tiffany Krezinski)

I know, I know – when someone says “tiny living,” the first thing that pops into mind probably isn’t the military. The military is big and wasteful in many ways; however, on an individual level, there are actually a few principles of military life that apply very well to living in a home of only a few hundred square feet. 


When on deployment, most military personnel live in conditions where all they may have is a bunk and a footlocker – anything they can’t fit into that space either gets tossed or gets put in storage. As such, many people in the military develop certain mindsets compatible with principles behind tiny living. Here are a few of those mindsets. 


1. Everything has a Place 
It sounds so simple, but when you have a very limited space, carving out smaller spaces for the necessities (and a few wants) is absolutely essential. Alongside marching, marching, and more marching, basic training drills military personnel on the importance of defining spaces for personal belongings – toothbrush goes here, underwear goes there, that sort of thing. Part of the theory behind this sort of orderliness is that it cuts down on the number of decisions a person has to make, freeing their brains up for other tasks. (There’s a similar theory behind the wardrobes of CEOs, like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who wear the same thing every day.)
Outside the military, we get to decide where to put our own stuff, but sometimes that’s hard to figure out. The good news is that you can budget space just like you can budget your money, and if you do it well, your home will look really nice when you’re done.

If you’re just getting into tiny living, plan out a space-budget in advance. If you’ve been doing it awhile and are constantly frustrated by clutter, it might take a little more effort, but it’s worthwhile. Make diagrams! Draw outlines on the walls, floor, or ceiling! Get creative and be as specific as possible – don’t just carve out space for a spice rack, list the spices you plan to have in it. Just make sure there’s a spot for everything you absolutely need.
And if you find out that you don’t have enough room for something, maybe that’s a hint about how much you really need it… 



2. Everything IN its Place 
Anyone who had a parent, grandparent or other relative who was in the military knows how particular they can be about putting things “in the right place.” Even when everything has a place, sometimes we forget to put things away or simply allow clutter, dirty dishes or clothes, and other random piles of randomness to appear. Ignoring such things, however, will inevitably make a tiny home feel even tinier. 
Since you’ve gone through the effort of making sure everything has a place, there’s no reason for anything to be out of place – except for when you’re using it, of course. The simple answer is, as soon as you’re done with it, put it away. If something needs washing, either wash it immediately (as with dishes) or as soon as practical (as with laundry) without letting it build up. Carving out a little time each day, say five to ten minutes, to just check around and make sure everything is where it belongs can help make your small space feel much bigger. 


3. Consolidate and Share 
If you talk to anyone who’s lived on an aircraft carrier, you’ll learn quickly that there’s a thriving barter community, especially for entertainment. Since space is at a premium, things like books, movies, music, and other physical media get shared from person to person, frequently with in a pay-it-forward model. There are even donation-based programs such as Heinlein for Heroes, that send books to active military personnel expressly for that purpose.


Of course, the best way to save space when living in a tiny area is to go digital for your entertainment needs – Netflix, Pandora, etc. However, many older books, albums, and even movies may not be available through online services, and sometimes it’s just nice to feel the weight of a physical book, LP, or other form of media in your hands. 


Trading with friends is a great option, but there are other ways to share as well, such as with Little Free Libraries and similar projects. 
Looking beyond merely entertainment, there’s a whole host of barter communities out there, which can fit in very well with the idea of tiny living. Check out groups like Our Goods, or look for local barter groups in your area.  You can also look to celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, who wrote a book about sustainable living called The 11th Hour, or Brad Pitt, who worked with a sustainable architect named William McDonough, to design homes with a sustainable design based on McDonough’s designs, named Cradle to Cradle. 


So there you have it. There might not be a ton of overlap between the military life and living in tiny homes, but there are definitely some principles that apply to both. I’d love to hear what other inspirations you can think of. Please share them in the comments.

This post was written by Tiffany Krezinski.  She is a fellow blogger and also interested in tiny living and sustainability.  Please visit and check out her blog; Peace, Love, & Travel with Cliff and Tiff, through the following link.  Thanks Tiffany!

http://responsible-tourists.blogspot.com/ 



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Dec 13, 2014

800 Square Foot Home in the California Redwoods.

This unique small home in Gualala, California was designed by architect Cathy Schwabe. The photos in this post were taken by Charles Miller and David Wakely.  They originally appeared in Fine Homebuilding Magazine published by The Taunton Press, Inc.

  
I'm not sure that the average person looking at this home would guess that it's only 800 square feet.  To me it appears that the strategies employed by the architect to create a sense of spaciousness within such a small footprint were very successful.




The main interior space has a shed roof, 14 feet high at its peak, and is flooded with daylight through large windows and glass doors on all four sides


 The varied wood types used for the floors, walls, and cabinetry blend harmoniously.





The one and only bathroom doubles as the laundry room, and features slate flooring.



The slate floored entry hall doubles as a mudroom with a big, chunky bench.  It provides direct access to the bathroom, study, and main living area.


Here's the floor plan for this very nice 800 square foot home.  The drawing was created by Martha Garstang Hill.





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Oct 26, 2014

Tiny Heirloom Tiny Home

The greater Portland, Oregon area has produced yet another tiny home building company, Tiny Heirloom, builders of what they are calling luxury tiny homes.


Located near Portland in Oregon City, the company consists of three married couples, with about a decade's worth of tiny home experience between them. 


The plans may not be unique, but the level of fit and finish is what sets this company apart.  The home in these photos also contains a nice combination washer/dryer unit, something often skipped in tiny homes.  


Another relative luxury found in this home is the stainless steel finished gas range, which includes four burners and an oven.  Plus there's that lovely granite counter top.


Tiny Heirloom homes are approved travel trailers, and the company claims to have the highest standards going when it comes to details such as the quality of the trailer itself, construction and framing material and details. 



The deep sink, substantial clearance between the sink and faucet, and integral spray, makes kitchen cleanup much easier than in the small bar sinks found in so many tiny homes.



There is a three fixture bath (marine flush toilet, sink, and shower).  Composting toilets are an available option too.



There's a small storage loft above the living area.


There's space for a desk or other items of the homeowner's choosing...


A comfortable seating area featuring a tiny marine gas fireplace/heater...


And a sleeping loft with two shed dormers for increased volume and head room, not to mention plenty of ventilation.


Tiny luxury doesn't come cheap though.  Tiny Heirloom tiny homes start at $65,000 USD.  The price does include delivery though, something many tiny house builders don't even provide.  You can see and learn more by accessing their website using the following link...  Tiny Heirloom



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Oct 6, 2014

Wishbone Tiny Home

Here's a well crafted tiny home from Wishbone Tiny Homes, an Asheville,  North Carolina based tiny home building company consisting of a father and son team, Gerry and Teal Brown. 


In the interest of giving credit where credit is due, the photo credits in this post all go to Chris Tack.  I understand they were taken at a tiny house conference.  Learn more here...  tinyhouseconference.com



If you're a tiny home fan, you'll recognize a lot of the vocabulary of this home as being derived from Four Lights Tiny Homes and Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, but Wishbone has put their own unique twist on it, and some of their contributions are noteworthy.  For example, look at the door in the photo above.  It appears significantly wider than the doors you'll find in end walls of most tiny homes.  It's also handcrafted by the father in this father and son building team with a combined total of more than 40 years in the building business.





It's immediately obvious that the level of craftsmanship in this Wishbone tiny home is exceptional.  One detail that quickly caught my attention is the type and installation of the water heater.  It's a propane fired tankless heater, cleverly mounted in the wall that separates the kitchen from the bathroom.  

Note the tankless hot water heater mounted in the wall to the left of the sink.  Brilliant.
Tiny living requires some compromises, and one of those compromises typically is an RV water heater with a six gallon capacity.  Tankless water heaters will provide endless hot water until the gas source runs out, so if you want to wash some dishes and enjoy an unhurried shower afterward you can, without fear that the hot water will run out before you get the shampoo out of your hair.


The kitchen has ample counter space.  The wall cabinets provide lots of open storage, while the base cabinets provide all kinds of enclosed storage.  The water heater in many tiny homes takes-up quite a bit of  that under counter space, but not in this home.






The bathroom features a full sized shower and a Nature's Head composting toilet.


Check out their site, and learn about their "three step process" through the link below...



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Sep 26, 2014

1,300 Square Foot Container Home


This home is a bit larger than many featured on this blog, but by conventional standards it's still considered small.  Connecticut architect Rob Coolidge recently designed this roughly 1,300 square foot container home.  It's actually two 40 foot containers separated by an enclosed area that includes the living and dining areas, kitchen, and entry.

Front Perspective

Rear Perspective

The two 8' x 40' containers, separated by a 16'-8" clear-spanned space,  house three bedrooms, two bathrooms, the laundry area, mechanical room, and an office.  As mentioned above, the living and dining areas, along with the kitchen and entry, are found in the enclosed area between the two containers.

Plan Perspective
In this experimental prototype design, Rob's objectives were to...
  • Use containers for their strengths
  • Not feel obliged to use containers where they become too problematic
  • Design real, uncompromised living space
Aerial Perspective

When I inquired about what he had in mind for a foundation, he said his initial thought was for a crawl space accessed via a hatch in the mechanical room floor.  Other possibilities include full basement accessed through an exterior cellar hatch, slab, piers, or any suitable foundation that budget and local conditions allow.

Cross Section

The roof would consist of steel trusses and structural insulated panels (SIPs).

View from kitchen toward dining and living areas.


View from the outside, looking in.

As you can readily see based on the interior perspectives, the living, dining, and kitchen areas are open and airy, with plenty of natural light.  

A problem commonly encountered in container home master bedroom design is that the bed itself is simply too large to walk around comfortably in one orientation, or access is limited to only one side, or too restricted in the other orientation.  Rob got around this problem with a simple two foot bump-out that accommodates the the bed and provide comfortable access from all sides.  With that, the entire bedroom now has a spacious feel.

Floor Plan
If you like this design then I'm sure the architect would love to hear from you.  I suspect he'd be willing to discuss modifications, local code compliance, costs, and any other concerns you might have if you're thinking about building this.  Contact Robert T. Coolidge at:


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