Tiny House


Trent has been building cabinets since Summer. Sometimes when we get stuck on one task for a long time, it feels like it is lasting forever and we will never finish.

But the last few weeks, with extra time off from work for the holidays, Trent was able to make a lot of progress on the kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen sink

I get particularly excited about the kitchen taking form, because this is going to be the first well-thought-out kitchen I have ever lived in. For a tiny house kitchen, I think we have managed to fit in an admirable amount of storage and functionality.

The sink will be in the middle, with two very deep and spacious cupboards to the right and left. I love the big window that floods the workspace with light.

Two windows for optimal natural light

This is the view when you turn a bit right from the sink. There is a good amount of counter space and another window!

Above is the storage on your right side as you look at the kitchen. From right to left the compartments are: refrigerator, mason jar storage drawers, and pantry. I am very hopeful I will be able to fit all my kitchen essentials and a good amount of food storage for 6 people.

Next up is building the stairs to the kids loft, which will of course have storage in it! It may not look like it, but we are starting to get very close to finishing.

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There have been two times in this tiny house process that my stomach has been in knots: the day I ordered the trailer (a $7,000 purchase) and the day we bought our truck to pull the tiny house (more than a $7,000 purchase). 

We saw in on Craigslist, it was everything we were looking for. It was a Ford F350, with the good 7.3 L diesel engine, not a bad price, even had a few extras to up its “cool score”. 

So, with trembling hands, we handed over the cash and rumbled away with a humongous white truck. The whole way down the freeway, I was nervously checking my rearview mirror, sure that he was slowing down and driving to the shoulder. I just knew we had made a bad decision and it was a lemon.

But we made it home. I woke up the next morning and saw that thing out the window and thought, “WHAT have we DONE!!!” It looked like an untamed bull and felt like a rash purchase. One thing I knew for sure, I never wanted to drive it.

Apparently he can build or fix everything.

Then commenced all the repairs. It’s a good truck that hasn’t had quite enough love and attention for several years. It needed a few new parts, batteries, brakes, oil, stuff like that. It has taken a good amount of Trent’s time, since he is a dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfer. We got so close with the guys at Napa Autoparts that they gave Wade a football.

It’s been frustrating because progress on the tiny house has ground to a bit of a halt. And while I care about this important part of the tiny house journey, I have to admit I don’t care about auto repairs… at all. It’s the most boring thing in the world to me.

Wade, future deisel mechanic

Trent finished the repairs with replacing part of the turbo booster, but now the thing won’t start well. It’s a bit of a mystery. 

I’m sure we’ll get it figured out, I’m just wondering how much it will cost. It might (gasp!) involve a mechanic’s help.

Once it’s fixed, we will sell our minivan and call the truck our only vehicle. The minivan was bought in a very different time in our family’s timeline: we had two babies, had just moved to a new town, and weren’t sure how many kids we would have. We just wanted a comfortable, normal life— so we bought a comfortable, normal car. The car that society expected us to buy.

I think this truck is really a symbol of the change that is happening to our family. It means we will finish and move the tiny house. It means we will leave our old dreams of comfort and societal approval behind. It means we have plans to move to a more rugged place, far away from the places we know. It shows our hopes that we will work from home and be a one-car family.

It also embodies my insecurities and fears that seem to be almost taking me over. What if it’s un-fixable and we lose lots of money? Are we making bad decisions? Are we not thinking this through well? Will we find property? Will Trent get a job? Will we have friends? And then there’s the visual I have when I’m half-awake in the middle of the night: The tiny house tipping when being towed, and crushing in the side like a cardboard box.

And every once in a while the thought comes sneaking in… Why can’t we just be normal and buy a normal house? We could stay here close to home and Trent could keep the same job. Screw that fact that you will be in debt until Wade gets married and you have grey hair. Everyone expects you to do it, so DO IT! for goodness sake.

So yeah, this is a weird way to leave off with the story, but this is just real life. Sometimes questions aren’t answered yet. Sometimes you’re not sure what to do. A LOT of times, you’re just not sure if you are taking a good path or not.

But as my sister Karen reminded me, bad decisions are succumbing to an addiction, ruining friendships, racking up unmanageable debt, or getting sent to prison. The rest is negotiable.

Sometimes, there are no “right answers”.

Dang, I hate being grown up.

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Big Trent and little Trent sanding some cutting boards.

One evening this week, we all ended up in the tiny house together as Trent sanded some cutting boards. Right now, there is building materials and tools everywhere, which makes it not such a great hanging out spot, but we seem to manage. I can’t imagine how big the house will feel once it is finished and the tools are out!

Kitchen taking shape!

The kitchen cabinets are coming together! It will be a u-shaped kitchen at the end of the house. Right under the window will be the sink; you can see the drain pipe and PEX water pipes waiting. Ironically, I think this kitchen will have more counter space than our 800-sq-ft rental house! I know it will be much more custom and functional. I cook almost all the food we eat, so a good kitchen is important to me.

The kids always find something to play with! You don’t need much more than some wood chips and a few dolls to be happy at their age.

Our wood stove is so good at heating the house. We are very pleased. It gives such a deeply warm heat, like only a wood stove can.

We are getting very excited to live in our new home.

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It took me almost a year, but I finally finished the braided wool rug for the tiny house! I really am not a crafty person and have not finished any large handicraft projects, so I was not prepared for how proud of the finished product I would feel! It all started last Christmas when my sister Karen gave me wool strips from the Pendleton Outlet store in Portland. She brought the most humongous bag and pretended like it was nothing and that she had just tossed some change out to get it, but I know it was a rather costly gift.

 

 

I stripped the wool into 2-inch wide strips as we sat in front of the fire at our beach rental at Christmastime last year. It was a cozy project and a wonderful memory.

 

Braids ready to be stitched into a rug!

 

As winter wore on and spring began to come, I braided and braided. Braided while we watched movies. Braided while I talked to Trent after the kids went to bed. Braided while I listened to podcasts during the day.

When I reached the end of one colored strip, I would stitch on another strip of the same color. As I braided, I rolled the ends of the strips under so the fraying edges wouldn’t show and the top of the rug would be smooth.

All summer and into the fall, I stitched the braids together. This was the most time-consuming of all. As the rug grew larger, it became really hard to manage. Instead of sitting on the floor and working around the rug, I insisted on having it on my lap. This turned out to be a mistake.

 

It’s a braided wool boat!

 

We watched YouTube videos about forest kindergartens as I stitched the last stitch. I couldn’t wait to lay it all out and admire it.

I laid it out and… aughhhhh! It was more suited for being a braided wool boat! Disaster!

My mind started to wander to worst case scenario. What if I have to rip out 6 months of stitching?

I just about cried.

 

 

But thankfully, after a little soak in the bathtub and some stretching and pulling to the edges and a little smooshing to the middle… it laid flat!

 

 

And what a beautiful rug it is! I can’t wait to set it in front of the couch, light a fire in the stove, and curl up with some tea.

I also have some dreams of always taking it with us, no matter what house we live in. I hope someday my grandkids will play on it.

Thanks Karen for the wool. You’ll be with us wherever we go.

 

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Yes, we made our mattress. And it’s stuffed with straw, like pilgrims.

We knew we needed a new bed since Trent’s and my loft in the tiny house is smaller than a queen sized mattress. When we started looking at different mattress styles, we learned about Japanese futons. I loved how eco-friendly and simple they are, but I still couldn’t bring myself to spend somewhere around $500 on something I will lay on to sleep.

I’m not sure who came up with the idea of the straw mattress… probably Trent, since he comes up with all of our far-fetched ideas so far. When we realized we could possibly make a great sleeping surface for just a few dollars, we couldn’t NOT try it and see if it would work.

There isn’t much information about making a straw mattress on the internet, but I did find this blog post. Sometimes it’s just nice to see that you’re not the only person doing something. I sewed basically a large pillowcase of old sheets together. I think the dimensions are about 5’x6.5′. I re-enforced the top layer with an old hospital-style blanket that is thick and tightly woven.

 

Me, with my creation- the cover for the bed.

 

Then, we bought a very large bale of straw for $10. That was the only money we spent on the whole project. Trent fluffed up the straw, I put it in the cover, and Wade held it open for me.

 

Me stuffing the tick with Wade’s help.

 

Trent used a little punch to make snaps for the end. I’m not claiming to have made a great product here and the little flap on the end is super funky and looks like a old-fashioned pair of pajamas with the drop-seat bottoms. But hey, it seems to work and it’s covered with sheets the whole time.

 

Trent added snaps to the end

 

Then we were left with this funny lumpy mass. But I knew a few small people that could take care of THAT problem for me!

 

Funny lumpy mess

 

If there’s one thing my kids love to do, it’s JUMP!!! They had that thing flattened in no time!

 

Jumping it flat!

 

And here is the final product! We will be able to sleep on it for several months before we move into the tiny house, which will give us time to figure out whether we like it.

 

 

So how has it been so far? To be honest, it’s good, but it’s also a bit of an adjustment. Here are my pros and cons so far:

Pros:

  • It smells like straw!
  • It makes me not want to stay in bed when I wake up.
  • It seems to be making my back more strong (There have been studies that prove that sleeping on hard surfaces helps to realign the back.)
  • You make a nest or indentation for your body at the beginning of the night and that feels strangely nice and primal
  • It’s simple, cheap, and compostable!!

 

Cons:

  • The straw compresses a lot when you sleep on it. It’s not a soft, fluffy bed at all.
  • It’s a little extra work to fluff it up and to make a little nest at night.
  • We will need to change the straw from time to time.

 

Time will tell how we like it, but overall, I do like it so far. And you can’t beat spending $10 for a eco-friendly mattress!

*UPDATE*

We have been sleeping on the mattress for about 3 weeks now, and we still love it! It has actually helped reduce my lower back pain/weakness, which I have been thankful for! We each have a little “nest” where we sleep that is contoured to our body.

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Our tiny house feels a little more like home now. This weekend, Trent and I installed the Cubic Mini wood stove in the tiny house.

This is the cutest stove ever. It measures 11 x 12″ and takes mini firewood pieces, but this thing can crank some serious heat. Trent worked hard to make sure the tiny house was as insulated as possible, and it shows in the way it holds the heat that the wood stove puts out.

But let’s back up a little bit and see what the wood stove is sitting on.

 

Trent made a cabinet and covered it with pallet wood that he had stained a deep brown.

 

 

Then, Trent poured a mix of concrete and pebbles into a form. Once it had dried, he polished it with dramatic side lighting.

 

 

This is what it looks like now that it’s polished. Wow.

 

 

Here is the Cubic Mini, installed in its cozy corner. I think the combination of stainless steel, brass, concrete, and cedar tongue-and-groove looks absolutely stunning.

 

 

And strangely, having the stove installed makes the tiny house feel more like a home. I can easily imagine sitting at the table doing school with the kids on a snowy day, with the wood stove adding cheery fire sounds. I can also imagine a cold winter evening, perhaps with a few Christmas decorations up, playing music and enjoying the glow of the fire.

I can’t hardly wait for those days. But for now, it keeps Trent warm while he works on the house, which is a welcome addition.

Are you interested in following every step of our journey? Be sure to like our Facebook page and sign up for email updates. I look forward to sharing it with you.

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