Tiny House


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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I have a habit of gawking at plants as I drive. It’s probably not super safe, but this time it was beneficial.

I was driving along a major road when all of a sudden I saw an elderberry bush just dripping with berries in someone’s front yard. I had a quick debate with myself:

Turn around and go ask those people if you can have the berries.

No, that sounds scary and I need to get home for nap time.

Come on. You never do stuff like this and you regret you have lost a lot of cool opportunities. 

OK. I guess the worst they can say is no…

So I turned the car around and bumped down the driveway. Come to find out, it was a elderly lady who was happy to let me have them. She just asked that I leave her a few bunches because she liked them for flower arrangements. I felt like I had won the lottery.

I picked about 25 lbs of elderberries. This picture shows my stash after I had frozen and given away some:

 

 

I was able to give lots away and dry some for coming years. I’m not sure we’ll have access to a bush next summer as we move, so it will be nice to have a stash for that coming winter.

As you can see below, they were in huge bunches. Lucia can hardly hold that bundle up!

 

 

Wood Floors

This week we installed the wood floor in the tiny house. It felt very satisfying to see the floor transformed so fast. There are a lot of projects in the tiny house build that require a lot of work but don’t really make the place look pretty (like electrical), but this was not one of those projects. Thank goodness.

 

 

We were able to get solid hickory floor from Home Depot for about $1.25 per square foot. It was on sale about 75% off. It was such a blessing!

 

 

Trent has worked tirelessly on this house and I really admire him for it. But we are both feeling tired. It’s been about 2 years since we ordered our trailer. We are trying hard to not lose heart because we are nearly done now. We estimate he still has about 9 months of work to do.

 

 

Above is looking into the kitchen, which is where Trent is going to work next. Time for kitchen cabinets!

 

 

Thank you for following us as we build this house! Please like our Digging up the Roots Facebook Page for picture updates each week.

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I wanted to share a little bit about how we are preparing to live in a tiny house. It’s pretty obvious that transitioning a family of six from a 1,000 sq. ft. house to a 300 sq. ft. will be a big change. Thankfully, our journey to living in a tiny house has moved at a snail’s pace, so we have had plenty of time to adjust our lives. We thought about the tiny house for a year, we’ve been building it for a year and a half, and we still have another year to go. 

Trent and I are major planners, so we have talked many, many hours as we have decided how we will make our tiny life work best. I do think it is possible to raise a healthy family in a small space! This is how we are preparing to live in our tiny house, but this list might look different for another family. If you are thinking about living in a tiny house, forge your own path! Everyone’s needs are unique.

 

We are living outdoors more.

This is quite literally the only way we are going to survive living in such a small space. I was very challenged about my dedication to the outdoors when I read “There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather” by Linda Åkeson McGurk, a book that illustrates the outdoor culture in Sweden. The Swedes lead the way in their love and dedication for the outdoors. It is part of their culture to send their kids outside, no matter the weather, for several hours each day. They even nap their babies in strollers outside on very cold days. Their secret to success is their clothing: all the kids have great snowsuits for snowy days and rubber pants for the rainy ones. I am making a conscious effort to get the kids (and me!) outside more, even on the cold rainy days. It extends our living space, helps our immune systems, gives the kids more muscle coordination, and inspires new wonder for nature. All the good stuff. 

We are slowly getting rid of our stuff.

When space is limited, you are forced to look at your stuff and ask, Do I really need this? Thankfully, this is pretty easy for Trent and I because we aren’t sentimental people. Things don’t mean a lot to us. In fact, for me, having stuff that we never use stresses me out. We are starting a “get-rid-of” pile in the basement in preparation for a garage sale. So far in our decluttering journey, communication has been key for Trent and me. We have to be honest with each other and work as a team to whittle away our “keep” pile to the things that really matter to both of us. 

We are identifying multi-use items we want to keep.

For us, this mostly applies to the kitchen gadgets. Mason jars are good for canning and for dry storage. My Ninja blender has one base with three top attachments. On the other hand, we don’t have room for kitchen appliances that only do one job, like a egg poacher or quesadilla maker.

We are relying on the library more.

Our kids love books so I’ve wondered where will we put all the books in the tiny house? We will have a few bookshelves, but not unlimited space. I have noticed that our kids only look through a book a few times, and then they are bored of it. Also, once we have enjoyed a chapter book together, we usually put it back on the shelf with no intention of reading it again. (With exception to a few of our all-time favorites.) The library has been a good answer to this, especially in light of our tiny house book dilemma. We can check out lots of books, enjoy them, and then take them back to the library. We have also loved checking out movies and audiobooks too. I plan to have a shelf for our library books in the tiny house, which will hopefully be a delightful revolving door of new books. 

We are adjusting our parenting.

We are working hard to teach them good communication with each other. We are teaching them to communicate their needs and wants to each other (and to us!), to listen to each other’s needs and wants, and then to work together to an agreement. These are important life skills to know anyway, but they are extra important when you live in a small space.

I am also practicing knowing my kids’ cues. When they get annoying, it usually means they are bored. When they are wild, it means they need to go outside. Then, rather than just feel frustrated as a mom, I can suggest some activities that might work better for that kid at that time. It has helped us all live together with more peace.

We are also teaching them that being alone sometimes is perfectly fine. And if someone wants to be left alone, it is not respectful for the others to be invading the other person’s alone time.

We are potty-training the baby.

I have had a baby in diapers almost constantly for the last seven years. For the last three years I have used mostly cloth diapers and I love them, but they take up a lot of space. We simply won’t have room for them in the tiny house. Thankfully, our “baby” is two years old and is interested in potty training, but I want to make sure I try my best to have this process completed by next summer when we move into the tiny house. 

I want to encourage any other families thinking about living in a tiny house to give it a try! I believe with some careful planning a family can be happy and comfortable in a tiny house. 

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