You know when you are really busy in life and you still find time to build cabinets all by hand? Me either…but I live with a mythical creature who did just that. There were a few things that didn’t get finished in the house before Adam started Academy, the biggest was the kitchen cabinets. Until now we just had open shelves beneath the countertop, which worked fine, just didn’t look as nice as finished cabinets. I didn’t think Adam would have the time to try his hand at custom cabinetry, but a couple of months ago he decided to start working on them. He likes having projects to work on and it seemed to be a nice break from studying and thinking about work. Though he has never built cabinets he did an amazing job! He added some great features that we couldn’t have had when purchasing pre-made cabinets.
Another update we did recently was to paint the exposed plywood walls. Originally we had white washed the plywood and really liked the look of seeing the wood grain, but after a few months it seemed like the walls looked more yellow than white. We realized that we probably should have put a stain-blocker on first to seal the wood and prevent any oils in the wood from bleeding through. We ended up putting on a coat of stain-blocker and then painting all the walls the same color (Designer White). I really liked the wood walls but this made a big difference visually, it looks more finished and brighter overall.
I recently discovered Stikwood and think this will be the next addition to the back wall in the house. If you haven’t seen this stuff check it out, I recently discovered it and wish I had known all along! It is real wood but cut super thin, it has adhesive backing so you can create accent walls, headboards, anything really! http://www.stikwood.com
Would you like to know what happens to somebody after living in a tiny house for over seven months? Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought spending over half a year in under 200 sq. ft had to either send your body into adaptation mode and you would shrink a little bit, or it would shift your perspective so much that you would see the world differently.
Adam and I have talked about some of the things we have noticed throughout our seven months here, often it comes up when we ask each other “why do we like it here so much?” Although part of that question remains to be answered we have come to a few conclusions and revelations about life in the tiny house. Yeah things are going to get deep…
1. We like each other
We knew we liked each other and didn’t expect that to change but living here has made it clearer than ever. If we didn’t like each other this definitely wouldn’t be going so smoothly!
2. When you follow your heart and take risks good things happen
This blog got its name because in the end the good that can come from taking a chance to achieve a goal will ALWAYS outweigh the potential risk of it failing.
3. Maybe we are laid back
We like to think of ourselves this way but who really knows? Living here for the last 7 months has been surprisingly easy. Yes there are inconveniences, frustrations, and all of that but we have embraced the good with the not so convenient. I often have people tell me about how they would handle living in a tiny house “it’s not for me” “that’s cool, but I could never do that” “I like my space too much” “I would kill my spouse.” After hearing these dramatic declarations I find myself wondering if I’m missing something, or if my breaking point is yet to come. I have since realized maybe we have a quality that allows us to easily and happily live in a place that many couldn’t. Both of us have always adapted to new environments easily and living in a tiny house has been no different.
4. The root of happiness
This isn’t a new revelation of course. My family never placed importance on having nice cars or a huge house. While studying abroad in Ghana I learned this valuable lesson . Ghanaians are some of the most joyful people I have ever met and many of them had few material possessions. What they did have was a close family and the basics needed to live.
5. Though stuff is nice, you feel pretty free when you aren’t surrounded by it
I will be the first to admit I am not a minimalist but I have enjoyed the feeling of having everything you need and not much else. Adam isn’t exactly high maintenance, the only thing I can remember him saying he wanted in the house was a cool bottle opener. Luckily we have space elsewhere to keep our camping and outdoor gear otherwise it may be different but he is a man of few necessities.
6. Its BETTER than we imagined
The fact that Adam and I are very optimistic people combined with the fact that we dive into things quite quickly should have guaranteed this tiny house thing to either not work out or be far less enjoyable than we thought. We are delighted that this has been one of those cases where the reality of the situation is actually better than what we had pictured. We had decided that if we hated living in the tiny house then we would just move out, but we don’t so we’ll stay.
Now, don’t get the idea that life in the Redmond Estate is always rainbows and butterflies. We love it here but that doesn’t mean things are always perfect. It is harder to entertain, hard to use a foam roller inside, impossible to get a running start and slide across the floor in socks, harder to bake and cook elaborate meals, hard to slam a door for dramatic effect if Adam and I are having a fight (but not impossible). Though there are small sacrifices we have had to make they have all been easy to do without or work around. We may not see the world totally differently and haven’t had any shrinking happen, but we have found a better understanding of what is important to us and what we need to be happy.
Typically getting in the Holiday spirit for me involves a few key things:
1.The Christmas tree hunt– This is by far the most important tradition, and was practically law in our family growing up. We have never set foot on a Christmas tree lot or tree farm in all of my existence, well there was the year my mom came home with a tree from a lot, we were stunned and confused. Anyway… we like to forget about that year. The weekend after Thanksgiving we get a $5 permit and head to the forest to find an inevitably homely looking tree with tons of natural charm. This year was no different except the tree was about 1/4 the size. Adam even felt the need to yell “timber” as he sawed down the little Doug Fir using a plastic butter knife or something with similar strength.
2.Collecting insane amounts of evergreens, sticks, pinecones, red berries and other natural flora to make wreaths out of, or simply drape on any open surface that can use a little Christmas cheer. This had to be toned down quite a bit this year due to size restrictions and lack of surface area but was still possible.
3.Making and decorating sugar cookies –This one was not achievable in the tiny house, in-fact sometimes it barely feels possible in a regular sized kitchen; the rolling, cutting, baking, frosting assembly line moved to my sister’s house this year.
4.Giving>Getting – This may sound cliché but nothing makes the sentiment “it is better to give than to receive” more true than living in a tiny house! Each year we like to do something for people we don’t know. Usually we take cards and Christmas cookies to homeless people. This year we tried something new. We “adopted” a family through a local charity and based on the information given about their situation and needs we bought items for the family. The idea was to focus less on buying and receiving gifts among our families and instead help out a family who really needed it.
I want to prepare you for what you are about to see…if like me, you imagined living in a tiny house as an opportunity for a simple, minimal lifestyle where everything has its place, then you are right, but that Feng Shui can be thrown out of whack REAL FAST. Let me reveal a glimpse into the reality of living in a tiny house, or at least my occasional reality. You see, everything may have its place but what happens when you have 15 Holiday packages to create for instance?
I usually just laugh and send a picture of the chaos to my co-workers. Doing any kind of project is tricky, and for my job I often have them. When I have tasks for work like organizing 30 pairs of demo running shoes I do it at a friend’s house. This hasn’t been a problem necessarily, just a change, a slight inconvenience. The silver lining is spending more time with friends!
Christmas was different this year, not just because we had a smaller tree or less presents for each other, but because we woke up Christmas morning on the North Shore of Oahu and the day before Adam had no clue we were headed there! We had to cancel a two-week vacation we had booked to Peru when Adam took the job with Portland, we paid a change fee to the airline and had to use the vouchers before February. He had 4 days off at Christmas and we decided to use them for a mini-vacation. Two weeks before I saw that flights to Hawaii had dropped in price and I asked Adam if he was ok with me surprising him with a location, he is always up for these kind of shenanigans! I packed our bags and kept it quiet. He didn’t find out until I met him in the car wearing a snorkel as we headed to the airport on Christmas Eve. Though it didn’t feel like a typical Christmas, eating at a food truck for Christmas dinner and basking in the sun turned out to be a special way to celebrate without the distraction of presents and production of a big dinner. We missed our family but it was just what we needed.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! 2015 is full of possibility and we hope good things come to you whatever they may be!!!!
While making this slideshow I realized we purchased the 8×22′ trailer that our house sits on February 25, 2014. July 16, 2014 was the day we pulled it from Eugene to Portland where we now live. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you have no other option. We decided the best way to make this dream happen was to allow ourselves no other option. It was Tiny House or the streets.
Let me back-up a bit…Portland has been our home for the last 7 years, but in 2013 Adam was hired by the Fire Department in Eugene, OR, it was an exciting opportunity coming from a smaller Department outside of Portland and he took the job. During the first 6 months I stayed in Portland but eventually moved down too. Though we didn’t plan it this way, the house we rented was an ideal situation for building the tiny house. We started building it with the goal of finishing the following winter.
Adam was building on his days off and I would help when I was able. In June he got offered a fairly unexpected position with Portland, a month before he would need to start. It was not an easy decision, he loved the people he worked with and it meant another dreaded fire academy along with canceling our big trip to Peru we had booked in September. Portland felt like home to us and this had been his dream job for years so he couldn’t pass it up. This meant we had 30 days to either finish this house or find a place to live. We decided this would be the perfect year to live full time in the house, he would be busy with academy and we would save money, plus where the heck would we put a half finished house. At first we looked at places as backup and quickly decided we were not going to consider anything else because it was distracting and didn’t get us any closer to the end goal.
I am good under pressure, I do my best work in -fact, but this was a whole new level of pressure. Not only was the house just a wooden shell with no insulation or electricity but we had no idea where we would put it in a month when we moved it to Portland. We would joke about the Wal-Mart parking lot or parking it down by the river but even those were looking like real options two weeks before the move. Adam was working from the second he got up until late at night, on days when I was home I would do the same, friends would help out some days. We were making progress. My family came down for the weekend and my uncle ended up staying the entire last week working as an unpaid saint sent down to help us not be homeless, don’t think we would have been here without him!
One week until our move date, I was in Utah for work, Adam doesn’t panic and he was panicking. I told him “if you build it they will come” He may not have been amused by the Field of Dreams reference at the time but I truly believed I would find us the perfect spot in less than a week. It was the least I could do while he was working around the clock to finish while I was away for work. Calling him with the news that I found a place was exciting, but the fact that it was basically in our old neighborhood and on a half acre right against a 90 acre park was a proud moment.
I know many people living in tiny houses spend months downsizing, unfortunately with the unexpected move and desperate need to finish the house we had not gotten to this step, or even began packing our 1,400 square foot house at all until the DAY BEFORE. Moving is already a pain but this move will make all stressful moves feel like a sunny picnic in the park. It was one of those times you look back on and don’t know how you did it. There is the sheer terror of taking your 10,000 lb home down the freeway for the first time without knowing if it would fall apart. There was also the fact that after two solid days of no sleep Adam would be starting his new job. It wasn’t pretty but we did it and for that we are grateful.
It has been five months already and living here has been the easy part. It has never felt too small, even when we bump into each other in the kitchen or hit our heads in the loft. Despite all of its flaws and extreme tiny-ness this house feels like home to us. It surprises me everyday how much I love living here.
When we first set our minds on building this house we didn’t want to lose excitement or give up on the idea so we became very focused…for me this came in the form of finding small things and exclaiming “This would be PERFECT for the tiny house” like the small utensils pictured below. Adam’s method was simply saying “Tiny House” at random points throughout the day to keep us on the right track and avoid any fading enthusiasm. It seemed to have worked!
A Few of the Things We Love:
Tiny House Jokes– Adam and I don’t take ourselves too seriously, and if we did we would have to stop immediately because living in a tiny house is hilarious, not only is everything in general more humorous when done in a tiny house but there are naturally situations that occur that are pretty darn ridiculous and we love to entertain our friends and ourselves whenever possible. http://vimeo.com/dawnjones/small-house
Delighting curious strangers with a tour– Our house faces the park which attracts lots of pedestrians, I’ll never forget the first morning waking up in the house… realizing that two cars and a small gathering of people had formed on the edge of the lawn. It was odd feeling on display at first but we learned to embrace it, or at-least laugh at it. We get questions like: “That’s a garden shed right?” or “Is that one of those IKEA houses?” Once in a while we meet strangers that we are especially fond of and we invite them in to see the house (which never takes too long).
Company: One of the biggest challenges of living here is not having the freedom to have as many people over as we would like. We reach our capacity pretty quick around here but having people over has been one of the highlights in the house so far. It’s always our closest friends, the ones up for an adventure. I love being a gracious host as much as the next person but some luxuries just aren’t possible when you are working within these dimensions. Our conversion rate is solid with 2 of the 4 visitors on their way to building their own tiny houses.
Laying with our heads out of the window in the loft- We haven’t installed the skylight yet so this is the next best stargazing option and it’s awesome!
Watching sunsets from the deck– Nothing makes an Excel report seem more enjoyable than this view.
Watching our dog find the most plush places in the house to plant herself:
Turkish Bath Towels– These things were made for tiny houses. I’ve actually always wanted these, tiny house or not, they look awesome and the colors are far superior to any normal towel I have seen. They are very light and don’t take up as much space. They are made from a curly cotton that is extra absorbent and quick drying. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to regular towels even if I had a bathroom the size of two tiny houses. http://www.indigotraders.comTurkish Towels