Inspired by the original building, the extension was also to be built with cross-laminated solid wood panels. But since there was not enough space to use straw-insulated walls as well, we chose thicker wood panels instead. And in this case that means 18cm thick! If you want to cut a board like that, you need a circular saw so big that at least I almost can't carry it.
The original house I bought not quite two years ago was planned as a modular house, but only with the two original modules that could be taken apart and reassembled. Any further expansion was not planned. Accordingly, so several tasks were necessary to prepare for the addition.
Soon it will be 2 years since I moved into my new Tiny House. Actually, it's still a construction site, because I don't have a bathroom, and the planned addition is only now really getting started. Nevertheless, I'm finally taking the time to do some initial reflection on living in my new tiny house.
I approached decorating my home the same way I approach so many other things in my life: Trial and error. I knew roughly where the bed would probably make the most sense, but that was it.
It's been about 9 years ago, that I started dreaming about wooden tiny houses. About a year later, I was the proud owner of a construction container, that I turned into a cozy little tiny house experiment. Now, all those years later, I finally arrived at my next step of living small.
The foundation, the base of a house is incredibly relevant. Every detail, every height must fit, so that the house then stands on it stably.
While I dove into the scene, I learned that some definitions are more strict than others. A “Tiny House” to a lot of people is not just a very small house, but specifically a small house on wheels. Others just use it for all kinds of very small houses, even tiny appartements. The Tiny House Movement is not just about choosing the size of your home, it’s also (at least most of the time) a social statement. It’s about questioning the current house sizes and all that it entails, simplifying your life, getting out of (or as a precaution not to get in) debt, being able to move without having to give up your house, and probably many more other reasons. But even though everyone has a different reason for joining the Tiny House Community, it still feels like a bonding aspect that really forms a global (sub)community. This inspired me to look a little closer at the Tiny House Communities in Europe, which merits a separate blog post 🙂
During my trip I was able to visit the Portland Tiny House Hotel “Caravan “, which is actually just an old parking lot with currently 6 Tiny Houses arranged in a circle and a small communal area with a fireplace in the middle. Even though it’s not especially cheap to spend a night in one of the houses, it is a great (and relatively cheap) opportunity to try out living in one of them, and maybe even finding out some details of what you really need or don’t need in your own Tiny House.
At the Tiny House Hotel tour I met a Portland resident living in a Tiny House named Lilypad . She was very gracious and showed me her tiny magical amazing universe. It is relatively unusual compared to most of the other Tiny Houses I know, because it has two lofts, both accessible by stairs (not with a ladder). She really created a space with 5 different areas that feel like rooms, making it feel a lot more spacious. The thing that made all the difference was the roof, that was high on one side and a little curved on the other. Having that instead of a gable gives you about twice the headroom (to the sides) in the lofts.
A lot is said about why going Tiny is great, some voices are already countering it. For me, it always depends on your goal. What are you willing to give up? What are you longing to gain? It’s a very vital part of going tiny that should be asked in the beginning. But I believe if those balance each other out, you’re good to go. How about you? What do you think is the most important question to ask when going Tiny?
Over the years I spent some time with project lifecycles and especially systems like the one in Dragon Dreaming and the natural cycles of the medicine wheel resonated with me. Within Dragon Dreaming, there are four recurring phases in the cycle:
The last one – Celebrating – is looking back on what you have accomplished, reviewing your actions, maybe naming all the things that you could have done and will do better next time, and especially celebrating. This is a vital part of finishing a project that is overlooked a lot of times in our society.
I almost forgot about that important last step (of the first cycle) of my project, but since I had told so many people who were interested about my home that there will be a party, I felt the need to actually do it, not being aware of how important it would be for me. It was a great party and with it I was able to really enjoy, celebrate and be proud of what I had created. Only during the celebration did I realize how important celebrating and really appreciating your accomplishment is.
For the kitchen I wanted to have at least a small area where I could cut or otherwise temporarily place ingredients, etc. I had a few different ideas of accomplishing it, most of them needing a lot of building material and time and energy, because I would build most of the rack myself. While thinking about how to get the wood for building it and how this could actually be created, I had an idea that was so much easier. I didn’t have to build anything, just put an existing cupboard, an IKEA rack and some small trays together, and voilà. That’s how it looks now:
My electric stove + oven I put on a rolling cupboard, so that normally when I only use one burner, I can use it as is, and if I need the second burner or the oven, I can slide out the cupboard and use the full range of the appliance.
For my sink-system I’m still looking for a nice glass container with a tap to put the water in, but sadly it’s not that easy to come by in Austria. Also I want to have a curtain or something to hide the mess below the sink. But since that’s all just in the category of “pretty”, it wasn’t that important to me for now.
The last part that was missing for my understanding of the house being finished was the bathroom. The composting toilet was already finished a long time ago, but since I don’t have curtains I always felt a little exposed when using it. Also I wanted to try out having a shower as well (even though this wasn’t a must). So first I built a wall on the side that the shower should be:
I wanted an additional wall and not a curtain, because then I would have more vertical space to maybe hang something (pictures, mirror, etc.). Sadly I don’t have a final picture of the shower, but the way I implemented it was with a storage box (60×80 cm) – because I couldn’t find a shower tray that size – and another solar shower bag that was on a lifting block so that I can let it down when I have to add water to the bag and lift it up to get the slope for the water to poor down. All of that is securely wrapped with a shower curtain. So if I take a shower, I only have as much water as is in the solar shower bag and it all has to fit in the makeshift showertray that I have to empty at the end of the shower. Luckily the tray at least has tiny wheels on the bottom ;-). To give you an idea of where I put the shower, here is a picture of the first step:
To finish the bathroom, I put up a curtain for the “door”, and I already have a small mirror! Voilà:
That’s it! Finished!! I haven’t gotten around taking a good picture of the whole finished interior, but that will come soon 😉
This was the enamel sink I found on the internet months ago and fell in love right away. perfect size (38×40 cm), perfect weight, and most importantly: exactly the style that I was looking for. I didn’t want plastic because that’s just cheap, doesn’t look good and … well I don’t really have to list all the reasons why this just isn’t an option. Ceramic would have been okay, but it’s extremely heavy and didn’t fit into my tiny house stylistically. Metal wouldn’t have been perfect, but was the only other option I could live with, but luckily didn’t have to. The funny thing is, that the sink wasn’t only perfect for all the reasons I already mentionned, but it was also the cheapest option, because the guy selling it had a few of them and didn’t know what to do with it.
So for the rack… I didn’t want to build the whole rack myself, because I was a little insecure about the stability of the thing, so I used an IVAR rack (from IKEA) that was 50 cm wide and 180cm high for the back that was going to be by the wall, and another one that was only about 80cm high for the front. Since 80 is a little low for the sink, I added some height by tinkering, built a frame for the sink to sit on, and screwed everything tight.
For the water storage I found a solar shower bag with a tap that I just hung on the IVAR rack, put a bucket below, and now I have the luxury of running water! It’s amazing how seemingly little things can make such a big difference and produce so much excitement for me! I’m still looking for a prettier water container (maybe out of glass), but for now it’ll definitely do.