Who says sustainability is a luxury only the rich can afford?
I’ve been an optimist my whole life. I think that if you want something bad enough you can probably make it happen. The trick is staying open and flexible enough to realize there are a million ways to do any one thing. Remembering that helps us find solutions whenever we feel like we’ve hit a dead-end or a brick wall. What we think and how we feel can either expand or limit us, color and determine our perception and reaction to life. This tiny house, ironically, is my attempt to think and live big in a simple but beautiful, tiny, sustainable home of my own creation. I want it to be a work of art I can live in.
On the one hand there are the “fact”: I have no land, I am pushing 50, I’ve never built anything larger than a bookshelf, I am currently under-employed and the economy is crumbling. I choose to focus on the positive: I’ve got my health, I know how to use a ruler and power tools, I have access to recycled building materials, and thanks to the amazing networking abilities of the internet I’ve learned about tiny houses, acquired some building skills and made some tiny house friends.
Like the story about the spinner’s daughter I will draw on all of my past experiences to create my biggest art project ever. All the permaculture and sustainable housing workshops, the sculpture classes, house painting and repair jobs, every toy and gift I’ve ever made out of wood, the dorm room “furniture” and tree house of my youth, will come together to guide and inspire me while creating this home on wheels. It will be a synthesis of old and new, function and beauty. And I will follow the wise words of William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
For years I’ve felt that it is a luxury to really live sustainably. You need land, money, independent income etc. I’ve done some homework, stumbled upon some new (and old) technologies and I’m now prepared to prove myself wrong. I enjoy a good challenge especially the kind that allows me to grow, push the envelope, step outside the box, and expand. I was inspired to start this project, to dream this dream into being, by the Tiny House Blog by Kent Griswold and the numerous other builders I found there. I am now obsessed and running full steam ahead into this project to make it happen. I’ve never been so excited about anything in my life. And simultaneously worried that I may have lost my mind! But I’ve seen it in my dreams and now all I have to do is pull it into mater. Fingers crossed! May the gypsy wagon of my childhood dreams become a reality! I’ll invite you all over for a house-warming party when it’s finished but maximum occupancy is about three so you’ll have to take turns.
Collage of my inner child at play
First things first– save money, go visit tiny houses, design a lot, research and more research.
January 2011: I went on a road trip to Washington to tour several tiny houses. I visited Dee’s little 14 foot home but I failed to take photos because I was too busy asking questions. The second house I saw was Abel’s 20 foot long house. He is a fine craftsman and he put a lot of love and attention into the details. If only I had a small fraction of his skills.
Then down the road I went to JoAnn’s house which is a similar size and design to Dee’s house.
Matt and Charlotte’s 20 ft house seemed like it was a better size for me. Matt was very encouraging and gave me lots of great tips. He let
me help install a window which gave me hands-on experience to bring me one step closer to thinking I might just be able to pull this off.
A few tiny places around town also contributed ideas and inspiration to the mix. This one used flattened cans as siding:
This one was a coffee shop in front of a Home depot that had a duck pond.
A round cob tiny house with spherical pyramid skylight and even a tiny house garden on wheels
A couple of larger tiny houses that were inspiring:
OK. Now I’m ready to start designing.