Many folks know Joel Salatin for his progressive farming practices and stances on food, he is a fantastic speaker and was recently invited to speak at Google where he talked about how the way we produce food today is not how humanity has eaten for the vast majority of our existence.
The one area that I was always lukewarm on with many Tiny Houses was the kitchen, but today I wanted to share a awesome video of a great kitchen in a Tiny House that my friend Libby shared with me. What I really like about this kitchen is the nicer finishes for the toaster over, a full washer dryer combo unit, and the hanging rolling door. While I am not crazy about the main room furniture, I think it was really well finished and all the storage in this house is amazing. It just seemed to have some really large spaces that you could tuck a long of things away in really well.
This past weekend I had the chance to meet with several alternative housing folks to talk about various issues. It sparked some introspection and then I read a post over at Earthbag Building Blog which pointed out if you were to account for the time the average American spends earning money just to pay for standard home in the US, you work 15 years of your life just for your house. Fifteen years!
More than a third of the average American’s after-tax income is devoted to shelter, usually rent or mortgage payments. If a person works from age 20 to age 65, it can be fairly argued that he or she has put in 15 years (20 in California) just to keep a roof over their head.
It struck me how the cost of a traditional home is not only money, but your time and what is time, but it is our lives, that precious commodity that we cannot buy more of. That said the case made for alternative housing based only money alone is pretty compelling. Here is the breakdown of what the average American ends up spending on their standard sized home. (source: Wall St. Journal, 2007)
So when you can buy a home for $10,000 or 30,000 or even $50,000, the amount you save and the life you gain back, the numbers are pretty compelling. Add to that the risk involved with taking a mortage, if you mess up once at any time over 30 years, all your money is gone and your credit ruined.
So let’s take back our lives and put that money to a better use!
There is something appealing to me about the iconic Airstream look, whatever it is, it is the one trailer that I have ever considered. Today we have a really neat Airstream that that is only 160 square feet. One feature that I really like is the mounted computer screen. This allows the screen to be pulled out to create the feeling of a minimalistic desk, then pushed flush with the wall to create a TV feel. The trailer itself has been totally redone with an amazing color pallet that is appealing and light enough to give an airiness to the small space.
There is a great article over at Inhabitat that sparked some thoughts on what you need in a home. This is useful to help you develop a overarching philosophy to drive your design, to make sure your needs are met and not get caught up in the glitz of every bell and whistle or trendy thing.
This is an important step because it helps guide your decisions down the road. For people who feel that sustainability is an issue, this will lead you to things like solar power, responsibly sourced wood/reclaimed wood, higher R value insulation etc. Determine you list of core values that you hold dear and keep them in mind throughout the process, this list should be pretty short and concise and you should be willing to pay or expend energy in order to meet these values.
What are your needs?
It is important to consider what your needs are before designing your home, it is from this that your house can begin to take shape. This is very important to help you to think conceptually about your rooms. For instance it is common in larger homes to have a guest bedroom that goes largely unused, but if we like to entertain we might think about how we will meet this occasional need without the addition of an entire room. This realization might lead us to consider only small couches that fold out into a bed.
Many Tiny home designers use what is called subtractive design. Basically you want to design a space that meets your needs, but then you want to try taking things away from the design. If the removal doesn’t detract from the design then it should stay out. If the removal of something actually improves the design, then it should be kept out.
- Which spaces will be expandable into others?
- Which spaces will have direct access to the exterior?
- In which rooms do you prefer sunlight at various times of day?
- What special storage or leisure activities need to be accommodated?
- Can any spaces serve multiple functions?
- Where and when do you expect true privacy?
- Do you require special accommodations for other generations within the family?
- Will you work at home? How and where?
- Where will you eat alone? With family? With many guests, if you entertain?
- What prized personal possessions need to be showcased?
- Is energy-efficiency and sustainability important to you? Will you invest a portion of your budget in green building strategies?