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Archive for the Tiny House Category

One Tiny House Is Never Enough

Perhaps better known online as the tiny house prairie girl or that girl in Idaho, Kristie Wolfe has become an icon in the tiny house world having designed and built not one, but TWO tiny houses. The first is her home in Idaho which she documented and continues to build and share on Tiny House On The Prairie. At just 97 original sq.ft. her THOW took just 30 days to build and only cost a few thousand dollars as she used 80% reclaimed materials. But in 2014 her ambition to build a tiny house in multiple locales around the world and help motivate others to live a more sustainable life, took her to the Big Island in Hawaii and her tiny treehouse which she will be talking about at the 2015 Tiny House Conference in Portland, OR.

THOPUpon purchase Wolfe had not once actually seen her future building spot. Rather she had found the listing online and toured it via Google Earth. She knew the basic topography of Kona and felt confident in placing a down payment. A calendar year and dozens of sketches later and she was ready to go begin the building stage.

Kristie had a few months off between her seasonal job(s) to get it done. She flew to Hawaii with her parents and began almost at touchdown with clearing a spot for a tiny house, purchasing an old truck, and buying materials.

KristieThe property itself is nearly a half-acre of dense rainforest about 12 miles from Volcano National Park, on a dead end street. The weather is about 78 degrees with a chance of rain day in and day out. This worked to her advantage as there simply is no need for insulation, heat or even air conditioning. With only a $15,000 budget, Wolfe and her mom worked tirelessly for an entire month constructing what would become one of the Internets most popular tiny house image searches.

Everything in the house is custom-designed, and the home is entirely off-grid, capturing rainwater and solar energy to run. For anyone who has visited her website, you know how industrious and creative Kristie is. Incorporated into the tiny house are some remarkable things including a DIY toilet and sink combo, a DIY hanging bed on the lower floor, and a beautiful DIY tropical chandelier!

Tiny House Big Island

Kristie's BedroomWolfe completed the majority of her build in April 2014 and almost immediately began offering it for rent on AirBnB. The entire effort was a labor love and industry. The income gained from rentals will allow Kristie to begin a potential third tiny house as well as recoup her initial investment. In the meantime she is living in Idaho again and speaking at workshops and events like the 2015 Tiny House Conference.

Wolfe Living Room

Your Turn!

  • Where in the world would you like to build a tiny house?
  • Is multiple tiny houses a wise investment?

 

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NOTE: Tiny Treehouse Photos courtesy of Julie Harmen

Big Mountains. Tiny House. Living In The Alaskan Bush

Thanks to Pinterest we now all have a way to keep track of inspiration photos, links of interest, passing image thoughts, and more. Prior to March 2010 though we had to use an RSS feed aggregate or browser bookmarks or (gasp!) just be comfortable with the knowledge that after an initial viewing of something we may never see it again. Such is the case for me when I came across Devon & Melissa’s tiny house in Alaska.

Devon 1At just 168 sq.ft. this one room tiny house (seemingly NOT on a trailer) initially captured my attention as it was posted in 2011 which makes it a predecessor of the modern tiny house movement. Located somewhere east of Mount Foraker in the Denali National Park and Preserve area in the Alaskan Range. As Melissa welcomes us in she immediately notes that not only is the house small but also quite cozy. If the rough cut siding on the outside didn’t communicate ‘rustic cabin’ sufficiently the sparse details yet functional inclusions inside lent to her assessment. Cozy, it is.

Devon 2The kitchen has little more than a small fridge and a propane cooktop with a recent addition of some drawer units. The cooktop runs off a 1 lb. propane bottle and there is no sink evident so one is left assuming there is no running water or plumbing available in the tiny house. No matter though as at just 0:00:19 you see a blue water container which indicates a sort of grey water, off-the-grid, system.

The shower system is quite crude in that it is little more than a circular frame that holds a net or shower curtain for privacy and to keep the water in with the downward runoff being collected in an aluminum water trough that – when not in use – hangs on the wall. The duo also seems to wash their faces, their hands, and take care of other hygiene needs right at the kitchen. This was always interesting to me because as we built our THOW we were often asked where we would brush our teeth even though we incorporated an oversized, double basin sink into our build. The last time I checked brushing teeth ends with “brush and spit.” Who cares what sort of vessel you spit into or if you even use a vessel at all! (NOTE: At 0:01:11 Melissa shows us the 5-gallon water bucket) Further down the wall is the rest of the “kitchen” which features an electric tea kettle, a toaster oven, a small microwave, and more storage.

Devon 3The pots hang from the ceiling as well as some other tools and knick knacks. The entire space reminds me of a birth in a boat or even just a great sheepherders wagon or something similar. The coziness, I think, comes from everything being within reach from one place.

As the tour continues around the downstairs we see a countertop with stools which is presumably a spot to work and eat. Melissa points out it is a storage unit as well. We get our first glimpse at the stairs to the sleeping loft which is clearly used as a great dog bed. The footage even allows us to see that the walls are sheetrock and painted and that the windows are trimmed in pre-scrolled, DIY-type window trim.

The stairs are nothing fancy and, in fact, the rise is quite steep. However while being simple the stairs serve great double duty as storage areas for gear, shoes, and books. The steps are like a deep ladder that lead up to a nice sleeping loft that runs almost the same dimensions as the “downstairs” yet offers tremendous storage (through a closet rod, some storage boxes, etc) for both Melissa and Devon. The best part is yet to come though.

Devon 4The mountains out the loft window! WOW! Now I remember why I mentally bookmarked this video in the first place.

Devon 5No spot goes unused in this tiny house. To view more and to hear just a couple minutes more about the tiny house you really owe it to yourself to visit Devon & Melissa’s tiny house in Alaska on YouTube.

Your Turn!

  • Would that view be enough to convince you to move to Alaska?
  • Are your stairs pulling double duty or do they have designations?

 

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A Treehouse Perch With Unobstructed Views

Part of the allure of building a small space is that the imagination is seemingly the only restriction. Interior and exterior space mingle effortlessly and what seems like a traditional structure really is something more. A fine case in point is The Sky Den built by William Hardie Designs along with the eccentric mind of George Clarke.

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First seen on his wildly popular (and imagination-inspiring) Channel 4 program George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, The Sky Den treehouse is actually three structures in one cleverly combined to let in the best of the outdoors while maintaining the best of the indoors. A perfect treehouse space for meditation and reflection, The Sky Dean allows you to perch on its top level and witness everything from the treetop wildlife to the sounds of the river just below.

The square is the central point and main living space of the treehouse-turned-functioning art installation. Clad in what looks to be cedar shakes it features glass doors that open onto a wide balcony with unobstructed views of the river. Inside the square is an impressively versatile space, with a functional kitchen and nooks of fold-away furniture (including two single beds) and wet room accessible from the deck.

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Adjacent to the square is The Circle (shown below during construction). Constructed of corrugated iron, the outpost features a wood-burning stove and al fresco seating and dining. While there is nothing truly special about it it offers a great respite from the cross-wind and allows a perfect location for a cup of tea and a small picnic.

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Finally The Sky Den features its highest point; The Triangle. A small loft-esque space accessed by steps from the outside deck, it is minimally furnished featuring only two small sleeping pallets and a bit of interior walking space. What is most obvious though are the expansive windows allowing for brilliant natural light both day and night as well as access to the sites of the tree canopy just outside.

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In good weather, when there is no wind, the entire roof opens for an unobstructed view of the gold tier Northumberland Dark Skies (see far top photo).

It truly is a remarkable space that so delicately, yet successfully, balances the simplicity of minimalism with the furniture stylings of mid-Century and a dash of European flatpack. But it isn’t just the structure the makes The Sky Den truly amazing. Set in the heart of the Calvert Trust within the Kielder Water and Forest Park, the den is perfect for wildlife lovers and adventure-seekers who want the world around them to only be complimented – not trumped – by their sleeping quarters.

Your Turn!

  • Is this sort of construct for recreation only?
  • Do you want a tiny house that serves to compliment the nature around it?

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From the British Wild: The Lodge at Edenhall

With it’s unique tapering design and rich, golden timber, you expect to see a cabin like The Lodge at Edenhall in a vast Wyoming landscape stateside rather than riverside on the The River Eamont (a river in Cumbria, England and one of the major tributaries of the River Eden, situated in the Northern part of Great Britain). But there it does sit with its intelligent combination of rustic frontier and stylish modernity.

The Lodge is a basic one room cabin with open flooring downstairs and a sleeping loft above. The sense of openness is provided by the single-pane, muntin-less, windows on all sides of the tiny house. Resting on what seems to be large skids made of the same logs as the beam system, the cabin sits isolated in a clearing by a wide sweep of woodland directly on the river bank. Just looking on the cabin you can almost see a rocking chair, lap blanket, and warm cup of coffee and chicory waiting. Likewise, the cabin seems perfect for a small family gathering with a supper of fresh, open-fire grilled, fish, mixed greens, and a bottle of Wrothham Pinot.

While the simple log cabin fits perfectly in its natural setting the feeling inside is simple, cozy, and inviting. Prominently featured in the corner of the main living area is a wood-burning stove with tall pipe and pebble hearth. But rest assured the cabin is far from archaic with its well-equipped kitchen, masterful bedroom, and beautiful wrought-iron spiral staircase. There are comfy armchairs facing the wood-burner, a double sofa bed and sliding doors which open onto the porch to let in cool summer breezes from off the water and, quite frequently, the unfiltered sounds of nature.

The terrain surrounding The Lodge is perfect for hiking both on flatland and foothills as well as mountain biking and light rock climbing. The immediate stretches of river are perfect for fly fishing and potential salmon suppers. If for some reason the immediate area grows old the nearby Lake District offers a variety of outdoor activities ripe for exploration!

What The Lodge lacks in square feet it makes up for in charm and comfort. It’s log cabin design makes it sturdy and economical for most seasonal weather. The mixture of natural logs and timber with milled 2’x4’s and even some sheetrock give the home stylishness and modernity. Perhaps no place more comfortable and no more inspiring exists outside the quaint Lake District of Great Britain.

Your Turn!

  • Have you considered living in a log cabin?
  • Can a log cabin only be in undeveloped areas?

 

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Tiny Houses Aren’t For Kids….are they?

“Can a family live in a small space?” It is a question repeated on forums, posts, discussion boards, and chats, all over the Interwebs. The answer is (sometimes surprisingly so), yes! And there is nothing more gratifying than seeing a small space that incorporates intelligent design and smart solutions. Such is the case with the children’s room Heidi and carpenter husband Thomas have created for their little girl, Alberte. With no less than five kid-tested and kid-approved design elements this is one small space that is just for the kids!

Perhaps the first and most obvious element is the stairs leading up to the sleeping loft. You may also notice the railing to keep a sleeping child safe and secure. It appears to be made of melamine or some other sort of veneer to match the rest of the decor. With wide treads made of birch wood and a bit of an unusually high rise, the steps double as ample cubby storage for toy trucks, dolls, and books. They also encourage walking (by steadying the daughter with a reach rail) and toddling.

A bit more juvenile than some of the ideas found on an earlier post, Alberte’s room is still fairly sophisticated. The round, black pieces of art are actually circular chalkboards for her to write on, doodle on, or have a guest leave her a greeting. It capitalizes on both penmanship learning and creative arts.

Tucked behind the stairs – as kid’s seem to love nooks, crannies, and hiding spots – is the wardrobe area either for daily clothes or fun costumes for make-believe sessions.

And not to be missed, of course, is the wonderful cube that serves as a sitting area, a work area (with dropdown desk), and overall separated space. Because it and the wardrobe are built out their ceiling acts as the foundation for the sleeping loft! But perhaps most fun of all is the wallpaper or vinyl adhesive art that covers the back wall of the built-outs. Encouraging both color and shape recognition as well as being 100% funky, the design is too cute for this too cool tiny design!

Your Turn!

  • Is this the coolest kid’s tiny house within a tiny house?
  • Do kid’s need their own space even in a tiny house?

 

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