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Beach Paradiso in San Diego

There is nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean lapping in and out under the glow of a waxing gibbous. There is nothing more freeing than having a chai in the early morning while sitting on an old rattan and watching the sun illuminate the world around you. Such is the life in a quaint beach getaway and more specifically in the small house on the San Diego beach created by Robin and Mac.

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The two maintain that despite the time, effort, and resources involved, it has been a personal labor of love.

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The overt nautical theme of the home is appropriate for the area where it is located as San Diego is full of sun, sand, and gorgeous rises and sets (both by the sun and by the swells). With a number of homes resting on manageable cliffs and overlooking what seems like a year-round summer. With the average temperature hovering around 69º without humidity there are ample attractions for all interests including Seaport Village, Balboa Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, and, of course, the beach! That sort of relaxed and tranquil yet stimulating lifestyle is reflected in the soft greens and pared back blues that emanate from the larger furniture pieces of the home including the gingham print couch and the rolling bar back.

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In fact, the choice of furniture and accent pillows/pieces the owners picked helps to create the vintage look that makes this place one of a kind. Throw in a vintage white insulated rolling cooler, a long board suspended on the wall, and a few live palms and potted perennials to lighten up and liven up the house and one can only feel like they are living the cover of a Coastal Living magazine!

Structurally speaking several items jump out that are surely considered unconventional but help give a certain Beach Blanket Bingo casual flair to the small house.

The floors look to be flat lacquered OSB. The walls have exposed (yet painted) studs and the electrical work runs through exposed metal conduit. In addition to those subdued elements the windows to the small pool are flip-up rather than traditional sash and glazed pieces.

 

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Perhaps though the real flare is introduced with the most subtle of choices: the seashell wrapped candles, the mosaic frames on the walls, the ‘Aloha’ pillow, and the stainless steel hanging light shades. All give the feeling that you have taken up residence for the summer on the beach, in a friend’s poolhouse! It is both inviting and nostalgic with just a shot of tropical.

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While it may look like only a pool house this small house could offer a more permanent opportunity to live a peaceful and comfortable life in el paradiso of San Diego!

Your Turn!

  • Could you live in a tiny house that carries a central theme?
  • Does this small house make you long for next summer?

 

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All Wood. All Bus. All Beauty. All Genius.

There is something admittedly magical about living in a school bus. Whether it be the sense of security developed as a young student or the idea of taking something so “un-homey” and making it so personal, conversions are inviting nonetheless. Maybe it is the simple nostalgia of a conversion? They represent the young and carefree afternoons of the school year when you could catch up on the days gossip, scribble down homework answers in your best “no this bus isn’t moving” manuscript, or flirt with the “quiet girl in the corner.” They are large, yellow, and overtly obvious. As with all things though they have their lifespan and most buses reach a time when they are either too old or to outdated to be safe forms of transportation. So what happens with these old rides?

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Some get parked in a field to be taken over by English Ivy and Kudzu. Some become a funky guest room behind your weird uncle’s house. Others become fixtures on the food truck scene. Yet other decommissioned school buses leave the United States to countries like Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as brightly-colored work transports as recently seen in the film La Camioneta.

Perhaps the coolest use of an old “big cheese” though is when they are elevated to a new plateua such as the one above built by Sean and Lindsay, designers, artists, and tiny home creators!

The conversion has such a warm, comfortable feeling. Perhaps it is the intimacy of the wood or the warmth of the tones. Whatever it is it exudes nomadic adventure and longs for more stories to be added to its 34-year history.

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Like most motor homes the bus has a kitchen, ample storage, and comfortable living space including a futon for sitting/sleeping, a desk and shelves with lips (to prevent bumpy road accidents). The only obvious area missing is an on-board bathroom.

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In terms of raw and natural materials the conversion features bamboo flooring, oak, maple and pine. The rood also has a fixed platform (sanded fir wood) for both travel storage and observation!

One of the most striking parts of this tiny house though is the wood burning stove. A prominent feature toward the rear of the bus, the stove keeps the bus warm in the winter and seemingly vents directly through the roof.

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The bus certainly looks normal on the outside but as with all great conversions the inside is quite different. It mixes tiny house with cabin with yurt with hibernation den.

Mechanically speaking the 1978 International, gasoline powered, 35′ bus is in good shape even getting a sign-off from a mechanic. Sean does caution that it needs a new power steering box as the original one is starting to show some wear. Otherwise it is ready for its next adventure wherever that may lead.

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Your Turn!

  • Would you live in a school bus conversion?
  • If you lived in a bus would you drive it around or leave it parked?

 

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Artist(ry) In Residence

The role architecture plays in our day-to-day lives is quite interesting. On the one hand we have a tendency to elevate architecture to almost organic pieces of art. On the other hand we have conditioned ourselves to expect beautiful, functional, and even controversial homes and buildings to the point of ignoring them altogether. We devour issues of DWELL and hold as authority Architectural Digest. In the tiny house community we even satiate our daily need with sites like Tiny House Swoon and Small House Swoon. Architects like Gehry, Lloyd Wright, Hadid, and Nouvel have brought to light ingenious design, marvelous innovation, ground-breaking materials, and environmental recognition, all at once elevating themselves to artists and cultural icons.

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As with Tom Wright’s Burj Al Arab in Dubai shown above, architects bring to the forefront a sort of other-worldly vernacular that most don’t understand but feel they can no longer live without. Such is the case with Robert Oshatz who in 1971 established the firm of Robert Harvey Oshatz, Architect. In the last 45 years or so the firm has paved the road of organic architecture, planning, interior design, and even construction management for developers and special clients.

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The Gibson Boathouse (shown above) on Lake Oswego (designed in 1993 and finished in 1995) is one of Oshatz’s most visual works. The Gibson family had an existing boathouse but felt like it was a bit of an eyesore on their property. They didn’t want to sacrifice the existing boat stall but did want to add a new studio and study as Mrs. Gibson is a well-known artist in her own right. The property did have some challenges. The driveway is shared with neighbors and visible to passers-by. In order to maintain the landscape it was decided to build the studio into the hillside and have a sod roof so the structure would seemingly disappear into the land and not sacrifice the use of the drive. In addition to maintaining plant life and a natural setting the roof is constructed with straight Douglas fir glue laminated beams and fir decking.

Oshatz is so much more than just an architect or guest lecturer or even guest professor though. He maintains that he is a generalist who associates with specialists feeling comfortable as a client, architect, and contractor. Because of such acknowledgements he is able to value the budget and desire of a client, artistic vision of an architect, and discipline required by a contractor to manage subscontractors and stay on schedule.

Bridging the gap between seemingly “at odds” worlds is par for the course for architect Oshatz. His Miyasaka Residence – constructed in Obihiro, Japan and featured on HGTV’s program Extreme Homes – , bridges the aesthetics of two vastly different cultures. Built to accommodate the hectic life of the president of one of Obihiro’s major commercial building contractors, as well as provide a quiet environment for his parents, the house was designed to seem almost jewel-like while situated in an urban garden oasis.

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This beautiful and unique modern family home shows elegance and generously calls on natural materials such as stone and wood. The roof exudes a futuristic look but the interior has a zen-like aesthetic lush plant life, stone supports, and teak wood built-ins. It’s level of sustainable design and natural harmony is something one would expect from a tree tent or even the Hytte Tiny House.

Oshatz is not just known for his high profile homes – Chenequa residence, Weiss residence, Elk Rock residence, and Killian residence to name a few – but also for non-residential projects like the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon and the C.A. Bright Tower also in Portland, Oregon. He is a long standing tour de force in sustainable and nature-inspired architecture and will surely be an influence for years to come. (Mount Crested Butte residence shown below)

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Your Turn!

  • Can houses other than tiny houses be seen as sustainable?
  • Is Oshatz’s work on par with architects like Lloyd Wright?

 

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Parisian Micro-Apartment

Upon first inspection of a Paris apartment I am always stricken by the use of light to create living space. Be it french doors, floor-to-ceiling windows, white walls, or sparse furnishings, it is safe to say (and I say this as someone who has lived in Paris…..the 9th arrondissement to be precise) taille ne compte pas, n’est-ce pas? The answer? No, not when you are the creative French firm Schemaa.

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Their fresh renovation of an older, 322 sq.ft. apartment shows a certain je ne sais quoi in its elegant simplicity. Dominated by an alternating-tread staircase with included storage this storage-rich apartment features a number of space-saving elements.

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Using some of the same elements as an earlier TTL post on “stair porn” the staircase in the Schemaa apartment is made up of varying sized cupboards allowing the rest of the room to look airy and minimal. The grain pattern of the steps and other furniture elements suggest birchwood it is more economical and therefore more feasible to say each of the built-in strips is a finished yellow pine. Of course the floor is something a either a bit more exotic or simply dressed up with a pickling or whitewash finish.

At the base of the stairs (or to the right…whichever you prefer) is a rather large mirror which serves to reflect the light coming in from the oversized windows. Such a detail gives the illusion of a much larger footprint to the room. To fill the floor or allow for dinner parties in the space a dining table is also featured in the apartment that disassembles when not in use and mounts securely on the wall.

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To note is the use of orange as an accent color in all areas but most obviously as the kitchen backsplash (NOTE: the two images above are mirrored for example purposes). This orange theme extends to coat hooks, tiling, dining stools, and lighting.

Perhaps the remaining question is where the stairs actually lead to. As if stolen from a page in the Moulin Rouge screenplay they ascend to a quaint loft bedroom complete with star-gazing skylights. The original, rough-cut, wooden beams visible in the rafters lend that old world charm to the entire apartment paying homage to both the detailed craftsmanship still present in the apartment as well as the age of the structure.

Schema_5Even though its size clearly makes this a tiny house or rather micro-apartment, it is also the use of space and the multi-function of built-in furniture items that make it a clever and practical home.

Your Turn!

  • Could you live in such a minimal space?
  • Does the absence of clutter make you think the Schemaa space is cold?

 

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Playful and Themed Tiny House Design

269 sq. ft. does not seem the most advantageous space for any sort of theme in design. In fact, it seems barely enough space to eat and sleep. Yet somehow designers and architects like Alan Chu are finding playful and inventive ways to give a fresh and fluid look to small spaces.

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Separating the micro apartment into a 2-story unit the blueprint allows for an open floor plan with the kitchen and living space on the bottom floor. This isn’t at all unlike the basic premise of a tiny house trailer. The similarities continue when moving to the bedroom (and bathroom) which is situated on the second floor and accessible by a spiral metal staircase. This plays in directly to the steadily revisited argument of loft -vs- no loft and steps -vs- ladder arguments in the tiny house community. Chu’s space – named Apt 1211 – also owes much credit to the large window that literally floods the apartment with daylight and natural ambiance. On to the theme of the apartment though.

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The custom cabinetry takes on a look for industrial or warehouse crates which all at once keep the design fluid and organized. The boxes were built from certified wood pine and feature red interiors. Because all storage spaces including those for media, clothing, and kitchen items, all use the storage crate look even though they range in size they keep a continuous look and feel. To top it off the flooring on the second floor is made with reclaimed demolition wood truly incorporating the warehouse aesthetic.

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There are some elements that seem less obvious than others in the apartment. One is the framework itself. The second floor seems to hover and lack a certain amount of traditional framing while the downstairs flooring is cement without any mention of whether or not the apartment is on the ground floor or has additional supports for weight integrity above the downstairs unit.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the entire unit though is the absence of hardware on the storage containers. It seems as if doors open using finger holes and hinged doors open just by pulling the door and drawers seem to have a notched out handle, all giving a uniform and clean look.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer a mixed cabinet look or do you like the themed approach?
  • Would you build with cabinets that lack traditional hardware?

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