Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Making a Life In The Trees

“The world is full of nice, ordinary little people who live in nice, ordinary little houses on the ground. But didn’t you ever dream of a house up on a tree top?”

~ Father Robinson, Swiss Family Robinson

Treehouse

There is a fascination with treehouse living that all at once allows the inhabitant to be as close to nature as possible as well as create a world of dreams for themselves. They are escape hatches just as much as they are doors to new places. Perhaps no one knows this quite as well as interior designer Lynn Knowlton who has always dreamed of her very own tree fort. And like all over-achievers she decided to do so building a tiny house of sorts in a grove of trees on her land just two and a half hours northwest of Toronto. The beautiful (and sustainable) part of this tree house is that it is 100% recycled claiming the basic building lumber from an aging wood barn.

Treehouse SlideIn a 2012 interview with Lloyd Alter, Knowlton assessed her fort like this: “Truth be told, it is created from something that otherwise would have been torn down and burned. My friend , who we bought the barn from, wanted to see a reclaimed use for her barn. It was blown over by a tornado. It would have been a crime to burn the remnants of that barn.”

The primary note is that the treehouse is not so much a house set upon a large tree but rather a tiny house built on a platform and then raised up amongst trees in a similar fashion to the Braumraum Tree Houses. This typical of southeast Asian homes like those seen primarily in Bali. This style of architecture can be studied in depth by reading a copy of Roxana Waterson’s The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia.

The bright red slide adds a touch of whimsy to the otherwise standard structure. Once in a government playground it was removed for a new and improved version. Through a mutual friend the slide found a home from gov’t playground to adult playground!

One of the neatest features though is the open bar complete with stool seating. The area allows for open-air dining, family hang outs, and adult happy hours all nestled in the comfort of the tree canopy.

Treehouse Bar

The treehouse is unfortunately not quite fit for full-time living. While it does appear to have plumbing, electricity, and heat, it lacks insulation and finished interior walls. It does have a comfortable looking wrought iron daybed with exposure to ample natural light. It serves as a wonderful place for a nap or light reading. The walls do have a hidden secret though. They were framed up, wrapped with mosquito netting, and then clad in old barn siding.

Treehouse Living Room

The windows in the treehouse are also reclaimed. Some of them are reportedly from an old church while others are rescued from old houses. To help pass time in the fort Lynn has an excellent collection of books in the small loft just above the salvaged barn sink and coffee area.

Treehouse InteriorThe house is a quaint one and offers inspiration for a number of builds above or below the treetops!

Your Turn!

  • Do you dream of a house in the trees?
  • Would it be your escape or your entry point?

Via

 

Finding Land For A Tiny House

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for tiny houses is finding land to put your tiny house, it can be tough to find land that will be well suited for it.  I wrote a very detailed post that outlines all the things you need to consider when setting up your land for a tiny house, read it here.

In more rural locations this may not be as hard as land is pretty available and cheap; not to mention building codes and enforcement are often a bit laxer.  However, most people live in cities, like myself, and land is tricky to come by.

In my city, Charlotte, there is very few empty lots that aren’t in a planned neighborhood that is governed by a HOA.  Land can be very expensive and the remaining lots often are not being used for very good reasons.

In general I think it’s best to find a place where there is a house there already, then piggyback off their utilities.  This can be a really easy option if you’re in a place that doesn’t have HOAs.  In Charlotte, most of the housing is about 20 years old or less, so Home Owner Associations are pretty much everywhere here in my city.  It’s just a matter of meeting the right people who might consider allowing you to live in your tiny house in their back yard.

A Tiny House On The River

Not all dreams of life on the water involve sails, starboard bows, trolling motors, or pontoons. Some, like that of Margy and Wayne Lutz involve just a floating foundation of cedar logs, a modest 675 sq.ft. cabin, and a secluded spot on the water in Hole in the Wall located on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia.

Floating CabinLike This Old Boat – a project by John Kolsun – the Lutz cabin was designed and built to be moored. While it can move it is not truly designed to. Rather it is designed to take advantage of a location more or less created by substantial logging and mining in the region.

Cedar Log FloatThe tiny house is completely off-grid and has water access only through a crude but functional pipe and hand spigot, well system. The remainder of utilities come from solar power, wind power, thermo electricity, and wood (for their heater). The Lutz cabin is the third one built by their friend John back in the mid-1990s. Margy and Wayne purchased the float cabin in 2001 for just $25,000.

While 675 sq.ft. may not sound very big it offers Margy and Wayne everything they need including a sizable living space, a lofted bedroom (with a large, double bed), a full bathroom (complete with compost toilet), and a full kitchen which runs primarily on propane.

Their outside living space is vast and gives them large overhang porches for enjoying afternoon showers and winter dustings, a dock big enough for a couple of boats and several water toys, a grilling and a picnic area.

Living Area

Former employees of a school district in Los Angeles both Margy and Wayne are now able to focus their energies on other pursuits. In addition to keeping many of the systems up and running Wayne is also an author penning Canadian stories of boating, hiking, and survival off the grid in coastal British Columbia. Margy is a consultant in grant writing working primarily for a school system. It can be argued though that their full time employ is the cabin itself. Floating Garden

With a garden on its own floating dock and a potato patch on the hillside, Margy spends a lot of her time cultivating plants and providing food for the couple. This allows John to work more on their experimental thermal electric generator that’s attached to their wood stove. It also allows him to keep their stock of wood tended. The pile itself also has its own dedicated float of cedar logs. The other systems that keep the floating cabin comfortable involve two golf cart batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines.

Kitchen

And while it may not be the ideal home for most it is perfect for the Lutz couple as it provides them a breathtaking view of life from a vantage point many will never experience.

Outside View

Your Turn!

  • Could you live both off grid and on the water?

 

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A Bus That From the 50s With 60s Style

It seems that when a brilliant idea comes a long it quickly becomes emulated by others thereby starting an obvious trend. Or perhaps lately the conversion, restoration, modification, or refurbishing of buses is like “the yellow sports car effect.” For weeks you keep seeing red sports cars. You can hardly stand it. By circumstance you are shopping for a new car and when it comes time to purchase you decisively choose the yellow model because the red model is everywhere you look. As you leave the dealership you have to wait for an oncoming car. Turns out the oncoming car is the yellow model just like you purchased. You are dumbfounded but quickly realize that perhaps the yellow model was all around you before. You just never could quite obsessing over the red long enough to see the yellow. Right now the red sports car is the restored bus and it is a mild obsession of the tiny house world.

MaineBus1

Winkelman Architecture is known for being stylistically diverse while creating unconventional yet highly functional designs for their clients. Whether a New England home, a bark-on-log structure, a post and beam, or a boathouse, their portfolio varies widely from the substantial to the modest. They are also committed to the integration of renewable energy sources and the use of sustainable materials. So when Will Winkelman – a Tennessee born architect of 29 years – was approached by clients and challenged to Comprehensive restoration of a 1959 Chevrolet Viking short bus, he must certainly have been up for the challenge.

MaineBus7

Turns out the client was looking for more than just a shiny, like-new bus. The client was looking for maximum flexibility: transportation for group outings, a camper for his family, and the ability to use it as a guest bedroom.

Originally designed to safely transport 12 passengers and a driver on the road, the skoolie converts to guest quarters for two as two single beds or joined in the center for queen accommodations.

MaineBus3

As the Winkelman Architecture website shows the bus conversion initially began as a sketch on paper outlining what visually could be accomplished.

MaineBus8

From the earlier photo it is easy to see that the bus was in an unspeakable condition and that a frame-off restoration would be needed. Turns out almost the entire bus had to be rebuilt in order to bring to life the “funky, hippy, Moroccan vibe” Winkelman’s client had in mind for the project. The mechanical aspects needed to be reworked. The body needed new parts and replacement parts had to be fabricated. This sort of attention to detail and integrity is evident in touches such as the multi-colored beads, tassel lamps, and Moroccan prints and fibers.

MaineBus2

The interior has a beautiful, warm glow to it which is as much a natural part of the quarter-sawn white oak as anything else. The millwork gives that late-1960s “dad’s den” vibe without being too kitschy. The floor however is of durable, salvaged heart pine, installed with the original surface of the resawn boards up giving off the weathered, aged look the original floor had give way to through the years.

MaineBus5

The finished skoolie comes complete with plumbing and electricity all gift-wrapped in a sort of mint green meets faded Army green. A nights stay is a present any one would want to open immediately.

Your Turn!

  • Is a skoolie conversion too small to even camp in?
  • Should restoration projects be returned to their factory coloring?

 

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Ask The Tiny Life – Q&A Video

I wanted to give something a try, which I haven’t done before, but I think would be a lot of fun.  If you hang out enough on YouTube, you’ll see loads of Q&A videos.

The concept is simple, ask a question by either leaving a comment here or using the hash tag    #askthetinylife on Twitter

Questions can be about almost anything: tiny houses, living life tiny, my life, thoughts on a topic etc.  I will say interesting, amusing and unique questions get brought to the top of the list.

You can use the handy link below to ask right now on Facebook or Twitter

[ttshare]#askthetinylife[/ttshare]

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