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* cross-posted at Una Muses *

It's been a long time since I've felt visions of a life ahead emerging. I've felt very stuck. Mired in the weight of illness and financial distress and personal life which was in suspension. I live in a sweet house, but it is mortgaged beyond comfort, for me. While I wouldn't want mind having my life centered around my home, that is not what this feels like. My life is centered around paying a mortgage and the utility bills. There isn't enough equity in the house for to sell it and buy something less expensive. I don't have a regular income, so I won't qualify for a new mortgage. I'd have a pretty tough time finding someone to rent to me. Thus, I have felt stuck. Stuck trying to figure out how to make life sustainable in this house.

I don't feel stuck, any longer. After years of only seeing a grey haze when I tried to look forward, a tiny vision has emerged. I don't mean a speck on the horizon, either. I mean a burgeoning vision. A vision of a "tiny" life.

Simply put it is a social movement where people are downsizing the space that they live in. The typical American home is around 2600 square feet, while the typical small or tiny house is around 400 square feet. Tiny Houses come in all shapes, sizes and forms but they focus on smaller spaces, simplified living.
I became aware of living in tiny spaces during my time at Occupy Boston. One of my comrades, Sage Radachowsky, had built a tiny trailer for the occupation. It was sturdier than a tent, well insulated, and mobile, small enough to be pulled by a bicycle. The perfect accommodation for a protest movement based on occupying public space to make a social statement. I would have been thrilled if we had focused on building 100s of those and caravaning from place to place with signs attached to them. A travelling troupe to reach out to people and engage public discourse. Alas.... Anyway, it was via my exposure to this tiny trailer that I learned about tiny houses.

A couple of months ago, Zuna was making a cozy cubby, yet again, to hang out in and read and write. It tickled me that she's been making these little spaces since she was, well, tiny. She has her own room. She has a loft bed which she fills with pillows and gets very cozy in. Still, she likes to create small, enclosed spaces - like the tents and forts many of us make as children - and crawl in there with snacks and books and the ipad. When she set up one on the floor next to her bed, I was chuckling. It reminded me of the tiny trailer. The smallest amount of space necessary for the task at hand. I mentioned the trailer and tiny house to her.

A bungalow-style tiny house which is about 250 sq ft. See more specs here.
The next thing you know, we're on the computer for hours looking at tiny houses. She's fascinated by them. "That's so cute!!!!"

They are cute. They're more than cute, though. They're livable. They're affordable. They're sustainable. They're build-able.

While clicking on more and more images and videos, we learned quite a bit. We learned that these houses are of a scale that you can build one yourself, even if you don't have a construction background. If you don't have land, you can build one on a trailer. It becomes a mobile home. Not your old vision of a tin box in a trailer park mobile home. A lovely, tiny house, built with the same or better quality of a large-scale house. It just happens to be on wheels.

"ProtoHaus" is only 125 sq ft. The loft in the dormer makes it very livable
All houses we were seeing were attractive. A lot of thought had been put into them to make them truly livable. This reminded me of my favorite living space to date. A studio apartment which was about 20 ft x 20 ft with 15-ft ceilings. Two things made the space comfortable and easily manageable: a loft bed and walls of storage space. What was key to living there was that there was a space for everything. And the space was so small, I didn't buy anything I couldn't make space for.

I've never been so content in my day-to-day living. Everything is at hand. It never took much effort to clean. I didn't accumulate too many things to care for. My energy was not sucked away in the self-centric care and financial feeding of a house. As much as I love the house I'm in now, I can't keep up with it's maintenance needs. Even the basics are consuming. Three bedrooms, an open loft space upstairs, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, a full basement, a living/dining room.... Almost no storage designed into the house. It feels like there is space. We all think nothing of buying another "little thing." However, there is nowhere to put things away. So, everything is out. That's both difficult to clean around and energetically overwhelming. Clutter is visual chaos.

What I learned, living in that studio a lifetime ago, is that when you have less space, you are more careful with it. It's the handbag reality: if you have a large handbag, you'll fill it up and carry around a lot of heavy junk. You'll struggle what to find what you need in the bag. It will get full of dust and little bit of trashy papers and crumbs at the bottom. If you carry a small handbag, you make sure it has the essentials. There isn't a lot of space left over for more. There is far less junk accumulated. It's easier to find things. It's easier to temporarily empty it and shake out the dirt and crumbs which come along. It's the same with your living space.

We were clicking along, in awe of these spaces people had created for themselves; admiring their ingenuity and their commitment to living simply. I was waxing nostalgic about my old apartment. It all seemed wistful until we came across this video:

http://www.youtube.com/...

If a teenager could build one of these, then why couldn't Zuna and I build one? We're homeschooling. This is a great practical life project. There is designing and project management, materials acquisition, construction skill, etc. Plus, we have a yard to build a mobile one in. The total cost of building one, even with the highest quality materials is about $20,000. You could spent a little bit more. You could spend a lot less. Key for us, though, is that you don't have to spend it all at once. You can put a makeshift shelter of poles and tarps over it and take your time. After an initial outlay for a trailer, you can build as you're able. Each step along the way is a relatively small amount of money. We could figure out how to raise a few hundred here, a few hundred there. We could do this.

We can do this. Not only can we, we both want to. We both feel comfortable, perhaps even prefer, the compact living style. It suits us. We're not big consumers or accumulators. We like things cozy. We have about zero tensions living together. As long as we each have some private space, it could work. It only has to work for a few years, anyway, because she is growing up. She'll be ready to set out on her own.

Once we realized that we wanted to build one, my visionary self kicked into high gear. After years of dormancy, I had wondered if I had lost this part of myself. All it took was an alchemic catalyst. This one idea offered hope and generated creative thinking. For over 20 years, I have dreamed of living in an Earthship house. Being stuck with no resources to replace the house I'm in, I had pretty much given up on this dream. However, the Tiny House project opened up thoughts. Could we reduce the cost of living so much that if we sell this house there could be enough equity to get a small piece of land somewhere, park our Tiny House and have the time and resource to build an Earthship? If so, I could have a permanent home and Zuna could have the Tiny House as her first home. She'd be mobile and could go off on whatever path her life calls her to.

Or, we could live in the Earthship and the Tiny House could become a mobile knitting/yarn/design studio.

Or, we could pull the Tiny House with a box truck and the box truck could be a mobile knitting/yarn/design studio.

Or, we could build a second Tiny House.....

You see, all kinds of ideas are now emerging. Suddenly, life seems full of possibility. One of Zuna's first ideas was to build a tiny house with what resources we can muster, then sell it and build a better one. Not a bad idea.

The big question was, "we're barely affording to live. How are we going to raise any funds to build anything?"

One part of that answer: dolls. My mother left Zuna a collection of dolls. A large collection. Sitting in our basement are about 50 bins of dolls and doll clothing. My mother was very crafty. She had taken a course in restoring dolls. When she was alive, she made some extra money by getting dolls at yard sales and flea markets and the repairing and reselling them. Thing is, she knew about dolls. She knew what they were worth. I've never really like dolls. I don't understand the fascination with dolls. In fact, many of them just creep me out. However, there is a large doll culture and doll market out there. When my mother dies, my aunt and cousin suggested I take these dolls to Zuna. I was a bit resistant. I thought that maybe I'd go through and collect a few for her, as a sentimental connection to her grandmother. My aunt said, "take the dolls. There could be a $100,000 worth of dolls in there."

I don't think there is nearly that value in those bins. I could be wrong. However, we have begun cataloguing them. We know there are a few hundred dolls. We've found a few, that if repaired, we know could sell for $700. Predominantly, we see them as being worth something between $20 and $30. So, perhaps there are a few thousand dollars to be raised. It will be up to Zuna to decide how she wants to go about this. Does she want to manage investing in restoring them or just sell them, as is? Does she just want to sell them on ebay or does she want to figure out ways to sell them at fairs or other venues? We'll see. But, a few thousand dollars goes a long way on a tiny house budget! Dolls for a tiny house. Not dolls to put into a tiny house. Dolls to afford us a tiny house. What a concept.

The chance at a sustainable life, self-created and with fewer heavy weights bearing down has opened up my creative channels. I had thought that I was done with any visions of a knitting and yarn-based livelihood, for instance. I can't work full time. I don't have executive functioning well enough to manage a full-fledged business. I don't want to have to sell things to survive. I do love teaching, designing and introducing knitters to artisan yarns and products which keep them connected to the earthly sources of things. I feel fulfilled when I show a knitter a yarn and can tell her about the spinner who spun it, the dyer who dyed it, or the farmer who raised the animals. If that inspires someone to buy yarn which they need for a project, I couldn't be more thrilled. But, I don't want to be in the position of needing to push sales. My calling is to bear witness to the lives and work of others, to share what I witness, to teach what I can, to create what I can and to see where it all leads. With Tiny Life, I am more free to pursue such a life. I can have a Tiny Business. Just the amount of effort and management that I can handle. All cash, so I don't have to remember payables and receivable. I have no idea what it will all look like, yet. I simply have ideas that there could be something sustainable and fulfilling and lovely for my future. I'm treasuring that, right now.

While I'm having my visions, Zuna is holding things more simply. She was in the room when I was talking about tiny houses with someone. When I spoke of building a house on a trailer, the question of dimensions came up. The most practical approach to a mobile house is to keep it narrow enough that you can drive down a lane of traffic without needing a special permit. That means the exterior can only be 8 feet wide. The reaction to this number was, "oh. I don't know if I could live in something only 8 feet wide." Zuna interjected with her only input into the conversation, "you can live in it if you know it's yours and no one can ever take it away from you." One sentence, uttered with an extremely grounded clarity and resolve. It's an aspect of Zuna that most people don't get to see.

Stability and self-determination. These are core to Zuna's personality. She doesn't need grandeur. She doesn't ask for things. It's almost impossible to get her to name things she'd like for her birthday, for instance. She simply doesn't think in terms of getting things. What she wants is a quiet, stable life where she can read and write and intellectually explore. She goes to kung fu and parkour class for exercise. She has a yard and parks and The Arnold Arboretum, all within 5 minutes walking distance. She likes the cozy cuteness of the tiny homes. More fundamentally, however, she likes the autonomy. I think this quote from The Tiny House Blog, captures what I sense of Zuna:

The movement acknowledges that people are happier when they are surrounded with quality materials that are incorporated into a design that uses space so efficiently that you don’t even notice it’s small. The cozy design makes us feel secure and relaxed, but small and poorly thought out makes us feel cramped (even in bigger spaces).
Giving her a house of her own, where her decisions about how to pursue her independent life are not centered around making an enormous rent or mortgage payment, may be the biggest gift I can give to her. Having built it ourselves, I will feel I've done a great thing as a parent.

We're scheduled to go to a Tumbleweed Tiny House Building workshop this weekend. It's the launching pad of our tiny life. We think we've already found our foundation:

It's hard to have a sense of scale here, but the trailer is 28 feet long. It's custom built with features specific to holding a house, such as 6 leveling jacks. The length allows us to build two good-sized lofts so that we can each have a private space and leave plenty of open common space downstairs. We can even put in a bed or two for guests down there!

As you can imagine, this project has eclipsed our treehouse project. We were going to post about that this summer. Instead, we'll start posting about all that we learn, our design decisions and our building process for our tiny house.

We'll also post about how we're raising the money. (At nearly $4,000The trailer shown would be the biggest single outlay required for building. So, it's our biggest hurdle. Wish us luck!)

I'll leave you with some images of the tiny house interiors, as inspiration. Who knows, maybe you're starting to think the Tiny Life could be for you!

 

interior of a 19 ft mobile tiny house. (we would have 9 more feet length, so all that you see from the white "closet" to the back could be duplicated at the front end. with different use, of course, as we don't need 2 kitchens and bathrooms! but, we could have an office/entertainment space.)
 
interior of a container house
 
interior design by Leaf House
 
Interior of the ProtoHaus shown above.
like a fairy house...

Originally posted to UnaSpenser on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:32 PM PST.

Also republished by Headwaters and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Personally, I love the idea. (17+ / 0-)

    If I found myself on my own again, it's quite likely I'd try to do something like this.  

    During my period of unemployment, I've spent a lot of time paring down my belongings and reducing my "baggage"... all the stuff that just accumulates over time.  When I moved to San Francisco, I had two suitcases and one box of stuff; now it would take a small Uhaul trailer to hold it all.  Just over the past two days, I uncovered some boxes that had been in place since we moved into this home ten years ago.  I figured that if I haven't needed the contents in ten years, I probably don't need them now.  Going through carefully before tossing, of course, but not much needed to be kept.

  •  First, the dolls could be worth alot of $ so get (14+ / 0-)

    a doll person to look at them.  Know what you are doing when you sell them so you get the bucks you deserve.  This was your mom's legacy to you and yours so keep that in mind when you sell.  
    The small size space is very cool, we Americans like big spaces and more junk than we could ever use so this is a good move once you let go of some measure of materialism.  Good luck, I live in Cambridge, MA. so we are close to each other.  Great to see this post from you UnaSpenser.

    •  yes. cataloguing them all first. want to do our (7+ / 0-)

      own research so we have a sense of what we have before we trust anyone to give us what they are worth.

      I'm looking forward to the process of getting rid of stuff and being able to live contentedly in a small space.

      Cambridge. Very close. We're in Rosi.

    •  Boston Beans is right. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, badscience, Renee
      dolls could be worth a lot of $ so get a doll person to look at them.  Know what you are doing when you sell them so you get the bucks you deserve.
      Dolls are like designer clothing. Some dolls are worth a lot because of age, condition and some are made by manufacturers whose name makes them valuable. Horseman is one brand name that I remember. Or some old Barbie dolls are worth a lot.

      There are many doll manufacturers. You need someone who knows the value of each particular doll. Don't just figure they're dolls. Your Aunt could be close in her estimate. Old toys in mint condition are a big market. Especially the kind that have never been restored. Although some may be worth enough to restore and still make a profit.

      My best advice is, keep a few a the prettiest, oldest, most valuable dolls for Zuna. Keep a few. If they're valuable don't give them away for much less than they're worth. They will increase in value with time.

      I live in a 750 sq ft apt. I have that in the floor heating and it works really good.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:23:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Vans aren't bad (15+ / 0-)

    I spend anywhere from 2 months up per year living in one.

    They have a stealth advantage --you can live anywhere and all anybody sees is a parked car.  They also fit in parking spaces.  A 28 foot trailer can be grief intensive to maneuver and find a space for.  I lived in a short schoolbus for a year and it was pretty good, but less convenient, invisible, fuel efficient as a plain old van.

    Once you commit to living in a particular space, you figure out what you actually need to have a life.

    Good luck.

  •  I live very happily in 400 sq ft. (17+ / 0-)

    The kitchen is surprisingly big for so small a place. And that 400 sq ft includes a patio with big storage space.

    Whatever did not fit, I got rid of, so no need to rent any extra storage.

    My dining room and living room are combined: 2 rocking chairs at a small dining table. folding chairs if needed for a few more guests.

    I leave quite a bit of space open, so it's not even crowded.

    Easy to keep up! And less expensive for heat and AC.

    I lived for quite a bit of time in less than 200 sq ft, but then I did need to rent storage space.

    I like this set up better.

    WE NEVER FORGET Our Labor Martyrs: a project to honor the men, women and children who lost their lives in Freedom's Cause. For Jan: Right-to-Work/Right-to-Live(?)

    by JayRaye on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:27:41 PM PST

  •  I am so happy that you have found this uplifting (12+ / 0-)

    plan, I can almost hear the weight of the past year fall from your shoulders as you write.

    Good luck to you as you build your dream!

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:50:39 PM PST

  •  a great idea /nt (7+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ "We're like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers." (HBO's Real Time, January 18, 2013)

    by annieli on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 05:08:58 PM PST

  •  I think this is hopeful (13+ / 0-)

    I have serious worries, myself.

    The US is inverted, as all post-capitalist nations are: staple goods are prohibitively expensive (housing, food), while luxury goods are cheap (Xboxes and iPods). Land is absolutely unimaginable.

    I had thought, not frivolously, that cardboard could be pressed and glued together to make boards and then varnished to be weather proofed to make small rooms that would survive for a few weeks at a time. After I imagined that, I was told that this was actually done (minus the varnish) in favellas.

    There MUST be ways between our manufactured choke holds, and I thank you for your diary.

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 06:13:27 PM PST

    •  you should definitely look into this. People find (6+ / 0-)

      ways to make them quite inexpensively.

      And, yes, they've been building like that in the favelas. I don't recommend it.

    •  You need to check out Samuel Mockbee's (5+ / 0-)

      Rural Studio if you're interested in using cardboard. The website is here, but the book is better. (Of course, my book is in storage because I don't have enough room - the irony.) I recall a picture in the book of a smoldering cardboard structure because one of the architecture students wanted to test if it was fire-proof before building with it.

      "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

      by cv lurking gf on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 06:59:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Renee

        Since that's "near" in southern terms (a 5 hr drive is near), I can even contact his folks about college interchange. I recognize some of the things from Georgia Tech's architecture programs. (E.g. they designed bus shelters to perfectly keep dry people from vertically falling rain.) (Rain never falls vertically, and the students are never dry.)

        Everyone is innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:43:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  In the book, one of my favorite pics is of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          an outdoor concert area that has car windshields layered like fish scales as cover. He was an inspiring man, and I'm glad Auburn continues and promotes his legacy.

          "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

          by cv lurking gf on Sun Feb 10, 2013 at 12:42:50 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    UnaSpenser, cotterperson, JayRaye

    a joy to read.... and soon everything will change!

  •  I couldn't handle this unless I was alone-- (12+ / 0-)

    but I have a husband.  Our schedules are just too different.  Neither of us can user the computer if music or the TV is on--we need to have a separate office space.  And the sort of couches/chairs we prefer to sit in are very different. My needs are dictated by needing a very firm cushion and by having short legs (I'm 5'3"),: the couch that works for me is miserably uncomfortable for him.

    I also had a loft bed in NYC.  It wasn't bad--the foam mattress was great for my back--but the damned ladder was less than fun when I had a bout of IBS. I ended up lying on the floor in the bathroom to avoid having to climb that damned ladder between bouts of diarrhea. Now at 63, I think that ladder would be dangerous.

    To each his own, really. On my own, I'd likely have an alcove in a a one bedroom, with a designated com[puter space, and a LR with a  couch and a chair and a small table . That would do me fine. ANd LOTS of bookshelves.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:46:44 PM PST

    •  I hear ya. Everybody has to find what works (7+ / 0-)

      for them in their given situation.

      And I do wonder about how long I can deal with a ladder to a loft. With one this length, we could convert a part on the main floor to a bedroom.

      But, clearly I'm not sure this is the long-term solution for me. This is more for Zuna and to create a transitional space so that my options are more open. Ultimately, I will likely live in something else.

      I think my perfect size space would be about 20 x 20. And I'd sleep on the main floor. But, even if we built another mobile tiny house, I'd likely build one that's more like this (layout-wise):

      http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/...

      and, if I lived with someone else, we'd have to go the drawing board together to figure out what works for us. Right now, I don't have a partner to work that out with.

  •  I love Tiny Houses! (10+ / 0-)

    You might also check out the work of an architect and author named Sarah Susanka, who has several lavishly illustrated books on living smaller. She has one I like called "The Not So Big House" that addresses living in smaller places by building them more intelligently to begin with.

    It's not about the Tiny Houses movement, but if you like them, you might find her work interesting. Seems you could potentially incorporate some of her ideas into your eventual design. Your local public library might have some of her books.

    She also has a web site: notsobighouse.com

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 07:54:53 PM PST

    •  Her books are lovely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lonely Texan, Renee

      although it seems as if the people who build her little houses have very large budgets. Still, lots of good ideas there.

      There was a vogue for small houses maybe 25 years ago, before McMansions came along, and prowling around in library stacks sometimes yields interesting results.

      We are often so identified with whatever thoughts we may be having that we don’t realize the thoughts are a commentary on reality, and not reality itself. -- Gangaji

      by Mnemosyne on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:52:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had to chuckle when (8+ / 0-)

    reading your small/large purse experience. When I was a carpenter I started out thinking I needed one of those leather aprons with dozens of different pouches. Eventually I found I was carrying 25 lbs of every fastener known to mankind and too many tools. The irony was it was extremely inefficient as every grab for a finish nail or whatever would more often produce the wrong item. After many years I went back to those free cloth aprons from lumberyards that I would empty before putting in the nails or screws I was going to use. A measuring tape, pencil and utility knife was all I ever really needed to be lugging around with maybe  a chalkline depending on the job.

    I must admit I was happiest living in my vw van that I had built everything I ever needed into it. I think you really are on to something.

    music- the universal language

    by daveygodigaditch on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:48:55 PM PST

  •  Thanks Una (7+ / 0-)

    I really related to your dairy. I am stuck also. We 'own' a big honking old house that we bought in 1994 for 74,000 as it was in a great city neighborhood that hadn't been gentrified. I've spent the last 20 years or so fixing it. It's nothing but a money pit. We aren't yuppies we actually have no interest in making a lot of money. We're as a friend once told me 'materially impaired'. Won't go into the details but here we are 20 years later now owing 140,000 on the house and yet it still sucks all our recourses both monetarily, spiritually and physically.  

    I hope you and your daughter do build your tiny house. You have inspired me to look for alternatives that are smaller. My best housing was a 460 square foot apartment in San Fransisco in the 80's that was a 1876,  3 story old Italian Victorian on the 3rd floor that we rented for 7 years for 360.00$ a month. We fixed it up as the rent was so cheap, our land lord  was an 86 year Chinese man who did not want to raise the rent as it would not be fair to the older tenets some of who had been there since the 60's.

    I realize that this scenario non longer exits. but your dairy has opened me up to looking into tiny houses that might take us out of this rat race and our stuck situation wherein we can really sell or buy a new dwelling but could find either a tiny house at the coast or build one that we actually owned and were not owned by our 'American Dream' that has just chained us, financially and physically to a world that is too big and the 'rents to high' on every level.        

  •  Great diary! I have seen a few articles (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Renee

    about tiny houses but I never realized what potential they have to solve housing problems. They might even be a good solution for low level hoarder and clutterers. If people didn't have to have mortgages they would no longer be slaves of the capitalist system for  most of their lives. And prime locations would be available to everyone. You could drive your tiny house to the seashore, to the mountains, to the woods, to NYC, to D.C.  All you need is the open road and a parking space.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:56:41 PM PST

  •  We've always dreamed of an Earthship (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, JayRaye, Renee

    but it means owning land and the right kind of land and building permits in places where the local government may or may not be open to building such a different style of home.

    I like these tiny homes. I can see them working in places where the climate encourages you to be outdoors a lot. I think I would have a harder time in them in the deep, dark of winter. It brings back memories of cabin fever in Alaska! But even then, if it was just me and my husband, I think we could do it. Me and my husband and two kids? We lived in 900 sq ft once for 2 years. I only survived because we had a garden with it's own hut. Had to have that outdoor space. But maybe that's just me.

    Una, I think those dolls are worth more than you might realize. $20-30 is throw away money for so many Americans anymore. Target those dolls at the right market and you would easily bring in $50-100 for the least collectible, I bet. At the very least, you may want a reputable dealer to take a look and give an estimate.

    I'll be looking for more updates on this project! It appeals to me very much!

  •  This sounds awesome, Una. (5+ / 0-)

    The last few years, I've followed every link I come across for tiny houses. There's such a great variety out there. The most recent thing I saw was "micro apartments" in NYC. (Sorry I didn't bookmark the link.) What stayed with me is that one had a "Murphy bed" that pulled down from the wall.

    I'm 64, and I just can't see using a ladder in my older age. But there are pull-down stairs that would be safer and save space downstairs. That requires some upper-body strength, I imagine, that could become a problem later in life. I'm not sure.

    When we built our "tiny cabin" out on some family land, I'd seen trailers with "pop-outs" that make a sleeping or sitting space. So we added that to the cabin, which cost only about $200, but it doesn't "pop-in" for going down the road. At 350 SF, it sleeps four and has more room than I need!

    We saved a good deal of money using second-hand doors and windows, and built the walls to accommodate them. That may have saved on wall materials as well, and brings the beauty of nature indoors. Reuse, repurpose, recycle, as they say ;)

    Now I've inherited a house that's far too big for me, but it's paid for, and I wouldn't give up the view of the rivers and hills for anything. If only I could cut off the front part! I'm cozy as all get out in the ~200 SF with the view, but I also use the big kitchen and the bathroom. Since I cared for my mother here, it's geared to elder-safety -- ramps instead of steps, handrails, everything on one floor. I'm 64, and it encourages me that I may be able to stay here.

    Wishing you and your daughter all good things in this wonderful adventure!

    "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

    by cotterperson on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 07:04:28 AM PST

  •  Another site worth checking out, the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, cotterperson, Don midwest, Renee

    "grand-daddy" (though I'm not sure he'd appreciate that honorific) is Lloyd Kahn. He was involved in the 60's with Whole Earth Catalog, "Shelter" (which you can find on his blog), and last year put out the book "Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter." He's finishing up a book on boat and trailer homes now. Great blog, an inspiring individual. Scroll through to find him skateboarding, which he took up sometime in his sixties.

    "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

    by cv lurking gf on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 07:08:16 AM PST

    •  Also, another great resource for solar, (4+ / 0-)

      showcasing almost, to complete, self-sufficient small houses is the Solar Decathlon held every two years by the U.S. Department of Energy. These are usually not cheap, but there are great energy, water, space and siting ideas. Googling it will bring up lots of other good sites too.

      "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

      by cv lurking gf on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:06:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My friend and I (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Lonely Texan, Renee, cotterperson

    spend a lot of time drooling over and daydreaming about tiny houses.  I look forward to hearing how yours becomes a reality!

    "Teachers are the enemies of ignorance. If the teachers win, Rush and his allies lose." Stolen from Sidnora, 12/15/12 with thanks!

    by kmoore61 on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:44:04 AM PST

  •  Good for you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, cotterperson

    I love the idea of one of these little houses. Now, to get rid of all the Stuff.

    I was looking through the pretty pictures they have of the various styles, and one with a staircase looked very odd. Took me a minute to realize they have the thing posted upside down.

    We are often so identified with whatever thoughts we may be having that we don’t realize the thoughts are a commentary on reality, and not reality itself. -- Gangaji

    by Mnemosyne on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:48:27 AM PST

  •  Totally flippin' cool. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Lonely Texan, Renee, cotterperson

    When I was young I would have loved to design and build such a thing. Once I am older, maybe I will consider it again. :-)

    I hope you have a dedicated blog for that project that we can visit!

  •  Love Tiny Houses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, cotterperson

    in fact, my goal is to build one within the next three years.  Things are changing for sure, and personally providing for our housing and food in more sustainable ways is pretty important.

  •  Tiny houses can be beautiful (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, marykk

    I lived in 750 sq ft with my husband for almost a decade. That's not exactly tiny but it is small. I think what I have now is perfect for us, about 1400 sq ft but we also run a business out of our home.

    My passion is quilting and I need space and almost more importantly for me is distance to create but I absolutely do not need a 4000 sq ft house. Shoot I have a house keeper every other week  and the maintenance on the house is still a bit more then I can manage.

    How wonderful for you that you have finally found a way forward. You and Zuna have a delightful journey ahead, enjoy.

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