Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Re: DEAR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN FANCY TINY HOUSES



Dear Lauren,

 I loved your post first of all! (Read Lauren's original post on her blog.) I laughed heartily while reading it and even harder when I read it out loud to a friend. But, since you said you were actually wondering if it's all peaches and cream, I thought I'd respond. I suppose that I am a "fancy tiny house live-er" especially as I purchased my house built for me instead of going the much cooler and more time and labor intensive route of building my own. (More on why I made that choice here.) And mine is larger than some at 229 square feet. Maybe some do not think mine is a "fancy" house, but I do, so here goes.


 In short, to answer your main question, no, it's not all peaches and cream. I actually find only about 80% of this lifestyle to be peaches and cream. The other 20% consists of things like emptying my composting toilet, needing to fill my water tank by hand when it's -20 F outside so I can finish washing the sink of dishes I was halfway through when the water ran out, washing my hair in cold water at 5 am so I don't have to run the somewhat noisy water pump for warm water and wake my friend who doesn't need to go to work for another two hours, and occasionally wishing I still had a microwave and washing machine. But, as I said, that's only 20%. The rest, I really do love. And I honestly don't mind that 20% that much, though it is there.




 Now to specifics. Unfortunately I don't think my house has ever been featured in Dwell or on Buzzfeed, but I might look happy if it was. I almost never lie awake at night since after working long days either at a busy restaurant or in my garden, I fall asleep within seconds of laying down. This leaves me little time to contemplate my ceiling which is actually 41 inches above my bed, though my bed is indeed over the kitchen sink. My shower however is separate from that kitchen sink, and while it is fully functional, I only use it as storage since I shower at the gym or a close friend's house to reduce the amount of water I have to haul. The only time I've thought maybe I made a terrible mistake was after signing the paperwork on the loan that allowed me to buy this place. (See here again for why I made that decision.) Never since having actually moved in here have I had that thought.


 I fall short of even 250 square feet. My place is 229 if you count the lofts. Only 169 if you just count the main floor. Farts. I have my own if I choose to eat too much dairy and then am thankfully I live mostly alone! And cook mostly dairy and wheat free. I do have a close friend who lives here about half the week. He can indeed have some terrible farts as well and they are not solely dependent on Mexican food. However they are usually worse when we go backpacking together and are sharing a tent that's only about 3 and a half square feet. The precludes the ability to even walk 3 feet away, but you are left with the option of running into the surrounding woods.


Indeed, I do have some clothing, shoes, etc. Remember my shower (which is not the kitchen sink)? Most hanging clothes are in there. Shoes and coats hang on a rack by the door, and I have drawers in my stairs where I keep socks, undies, tee shirts etc. Overalls are not really my style nor are Birkenstocks. Though I'm a big fan of bare feet and barefoot shoes and wear things like my homemade mocs and Xero shoes, it's also winter here for half the year and I have big snow boots too.



 I have two towels actually! Two washcloths too. Though like I said, since I shower else ware, they hardly ever get used. And when I need to wash them, or anything else I use my Wonderwash (see my laundry setup here) which lives in that shower under my hanging clothes. Not in the creek that flows just down the hill from my house, though I do have a creek and my whole little spot is pretty whimsical!



 No, my house is not always perfectly clean. See this post on "A Lived in Tiny House" for some more shots of it in much less tidy states. I do however find a neat and tidy area relaxing, so I do keep it that way the majority of the time. This was true in the big house I lived in before as well. But in any of my photos you can see that I have more than one cooking pan (and most other cooking related things), a whole shelf of books, and at least 5 pillows. I do only have one couch, a few blankets, and one framed photo of myself laughing, but it's not in front of my house sadly. 




 In a small space there is not a lot of privacy, true. But you can go into the bathroom, which is also not the same as the kitchen and close the door. Or my bedroom loft where it is walled off from the downstairs with a set of cupboards. You can of course still hear almost anything from anywhere, but there is some visual privacy. Again though, I live alone most of the time, so my partner and kids never get on my nerves! Ditto on the boinking. Could be done in my comfy bed (or the couch, or in the kitchen, on the swing outside, or.....), no problem. But with no partner, it's not happening and the non-existant kids wouldn't mind anyway. I will not deny that any space sharing, especially small become much more complicated when you multiply the people occupying that space.





The bed. I have one! And it's a whole 41 inches from the ceiling. It's a full size though I could fit a queen mattress in there if I wanted. I've had guests sleep on it too and everyone agrees it's comfy. Oh yeah, I do have guests. And some family! Where I put them depends on the person. My little sister and I just shared the bed when she visited, no problem. All (four) of us sisters shared beds growing up. My three brothers had their own room. My friend who stays at my place part time and I alternate sleeping on the couch which transforms to an extra bed and in the "bedroom" loft depending on who has to get up first the next morning. First one out sleeps downstairs. The guest bed/couch is also comfy, I sleep on it a lot myself. And then I have two whole separate guest houses that sleep up to 6! 


Ok, this guest house isn't worth much in the winter, granted, but it really is fine in the summer. And if any couples visit, (a few have plans to but haven't made it yet) I'm happy to sleep in the tent and let them have the whole house. I do go sleep in tents just for fun much of the summer. And there have been a lot of dinner guests or visitors who haven't spent the night. Kids, adults, no problem. I just don't have 40 people over at once which I did sometimes use to do in my old house. Unless it's warm enough to spend time outside, it seems to work best to keep the group to 6 or so people at a time. And most people seem fascinated, not afraid. At least with my house even if not with me.



As far as the zombies go, I live in rural WY. Everyone here has is a real cowboy and always armed to the teeth. You don't need a permit to carry concealed either. I think the zombies will all stick with big metropolitan areas without grizzly bears, mountain lions, cowboys, and aggressive moose. So I'm not too concerned.


Be honest? Sure. I just want to live out my life doing things I enjoy, including work I enjoy, and not be tied to a place, job, debt, or anything else specific that would limit my other choices. I like some modern convinces a lot. Like my wifi, my macbook, my two nice digital cameras, my van, my hot running water, and many more. I do also find life fulfilling doing some things in a much more old fashioned way. Like growing my own food, making some of my own footwear, cooking meals from scratch, reading books made out of paper, and so on. Do I think the things I enjoy or dislike are universal? Nope. Everyone has different likes, goals, and preferences. That's one of the beautiful things about having a tiny house. You can customize it to what you want to do in life and take it where ever you want. I hope you are able to live in your own tiny so you don't have to be jealous of people like me anymore. Now that I got some work done, I'm off to enjoy the rest of my peaches and cream life. And yes, I do love living in my tiny. Best of luck! 

~Ariel





18 comments:

  1. I read this woman's post as well. Two thumbs up on your reply, Ariel. Cheers, Ardith

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  2. I enjoyed your affable, edifying reply to a hilarious blog. Thanks for posting. :)

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  3. Love this post!!
    Love from Austria,
    Maren

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  4. Ariel. You have the best blog I've found so far that gives a detailed and truthful description of tiny house/off grid life. The original post offers some legitimate questions. Thanks for the honest answers. Amy W.

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    1. You are welcome. I do like this lifestyle but I try to be realistic. I've read my share of blogs that make it sound as though if you buy a tiny house or go off grid, everything else in life turns into rainbows, peace, and perfection instantly.

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  5. I got a good laugh at both posts, thanks for that!
    I would love to know more about your homemade shoes! I'm always looking for new barefoot ideas (other than just bare feet). I noticed your vivo's in a pic a while back and meant to comment on them (I love them, but its pricey to get them here to Canada!)
    Thanks again!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed them. I have several pairs of Vivo's. I usually buy closed out models or colors though Amazon to save a little money on them. I don't know if that works in Canada as well. I have a dyi pair of Xero sandals and just bought a new pair as I've almost worn though my first ones. My home made mocs are pretty simple. Just traced out my feet and stitched them together. Maybe I'll have time to do a more detailed post on them at some point.

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  6. Funny! But, wow! Did you read the comments on her blog post? They were all over the map of strong feelings! And now I feel kinda sad about my coveralls and Birkenstocks and I don't even live in a tiny house. (Only half kidding about feeling sad.)

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    1. Thanks. And I did read most of those comments. I found it rather sad that so many people either lacked a sense of humor or were just downright mean toward her. And hey, I didn't say no one could wear coveralls or Birk's, they just aren't my style. ;)

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  7. Lauren's post had me howling! Thanks so much for the link. And your reply was splendid.

    I've just finished reading all of your blog posts and can't thank you enough for the info. I'm signing off tomorrow or Monday on my final plans and, since my house is being made out of SIPs, assembly in two weeks, changes are pretty much verboten. I actually ordered the windows last Sunday, but your posts made me feel more confident in what I ordered--fewer and bigger (9 windows, one is 5' x 4') and no mullions.

    Also, while I might try squeezing in a bathtub, when I really need it is in the winter after going out hawking or riding and, like you, I'll be hauling water in the winter and that's just too much water. I'm thinking seriously about a wood-fired hot tub...

    And, while I had been planning on a bucket toilet, after your posts, I may be splurging on a Nature's Head--with worms ;)

    Sorry about my questions scattered all over your posts. After all my reading, I have two more:

    Do you have to do anything special to have a freezer work outside in a shed?

    Could you please post pics of the plumbing both inside your cabinets and underneath your trailer?

    Michelle in Michigan

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    1. You are welcome! I'll be jealous of your big window! How big is your house going to be? Is it on wheels as well?

      A wood fired hot tub sounds lovely! Would it be outdoors then?

      While I do like my Natures Head, after having used it for this long, I think I may have been fine with a bucket one after all. I was just a little nervous about odor issues and had never used a composting toilet before. Either way, I'd keep the worms.

      I don't think you need anything special to keep a freezer running outside. Other than electricity obviously. I think it may use a little more power actually to maintain the temp if it's super cold outside, but I'm not sure. I've kept a freezer in my garage several times in several homes.

      I do have some photos of the plumbing inside my counters. I'm not sure if I have any of underneath the trailer. I'll see if I can get some. But the flowers are a bit in the way now... I'll do my best when I get a chance. Can you send me your email address?

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  8. Yes, my house is on wheels. I ordered my trailer from Tiny Home Builders. Took a 24' trailer and added two feet so I could get my side entry to work with a big enough loft.

    Definitely an outside hot tub. I've seen various plans online.

    Odor issues are an understandable concern. I have an outhouse about 75 yards away I was planning to dump my bucket toilet into every few days. Maybe that will still suffice. I don't know how the worms would do with the additional urine. Maybe too acidic?

    I have a shed already I could put a freezer into. That would minimize the need to keep "bird food" in the TH. Occasionally I need to use rats and mice and they just smell.

    michellelamerato@gmail.com

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    1. Sounds great. I think the worms would be just fine as long as you add enough sawdust or whatever you plan to use to keep it just damp. They can't live in standing liquid. But if you are emptying it every few days, you probably just want the worms in your outhouse.

      I'll see if I can get you those plumbing photos soon.

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