I was on Hawaiian Time when the Tiny House Collaborative launched, so I haven't yet taken the time to tell you how very excited I am about being part of this group of fabulous people. The short answer is pretty freakin' excited!
The Tiny House Collaborative is a team of 7 individuals, each passionate about providing the resources to design, build and dwell efficiently. We are combining our energy, time, and expertise so that we can more effectively share our love of tiny homes and our collective knowledge of living well in small spaces. It's a synergistic relationship because we can do more together than any one of us could do alone.
You have four opportunities to take advantage of this synergy right away:
- Sign up for our Tiny House 101 Workshop in Washington DC March 26-27
- Sign up for a Phone/Skype Consultation to address your specific questions
- Sign up for an On-Site Consultation so we can give you the skinny on your property's suitability for a tiny home
- Sign up for a Tiny House Tour so you can explore one of our tiny homes
So how did this group of people all join up? We think it was a little bit luck/fate/coincidence and a little bit being brave enough to act on our mutual friend crushes. When we all arrived in Colorado for the 2015 Tiny House Jamboree, we decided to kick off the weekend with a hike. We got to talking about what each of us were doing in the Tiny House Movement and how it was hard to do it alone. By the end of the hike, the seven of us had decided we had to find a way to combine efforts. And just like that, the Tiny House Collaborative became a twinkle in our eyes.
In December we gathered up to Visit Orlando Lakefront RV & Tiny House Park to explore the city where James and Kai live. We turned the trip into a retreat to figure out the details and prepare to share the Tiny House Collaborative with everyone else. That means YOU! We have created a website where you can learn more about the Collaborative and sign up for the services we currently offer. Please know there are many more good things to come!
After living at Simply Home Community for a year and a half, this past weekend I had a unique opportunity to visit another tiny house community. My friend James Taylor, whom I met at the Tiny House Jamboree 2015, invited me and a few of the other folks we connected with there to come visit and check out what they’re up to. (Did someone say “Orlando in December?” Sign me up!)
And it’s so freakin’ cool! You can learn about it by exploring the Orlando Lakefront RV & Tiny House Park website. The story goes like this. A couple years ago a fellow named Adam purchased the existing RV park and a bit later a woman named Emily helped get the first tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) there. Once it became a tiny-house-friendly RV park other tiny house dwellers have decided to make Orlando Lakefront home. And James Taylor has been driving the welcome wagon since he moved there this spring. With their 12th THOW moving in in just a couple weeks, the park is about ¼ tiny houses and ¾ RVs!
Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. James’ next door neighbor, who lives in an RV, visited with us and took photos. People who live in the park or are considering moving there gathered up for a little party. We also had the chance to tour four of the little houses. The tiniest one in the park is Christina’s awesome minimalist U-haul truck to house conversion. The biggest is Mary Kay’s 24’ long house with two full sleeping lofts, a bathroom, lounge, a kitchen, and a dining spot at the stairs. (This house really got me thinking about the two loft option. I just loved the way the stairs lead up to a sleeping loft with the bed platform over the bathroom. I’ve never seen anyone do it quite like this before and it made we want to smack my forehead in that “Hellooo! Of course!” sort of way. Simply brilliant!)
Meanwhile, Lee, BA, and Alek stayed in the Little Lake Nest. None of us brought a tape measure (so unlike us!) but I’m guessing this one was 18’ long. It’s a neat design with a catwalk connecting two sleeping lofts. I thought it was really clever how they took two sets of stair stringers, turned them the tall way, and sistered them together to make a steep set of stairs! This little house also has a small couch, a flip up table, two chairs hung on the wall behind the door, a micro and toaster oven that sit on top of the fridge, a closet under the stairs, and a dish rack is over the sink. The huge (by tiny house standards) bathroom has a trough tub, a handwashing sink, and a flush toilet. I’ve gotta say, after living in tiny houses for four years, that was probably the strangest thing about staying in tiny houses in an RV park: there were flush toilets! How bizzare, how bizarre!
But, I was the lucky one. I got to stay two nights in James’s awesome little house, The Company Store on Wheels. His house was built by Tennessee Tiny Homes with lots of his special design requests. It has a fabulous front porch so that it feels like a miner cabin. (James is a Coloradan so his house had to follow his heart!) It has a fabulous multi-functional couch that converts to a chaise or a guest bed (and has storage and the cat box underneath), a ladder at the same slope as the navy ladders (which James is used to so he can fly up and down it – even when half-asleep), an L-shaped kitchen with a sink, mini fridge with freezer, microwave, toaster oven, and a washer/dryer combo. His sleeping loft is asymmetrical with a dormer on one side, just as he requested it. It’s a lovely little home and it was extra special this time of year because James had decorated for the holidays and it was super festive.
It’s so exciting to see another community that welcomes tiny houses! I keep hearing about others in formation, too. I hope that by this time next year the number has increased exponentially.
Are you involved with the tiny house community? Where’s yours and what’s happening?
Lee and I confessed to each other as we were driving to Vina's that night that we anticipated we'd have some tiny house envy. We’d seen pictures of Vina’s beautiful home, but of course, Vina’s house, like so many other tiny houses, can’t really be captured in photos. The feel of her house is splendid! So cozy, such clean lines, such well-thought-out details. Vina is an architect and her design aesthetic is fabulous! I loved the curve of her spacious desk, the awesome library ladder, and the way the low window in the kitchen makes you feel like you’re cooking al fresco. It was awesome curling up on the comfy bench and falling asleep to the flickering flame of her propane fireplace. (Lee slept up in the loft which has a nest feel with a circular window and an operable skylight!)
There were a few other things Vina did that I was surprised I liked so much. Here are my top three:
A ceiling under the loft. I’m used to seeing exposed joists under a loft which I like because it shows off the structure of the house and gives a sense of spaciousness. I'd always thought that a ceiling would make the space seem too small. So I was impressed by how the clean lines and light color of her kitchen ceiling actually made the space feel larger (of course, at 6'8" Vina's kitchen ceiling is about 5" higher than normal. And somehow the loft feels spacious, too! I'm pretty sure it's Vina magic! That and having the walls tall and the roof pitch a little shallower!)
- A tiled shower. Vina’s lovely tiled shower reminded me that maybe it’s worth considering tile for the Tiny House for Two I’m designing with The Guy Next Door. I used to think tile was a bad idea for tiny houses on the move because of the weight and the cracking potential, but for little houses that don’t move much, I think they can make a lot of sense (especially if they’re small tiles which seem to handle movement a little better). I installed tile in Tandem (under the instruction of a great teacher named Rocky) and it’s held up well.
- A second sink. I also appreciated the handwashing sink in the bathroom. Typically I don’t feel it’s necessary to have two sinks in a tiny house if there are just one or two people, but since Lee and I were staying in Sol Haus and Vina was in and out hanging out with us and getting herself ready in the morning and for bed, it was quite nice to have two sinks. I’m now convinced that if two or more people are sharing a space it’s at least worth considering a second sink.
I feel very, very lucky to have had the opportunity to stay at Sol Haus. If you ever have the chance to tour this little house, please take it!
What a treat it was to teach a Tiny House Community Workshop in Ojai with Lee Pera and Vina Lustado last week! I’ve been under the weather the past few days, but I’m still buzzing with excitement from this great group of folks interested in creating tiny house communities. On Thursday afternoon I hopped on a plane to L.A. where I was met by Lee. She and I had a fascinating conversation (as usual) as we drove to Ojai, CA to meet up with Vina and Anna who coordinated the Tiny House Community Workshop.
After designing and building her beautiful tiny home, Sol Haus, Vina is excited about the possibility of creating a tiny house community in Ojai. She knew she wasn’t alone because she’d been having good conversations with lots of other interested folks in her area. So after seeing the presentation on Tiny House Community that Lee and I did at Tiny House Jamboree 2015 in August, Vina asked us to come to Ojai to share our experiences with tiny house community. After months of planning across time zones, conference calls, and a shared Dropbox folder, it was exciting to know that the time had finally arrived and the workshop was sold out! That night, as Lee and I were Staying at Sol Haus, we were giddy with excitement that we’d get to expand on our previous presentation.
In the morning Vina hosted a tour of her tiny home and Lee and I finished final details for the workshop. Around noon I also got to reconnect with Julie, a former student from Yestermorrow's Tiny House Design-Build Class who is in my Tiny House Considerations E-Course but also happens to be living at the Krishnamurti Center right now. It's a tiny world after all!
When the participants arrived at the Pavillion at the Krishnamurti Center and we had them introduce themselves by telling us where they hail from and what their tiny house community dream is. Then Lee and I presented the Six Ways to Create Tiny House Community that we’re familiar with. We asked the workshop attendees to identify which one we think best suits their dream. We then did a Regulation Roundtable and we were lucky to have several people in the room who work in building and zoning who were able to help us describe the complexities of the regulatory landscape. At one point one of the participants said “Wait! I’m confused!” I asked “Who else is confused?” and we ALL raised our hands. It is, indeed, confusing to navigate the paradoxes of tiny house regulation. No one has all the answers, but collectively we can come up with great solutions (or at least the right questions to ask!) The power of being in a group of other tiny house advocates is amazing! One fellow said he felt like he was in a support group for tiny house enthusiasts and he was so glad to know he wasn’t alone! We feel ya, man!
We then shared five steps for creating tiny house communities and split into groups to brainstorm. It was neat to see groups form around creating tiny house communities in particular areas (we had an Ojai group and an LA group) as well as tiny house businesses and tiny house regulations. We brought everyone back to share some of the things we’d discovered in our small groups.
No one wanted the conversation to end, but by the time we reached the end of the workshop the sun was setting and it was time to say goodbye. We took a group photo, swapped hugs and contact info, and told everyone to keep us posted about their tiny house community adventures!
- Are you a tiny house enthusiast or builder interested in forming a tiny house community?
- Are you a landowner who would like to start a tiny house community?
- Are you a city official interested in learning more about tiny houses and their potential in cities and towns?
Join us for a half-day workshop on tiny house communities and city zoning. All topics above will be covered during this comprehensive 4hr workshop.
Get your tickets to the Tiny House Community Workshop in Ojai here: http://www.vinastinyhouse.com/events/community-workshop/
Sol Haus Design is excited to bring two seasoned experts in forming tiny house communities. Lina Menard of Niche Consulting and Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios will lead participants through different models for how to form tiny house communities, how to look for available land, zoning considerations, and how to work with city officials and neighbors to set up a tiny house community responsibly.
Lina and Lee have both set up tiny house communities in the Pacific Northwest and in the Mid-Atlantic, so their knowledge covers both sides of the country! Come learn with us and explore opportunities for tiny house communities in California.
The workshop will be held in beautiful Ojai, CA at the home of Krishnamurti Foundation:
WHEN: Friday, November 13th from 1pm-5pm WHERE: Krishnamurti Foundation on 1098 McAndrew Road, Ojai, CA 93023 COST: $90 for 4hr workshop EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $80 If booked by Oct 31st.
What an incredible weekend! In April, when Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios first invited me to speak with her about tiny house communities at the Tiny House Jamboree, there were 3,500 people signed up to attend. By the time she and I connected in the Denver airport and drove to Colorado Springs, there were 11,000 people pre-registered. So we figured a third of those folks would show up and that would be the largest number of tiny house enthusiasts ever in one place at one time. Little did we know. (No pun intended!) Turns out those of us who find tiny houses irresistible are in good company! By the time the three-day event wrapped up more than 40,000 people had passed through the gates of the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (which hosted the Jamboree)!
And what a great crowd! There was incredible energy since everyone I talked to was curious, excited, and exploratory. The tiny house curious folks were just beginning to dabble in the tiny house scene. The tiny house enthusiasts came with sketch books, cameras, and tape measures so they could get serious about their design ideas. One woman even showed up, checkbook in hand, ready to take a leap of faith into the little life! I met people from nearly every state and a few other countries. (Oh hey, #famousfrieda!)
On Saturday morning during our presentation, Lee and I shared 5 Models for Tiny House Communities and 5 Steps to Create a Tiny House Community. I also got to watch and listen as other presenters shared their expertise. Molly Orendorff shared clever tips for decluttering, Damon from Trailer Made explained tiny house foundation fundamentals, Kai Rostcheck of Tiny House Dating played matchmaker for a tiny house dating game, Zack Giffin of Tiny House Nation described the increasing interest in the little life, and so much more! I even got to watch as Andrew Odom performed a vow renewal ceremony for a couple’s ten year anniversary. (And the best part? Their three year old held my hand! Eep!)
Part of the time I tabled with Patrick from Artisan Tiny House, who created my SIPs kit and kits for two sets of clients whose houses we put up this spring. Part of the time I tabled with some other great folks who designed and built their own homes and are now helping others do the same: Lee Pera of Boneyard Studios, Alek Lisefski of The Tiny Project, Vina Lustado of Sol Haus Design, and BA Norrgard of A Bed Over My Head. When I wasn’t tabling, speaking, listening to speakers, or exploring the tiny houses, I had great conversations with great people: Gabriel Craft of Small and Tiny Home Ideas, Gabriella Stupakoff Morrison and Andrew Morrison of hOMe and Tiny House Build, Byron and Dot Fears from Simblissity, James Taylor from The Company Store on Wheels and Orlando Lakefront at College Park (an RV park turned tiny house community) and hundreds of others!
Yesterday I spent the day with Robin, a design client of mine here in Denver. In addition to identifying next steps for her house, she also took me to see Wee Casa and invited me to speak at the Denver Tiny House Enthusiasts Meet Up. That was oodles of fun, too!
It’s thrilling to see so many people exploring intentional living through tiny houses. I don’t think the timing could be better for Ramping Up Niche Consulting LLC. I’m honored to have been part of the first Tiny House Jamboree. We’re hoping that as soon as Darin Zaruba of EcoCabins (and his team - hey, Angela Alcorn, Coles Whalen, and Marcus Alvarado!) have a chance to get some sleep they’ll decide to host the second annual Tiny House Jamboree. I’ve already marked my calendar for the first weekend of August in 2016. See you there!