Yestermorrow Less is More

Less is More at Yestermorrow in Jan 2017

Less is More at Yestermorrow in Jan 2017

If you've been fantasizing about a small space of your own (whether that's a backyard cottage, a converted vehicle, or a tiny house on wheels), this course is a brilliant way to dig deep and have a great time exploring the possibilities. I hope you can join us! Please share with other small space enthusiasts who might be interested, too. The more, the merrier!

Kicking Off 2016 with Small Home Design

Lucky-Penny-Snow-Day.jpg

it finally snowed in Portland - while I'm in snowy Vermont  

 

Happy New Year!

They say that what you do on the first day of the year is indicative of what the year will bring. If that's true, 2016 is going to bring me fun adventures! I started out the new year by hoping on a plane on New Year's day, bound for Vermont. I'm teaching the Less is More class at Yestermorrow, which is a 1-week design intensive focused on small homes. (You can also learn about past Less is More classes.)

We kicked off tonight with introductions and a design exercise to get the creative juices flowing. It was fun to hear about all the tiny house dreams and schemes that our students have. It seems this week on the drafting boards we're going to be seeing tiny houses on wheels, small cabins in the woods, and a smallish vacation home for 12. It should be fascinating!

Tomorrow we'll start out with field trips and then we'll jump right back into the design process.

It's nice to be starting class having already adjusted to the timezone. But really I planned an extra day onto the front end of my trip for two other reasons. First, I was traveling through Chicago. In January. So, you know, contingency. The second is that I've made some good friends here and one of them was celebrating a birthday. We had a fabulous day of... well, mostly eating, really... but other good fun, too! Yay for homemade waffles, fresh oysters, winter wanders, and the ridiculousness that is bowling! I've long liked the idea of secular sabbath but the past couple years I've been rather lousy at unplugging! Saturday was good practice and I plan to continue that throughout the year.

Less Is More Presentations

Less Is More Class Photo On Sunday night Dave Cain and I kicked off Less is More at Yestermorrow with photographic introductions and a parti exercise. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had field trips and design time. Dave and I also lead a series of mini-workshops covering everything from tiny home regulations and financing to structural considerations and humanure systems. By Thursday it was Less Time, More Drafting. And Friday we had our final presentations from twelve wonderful students. Check out the photos in Day 5: Less is More Presentations.

Fortunately, Paul Hanke (one of my co-instructors for the Tiny House Design-Build course - which has just a few more open spots for July!) and Kathy Meyer (who has taught small house design courses at Yestermorrow before) joined us as jurors to give feedback and suggestions. We got to see these amazing presentations:

  • Elliot's tiny home on wheels with a triple-duty multipurpose table and a complex arched roof
  • Reese's snowboarder's heaven on wheels, outfitted with everything needed for hitting the slopes (perhaps even including the slope of the roof?!)
  • Eli's get-away with shaded verandas and big fans to beat the Georgian heat and room for dance parties to dance to the beat
  • Addie's tiny home on wheels with a lofted sleeping nook accessible by a clever ladder with built-in storage
  • Anna's cat-friendly cottage with a reading nook tucked over the stairs
  • Geoff's timberframed cruc home featuring a sunken living room and just the basics to live happily (like a baby grand piano!)
  • Jody's tiny home on wheels with a cozy window seat, a bay window, and a clever ladder
  • Hannah's small home featuring a krunkle (or two) and an alleyway for access to the porch and art studio
  • Caitlin's Oratory - a garden shed/beekeeping workshop/eventual sauna built from reclaimed materials and flooded with light from handmade stained-glass windows
  • Annie's cabin which employs permaculture principles to heat water and use graywater from the tub for greenhouse plants
  • Greg's gypsy wagon for farmers, which borrows inspiration from sheepherders wagons of old
  • Jenna's desert oasis for family gatherings, including a soaking tub, a dining patio, clever sleeping nooks, and a simple humanure system

Less Time, More Drafting

Visiting the old Sugar Shack Our week of Less is More at Yestermorrow has flown by! It seems like just yesterday we said Welcome to Less is More and now, all of the sudden, tomorrow is our presentation day. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had small home tours in the morning, a design lesson in the afternoon, and evening discussion and slideshows. You can learn about our Sunday orientation and our Monday tours in Welcome to Less is More.

Check out the Day 2 Slideshow for photos from Tuesday when went on 3 small home tours. First we toured Suzanne's home, which is rumored to be an old sugar shack.  She added a mudroom, a sunroom, and a small office when she remodeled a few years ago. Her home features wide counter tops, a trap door to the basement, built-in storage in the sleeping loft, and stained glass separating the bedroom from the clawfoot tub. I think if I lived in this beautiful home I'd spend a good deal of time soaking up sunshine in the sunroom with its wonderful views.

checking out Sallie's kitchen layout

Then we headed to Sallie's small home, which I adore since it's fun to see a place that was designed by a woman my size. Sallie doesn't have any upper cabinets in her kitchen so it's nice and bright with sliding glass doors on one side and windows on the other. I am particularly charmed by the ship's ladder to the guest room and her octagonally-shaped bedroom.

Afterwards we explored Todd and Molly's log cabin, which has two cozy lofts - one for sleeping and one for knitting, TV watching, and reading. They have clever ladders, beautiful woodworking, and a great mudroom, in addition to a very cool vintage fridge.

Yesterday we headed to my co-instructor Dave Cain's place which is not as small as most of the designs being created in this class, but still not so big. Check out the Day 3 Slideshow to see photos of Dave's place and our design work! Dave's house features 12 inch walls which create deep windowsills and a nice quiet inside. He and his partner Nancy have included lots of lovely touches that make their home cozy and unique. I'm especially fond of the lighting Dave made out of old electrical insulators!

Reese gets the lay of the land in this tiny house by taping it on the floor of the studio!

A big snow storm came through, dumping several inches of snow. Before it really got going we did a little walk around of Elizabeth Turnbull's tiny house, which was one of my original inspirations to attend Yestermorrow and design and build myself a tiny house.

Today the snow storm has provided just the right conditions for hours and hours of design. It's fun to see so many different design processes at work. Check out the Day 4 Slideshow for pictures of Drafting Day! We have students sketching, drafting, and researching. There are people taping out kitchen layouts on the floor and delving into SketchUp modeling. I've enjoyed answering and asking questions as the designs evolve. I can't wait to see everyone's presentations tomorrow!

Home Again at Yestermorrow

Yestemorrow Treehouse in Sunbeam Every time I return to the Yestermorrow campus, it feels like a homecoming. This is my seventh trip to Yestermorrow and the only time I’ve arrived here via Boston. (Special thanks to the dear folks in Boston – Jessica, Sage, Alison, and Maggie – who showed me a great tiny time there!)

The first four times I came to Yestermorrow I was a student, taking the three-week core curriculum Ecological Design in the Built Environment, then Less is More and Composting Toilets, then a splendid 2-week Natural Design-Build Intensive, and finally a set of 3 workshops: Sustainable Development, Green Remodeling, and Invisible Structures.

After completing my Yestermorrow coursework I headed off to Portland State University in 2011 to earn my Masters of Urban and Regional Planning and my Urban Design Certificate. In the summer of 2012, between my two years of graduate school, I also completed my Practicum Project for my Certificate of Sustainable Design & Building at Yestermorrow, when I finished out a tiny house on wheels. Tandem is currently located at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel in Portland, OR where it’s available for nightly rental. Here’s a Teeny, Tiny Film about me and Tandem which fellow Whitman College alum Emily put together for my practicum presentation.

Turnbull Tiny House in Snow

When I was a student at Yestermorrow, I had fantasies of someday coming back to teach at Yestermorrow when I had enough gray hairs to attest to my wisdom. So as you might imagine, I was pretty excited to return to Yestermorrow just a couple years later to speak at the first Tiny House Fair in June 2013 and then again in September-October 2013 as an instructor for the 2-week Tiny House Design-Build.

This time I was greeted with a big hug from Dave, who manages Yestermorrow’s facilities and plays a mean stand-up bass, a firm handshake from Eric who coordinates Yestermorrow's Semester Program, and another hearty hug from Heidi, maven of Yestermorrow’s incredible kitchen. I arrived just in time for lunch, so I had a chance to meet a couple of the interns and to visit with Jenna, one of our students who arrived early. After lunch Jenna and I went for a walk around the Yestermorrow campus. I haven’t been gone long, so I wasn’t able to identify any big changes since October, but it’s always fun to play I Spy and notice the subtle shifts. It was especially nice to walk down to the river and see how different it looks iced over.

Tonight we’ll kick off our 1-week Less is More class with a full studio of 12 students from as close as Montpelier and as far away as California. A couple students are also coming down from Ontario. I can’t wait to meet all of them and learn about their plans for small homes! Stay tuned this week for updates!