scouting for tiny house materials

T42 Materials Palette

T42 Materials Palette Exploration Over the past couple of months Isha and I have slowly developed a materials palette for our tiny house, T42. The past couple days we made great progress when build blitzer Sonja (who is, thankfully, also a sustainable materials geek) joined me to scout for finish materials. We headed out with our trusty color palette mug in hand. Let me explain...

I really enjoyed developing The Lucky Penny's Materials Palette, and Isha likes my little house, too, so he's trusted me to come up with a scheme for the new house. It's been fun finding the intersection of our preferences. I tend to be drawn to jewel tones and I love rich, complex pastels. I'm particularly fond of the purple and green combination. Meanwhile, Isha loves blue - ALL the blue - which I've never been particularly wild about. He's especially fond of cobalt. Luckily, we landed on an awesome scheme when I remembered a set of mugs I had when I lived in Walla Walla. I'd picked them up from Clay in Motion, a family-owned pottery studio in Milton-Freewater, OR and I'd loved them to pieces (literally!) over the years. So the last time Isha and I went to Walla Walla I took him to Clay in Motion and we picked up a set of mugs in their Mossy Creek scheme. It's a lovely minty green base with a vibrant lilac secondary and a cobalt accent. There are also thin ribbons of a lighter blue and a darker green. It ties our favorite colors together beautifully!

Mossy Creek Mugs from Clay in Motion

On Wednesday it was drizzly so Sonja and I hung out at a coffee shop, researching materials and making phone calls regarding sourcing, lead times, and availability. After I'd shown Sonja our SketchUp model and some of the items we're considering, we chose some items to investigate. Sonja found a few great visual examples of the materials scheme we're exploring for the exterior of the house. The cedar siding with cedar window frames against the black of our fiberglass windows should look really sharp with our zincalume roof!

We also explored interior wall coatings and discovered the clay plaster paint I was excited about won't work on our OSB substrate. I'll plan to use that for another house one of these days... Meanwhile, the milk paint Sonja introduced me to is very cool but cost-prohibitive for the amount of wall space we need to cover. So we landed back on Colorhouse Paints, which I used for The Lucky Penny. Colorhouse Paints are eco-friendly, solvent and VOC-free, and the company is local and woman-owned! We narrowed down the colors on Wednesday just looking at the colors online, which prepared us for our scouting trip on Thursday.

On Thursday, Sonja and I spent the entire day on a materials scouting field trip to investigate flooring and countertop options. Our day started at Green Depot where we explored interior primer and paint and honed in on some fabulous Colorhouse hues. (We're inclined towards a pale green for our long walls, a light lilac for our studio, and a silky blue for our bathroom.)

Then Greg walked us through all of these awesome green products:

  • Sealer for our exterior trim: We're leaning towards OSMO One Coat HS because this European formulated product line covers in one application.
  • Cork, bamboo, and linoleum flooring options: We're considering recycled glass tile for the bathroom and entry because it's easy maintenance, there are lots of cool design opportunities, and it's durable and hard-wearing. We're also excited about cork for the kitchen, living room, and studio because it's lightweight, insulating (yay for warm on the feet!), resilient, cost-effective, and looks super cool!
  • Paperstone and butcherblock countertops: Both exciting options! The "slate" colored paperstone is regionally manufactured and would look really sharp with our black window frames! The butcherblock countertops are locally (and minimally) manufactured by Sustainable Northwest Wood and the juniper and fir are particularly lovely!

Greg sent us home with some samples on loan since I've found it's important to touch these materials and hold them next to each other to really get a sense for how it will come together. And, of course, I wanted Isha to be able to decide which ones he likes best, too!

Next we went to Bamboo Revolution where we talked with Ben whom I worked with on the Breathe Building project. He explained that their densified bamboo probably isn't the best bet for a tiny house floor because it's so heavy. But I fell in love with the idea of using their 3/4" bamboo for our countertops and potentially our desks, too. It's one of our lighter weight options, it comes in a thin enough profile that it will help make the counters more Lina height, and it has a fabulous banding pattern on the exposed edge! At $200 for a 4'x8'x3/4" piece of bamboo plywood, it's also a quarter the price of the Paperstone and a third of the price of the local butcher block countertop! Talk about an easy decision!

The materials we've honed in on for T42 (minus the crimson backdrop which is the Lucky Penny color!)

Our next stop was Rejuvenation where we got inspired by all the beautiful hardware and lighting options. We popped into Sustainable Northwest Wood to get pricing and lead time info from Ryan (whom I also worked with on the Breathe Building project). The wood butcher blocks are not the best option for this tiny house because of the weight, the thickness of the material, and the cost, but ohmygoodness do I ever want to use their juniper and madrone butcher blocks for a kitchen someday! Simply stunning!

Then we were off to EcoFloors where David walked us through cork, linoleum, and HydroCork flooring options as well as an alternative brand for the bamboo countertops. We liked one of the cork flooring options quite a bit and it was less expensive than the other one I'd particularly liked from Green Depot, so we brought home a sample of that, too. We learned that the click Marmoleum products don't work well in a steamy environment like a bathroom, so that helped nudge me further towards using tile for the bathroom and entryway.

Eventually we headed south to Sherwood where we visited with Micah at Lakeside Lumber to learn about exterior trim and siding options. I have a lot of noodling to do on this one since each decision about our siding makes a big difference for the look and feel of the house. We're trying to get a contemporary look at a great price and even I am curious about what we'll decide! Finally we made our way to Building Material Resources where we looked at doors (so many possibilities for our pocket and track doors) and cedar siding (a couple cool options here, too!)

It was fun showing Isha (and Jake and Karin) all of the samples we'd picked up during this epic scouting day and sharing everything we'd learned along the way. Fortunately, Isha likes my favorite, too. It's fun to be honing in on our interior finishes and getting a better sense of the look and feel of T42!