Tiny Home for the Holidays

Advent CalendarIt’s so nice to be home for the holidays! Yes, I did go see two of my sisters in Washington for Xmas and that was really lovely, but I mean that it’s splendid to finally be in my little house this holiday season! I moved my tiny house to Simply Home Community in mid-October and spent the next month working on it. Then I moved most of my things into The Lucky Penny in mid-November just before our Housewarming Party. But it wasn’t until Raffi and I started sleeping in The Lucky Penny at the beginning of December that it became real. Now that we’ve been in my tiny house for a month, it’s starting to feel like home. I even hung up the advent calendar my aunt made for us when I was really little. I’ve got My Chiller on the Porch and I've dedicated time over the past couple weekends to Putting Everything in It’s Place and it’s so nice to be settling in!

Is it done? Well, no, not quite. I haven’t yet set up the shower. (But luckily I don’t have to yet because I shower in the big house and at the yoga studio after hot yoga classes.) And I haven’t yet gotten my electrical all set up properly. (But after living in a Home, Sweet Yurt, I’m pretty good at minimizing my electrical demand. I’ve found that I can live off a beefy extension cord with a three way splitter end for my Envi heater, lights, and a free outlet for whatever else I want to plug in.) And, of course, I haven’t yet finished the trim. But it’s totally workable and I’m loving it.

My house was a dream and a set of sketches for a couple of years as I lived in other tiny dwellings and tweaked my design. Then I finally picked up my Iron Eagle trailer in mid-May and hosted my wall raising party over Memorial Day weekend. For six months my time was divided between working at the Breathe Building and constructing my little house. So it’s really wonderful to be catching up with friends and family this holiday season.

I’ve had friends over for brunch (I can make a mean French toast on my induction cooktop and we just pull out a drawer and put the cutting board on top and pull up a couple of stools!) I’ve had landies over for tea and a chat on my window seat. I’ve had clients over for design consultations (oh, by the way, I’ve resumed consulting, too! If you know someone interested in help with their space-efficient housing dreams, tell them to check out my 2-Hour Consultation!) And a couple nights ago I hosted a dinner party for 10 in the Big House at Simply Home. Our community has a supper club going now, too, so we're taking turns cooking for each other. On Tuesday nights I cook for my landies and four other nights I come home to a nice warm meal. It's divine!

I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring for me, Niche, and The Lucky Penny!

Giving Thanks for the Little Life

Here are just a few of the many, many things I'm thankful for today:

  • Curling up on my window seat with a friend, my cat, and a cup of tea (thanks for a lovely pre-Thanksgiving cup-o-tea, Lish!)
  • Waking up to the sound of rain on the skylight of my tiny house
  • The many Tiny House Helpers who helped me create my beautiful little home, The Lucky Penny
  • Getting my kitchen organized in preparation for cooking and baking this winter
  • The landmates ("landies") at Simply Home Community who cook delicious meals, play games, watch movies, go out dancing, take care of my kitty when I'm out of town, and generally make life a whole heck of a lot of fun
  • The incredible vistas when driving up Highway 101
  • The view from my sister's living room
  • Getting updates (with photos) of the houses I've helped make real (congrats Katie and Tatiana!)
  • Baking chocolate pecan pie with my "baby" sister
  • My loved ones near and far who are taking time today to name their gratitudes
  • The feeling I get when I step onto the front porch and peek through the window and think "ahhh! home, sweet home!"

Move In Day & Housewarming

Window Seat Six months ago I started building myself a tiny house called The Lucky Penny. And last night our Tiny Cohousing community, Simply Home Community, hosted a housewarming party. It was good timing, too. Portland has had the first wintry weather of the year this week, so it was awfully nice to have people warming the place up with compliments and congratulations. (Having the space heater running on an extension cord probably helped, too!)

It was great fun to share my little house with friends whom I've neglected because... well, I've been building my little house. I'm looking forward to wrapping up the last few absolutely necessary things so that I can start Settling Into My Tiny House AND resume my social life!

(Speaking of socializing, it was also neat last night to share tours of my house with friends of my landies and to discover mutual connections we already have. It's a tiny world after all! And of course, it doesn't hurt to have strangers say "Your house is gorgeous!" or "It's like a cathedral in here!")

When I My Tiny House Build Began, my work plan indicated that by mid-summer I would complete the first two phases: Get it Dried In and Make it Functional. I figured I'd give myself some extra time for the unforeseen and I'd begin Phase 3: Make it Home by the end of summer. But, of course, it's a construction project, so it's taking twice as long as I originally estimated.

Copper Canisters, Copper Sink & Faucet

It's now mid-November and my house is just now functional (if you consider that my house doesn't have to be fully independent because I have access to the kitchen and bathroom in the Big House). My friend Benn Kovko (who built Kangablue at Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel) has been working with me on the plumbing and we're about 1/3 of the way done. We'll be working on it again today. Still on the list after plumbing: electrical, trim, and The Punch List.

But for the sake of the housewarming party I've already shifted into Phase 3: Make it Home. Yesterday I moved most of my possessions into The Lucky Penny and started the process of putting Everything in its Place. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to hang decorations yesterday morning!

I'm looking forward to Settling into My Tiny House! Stay tuned for catch up blog posts this winter sharing more information and photos about the build process.

Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

Living Large in Tiny Houses Graphic

Love Ablan believes in tiny houses so wholeheartedly that she relocated to Portland, Oregon - Capital of the Tiny House Universe - so that she could get involved in the tiny house movement. Over the past couple years she's put her writing and photography talent to good use, spreading the word about living in small spaces. She recently published and article in the November 2014 issue of Unite4:Good Magazine, entitled Living Large in Tiny Houses. I'm honored she included me in this story. Here's a snippet. You can click on the link below the excerpt to read the whole article.

Living Large in Tiny Houses TextClick to read the rest of Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

Lucky Penny’s Maiden Voyage

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed up to ask how the move went. The tiny has landed. I repeat. The tiny has landed. Everything went according to plan and The Lucky Penny has Come (Simply) Home. 10387224_10105245055917830_316295343464841875_nOn Monday morning my build buddy Laura Klement arrived before dawn to pick up me and the tiny house mover. The tiny house mover is a power dolly that has helped many tiny houses in Portland nestle into their spots. We weren’t sure we would need it to wrangle The Lucky Penny out of her parking spot at Green Anchors but we didn’t want to need it and not have it, so we brought it along.

Once we arrived at Green Anchors we secured things inside the tiny house, using scrap pieces of rigid foam to pad the tansu. We tucked the stairs inside. Then we strapped My Flip-Up Front Porch into its traveling position. We hooked two ratchet straps to each other and passed them through the kitchen windows then closed the windows, exited the house, flipped up the porch, and joined the two pieces of ratchet strap and cinched them tightly. We put chucks in front and back of the wheels and lowered the tiny house from its jacked-up position onto its wheels. The final detail was screwing a piece of blocking into the windowsill of the arched window to ensure that the arched window would stay closed.

When Morgan from Gerlock Towing arrived he assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get The Lucky Penny out of her spot. So we hefted the tiny house mover back into Laura’s car and then filled in the space around it with tools and supplies while we were waiting for Morgan to get the house secured to his truck.

The move itself went quite smoothly. We went the long way to avoid hauling the tiny house up Baltimore Street but it was just fine on the more gradual slope. After that, it was nearly a straight shot from Green Anchors to Simply Home Community. Laura and I followed behind in her car and we got a kick out of watching people’s reactions. There were definitely a few double takes but it was amazing how few people actually noticed. It made me realize I should be paying more attention when I’m out walking. Otherwise you may never know when a tiny house is cruising down the road past you! Of course, it may be that tiny houses are becoming so ubiquitous in Portland, Oregon – tiny house capital of the universe – that people don’t bat an eye anymore!

In either case, Morgan helped get The Lucky Penny off the street and backed into the spot between the house and the garage before he headed out again. Then we hauled the tiny house mover out of the back of Laura’s car and Tony navigated the Lucky Penny into her spot with the help of spotters all around. I was lucky my landies were having a work party and stopped to help my little house get tucked between the big house and the greenery that separates my house from The Rustic, the next tiny house over. Hooray for community (and people who are already familiar with tiny houses and their quirks!)

There’s a lot of work left to do before I’m ready to shift my belongings from my room in The Big House to The Lucky Penny. But I’m already enthralled by the way being tucked in the garden has made for awesome views. I think we’ll really like it here!

Coming (Simply) Home

friends gather for the Lucky Penny Open House It’s no use trying to get back to sleep. I’m wide awake before dawn, just as I was three years ago when My Tiny House Adventure Began. Only this time the tiny house I’m moving is my own. In just a few short hours we’ll secure My Flip-Up Front Porch into transportation mode, hitch it up to one of Gerlock Towing’s big rigs, and The Lucky Penny will hit the road for the first time on her Maiden Voyage. My tiny house is not yet finished, but the time has come to move The Lucky Penny to Simply Home Community. Simply Home is a tiny house community in Portland, Oregon where I’m living with a handful of fabulous people, all dedicated to intentional living. It’s actually very much like My Vision for Tiny Cohousing. There is a big house with bedrooms, a huge living room, a dining room, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a basement for laundry and storage. And in the yard there are (soon-to-be) four little houses, which serve as detached bedrooms. We all share the big house but a few of us have our own space via the tiny houses.

I moved into the big house at Simply Home Community in August, just after I finished teaching the two-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to my Home Sweet Pea at Pod 49. It’s a great little house and I love the neighborhood and the neighbors there. But it was also exciting to be making a move towards a long-time dream of Tiny House Community.

Before moving to Simply Home Community I’d lived alone for more than three years. First in my big house (832 square feet). Then in a 15 foot long travel trailer. Then in Brittany Yunker’s tiny house Bayside Bungalow. Then an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) called Granny's Garden Cottage. Then in a 12-foot diameter yurt. And then in Sweet Pea, another tiny house on wheels. I’ve loved having a wee house all to myself. So I’ll admit I was a little nervous about living with other people again.

But it’s been wonderful! It’s nice to have other people to come home to. It’s nice getting to know their friends and family. It’s nice having that sense of being in on something together. I’ve enjoyed participating in community workdays, movie nights, and potlucks. Even our weekly house meetings are fun – which is no surprise considering the group of people! And nothing beats getting a text message right before hopping on my bike to head home after work that says “I hope you’re hungry because I just made a ton of soup!” I look forward to this winter when we are settled in and we can start up our supper club.

I do wish the Lucky Penny was completely ready for me to move into it. But as those who joined me on Friday for my Lucky Penny Open House can attest, I’m now on the home stretch.

(A quick thank you to everyone who came out for the Lucky Penny Open House. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be surrounded by people I love – many of whom are tiny housers themselves – as I prepared my house and myself for the imminent move! I had fun staging the house with candles, my spice rack, and the copper canisters I found on my Tiny House Treasure Hunt. But the highlight for sure was when I flipped up the porch and we dedicated my little house. I couldn’t bring myself to smash a bottle of champagne on any part of my house so instead we poured sweet wine over the tongue of the trailer. I started out by officially naming the house and then one-by-one my friends stepped forward to say a few words about what they hope for me and my house. It was a perfect send-off!)

My goal is to make The Lucky Penny functional by the end of October so that Raffi and I can shift our belongings there and switch into Phase 3: Make it Beautiful. (Fortunately, plumbing isn’t going to be a pre-requisite of livability since I can use the big house for cooking and bathing. I do plan to install plumbing because I want that flexibility for the future, but I don’t have the hurry I would have if I were moving the Lucky Penny somewhere that I need to be self-sufficient. In fact, none of the little houses have bathing facilities right now because we all shower in the big house or at the gym!)

I’m going to miss building at Green Anchors. It was the perfect place for my build buddy Laura Klement and I to build our little houses. I’ll miss the views of the St. John’s Bridge. I’ll miss those precious evenings we rewarded ourselves with a beer or a milkshake down at the river. I’ll miss my neighbors (like Rory who helped me build My Flip-Up Front Porch. And, of course, I’ll miss the ability to spread out and stain a bazillion shingles or make a racket as late (or as early) as I’d like. But as the days get shorter, it will be really nice to just pop outside to work on my house. (Besides, I have plans to build other little houses at Green Anchors. Stay tuned for more on that! I look forward to hatching my schemes…)

I’m horribly backlogged on blogging, but I do have more to share about my process. Those stories will unfold in good time. For now, I’m staying focused on the next steps: electrical, built-ins, and trim.

Wish us luck with the big move today!

Lucky Penny Open House

2014-09-13 19.39.39This summer, with the help of lots of friends, I've been building myself a tiny house on wheels called The Lucky Penny. It's time for my little house to make her public debut so we can show off our handiwork before she moves to her new parking spot in a tiny house community. (The house isn't done yet, so I'll continue working on it afterwards, but you'll get the big idea anyhow!) If you're in the Portland area on Friday, October 10th from 3-8pm, please swing on by the Lucky Penny Open House at Green Anchors (8940 N Bradford Street*) to see the house and wish us well before her maiden voyage to Simply Home Community.

And, of course, if you feel like lending a hand this weekend as one of my Tiny House Helpers, please let me know which day and time you can join us. I'll be hosting my last big work parties for The Lucky Penny at Green Anchors on Saturday, Oct 4 and Sunday, Oct 5 from 8AM to 6PM.


* The location is a little tricky to get to the first time. The site is called Green Anchors (8940 N Bradford Street) and it's located almost right under the St. John's bridge. Here's how to get there: from St. John's, take Baltimore down the hill towards Cathedral Park. When you get to the bottom of the hill the entrance to Cathedral Park will be directly in front of you. Turn right and there will be an orange and blue building on your right. Stay left and go along the railroad tracks. Just when you think you've done something very wrong you'll see the gate to the left that says Vintage Boats. Turn in there and drive (or bike or walk) until you see the purple tiny house on the left. That's the tiny house cluster and my trailer is right there.

My Copper Penny Roof

Lucky Penny roof with old skylights Portland greeted the arrival of autumn with the return of the rain. So as I’ve fallen asleep and woken up to the rain the past couple days, I’ve been feeling especially grateful The Lucky Penny has her roof.

Back in June a wonderful crew of Tiny House Helpers assisted with Sheathing My Vardo Roof. We coated the sheathing with two layers of R-Guard Cat 5. Two weeks later I left town for several weeks to travel and teach the Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. My goal had been to get dried-in before I took a break from my tiny house build and fortunately, I succeeded. My time away gave me plenty of chances for Musings on My Vardo Roof Box.

But, of course, my roof wasn’t really finished yet. So at the end of August Fred Nordgren from Taylor Metal Products delivered my custom metal roof panels – in copper penny color, of course. He managed to do the snaplock panels for me, which I prefer to the batten and T-panel system, but he said it was a stretch. So I’ll plan to do the next curved roof at a slightly shallower curve. It will still be plenty dramatic!

Over Labor Day Weekend, Tim Bancke and his crew, Jeremy and Shaine, installed my metal roof. I was out of town for the weekend so it was really exciting to receive the photos from Tim and return to see my beautiful roof in place. My roof is, shall we say, complicated –which at one point resulted in me resorting to Plan F: Take 2 – so there were a couple little flashing details we still had to work out.

Fortunately, it was great working with Fred and Tim who came out to take a look at my house in early August and then worked up quotes for me and kept me posted about the fabrication and installation schedules. They’ve tag-teamed other curved tiny house roofs for Katy Anderson (who built Dee Williams’ vardo) and Anita’s tiny house Lilypad (which turned out be-a-u-ti-fully – and you can read more about the Finishing Touches!)

Lucky Penny curved snaplock roof

If you’re in the market for a metal tiny house roof, please get in touch with Fred – and tell him Lina sent you! (If you’re not doing curved roof, Taylor Metal is still a great option. Laura got her roof panels from Taylor and, badass that she is, installed the panels herself, which you can read about in her post The Hat.) And, if you can get onto his busy schedule, I definitely encourage you to have Tim do your installation. (If your roof is complicated, it's worth the wait to have the pros do it right!) Tim and his crew say they enjoy doing tiny house roofs because they're interesting little projects.

So this past Saturday Tim and his crew returned to finalize the details. They cut curved flashing from copper penny sheet metal to cover up the curved rafters at the front and back of the house. They tucked a bit more flashing under the eave flashing to cover the Eave Caps for My Vardo Roof. And they installed a flashing extender around my skylight box before installing My Custom Skylight from Mark at Natural Light Skylight Co. It’s lovely and I can’t wait to get my hammock hung up to admire the rain, stars, and clouds!

The point of a roof is to protect the house from the rain, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that mine is beautiful, too!

A Splash of Color for the Lucky Penny

Note bene: This post has lingered in draft mode for a long time, like many others that chronicle Lucky Penny Finishes. (This is one of the side effects of Finishing an Owner-Built House!) The Lucky Penny has been livable since Nov 2014, when I had my Move In Day & Housewarming. I’m finally getting this post out there now because I have the motivation of the T42 Build Timeline approaching!

Lucky Penny Before Paint

Can you guess what color we painted the walls of my tiny house and what we matched to get it? Read on for the answers!

Since my tiny house, The Lucky Penny, was built with SIPs, the interior wall surface was there by the time we finished My SIPs Wall Raising. There are, of course, some folks biuild with SIPs who choose to install drywall inside the house to create that smooth textured look that's ubiquitous throughout homes in America today. I've installed drywall before and I really enjoy doing it (hooray for playing in - er, I mean "working with" - mud!) And, of course, many tiny houses have wood paneling on the interior. This is so darn common I've had people ask me if it's required in a tiny house! (It's not!) But I decided not to install any kind of additional interior paneling in The Lucky Penny for three main reasons.

A layer of primer

First, I didn't want to add the weight of additional paneling. Even if I went with an interior that's super lightweight like cedar tongue and groove or Alupanel, it's still additional weight and I'd rather not add it. Second, some folks have concerns about the drywall seams cracking when a little house is moved. (I haven't actually seen this happen yet, but I'm curious about whether anyone has. Feel free to leave comments below either way!) Finally, I kinda like the texture of the OSB being available. It's almost like the "truth window" in a straw bale house. It lets people know that my walls are really and truly SIPs!

So I knew I wasn't going to add an additional interior finish, but I did consider using a plaster paint because I love the look and feel of it. It seems almost magical to me how it captures the light. (Oh, and did I mention getting to play in the mud?!) But the lead time was really long and I had some concerns about it cracking in transport. And finally, none of the colors seemed quite right. Plasters tend to come in really lovely and sometimes quite complex hues, but I decided I wanted something more vibrant!

First layer of paint

So I decided I was just going to paint my walls with a no VOC paint. Picking my trim color was really easy. When my friend Matthew and I went to the paint shop to pick a trim color for my arched door, the burgundy called California Claret just seemed to jump out at us. I knew it would great against the copper of My Refinished Arch Door, so it was the obvious choice. I felt the same way about the paint color for my interior walls. It just had to be the color of patinaed copper. So I took a piece of copper with a nice patina on it down to Green Depot where we matched it with the Yolo Paints color ways. The color is called Thrive 04 (which happens to be my lucky number!) I'll take it. Oh, and this is when I learned that another benefit of building a teeny tiny house is that you can paint your interior with just one gallon of paint!

This past weekend a couple Tiny House Helpers assisted me in putting a layer of primer and then two layers of this lovely patinaed copper paint on my walls. We also did a few little tweaks to my interior walls and pocket door. (Thanks, Benn Kovco!) Meanwhile, I worked on a few fussy bits like closing up the top of the walls and sealing seams.

I didn't think I'd end up with quite such a bold color, but I do truly love it. And much of it will end up being covered up since we'll be Installing My Cabinets next!

Curved Trim & Interior Walls

Note bene: This post has lingered in draft mode for a long time, like many others that chronicle Lucky Penny Finishes. (This is one of the side effects of Finishing an Owner-Built House!) The Lucky Penny has been livable since Nov 2014, when I had my Move In Day & Housewarming. I'm finally getting this post out there now because I have the motivation of the T42 Build Timeline approaching!

The pocket door is too big for the frame so we'll rework it!

The past two Fridays, I've worked with a right hand man to accomplish two projects. Last weekend Eric McClelland helped me create the curved trim for my arched window and door and this past Friday my buddy Kenny Bovoso helped me rework a used pocket door frame and install the interior walls.

Eric and I started out the curved trim day by tracing the shape of my window and door onto scrap pieces of plywood. I'm lucky that the arched door came with it's jamb so we don't have to do any fancy business there. I just had it dip-stripped by Timby's Dip Strip since it tested positive for lead paint.

We then went to Parr Lumber to pick up a few pieces of exterior trim for the exterior of the curved window and Emerson Hardwood to pick up a big sheet of medium density fiberboard (MDF) for the interior trim for both the window and the door.

Eric is a talented cabinet maker so back at his shop he showed me how to piece the exterior trim together with biscuit joints to create an angular version of the curve we wanted to create. I got to make some fun cuts on the table saw and it was nice to have Eric's expert supervision and guidance since I'm still extra nervous around the table saw. We also cut the curved trim for the interior of the window and door out of the MDF using the band saw. Then we sanded the edges of all three curves to smooth them out. It's not perfect, but as I keep reminding myself and my Tiny House Helpers, my house needs a little wabi-sabi. It's certainly not bad for my first curved trim project and I'm pleased with the results and extremely grateful for Eric's guidance. I look forward to seeing how the trim looks with the trim paint I've picked! I think it's going to be beautiful! The interior walls project started with a trip to Building Material Resources where I found a pocket door frame that was 36" wide, six inches wider than I needed it. But I figured it could be reworked, and, indeed, it was, though I'm not sure it was worth it financially in the end. It certainly wouldn't have been if I'd been paying Kenny in cash instead of beer and hugs! On the other hand, we appreciated the quality time together to catch up and the project was pretty fun.

We removed the side braces, cut them back, and then reinstalled them at the right width. We then installed the pocket door frame and built the other interior wall to line up with it. It will need a little more finessing, but I've gotta say, it's pretty exciting to have this interior wall because it's the first big move on the interior. This wall divides my Quintuple-Duty Mud Room from the rest of the house and my little house is starting to feel more like I'd envisioned it! For the rest of the weekend I continued on with Siding & Shingling, which was a good project to be working on during the Green Anchors Open House because it was easy to take breaks and show people the little house.