A functional door, system improvements and new things…

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Can you believe it’s coming up on 5 months that I’ve lived in Little Yellow? It feels much longer to me, and also much shorter and then longer again when I think back. But time will do that to you. She is such a good house :) Better all the while as life gets easier and easier with the fixing of slight systematic annoyances.

The wonky door situation has been remedied and it FINALLY closes and locks now, which is quite the luxury. There was some wicked cold weather and it being partly open didn’t do any favours. Used to seeing your breath inside your house? I wasn’t. Enter the Origo heat pal I bought second hand (or maybe third, by the looks of it) on ebay during the build and totally forgot about. It runs on denatured alcohol like my 2 burner boat stove, and puts off a goodly amount of heat when you sit around it.

I’m begrudged to say we also got a refrigerator, albiet a very tiny one (1.something cubic feet). I really wanted the icebox system to work, I really did. But when you come home to find the block has melted and your food is swimming in a cooler filled with water of questionable sanitation every 3-4 days, you get over it. It ended up costing more and being more of a bother to get the ice so regularly than it does to run the tiny fridge, so a fridge it was.

A dandy craigslist find that happens to fit perfectly under the house outside between the wheel wells and the stairs. One of the main reasons I didn’t want one was for the noise, and the ever so slight inconveniece of having to leave the house to get things is outweighed by the beautifully unhindered silence in Little Yellow. It’s also a tad ugly (no offense, little fridge) so hiding it where it is keeps the inside pretty. The picture I took of it came out horribly for some reason, I’ll take another and put it up soon!

My boyfriend is good at keeping growing things alive and bought us a bunch of lovely potted plants from the local nursery. My previous track record leaves little question that I am not good at keeping growing things alive, so I mostly leave that to him. I water them, they look happy, then they die. What can I say? Anyway, none of them have kicked the bucket yet. They’re set all pretty on the old tractor bones outside the font window and I hope my fondness for looking at them doesn’t cause any wilting.

Over time, this house has totally changed the way I look at ‘stuff’. Current stuff, new stuff, I am finding a way to let go of ‘stuff’. Before I moved in I didn’t like the idea that I had to get rid of everything. I decided mine would be featured in the hoarders edition of tiny houses because I loved my collection and didn’t feel I had to part with it. So at first, I didn’t. But I am finding now that I strangely don’t want it all anymore. From clothing to knicknacks to kitchen things, I have willingly opted to sort through what’s around me and let what isn’t essential move on. Bags of things to the goodwill or friends means less things around to crowd my space, and I LOVE it. It feels so freeing.

I had heard tiny housers talk about downsizing back when I was in the research stage, but I think I misunderstood them at the time. I think what they were saying wasn’t so much that you have to get rid of everything you own and become an instant minimalist, but that when you live tiny, you won’t want so much of what you don’t need around you.

Or that’s what it seems to be in my case anyhow. I mean, I actually cleaned my car. MY car, you know, the one that I just mentioned in my last post as being a complete and total crapshoot? Those tidy car types would still shudder at the sight of it, but I can even fit other people in there now. Passengers, woah.

To anyone considering a tiny house for two, I’d also like to note that inhabiting 120 square feet with another person is a total non-issue from my experience. As long as you both get it and get along, the size of your house is irrelevant. Those folks who love to indicate that your tiny house will only work while you’re single are out to lunch. A grumpy, lumpy lunch that doesn’t taste very nice. And on the subject of naysayers, they generally don’t understand how you want to live your life and what’s important to you. Sometimes I have the feeling that they think my tiny plans are just there to make them look bad, so don’t take it too seriously.

Job news! I no longer work as a restaurant hostess because I now work for Tumbleweed. TUMBLEWEED! Basically? I am actually going to get paid to go around and present at their workshops.

I.

Am going to get paid.

To talk about tiny houses.

I’m not quite sure there are enough ?!?!?! for this. The Berkeley, CA workshop this weekend will be my first go in conjunction with the lovely Pepper Clark. So If you happen to be attending you will see me, most likely bouncing around and speaking at 120 mph :D I will try to slow down, I promise.

I can’t believe how this all has changed my life. This house, my little side project so I could exist in tiny, artistic freedom, continues to form my future in remarkable ways. Wonderful!!!

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About ellaharp

I am a musician and artist just out of college. During the last year of my degree in Scotland I caught the bug and have since become infatuated with the practical coziness of tiny houses. I worked my tail off, saved my money and, despite my complete lack of carpentry know-how, I shall build one, it shall be marvelous, and I shall call it Little Yellow :)

44 responses »

  1. Woohoo! Nothing beats getting paid to do something you’re enthusiastic about. Congratulations! I love the way that shadow looks on your little yellow door.

  2. How much does a house cost from Tumbleweed? I have been looking at getting one but the land issue has me stumped. How did you go about getting a place to “park” it?

    V/r,

    Jason Vipond

      • If you buy a built house from Tumbleweed it runs about $50,000 but much less if you build it yourself. That said, they are getting really great financing together for ready-made’s. Check out their website because you can call and talk to them now which can be really helpful!

        In terms of parking, I asked around and told everyone I knew what was up and waited for something to work out. My spot now is AWESOME and my landlords are great. If there’s a will there’s a way!

  3. Glad your door is fixed now Ella! And congrats on the job with tumbleweed! I’m up here in Maine and feeling a big huge itch to build a tiny house. I’m 46, my kids are grown and I live in just a huge house….

    Thinking of maybe renting out my house for a bit and living in the driveway in my tiny house.

    Love your rants – keep em coming!

  4. Ella, just forgive the people who don’t “get” you. Your lifestyle isn’t for everyone, or even the majority of people, but it is for people who want to live without being owned by a mortgage company and want more control over their destiny by not having to work 7×24 to pay said mortgage. Less is so much more. And Congratulations to Tumbleweed, because I cannot think of a better spokesperson to hire to share their vision.

    • Thanks, Denise. I made the mistake of writing this just after reading some of the pretty horrible comments people made on the youtube video and got a little carried away. I know this isn’t for everyone and I don’t usually dwell on the sinister side but I was left in quite the mood yesterday. Reading it back now seems like far more of a rant than I thought!

  5. I love you! You are a complete joy, inspiration and hero that I look forward to hearing from. I showed your little house to one of my daughters who is just 14 and opening her eyes to the world, universe. You are a perfect example of someone that is brave, adventuresome, beautiful, commited, educated, creative and a perfect role model for young girls that are also creative. Thank you so much. I look forward to hearing what else you will be doing, always. I found you on the internet, I don’t even remember what I was looking for and …………….voila there you are with the little yellow house. You are complete, magic…………thank you and to your wonderful boyfriend thank you.

  6. How well does your alcohol heater work? How cold has it been? I also live in a tiny house, and I’m wondering if that heater would suffice for me, considering a New England winter.

    • The heater works great. I really doesn’t get all that cold here though, probably no more than the high 30’s. Not sure it’d be enough to get you by in New England!

  7. Dang. You and Pepper Clarke! I can almost hear the banjo and fiddle playing in the background. Ya all sound like a country and western act, playing in a salon in Nashville!

    Have fun this weekend girl. Knock ‘em dead. We’re so proud of you!

    Da and Marfa

  8. I love to hear about your experiences, what works and what doesn’t. It is inspiring that you’ve gone ahead and done this, and done well at it. And continue to do well! I think your new job sounds like a perfect fit. :-)

  9. Ella, You are doing great. Awesome working at Tumbleweed. Living your DREAM.
    Never stop just keep going. You have a gift use it well.

  10. Congratulations, Ella! I love hearing how your Tiny Living adventure is evolving. Fantastic news about your job with Tumbleweed. You’ll be a great asset. I hope it gives you all the freedom in the world to continue to develop your musician self without the pressure to earn your way in the process.

  11. I am thrilled to hear about your working at Tumbleweed!!!!

    I hear you’re in the bay area now, any chance my husband and I could ever come down for a visit?
    Re the two-person tiny life: We moved into a studio recently to see if we’d claw each other’s eyes out, and in an effort to get rid of stuff. When we first moved in we were CRAMMED IN with all our stuff and every day was like Tetris getting around. We finally got rid of a bunch of things and now we are quite cozy. We’re still working on getting rid of things, though!

    But we live quite happily in our tiny apartment and agree that small space does not mean cramped or irritated life! I imagine it is not for everyone but we both love it. We ARE recently married, so who knows maybe it is the honeymoon stage ;)

    But somehow I think it isn’t. It’s more about just letting go of the big fat American ideals of the past :)

    Whenever we get around to having kids, THEN maybe we’ll run out of room but we keep joking we’ll just build THEM their own house, bwaha!

    Hoping to build a tiny house ourselves one day when we can get the money raised! In the meantime, acclimating to tiny life in our apartment quite beautifully.

  12. Congrats on the job with Tumbleweed. But I knowed it was going to happen. Either that or that you were going to become *some* kind of owner-built-tiny-house guru, because your blog is so welcoming and down-to-earth.

  13. Ella,

    This is Aaron at PJ Trailers, we think your house is great and are honored you chose one of our trailers. We have a couple of questions for you that might help future tiny house builders. Can you send me an email to “aaronb” @ our website (see below)

    Thanks & Congrats on your home!

  14. Ella,
    WOW!, your home is looking fantastic, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog and about your adventures, so glad you found a significant other that “Get’s It”, congrats on the new job, and it sounds like you are happy, keep on keepin on!!!

  15. That is so rad, congrats on your new job!

    I can relate to so many things you’ve said in this post. About being able to let stuff go (I never feel more content than when I am hauling yet another box of crap I don’t need out the door) and especially about living with someone else. My partner and I live together in a 98 square foot home, with two dogs to boot. But we like each other enough to make it work, and we actually talk to each other every day and work through any issues we have because we can’t just fume in another room from each other. If you have a good relationship, the size of your house is really irrelevant.

    • Awesome! I totally agree, limited space makes you closer in more ways than one. And for the better I’d say if you get along. 98 sq feet with 2 dogs? Rock it!

  16. Ella,
    First of all Congrats on your new job! I found you on one of the Tiny House blogs and since then have been hooked. I went back and read all the previous blogs…finished about a month ago…then not a word after December. I was pretty bummed thinking you were never to write again…then one day I decided to look and there you were needless to say I was a happy camper. My husband and I have been downsizing and want to build a tiny house when we retire. Our house will be a little larger because we don’t want a loft…as we age probably not practical. :-)
    Thanks for the update…keep up the great work…love the pictures of your home.

  17. Ella, Congratulations on the new job! How amazingly wonderful!

    I wanted to comment about the negativity. It’s something I fear I will hear myself. So I appreciate your sharing your experiences. And I too have realized that if people don’t get it, that’s ok. This is something I want to do for myself. I’m 44 actually, I have my own home… but the house is too big for me. I also went through a health issue & suddenly the fear of not being able to pay the mortgage was hanging over me… it wasn’t fun. So, I am planning to sell my house and move back closer to family. Houses etc are expensive there, so I think a tiny home is just exactly what I need. My parents have an extra driveway for me to borrow for building & we have discussed this. And I can imagine that my nieces and nephews will get a kick out of visiting & spending the nights.

    I was actually trying to figure out how to make a built in sofa with a flip out top, that could convert into a double-ish bed. So your futon makers may well come in handy if I need a custom sized mattress. So thank you again.

  18. oh honey!!!! i’m sooooo proud of you!!! i’ve been researching the net for tiny house solutions and had about given up, i went to bed, but something got me back up to try again and i found you!!!! i am so impressed with you that i’m almost in tears here…. can you write a book please? how did you learn to do this? can you show me how? i’m not handy AT ALL…. plus i really like lthe layout of your place, but where does the shower water go? are you kinda off the grid? please please write to me, you’re the only one i can even fathom in this tiny house movement… i want one just like yours… where do you live? lol will you make me one? for how much? :) i like your pink room, i can stuff my husband in there when he comes to visit…. (it’s complicated) lol how much did it cost you? how did you doooooooo it? my mind is boggled…. i would so LOVE to do this… i even have a place to park it…. write me ok? please? pretty please with a yellow door on it?

  19. I’ve been having trouble searching for this, if you’ve mentioned it before. Roughly how much did it cost you to build this yourself? I see you posted the trailer costs.

    Thank you so much for all the pictures and documenting your building. :)

  20. Hi! My name is Kelly. We met briefly this weekend in Asheville (my husband Robert and I were the ones to your right who laughed at all of your jokes, probably too loudly ;) we just thought you were really awesome). I hope you keep blogging about your adventures in Little Yellow and with Tumbleweed. It’s really nice to hear the perspective of someone who’s actually living out their dreams, at least in terms of home life. We have also encountered a lot of discouragement or faked excitement. I’m hoping, though, as people start to realize how serious we are about it, that they will get more excited with us. Thanks so much for sharing and for putting your experiences out there!

  21. Hi Ella,
    Congrats on the job at tumbleweed! They have just announced their first workshop here in oz, the tiny house movemt here is tiny at best so we are very excited to do it! I so wish that you were presenting it! So I could actually thank you in person. I am at a similar position to you were before you started building. Rent/mortgage here in Sydney is shockingly high and my creative life with a job I love just won’t pay that salary! Then I found these houses through your blog and fell in love with them and their simplicity. There is now a blog and a Facebook page , not only for my tiny house journey, but a tiny house Australia community with over 750 likes! Although i am are still in the research and planning stage I hope in a few months or so I can start building this house! If you are ever planning a trip down under please let us know!! Beth aka tinyhouseinoz

  22. Hi Ella,
    I love your blog and the design of your tiny house. I have used your blog as a reference for the tiny house that my partner and I will begin building at the end of this month in St. Johns, Portland, OR. We are excited, nervous and determined to live a life that is based on our values. Thank you for your inspiration and encouragement throughout your blog! We would love it if you connected with our tiny house blog at http://www.ourtinyhome.us. We will have a full house with two dogs and a cat. We haven’t really seen anyone with this many bodies in a tiny house before. We plan to make the outdoors our living room and life work. Any suggestions are much appreciated! Congrats on living your dreams!
    best,
    Nicholette (& Mitchell)

  23. I love your tiny house and your blog. I am in the process of having mine built. What size is your exterior door? I like yours a lot!

  24. Ella, Would you mind talking a bit in detail about the use of your Origo stove and new Kimberly stove respectively? I’m in the planning stages for my tiny house and I’m borderline asthmatic so I have a very vested interest in the straight scoop insofar as air quality goes. I read that you can use ethanol (i.e. high proof grain alcohol like ever clear) with the Origos with byproduct of H2O and CO2 which in non-health endangering. Are you using ethanol? If you are, do you find the cooking process very fume-y? Also, is cooking acceptably efficient? With the Kimberly, do you find it fairly smokeless? I’d love to hear about about the use-experience in general.

    • Hi! I’ve been terrible at updating here, but getting ready to post about Kimberly in the next few days. I just use denatured alcohol which isn’t as clean and does get a bit fumey when it’s almost empty or when starting it up sometimes. I hear straight ethanol is much better, and would probably be what you’d want to use with sensitivities. Cooking wise, it’s great. I don’t notice it being slower than any other cooktop I’ve used. Kimberly burns clean and great, once you get her going. Hope this helps!

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