Monthly Archives: July 2012

A fellow tiny house down…

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Though I do not know them personally, Kim and Jenn are two gals who have been building their own tiny house about as long as I have. They put beautiful work into this house, and it looked to be very near completion with furniture, trim work, cabinetry and the loveliest little porcelain lights. I can barely hold back crying for them even just writing now, because they have lived my greatest nightmare and lost their home before it ever had a chance to become as such.

A barn fire burned it to the ground last Sunday, and all their care, hard work and planning has crumbled to a blackened pile. Every single thing was destroyed.

I know the love I have for Little Yellow, and how much my tiny house has become part of my life and who I want to be. To think of what Jenn and Kim are going through just makes my heart break.

I’m extremely impressed that these girls are not giving up on their dream, but are picking themselves up and have started raising money to rebuild. Jenn had this to say:

All of Kim’s heart and soul (and mine as well) and all of her life savings went into her tiny house. Now all of that is gone. Every stick of wood. The massive steel trailer. The gorgeous marvin windows. 30,000 down the toilet. It feels terrible to have this happen to one of the most generous people I know on the face of the planet. Please give what you can. Donate to the Kim Langston Tiny House Fund through PayPal. tinyhousefund@gmail.com Thanks.
Here is the link to donate to tinyhousefund@gmail.com: https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/make-online-payments
UPDATE: After getting more information from Jenn, it turns out the two of them are both building their own, and the house that burnt was not the near done one (hers) I thought, but Kim’s that had a very recently completed exterior. The pain and shock must still be immense 😦
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Sink holes and light fixtures…

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Gathering the nerve to cut into Flemming’s irreplaceable counter tops took a lot of thought. A lot of thought, a lot of measuring, and a lot of ‘you can do this’ talks with myself. But all went well, and I also drilled holes for the faucet behind. Somehow everything just barely fit in the tight space.

The faucet was presumably designed for a thinner counter, so I had to chisel down about 3/4″ between the knobs on the underside to make it work. I know the router would have been faster, but I didn’t want to risk it going all skully wompus on me and, in memory of Flemming’s approval of hand tools, I spent the time and did it the old fashioned way.

I ended up with a lovely stainless steel sink (16″ outer rim to rim) from Opella. The plan to use an old brass jelly pot fell by the wayside as it turned out to be just a little too small, so I bit the bullet and bought a proper one. Probably for the best though, because it came with a seriously nifty cutout template.

I’ve been slowly compiling my light fixtures for the last few months (the wonders of ebay), and it’s so exciting to see them all up! I have 6 lights on the inside; 1 from the ceiling, 1 over the window seat, 1 in the kitchen, 1 for the pink room, 1 for the bathroom, and 1 in my sleeping loft. I found the cheapest source of well made, solid brass fixtures (I adore brass) to be little, clear glass lantern types intended to be used outdoors. It cost $54 for all 4, and they make me think of fairies πŸ˜€

They are meant to be turned on and off by switch, but since I only have switches for the ceiling and window seat lights, my neighbour put in little pull chains through a hole drilled in the back and they now operate brilliantly at the source.

The main ceiling light/chandelier from hell was the hard one. The amount of space available at the ceiling peak is pretty narrow, and it was clear upon looking there was no chance the 5″ wide ceiling connect-y bit that is supposed to cover the workings was going to cut the mustard. The solution came in some kind of copper cup thing from the plumbing section at Home Depot that happens to match the fixture perfectly. My awesome neighbour rigged it so that it’s securely attached to the ridge beam and contains all the crazy wiring up there.

It certainly wasn’t easy though. I had idealistic plans of removing it every time the house goes down the road, but I can assure you that after the time and trouble that little shit gave us, I’ll just be taking out the light bulbs and wishing it luck. Guess I could bubble wrap it or something.

What a beautiful change to have all the lights up! It looks more and more like the space I want to live in with every day. And really, you pull a cord or flip a switch and the things just turn on. I like to think it’s magic πŸ˜€

Of futons and good small companies…

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Today, I ordered my futon! It recently occurred to me that I had best get something comfortable to sleep on if I am going to be living in Little Yellow, so I began to do some research on bedding options. My requirements were 1. something that wasn’t made with foam or unnatural materials, 2. something that wasn’t too thick so as to leave more head room in the loft, and 3. something that wasn’t hysterically expensive. 1 and 2 weren’t so terribly hard to come by, but 3 was difficult and the combination was almost impossible.

Almost, because then I found a company in Montana called Small Wonders Futons. They use only natural fibers (cotton and wool) that don’t offgas, and make each one by hand. Their founder studied traditional futon making in Japan, and they have continued to follow those high standards since starting in 1981.

What I like best about Small Wonders is that they are a small company with their priorities in order. The owners are nice, helpful, and actually answer the phone when you call. The wool they use comes from local sheep, the cotton isΒ American grown, and they are a fine example of a company that still upholds quality over quantity.

Another great thing is that they are pretty darn affordable as bedding goes. Everything I came across with strictly natural materials seemed to be at least $1000 and was made and shipped from who knows where.

They do custom futons in addition to standard sizes, but my loft fits a queen perfectly so I’ll be getting an extra nice, double wool and cotton one that is 6″ thick for the extra headroom. Check out their website and have a read about what they stand for, because I think these guys are just wonderful. Can’t wait to receive it! http://www.smallwondersfutons.com/

Curtains up…

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And the window seat bench has been stuffed and upholstered! My wonderful sister came up with her wonderful sewing machine and slaved wonderfully away for hours on end, several days in a row to get them done. I was the dedicated fabric cutter and seam ironer, but she basically made everything and I’m so grateful.

We stuffed the window seat bench cushion with extra sheep wool insulation I got back in September from Oregon Shepherd, and let me tell you, that stuff makes for a really wonderful thing to sit on. I did put a 1″ high density foam pad on the bottom just to keep it rigid and the combination has totally worked. It got a relatively thick canvas casing first (which we spent AGES stuffing) and then another of the good upholstery fabric to finish it off. I’ve brought back out some pillows from the big house, and it’s super cozy now πŸ˜€

And then come the curtains…Little Yellow has 10 windows. Each got a curtain for each side, and all but the bump out windows also got two sides of sheer fabric, which means that there were 34 curtains on the list. 30 freakin’ 4 of ’em, and my sister made them and my bench covers in two days. Amazing? She is.

We made the front curtain rods out of copper pipe (3/4″ for the big windows and 1/2″ for all the others) and round pieces of 1/2″ craft wood for the sheers behind. Leftover moulding with drilled notches is holding the rods up. I say leftover moulding as though I merely bought too much, but this moulding has been thwarting the heck out of me as I try to make my baseboards. I keep cutting the angles wrong, leaving me with sad little sections of unloved, unreturnable, angle-challenged wood.

I’m sure it’s happy to have gotten used, but it was disagreeable stuff to drill into, and the process involved a vice, more patience that I had at the time and plenty of ‘test pieces’ that shattered and flew in every direction. Just as well I had lots of leftovers, eh?

But now I have curtains! All of them, and they are so very, very nice πŸ˜€ They instantly make Little Yellow so much more homey!

Cabinets framed…

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Perhaps nothing has caused more procrastination than my kitchen cabinets, and considering just how much procrastination I am capable of, this is really saying something. For a while my dad thought it’d be better to find someone else to make them, but Little Yellow is quite in need of her cabinets, so we have faced our fears and plowed ahead.

I bought a bunch of 1 x 3 pine to build the frame and we mostly based it on the cabinets in my parent’s house, since they are so conveniently there. This left us ripping the horizontal sections to 2″ and leaving the vertical ones as they were at just under 2 1/2″ I believe.

Have you heard of a Kreg jig? I hadn’t, but holy grandmother Moses is it a spiffy thing. My wonderful neighbor lent us his set-up and (having previously attempted dowling and biscuit joining) it was such a quick and excellent way to stick wood together that I was almost giddy during the framing stage. I think I’d like to keep this stuff on my bedside table, just for those springy, wood joining emergencies.

It is essentially a system that allows you to drill into wood at an exact angle, so by then screwing their fancy square headed screws in with a little Titebond III (great glue, strong as all heck), you effectively secure two sections. It worked really well for us and we had the frame up in no time. Before attaching it, we had to build a floor on the toe kick, make both sides with 1 x 6 tongue and groove, and stick a 2 x 2 support runner against the wall to hold the weight of the counters.

Being suckers for instant gratification, we put Flemming’s counters on as soon as we got the frame up, and what a sight. They are just breathtaking. I honestly believe they make the whole house.

Since then, my dad has started making the cabinet drawers and I’m on doors. By spectacularly fantastic luck, the 1/4″ wall paneling fits like a freakin’ dream into the groove of 1 x 6 T&G, so all I’ve had to do is rip the 1 x 6 down a little, chop saw 45 degree angles on it, stick some panels in the middle and Bob is most certainly your uncle.

I’ve been biscuit joining/ gluing them together with pretty good success, and I have to say I’m darn proud of my wee doors πŸ˜€ There are 4 on the main cabinets (one big under the sink, two smaller beside it, and one smaller still at the L corner) and 2 on the little linen closet cabinet thing I built in the space between my two tall shelves.

I decided it would be a good idea to have another closed off space for various, not necessarily kitchen related storage, so I tested out what my dad and I did for the big cabinet framing and made my own little one. I used cedar for the shelf, as I hear it’s good for such things that hold fabrics, but I’m not sure what I’ll do for the counter. Nothing can really compare to the master carpentry of Flemming’s, so I’ll likely end up doing something pretty plain.

I’m so happy to have the semblance of a kitchen!!! I simply can’t wait til it’s functioning. On the subject of kitchens, apparently I can navigate jig, miter and table saws, but those paring knives still pose a viable threat. Twice I’ve cut myself with the damned thing in the last week, twice.

I’ll put up clearer pictures of the counters soon πŸ˜€