“The house that never ends…”


That is how I’d been referring to Little Yellow the last few months. Saying so sounds a bit more negative than I intend it to, but that was honestly how it felt. In fact, it felt almost impossible that the amount of work I contributed so very often seemed to take so very long and make so very little difference.

I remember starting last September. I remember looking at the lumber on the trailer and feeling totally out of my ball park. I remember thinking that the feeling would go away soon and I’d promptly skip out the door with hammer swinging conviction to work on my house every day. Well that thought was a good few miles off.

First, I certainly wasn’t able to work on it every day and, at least when I was alone, never started before 3:00 pm. Like, never. Probably not even once. Second, any attempted skipping in conjunction with the swinging of heavy, semi-hazardous metal objects was not to be in my future with a good ending.

But seriously; without fail, I would have that same overwhelming feeling at least once every single day for the entire build. Up to the last week, even. Like there was too much. There was just too much and I couldn’t do it. It’s too hard. It’ll never get done. How on earth will I possibly figure X out?

And it’s such a strong feeling. You’d think, seeing as I got it every jolly day, I’d figure out that as soon as I shut that part of myself the hell up, I’d almost always manage to get something concrete done. But that’s how it gets you. It has some terribly tricksy little fiendish way of convincing you that this is a different feeling than you’ve had before. All the other previous feelings of inadequacy were just tests, and this is the one that’ll get you. I can be pretty stupid for being relatively smart.

I wanted to talk about this because I’d like to make sure that those of you who have ever felt this way while building (or otherwise creating something that far surpasses your comfort level) know that you are not alone. You can do it, and it’s going to be great. Mentally pushing through can sometimes be your biggest obstacle, I’m pretty sure it was for me.

A little of the happy fuzzies before I go to bed in my lovely loft. My house is like something big that you really love compacted into something you can hold in your hand. Kind of like a snowglobe instead of Alaska. It is bright and warm and full of time, thoughts and cat hair. It is the very best thing I have ever had for keeps 😀


34 responses »

  1. I love this post and I love you for talking about the very real way our Internal Critic will trip us up today and trip us up again tomorrow! Very well articulated. What I hear here, so loud and clear, is it might have taken til 3:00 in the afternoon to fight your way through inertia and avoidance and procrastination and having to face down The Voice, but you did it. And you did it again. And you did it enough that eventually you finished Little Yellow. You’ll always have this experience as a reference and a resource. Life is hard, sometimes, but it is rare that it will be filled with so many things you don’t know how to do all lined up in a row and extending out for a year. Now you know you know how to push through. And we all witnessed it. And were gifted by it. And you are living in the proof of it. Bowing deeply, Ella, to your strength and what it took to cross the finish line.

  2. These words can apply to SO many people in so many situations, thanks for expressing the feeling. It is hard to follow one’s dream every minute of the day, and when we blink and it dips out of sight momentarily we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. The only thing to do is to hold onto something solid and take a quick glance backwards!

    • Seconded! 😀

      “A little of the happy fuzzies before I go to bed in my lovely loft”,I think that speaks volumes about what it’s like living there too 🙂

      • Looking forward to it! I am going to be building a tiny house soon and I love the layout of yours. You have done a fine job and are an inspiration! A walk through would be awesome! 🙂

  3. TO: Ella FROM: David Cooprider

    Ella, You never gave up … You never gave in … AND You never Serendered. That’s what makes you special.

  4. You are an amazing young adult** Your post is a spiritual teaching for all of us.. when we move out of our comfort zones we truley start to live our dreams.. your home is symbolic to life..*! You are paving the path for many* Love your creation.. its like giving birth!* blessings galore and enjoy the ride.. Raven

  5. You are not only a meticulous builder but a sensitive, articulate young woman. Enjoy your sweet home. I hope you continue your blog; you write so well!

  6. Ella,
    WOW!! What an amazing home you have built. I love to see creative tiny housers like yourself who take a plan and make it their own and wonderfully different – something open and airy and spacious. I also love that you painted your walls white – but still left some areas natural – it is a gorgeous balance and I agree that it makes your space seem even larger – at least in the pictures. I wish I lived on the west coast again so I could see all these great tiny houses – not so many here east of the Mississippi. I am in the process of saving money to build my own tiny house – patience is not one of my virtues! – and saving money these days is slow and arduous. Thank you for your wonderful blog and keeping it real. I (and I”m sure others) appreciate hearing about the struggles as well as the successes – it’s not something one should probably enter into with rose-colored glasses on, but definitely with a spirit of adventure and excitement. Now if I can just decide on a design plan for my tiny house – there are so many cool ideas out there to try to incorporate. I would love more details about dimensions for your pink room and bathroom area. I really like your design there.

    Best wishes for a safe move and an exciting beginning to your new tiny house life in San Francisco – what a great city to live in!! And I am glad you have some fur-babies to share your new life with.


    • Hi Jordan! Saving money is indeed slow these days. Somehow though, if you keep at it, one day you’ll find you have enough! A good way to decide on a plan and floor plan is just to think about how you want to use the space and what’s most important to you, then build the rest around it! Best of luck!

  7. Dear, Sweet, Indefatigable Miss Ella,

    You have yet again, as you do so often, evoked both laughter and tears from my face simultaneously. I have been very quietly researching tiny homes behind the scenes for some time now, but felt I must break my silence at the possibility of you maybe going away and leaving us behind now that your amazing Little Yellow is done. I have read every single post & looked at every picture and you are, dear Girl, a gift. To all of us who have our own dreams of our own homes. To all of us who find your wickedly adroit turn of phrase and quirky sense of humor so refreshing. To all of us who have stumbled on difficult times and got the wind knocked out of us by life, you are a reminder that life is still magical. That it’s going to be ok. That there is still beauty, so much beauty in the world. So I ask, as you embark on this next phase of your journey, that you PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE continue to post and let us cherish the refreshing, magical, delight that we know as life, Ella Harp style. Don’t ever change. I don’t suspect that you will. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Thank you for giving us, for giving me, hope. Best, Michelle

    • Michelle! Thank you so much for your kind words, I feel all happy and bouncy now 😀 And worry not, I’m going to keep blogging. I don’t think I could leave it after everything at this point!

  8. Congratulations Ella! Me and my other half built and moved into a 20ft yurt last year and I love it so much. So I totally understand what it’s like to build and move into your own little home. I’m so excited for you 🙂 I hope you have many many happy years together.

  9. I’m going to remember your words when my partner and I start to build our dream home (earth bermed, concrete poured, quonsat roofed, off the grid dream home:) We’ve been planning and thinking and drawing it for 2 years now and we haven’t even begun to have the money to buy the land…but we will. I know we will.

  10. Ella,
    I just wanted to say that I can relate to every single word of your post. Even now, as we live in our own tiny home and I still brush on some paint here and add a bit of trim there, my mind tries to talk me out of it every time. “You don’t know what you’re doing,” “It’ll never turn out as good as so-and-so’s,” are frequent flyers in my brainwaves. There came a point each day on our journey of building the house–usually after bickering over a type of screw or length of board–that my husband and I had to just push through and say to hell with it. It might turn out awful, or crooked, or leaky, or drafty, or all of the above, but damnit we built this with our own hands, and there is something so magical and peace-giving about that.
    Thank you for writing this. You–and I!–have come a long way!

  11. Pingback: Clumsy Progress | Casita Bella

  12. I can completely relate to this feeling. We recently purchased an old farm home and had to gut and rebuild everything. The amount of dread, and just general disgust I developed for working on the home is ridiculous. It will NEVER end, as soon as one thing is fixed, another is ready for repair!

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