Tag Archives: Repackage

About These Tiny House Types- a Letter from Brad Kittel

That, in a short time, I have engaged in conversation with leaders of the Tiny House Movement who are dreaming with me by email, is nothing short of shocking. I am a person who watches others and tries to get a feeling for the people I see. Although I cannot see these people, physically, I am “seeing” them by the words I am reading. For Dear Reader, I am nothing, if not a READER. I read nature, and intent and passion. What I see here are passionate and brilliant people.

I am learning that Tiny House people are not alike. Some tiny house builders are engineers, like Bill Kastrinos, and some are poets, as is Jim Wilkins. Jay Shafer is a scientist,  Abel Zimmerman is an artist, and Brad Kittel is a pioneer . Of course I could go on, there are philosophers, salesmen and dreamers, and each one brings a unique veiwpoint. All are craftsmen, and all are zealous about their mission. These are inspiring, wonderful people who are creating and rebuilding our country and even pointing the way for sensible living.

I tried to keep the comments in the post regarding the most important thing to consider when buying a tiny house short. I could see the passion in these builders and other knowledgeable folk, but tried to pare down the words to a terse, “juicy” tidbit. I am going to make one exception. Brad Kittel wrote to me a piece that I want to share with you and there is no “paring.” I am going to give it to you in its entirety, and I believe you will be inspired by this modern day “pioneer” as much I was when reading this.

He wrote:

“What to you is the most important stage of Tiny House construction?”

“This is a great question, as it addresses the very foundations of what we believe in. Each individual must consider the quality and cost of the materials we build with, the impact of the toxins that are used to create the materials, the out gassing released from the products for the first year or two, and the cost to the planet.  Each must calculate the resources available in terms of fuel, environment, and human energy. Each person has to evaluate the importance of values from the standpoint of physical, mental, and immune systems conditions, spiritual, political, and Earth oriented perspectives. Affecting the choices of materials and size, will be your personal goals. If you want to build a house to live in for the rest of your life, make it portable, or leave it as your legacy, then you will need to consider size and mobility.

You must take into account that importing from other countries is sending our wealth to other places. Global corporations make their profits on cheap foreign labor, resources, manufacturing, and transportation to Americans. Our money and our jobs go as well.

Buying local encourages employment. If you want to create work, hire local people to create what you want. If you want to be free from toxins, the United States is rich in pre-used American made materials, like lumber from virgin forests, or bricks from clays loaded with iron and baked hard at high temperatures. This will last for centuries, as will hardware made from the finest iron, brass, copper, and zinc that was ever mined in the United States

If you want the quality America was once known for, buy repurposed goods, instead of the foreign made items that are built-to-break. Use your hands, your minds, and your imagination, to build a house from the recycled materials from houses, buildings, and barns that already exist, and these virtually for free. You can do it without shipping across oceans, by reclaiming the 51% vintage building materials that comprise our landfills each year. This means your decision saves resources that are sorely needed. You can save 99% of the materials already mined, smelted, formed, porcelain coated, and shipped all around the country, ready to use, like a giant home depot, that is practically free for the picking.

Lets teach our children how to survive without foreign imports, cheap labor, oil products, energy waste, or toxic health issues. Lets avoid a breakdown in family, community, and the old fashioned simplicity that modern marketing has nearly extinguished. At the same time, you will also help our planet, our species, and our environment socially.  You will be thinking, not only of Tiny Houses and Pure Salvage Living Villages, but also about the kids who need to know that all the materials they need for the future, that made this country great, are still hidden before our very eyes.  At the same time, we must provide a safety net for the 76,000,000 baby boomers hitting the wall.

To be fair, I am a purist at the fringe with the elements used in my artistic world of 99% Pure Salvage Tiny Texas Houses. I have pioneered to push the envelope of what is possible. We can achieve sub zero carbon footprint, a sustainable, portable, healthy, 100+ year lifespan, with import free housing that is built entirely in America. I am biased towards my solutions. These ideas can create sustainable societies that will survive without taking, but instead give back to the local community and the entire planet. That said, and with my bias exposed, the most important thing you can do is decide what you want to be happy.  If that means making the individual decision, to do things that will benefit you, the species, your parents, friends, children, and the generations to follow, then this is what is important in the final score. Decide for yourself if sub zero carbon footprint, all natural, organic, items forged with the energy of our forefathers should be handed off to others to appreciate or thrown into the dump. Lets preserve and respect these materials that have lasted for hundreds of years.

Perhaps then decide on what you want to use to build. Consider how big, and how longlasting you want it to be. How healthy do you want to be once you move in? Environmental causes for illness are now being recognized for numerous ailments, (and that without even discussing cancer). We must see the big picture and respect the human energy, resources, and ingenuity with which we have been gifted. What our forefathers built centuries ago, without benefit of electricity or gasoline; these things can not be ignored, under valued, or forgotten. If so, we no longer deserve to be taking more from the planet. I believe that the right answer is, reuse, recycle, make it last, re-invent, reconstruct, pass it along, and never ever throw it away until there is nothing left to save.

I have proven solutions are easily within reach, and no one else has to strive to prove these ideals are possible. Now the trick is to let everyone know there is an alternative. The only cost is in human energy, imagination, ingenuity, community, and many other qualities we have an abundance of inAmerica. Best of all, if we join together, this passion is a fuel for hope. We will find self sufficiency; self respect, freedom from debt, and a way out of the rat race when we arrive at the end. It is at this time when we need a tiny resting spot the most. Thank you for being part of the dialogue about Tiny Houses. I hope my vision for a Pure Salvage Living Movement  will make solutions possible, even faster and for more people.”

Brad Kittel

Tiny House Myth # 2: I Can’t Live Without My Stuff!”

As a confirmed pack rat and project collector, I have made it a goal this year to downsize and use or get rid of the pile of projects collecting in my spare room. Much of the piles of broken furniture consist of repurposing projects and are my own doing,  and others were left on my doorstep by various people trying to “help me out.” Thanks Guys. Some of these loved ones far and near are more famous than I for collecting and storing junk, and nothing could be more poignant nor speak more volumes than a plastic fork packet from Wendy’s that I swear was from 1952 found among the relics.

Their reasons for collecting stuff were valid ones, such as the various types of equipment needed by a professional photographer, (as one of these benefactors has been low these many years), to rare and expensive cameras and even a beat up tarnished old trumpet. So many of these things I have used and needed. But a side effect of not having money, is that you tend to hoard things. That is the problem. Currency, comes from the root word “current” and that means stuff has to flow in order to come to you.

Every time I see the broken bentwood chair, I think, its only a LITTLE broken, and begin to imagine how I could use it as a table or maybe re-glue and brace the back part. A nice glass top and voila’ the seat is flat enough to use for a lamp table, and even now it is making a great support for my desk. Art supplies in the closet, sewing notions and necessities from my days as a seamstress, and broken furniture take up space that I cannot otherwise use. Oh, and don’t forget the little unopened packages someone gave me that contain fall leaves, of the type you would expect to see stapled to the bulletin board in a 3rd grade classroom- too cute to throw away, and too corny to have a real purpose.

So I have to ask, “Can I live without all this junk?”

I asked Tammy Strobel who writes the “Rowdy Kittens” blog, (you will find her blog here: http://rowdykittens.com/), who many know currently live in their lovely new tiny house, (you can find pics of it at the link above), if they missed having stuff.

“No, I don’t miss anything. I have everything I need in the little house. For a long time I thought I “needed” more, like a bigger house, an additional car, and more stuff. I don’t feel that way anymore. By having less stuff to worry about I can give more of my time to friends, family, writing, and volunteering,” she told me.

Sounds awesome! The stuff I have is not only taking up space, but it is physically and emotionally draining to have to work with and around to use my small house. The toll then is not only financial, but it is not a good investment of my time. I simply do not have the energy to keep this junk.

Minimalism is not just a word to describe getting rid of your stuff, it is a valid form of art, music and architecture of the 60’s and 70’s. Of course the most famous among those designing in architecture would be Frank Lloyd Wright. His motto, “form follows function” is a declaration that turns architecture INTO art, (and art back into architecture).

One of the benefits of minimalism is that you feel a greater sense of peace when there is not clutter around you or things that need to be maintained. It is less expensive, too. Have you ever paused to consider how much money you are spending to house things compared to their monetary worth? Why should I spend my time making money to keep plastic knick-knacks from my local Walmart? I am from an art background and I appreciate beautiful things. However, I would pose the idea that a thing must have some real value in terms of aesthetics or usefulness, even MULTIPURPOSE uses in order to be worth paying to store or house. And too, in our computer centered existences of the modern age, we are spending more time doing things online and have less time to worry about our homes.

I have made it a goal this year to simplify and downsize. Many others are getting on board with this idea, (including those aforementioned here), for benefit of our health, both physical and mental well being.

Accessorize Your Tiny: a “Dumbwaiter” and an Inexpensive Versatile Light

I currently have a loft bed in the small house in which I live. As stated before on this blog, I spend quite a lot of my time in my cozy loft. I have noticed, incidentally, that I use a lot less energy to heat said loft. This 40’s cottage with its minimal insulation is somewhat expensive, (inch for inch), to heat and cool. I have had very little heating costs this year as a surprising bonus of spending my time three feet from the ceiling. Of course, the fact that my room faces south helps to glean this passive solar energy, the configuration with my bed only serves to use it effectively.

The fact that I spend mucho time in my loft has its own drawbacks, as the surface of the bed quickly becomes littered with various items that I have not taken the time to remove, plates, glasses, teacups, papers and so on. I struck on the idea, (only partly implemented at this time), of a dumbwaiter for the tiny house.

A dumbwaiter in Victorian days was a separate chute, quite similar to a laundry chute in homes today. Meals were prepared in the kitchen below and a system of pullies raised the food and implements to the dining area on another floor. Many a child took a ride in these contraptions. In this version I would put mine at the edge of the loft opposite the ladder and on the same side as the kitchen. It would be a square, (of course you can repurpose a round top if you wish, but it won’t fit next to the counter below), and one could arrange the kitchen to accommodate the edge to fit nicely against the counter. This way you can raise your snack, (did I mention I eat in my loft?), and lower empties and stuff when finished with them. Alternately, this dumbwaiter could be lowered when there was company and used for additional table space. You could even use it as a desk on the lower level when not in use for the loft.

On another note, I use a utility light for modern versatile lighting. It can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Designers-Edge-Incandescent-Clamp-6-Foot/dp/B00076Q0FQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326035140&sr=8-1

This lamp moves about and is held in place by a clamp. I love this because it is versatile and love anything shiny and low cost. Remember design-wise, anything shiny helps to create a look of spaciousness in square foot challenged spaces.  A well placed electrical outlet in your tiny would make it possible to use this on the ground floor or the loft without ever unplugging it. Another thing I have noticed in my personal loft is that the lighting puts out a good amount of heat itself and becomes a source of heating when it gets cold.

© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A Tiny Idea

There is no question about it- I am an idea person. I do not always have the mojo, be it technical skill, energy, or the GREEN to accomplish what I have dreamed. So while thinking about a tiny kitchen, I had an idea, (reader beware, in my house, the phrase, “I had an idea” usually sends my daughter screaming, “OH NO” from the room).

Instead of spending thousands of dollars for a wooden kitchen ensemble, or for a tiny prefab metal one, I happen to know that used restaurant stainless steel can be picked up easily for just a little bit of cash. Hand wash sinks, bar sinks complete with drain board and even sink/table combos can be purchased locally or online for very little money compared to the outlay for the more involved models, even you purchased prefab cabinetry from big box stores.

I searched online and easily found a great 24×48 stainless table on ebay for $125.  An added bonus to that price is that many of the online restaurant equipment stores ship free! A handwash sink wall mounted was about $46 at one online venue, and I suspect that used equipment is even less expensive if you search for local outlets in your town.

There are several advantages to using the stainless option. For starters, I am pretty sure that pound for pound, it would be lighter weight to haul stainless counters in your tiny on wheels than the same footage in custom wooden cabinets. Secondly, you could dramatically reduce your monetary outlay by being able to do it yourself, rather than have your builder go the custom route for you. I think a novice could most likely handle the metal tables. Another advantage of these tables is that you get a great design plus for your tiny house- inexpensive stainless countertops.

If you compare used tables to new stainless countertops, you will discover the vast difference in price- a couple hundred for the entire set up as opposed to the THOUSANDS you would spend on the counters alone.  And too, if you wanted to build in cabinets later, viola, stainless countertops are already in place!

Stainless adds to the look of spaciousness, as any reflective or shiny surface increases the feeling of largeness in design. Also, with the undersides being open, this also contributes to the feeling of increased area of the home. Some many not like the idea of the shelves being open underneath, but you cannot have everything…. A solution to this problem would be of course to hang curtains under the counters, English Country Cottage style. Square Baskets- metal weave or other type material, say wicker, would also be a way to hide your bottles and cans in the open shelf underneath.

However you personalize it, used stainless restaurant tables and sinks are a way to have a great look with a fraction of the expense of wooden cabinets. And it is repurposing an item that would definitely inhabit the land fill for a very long time.



© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Tiny House Myth #1- I Cannot Do Tiny Because I Have Kids

On my weekly looong trek to the bank sans vehicle, as I am these days, a bit of the old light bulb came on over my head. Many times I have read something to the effect of, “Of course tiny houses are for singles and close couples,  as families with children would not be able to use them.” Heck, I have even stated this myself on this humble blog!

When said light bulb came on over my head, two things also occurred to me. First I said to myself, “Wow, I have never seen a halogen light bulb over my head before!,” and two, “Why the heck NOT?”

Yep, that is what I said all right, right before the IDEA hit me. OF COURSE YOU CAN- YOU JUST HAVE TO THINK OUTSIDE THE “BOX”!

You see the problem is Dear Reader, we are thinking like STICK BUILT people! We are thinking SQUARE FOOTAGE thoughts and trying to convert them to the new language of TINY. If you ask anyone they will tell you, when you learn a new language you have to think in that language!

So for your consideration, I present to you, The Pod People Concept.

The Pod People do not think about housing as a static situation, but a flowing one that changes with needs to be addressed and then reevaluated as the players age, move or needs change.  So just how would say, a family of four live as Pod People and have a Tiny on Wheels?

Lets start with the “main” tiny house, say 120 square feet. This one has two lofts, like the Slabtown Creations AnneMarie with a loft over the front porch. When the children are really tiny, they need to stay on the first floor, say on a fold out in the main “living” room that converts at night. That is after they have had a crib. Until the child moves around a lot, a cradle is convenient in a loft house. Of course the house should be child proofed and maybe a ladder that pulls completely into the loft would prevent falls from a climbing toddler.  Once the child can be safe to do so, a second tiny house is moved next to the original one. While the main home has a kitchen and full bath, the second may have only a bathroom and the future kitchen area may have desks for study and shelves for extra storage of toys and books. The second tiny could even be made to attach at a side door so the parent is as close, (no a LOT closer), than a regular house.

There is lots of room for the second tiny to become a bedroom with two lofts, and playroom and have a second bath- a luxury many larger houses enjoy. During these years of growing up, these tinies could be altered as needed to accommodate the current desires of the family. Then, when the kids are grown, this tiny house can go with the kids to college and even into beginning a career or family for themselves! A new take on empty nest. Dad pulls up stakes and takes kiddos to college in their own home! Talk about money saving convenience! I know there are considerations that would need addressed, but we are just thinking outside the box here. It is doable!

Then the family is aging. Again needs have changed, kids gone and there needs to be a caregiver for Dad, or Mom gets a job caring for another at their home. Enter the new caregiver cottage, or change it around and Dad stays in the back yard of one of the kids!

You see, the possibilities are endless if you think in POD, instead of PED, (ped- as in FEET- you know…. oh never mind).

© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Taking Some Time, Creativity and a Tiny Rant…

Here at the start of a brand new shiny year, I am poised for what ever comes next. and also taking a little bit of reflective time. I have not truly updated this with any new material for a couple of days, as yesterday I was tweaking the functionality of  this blog that I started as an extension of sister site, mytinyhome.blogspot.com.

I usually start a new year, not by making resolutions, (I see no point in those), but rather by listening. I like to be quiet and form an impression regarding the direction the wind is blowing. So my blog has not really been tended to properly for that reason.

And that dear reader, to me is all about downsizing. When we are caught up in a whirl of meetings, deadlines, schedules and such, there is no time to just reflect and use one’s sensibilities. I do have a goal for this year: simplify. I would love to see my, “bottom line” reduced dramatically. I am tired of the obeisance to Gulf Power, Ma Bell and the Gas company.

And now for the daily RANT!

Ok, Ok, I don’t believe I have ever RANTED on here before, but I feel one coming on. Let me say though, that I am striving to keep both of my blogs free from political input. I do not want for people learning about tiny houses to get the impression that everyone has to feel a certain way about the environment, or the economy, or have a particular political view. I personally come from an artistic, creative, and cant-throw-anything-away, stance. One of my early memories was of me taking the beads out of a bead necklace kit and instead of following the directions, (DIRECTIONS? Are you KIDDING ME?), and making a necklace, I glued the beads on tiny boxes in flower patterns that delighted me.  So all these pieces of things laying around my moderately tiny home need to find a new home or else I just need to go ahead and do all those projects swirling around in my head.


I have decided that I am mad at Career Builder! Take THAT Career Builder! The state of the economy is all YOUR fault! Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for ingenuity. I think that I carefully place everything in the recycle bin instead of the trash can, just because I am so impressed with the folks making cool things out of milk cartons and soda bottles. How is that for American ingenuity? Say WHAT? You have an awesome growing business making cool stuff from JUNK? Awesome. I love it. Ben Franklin loves it. He would make a new proverb just for you today if he were here. But Career Builder I think is responsible for the separating of jobs from those who need them. This disaster was further careened off course by the fact that many jobs can now only be found ONLINE.

Think about it. One day a guy said, “hmmmm,” I think I can make money if I get all of the people who have jobs to have to come to me to advertise. Then, all of the people who need jobs will also find it necessary to use my service! I will make them pay for things like a bank charges fees for things that are really free, and I can make them have to come to my website to find those groovy jobs I tout.”

That man was evil. I don’t know if he realizes it or if he even cares, but now HE has become the owner of the jobs and HE brokers them! The result of this type of business, (people selling things that do not need to be sold), have pushed the job seeking arena further and further into cyberspace that now a person HAS to apply for a vast majority of jobs online. GONE is the personal interview between the nice old man and the fresh out of college nervous wanna be. GONE are the days when the nice old man sees a spark of something he likes in the applicant that makes him want to give the young person a chance. GONE are the days that you can get a job right out of college with a handshake. Now you filter down to the bottom of a virtual application holding pool that only promotes people with a certain number of years of experience. No one else is even seen as they sink downward watching undulating figures in the bright light of the surface and the net is lowered to scoop only those who come up on a SEARCH ENGINE. Two years and thousands of dollars wasted getting the degree for a job you cannot get because the numbers in your online application do not attract the fishing hook lowered by the Human Resources Specialist.

And that, my friend is why America is jobless. Yes I love SIMPLIFYING. Yes I love the businesses that have as raw material that which came from recycled trash. Yes I love repuposing. Because we are still a scrappy bunch that is going to make it through. We just will have to get rid of some stuff….



© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Hello To New Visitors, (which is just about everybody….)

Please excuse the headache inspiring twirl of experimental layouts and designs, etc.

I am trying to get this to the place I like it, and that is a work in progress, so hang on and colors and images will soon stop flashing before your eyes. I promise.

A Look Ahead… 2012

“What is inside you can get you through anything that is outside you.”

Many make New Year’s resolutions and others state what they think is going to happen in the New Year. I want to start this year with a game plan. In light of the recession, unemployment and housing crash of the last two years, I want to put forth the following for your consideration. The world will not blow up, (I hope), if you do not heed my advice, but I do hope that you will in order to be ready to face the next year in the uncertain times in which we live.

The word of the year: FLUID
1. Please lets all make it a priority to get ourselves fluid! This means that we are not so attached to worldly possessions that we are unable to make minute by minute adjustments if necessary.
2. Get out of debt.
3. Got off all forms of dependency on jobs, government or otherwise.
4. A mobile tiny house makes sense. If you can and you do not have a large family, consider it for its affordability and mobility if there should be any social unrest or natural disasters.
5. Consider having supplies on hand in case of the later. I know that in some ways that seems to contradict the “less is more” philosophy I am recommending, but if you think about it, food is more important to have than junk. The whole base of the simplicity movement is to consider what you NEED,  and I would think that food would figure prominently as such.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Full of Light and Love and PEACE….




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A Link to a Brand New Video to Air on BBC

This may give the reader a little more clear picture of what types of dwellings we are discussing on this blog.


What IS a Tiny House?

This is the blog of a Tiny House enthusiast. I LOVE tiny houses! My Blog originated here: http://mytinyhome.blogspot.com/ which I still operate. Someone who gave me feedback about the site stated that he did not actually know what a tiny house is.  So a fitting start to this Shiny New Blog is a definition of what TINY is all about.

In light of the recent economic spiral down, people are beginning to evaluate what they really need to live well.  As housing has crept up feet wise over the last decade, housing prices have sky rocketed forcing families to over-commit themselves fiscally, physically and with their time.   Although smaller dwellings have been the way of life overseas for years, Jay Schafer re-invented tiny, American style, about 12 or so years ago.  For myself and others, it was his Tumbleweeds website that followed his trek across the country living in an 84 sq ft home, that caught my attention.

Tiny homes are built either on a regular foundation or on a trailer which can be towed behind a vehicle. Thus being used more like wooden RVs, they are most often considered as such by insurance providers and local ordinance. Given the tight restrictions placed on stick built houses, the mobile option is the only one viable for most.  This is because the roughly 50-250 square feet contained in many tiny houses is below the local codes for stick built houses to be plumbed and include a kitchen.

These houses are used for a wide variety of purposes. They become terrific vacation aids, retirement cottages, workshops, offices, “personal time” spots and full time residences for singles and couples. There are some cases where small families find them comfortable to share with a kid or two. There are medical purposes, including use as a “therapeutic” playhouse, and also for those who are sensitive to toxic emissions from treated housing materials.

As varied as the purposes these tiny homes are used for, the motive behind seeking this type of shelter also varies.  Many people are building their own from totally recycled and dumpstered materials.  Others save the money to have them built by professionals, but do so to reduce their impact on environment.  Many people do not want to continue to collect “stuff” and just want to simplify.  They are easy to clean, easy on the budget and easy to heat and cool.  They just plain make sense.

For examples of what tiny houses look like, just Google Tiny House.  Jay Schafer has Tumbleweeds, there is a company called, “Portland Alternate Dwellings” (or PAD for short), Scott of Slabtown Tinies is the very most affordable that I am currently aware of, and Dan Louche has recently brought Tiny to Florida.  Tiny Texas uses totally reclaimed materials that are fabulous, and Derek “Deek” Diedricksen, um, well, he just does what he wants. 🙂 There are endless lists of builders and most likely you will find one in your area doing something awesome if you look.  I know I left out most of them, but I hope to include a list on this page with active links for your convenience.

So there you go. You CAN downsize, reduce utilities costs, reduce waste, recycle, live sustainably avoid a mortgage, and live in a home made from the very best materials with low chemical emissions!  Whew! With all of that going for them, I believe tinies are going to be gaining in popularity for a long time…

© Annie Blair and Tiny House Wisdom. WordPress.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.