I’ve just returned from Tumbleweed’s Boulder workshop on tiny houses, along with Joe and Shelby, and I’m savoring some great memories. What can I say? Boulder workshop attendees were just about the luckiest Tumbleweed fans alive. Through a special convergence of events, we were able to see three different tiny houses; a lovely visiting Vardo, the Fencl, and the brand new Cypress 20.
Our weekend started off with local research. On Friday we stopped at the Boulder Land Use Planning Division to ask about tiny houses and cottages. As always, tiny houses are not specifically defined in the existing codes. Cottages should have no problems, but it was explained there wasn’t much available land in Boulder proper. Though we didn’t get any actionable info, the woman we spoke to was friendly and open in her attitude toward our questions, and was very happy to help us track down information. I felt like we accomplished something in the sense of planting the seed in another official’s mind about tiny houses – you never know, she may someday have a chance to influence things.
Then we were off to the Friday night mixer. We all gathered in Coach’s, the sports bar at the Millennium Hotel where the workshop would place. I’d guess about 35 people mingled and got to know us and each other. It was a purely social event, and our common interests and love of tiny houses drew us into great conversations about our favorite topics; cooperative building support, tiny house communities, and the lifestyle shifts that come with downsizing and simplifying.
On Saturday we posted sheets for a mutual contact list, resources and ideas from the audience. Folks were encouraged to put their resources on the list, and their names and info on the contact sheet to be shared among the participants, so they could connect for mutual support, advice and maybe even hands on help. Then we settled down to business and began our step by step tiny houses journey. We started off with the legalities and logistics of tiny house living, then explained about plans and discussed design principles. From there we moved sequentially through the process of building, covering materials and methods for each phase. Just before lunch, we had a short talk from Sarah of Pie it Forward, where she explained her background, her adventures with Chris and their pastry mission. She then graciously allowed the whole workshop group to check out her own tiny house, the Vardo close up. Joe, Shelby, and I fielded a lot of great questions during breaks and Saturday ended with us wrapping up our session on doors and windows.
Sunday we continued our tiny house building journey, and the highlight of the day was the collection of Tumbleweed tiny houses with the Cypress and Fencl arriving in time for the lunch break. It was wonderful to see the excitement in the group observing three different tiny houses at once. Of course the Fencl is a favorite, and it certainly got a lot of attention – but for me the 20 foot long Cypress was a whole new experience and a joy to behold. The new design is lovely; within the popular Fencl exterior it boasts a split bathroom, a great room with a sofa that will soon have a fold down Murphy bed above it, a queen size loft, and a generous kitchen. It includes many of the most requested features we hear about from tiny house fans, and I look forward to seeing how our audience receives and adapts it.
At the end of the say Sunday, Dave Fisher of The Shed Yard in Colorado Springs, Tumbleweed’s approved builder, took over the show for a while to talk about interior finish. It brought a very direct and immediate feel to have a session taught by the guy who just finished building out the tiny houses the audience toured.
It’s always a pleasure to meet tiny house fans, and our audience in Boulder was no exception – we had suggestions, feedback, and participation from so many insightful and passionate people, we came away inspired all over again!
- Pepper Clark
Workshop Presenter & Designer