10 Tiny House Tricks to Declutter Your Kitchen Counter

Tumbleweed Linden Kitchen

In a tiny kitchen, counter space is a luxury and clutter is your enemy. Bare counters are pleasing to the eye and functional for folding laundry, unpacking groceries and food prep. Bulky appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens and coffee machines will quickly consume your counters.

So how do you declutter your counters in a tiny kitchen?

1). Eliminate any gadget that isn’t essential to your daily life. Ask yourself, do I really need a microwave? Do I need it enough to sacrifice the counter space? Do I need it enough to power it with electricity, which might limit my ability to be off-grid? Or, would it be simpler to warm my food on the stove? Key word: SIMPLER. Tiny living is about living a simpler, more fulfilling life. So keep it simple, and try not to overfill your space.

kitchen

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen, which consists of a sink and a 3-burner stove.

2).  Own gadgets / appliances that serve multiple purposes. For example, choose a pot lid that doubles as a strainer. Do you really need a tea kettle (an item that only serves one purpose), or will a pot of boiling water suffice?

3). Consider alternative appliances that consume less space. For example, this AeroPress can be used to make coffee instead of a standard machine. The AeroPress uses zero electricity and is only a fraction of the size of regular coffee machine. As a bonus, the paper filters are tiny and more compact for storage. Consider a french press too!

4). Store “pretty” items high. Having high shelves or hangings baskets can clear your counters and harness the underutilized space above your eye-line. Put your “pretty” items, such as festive plates, wine glasses or Grandma’s pasta maker on a display shelf to double as art. Store your fruits and veggies in a hanging basket. Mount a floating dish rack over your sink. Hang your pots and pans from ceiling hooks

Brittany's Kitchen. Notice the use of the ceiling space & open shelving

5). Hide “ugly” items. There’s no room for the word “ugly” in a tiny house. Place large or ugly appliances under the counter when not in use - such as blenders or toasters, unless they are beautiful to you!

6). Create counter space. Purchase a sink cover, such as a cutting board, that will expand your food prep area. Eliminate the counter space allocated for a stove top by using a portable hotplate that can be stored under the counter when not in use.

Ella's Kitchen. Notice the high corner shelf, the hanging pans and alcohol stove which can be tucked away when not in use.

7). Mount items to the wall. Use hooks to hang your cutting boards. Magnetize your knives to a wood magnetic knife holder and use magnetic spice holders on your refrigerator.

JT's Kitchen. Notice the pots and pans hanging high from a wall mount.

8). Custom containers. Food packaging can be cumbersome and ugly. Why have a box half full of sugar on your counter? Store your flour, sugar, cereal, etc. in small containers or decorative bags that can reduce in size as the food is consumed. Refill as needed.

Mica Kitchen. Notice the small containers that can be refilled.

9). Utilize cabinet doors. An old trick, but a good trick. Mount flat or small utensils to the inside of your cabinet doors instead of using a counter utensil rack. If you have a counter skirt, sew pockets into the material for storage.

Utilize in the inside of cabinet doors. Image credit: here

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen. Sew pockets into your cabinet skirt. 

10). Keep Organized. Keeping your kitchen counters bare and organized should be part of your daily routine. Every new appliance or gadget needs to have an appropriate place in your kitchen. Share your own counter space declutter tips below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — December 04, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Thanksgiving in a Tiny House

Thanksgiving 2013 in Tiny House Giant Journey (under construction)

Can you have dinner guests in a tiny house? Yes, of course. Can you have Thanksgiving Dinner in your tiny house? Well, that depends. When designing your ideal tiny home you’ll need to plan ahead for such occasions.

Kitchen Space and Appliances.

When designing your tiny kitchen, appliances tend to be compact to save space. This might mean that your oven is a wee bit too small to hold an enormous turkey! Of course, you can choose to have full size appliances in your tiny kitchen, but consider the infrequency that you’ll be hosting a large dinner party before cramming those items into your cozy kitchen. Bottom line, your tiny kitchen should be designed for everyday use, not for special occasions.

I suggest asking your dinner guests to bring a dish pre-cooked or try cooking outdoors! Have you ever tried deep frying a turkey outdoors? It's a lot of fun and delicious! You can rent large deep fryers at your local party rental store. Or how about roasting your bird on the BBQ? That's what we did last year.

You might need to get creative, but anything is possible.

Seating.

As with any home, you are limited on the amount of dinner guests you can seat comfortably. In a tiny home your number will be more intimate than the average home, think party of four. We’ve managed to put on a dinner party for five, but it was tight! Our dinning area has a fold down table, a bench and two ottomans. We pulled in one of our lawn chairs for the fifth seat.

Photo credit: Guillaume Dutilh

Embrace your lack of space by making your dinner party informal. It can be fun for some of your guests to eat upstairs, with plates on their laps and feet dangling from the loft. Make your dinner party unique and it will be an event your guests will not forget!

With the above open floorplan there’s enough room in this tiny house for three to eat comfortably at the folding table, while three others can eat in sitting area of the great room!

You can always host an outdoor dinner party (weather permitted). Appetizers and pre-drinks can take place in the standing room of the tiny house and the main course can be served outdoors at a comfortable picnic table. How lovely!

 Photo credit: Outdoor Thanksgiving 

Dinnerware.

Another obstacle you may face is a lack of dishes. After all, being a tiny houser means being a minimalist! Not to worry, you can always ask your guests to BYOB or BYOP (Bring Your Own Bowls of Bring Your Own Plates) and because they’re about to eat dinner in a tiny house, they’ll surely understand.

Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving in a small space? Please share your stories and tips below!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 27, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Dinner in a Tiny House   Dinner Party   Thanksgiving   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Kasl Family Tiny House

You may recognize this tiny house RV from a recent episode on FYI's Tiny House Nation. This 207 square foot RV belongs to the Kasl family of four (that's about 50 square feet per person). Recently we checked in with Kim Kasl to get the scoop on the interior features of this Tiny House RV and to learn how the family manages in a tiny space.

Features of the Kasl Family Tiny House RV:

  • Based on customized Tumbleweed Elm 24 plans
  • Modified to have two sleeping lofts: one used as a master bedroom and the other as a shared bedroom for their two children.
  • An elevated walkway connects the two lofts

Kasl Family Master Loft

 

Hallway Connecting the Two Lofts

 

Kid's Bedroom / Second Loft

"We have a two burner electric stovetop, which is what I wanted and is perfect," Kim explained. "Our fridge is apartment sized and is serving us well. My favorite item in the tiny house is our HUGE sink."  

Winter recently hit this Minnesota based Tiny House RV, and the Kasl family kept their tiny warm with a Kimberly wood stove

"Some people seem to have this expectation that spending extended time (in a tiny house RV) will be traumatic for the kids." Kim remarked. "Sully and Story adore the tiny house! Parenting (in the tiny) is much easier. We’re more connected, cozy, and engaged." 

"I love the ease and the peace." - Kim, in reference to her Tiny House RV

Owning and maintaining a Tiny House RV can come with a learning curve. For instance, Kim had to learn how to use the composting toilet and how to skirt the RV for winter.

"Ryan has a professional career and needs more clothing storage than the rest of us," she said. Kim has his shirts and jackets washed, ironed and put on hangers so Ryan can keep them in his closet at work, freeing up space in their teeny tiny closet.

Kasl Tiny House Bathroom

The Kasl family is also adjusting to a bit of celebrity from their reality tv appearance. Kim shared some hysterical stories about being recognized on the street: "Twice I’ve had moms holding babies come up to me super close and whisper excitedly, 'Do you own a Tiny House!?'  I say 'Yes, would you like a tour!?' which is responded with jumping up and down." 

 The Kasl Family with Tiny House Nation's Hosts. Photo credit: Isanti County News

What's up next for the Kasl family? Well, it looks like they may have caught the tiny house fever! Kim says there has been talks of building another Tiny House RV (or two) when the kids get a little older. "We’re looking forward to building with Sully and Story so they can benefit from the experience," said Kim. 

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*All photos provided by the Kasl family, unless otherwise noted

*See more and read more about the Kasl Tiny House on their blog here.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 21, 2014

Filed under: 24   Elm   Family of Four   Family Tiny House   Kasl Family   Small House Swoon   Tiny Home   Tiny House Nation   Tiny House Swoon   Tumbleweed   Two Lofts  

Tiny House in Austin RV Park

Introducing Eddie, Lacey and their brand new tiny home

Eddie and Lacey have been living in their DIY Cypress 18 for two months, but the tiny house isn't quite complete. "Fortunately the RV park we're at has amenities," Eddie chuckled, admitting that his kitchen and bathroom are still a work in progress. Eddie hopes to have the tiny house officially complete by early 2015.

Unfinished interior shot, prior to move in. Pine panels with white wainscoting

As with most tiny house DIYers, Eddie and Lacey didn't have any construction experience prior to their tiny house build. Eddie attended a Tumbleweed workshop in 2010, purchased a trailer, dvd and plans a few years later and then attended another workshop with Lacey halfway through their build. "The second workshop provided us confirmation that our house was correctly built" Eddie explained, "It also served as a great confidence boost for future work on the house."

Eddie & Lacey's home parked at an RV park near Austin, TX

Eddie and Lacey might be newbies to tiny house living, but they are already reaping major benefits from the lifestyle. Residing full time in an RV park has proven to be affordable way for the couple to live near the hustle and bustle of Austin. The tiny home itself is completely paid off, as they were able to purchase or gather materials as they went along.

Eddie and Lacey pay approximately $350 a month for their RV parking spot, and that includes Wifi, water and power. That's pretty economical when you consider the average rental payment near Austin is currently $1290 a month, and that doesn't usually include utilities. 

"I'm a real estate agent in Texas," said Eddie, "I know tiny living isn't for everyone, but I'm happy to be qualified to show people an alternative to large homes." 

Loft with Dormers

"Living in the tiny house has helped us become more focused and driven to attend to our priorities in life." - Eddie

"In terms of the physical quality of life, it’s comforting to know that even though we have less, we can have the best." - Lacey

Lacey, Eddie and their dog "Clark."

Lacey isn't having any trouble with the extreme downsize: "I’ve always had a very organized mindset, and regularly purged items that just take up space so I’ve been well prepared for tiny living most of my life and didn’t know it." Their chihuahua pup is also reaping the benefits of the tiny life, enjoying frequent walks around the RV park. 

Eddie's heating / cooling system: Ductless Mini Split

Recently, Eddie joined the Tumbleweed team as a workshop host and is looking forward to sharing his story and experiences with other tiny housers.

Eddie & Lacey's Three Pieces of Advice:

1). Don’t expect this to be easy. It certainly is a challenge but there are so many resources and support opportunities to help guide you along the way. The trick is to make it fun and enjoy it. Don’t sabotage yourself.

2)  If there is anything you can do to allow yourself to build indoors, do it. Otherwise, be sure you are prepared for possible weather delays.

3). Give yourself a realistic timeline. It’s easy to want to have it built it a couple months, but if you are inexperienced like we were, you probably can’t expect that much. 

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*Shout out to Lacey's father, Scott, who played a big role in the construction of this tiny house.

*All photos provided by Eddie and Lacey

*See more photos and follow Eddie and Lacey's tiny house here.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 10, 2014

10 Biodegradable Products for Greener Grey Water

*All products in this video are listed below*

Since our travels began on September 2nd 2014, Guillaume and I have been trying to "green" ourselves, starting with our grey water. I'd love to be able to say that all of the products that go down our drain are 100% biodegradable, so I've begun switching out our chemical products for biodegradable alternatives. 

Our Water Set Up

Guillaume and I do not have black water, as we use a composting toilet. Our grey water is the "waste" water coming from our shower and kitchen sink. In a campground, it doesn't matter if it's grey or black, waste water drains into the sewer. When we're off-grid, we use a 15 gallon portable grey water tank, which we can dump at any appropriate place. Until now, the appropriate place has always been the sewer because of the products we use. I'd like that to change.

Tiny House Giant Journey's Hook Ups (bottom left of trailer - blue grey water tank)

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

THGJ Grey Water Set Up

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10 PRODUCTS FOR GREENER GREY WATER:

1) Shampoo* - 365 Lavender Blend / oily + normal hair
2) Conditioner* - Acure Lemongrass + Argon Stem Cell
3) Body Soap* - Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap - Lavender
4) Acne Cream* - 100% Pure Spot Treatment
5) Face Wash* - Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash / Oily & Combo Skin
6) Body LotionDr. Bronner's Magic Lotion - Lavender Coconut
7) Toner* - Acure Facial Toner / Balancing Rose + Red Tea
8) All Purpose Spray* Method All-Purpose Cleaner - Cucumber
9) Dishwashing Liquid* - Ultra Dishmate - Natural Almond
10) Mascara*100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Black Tea Ultra-Lengthening Mascara
*Packaging claims product is biodegradable
*Website claims product is biodegradable
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Where do you find biodegradable products?

It's actually very simple. You can shop online or you can go to a health food store. Whole Foods is a great resource, and usually they have at least one staff member dedicated to help you choose natural products.

How can you tell a product is biodegradable?

Ah yes, well you need to be a chemist. Not really, but this is a little tricky. You could do a massive amount of online research to learn how to decipher ingredient lists, trust the employees at your local health food store or pick products that have "100% biodegradable" or "readily biodegradable" written on the container. This last suggestion will limit you because many products do NOT add the biodegradable categorization to their packaging, even if the product is biodegradable.

100% Biodegradable Label on Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

Do biodegradable products really work?

The easy answer is: Yes. The longer answer is: You need to find the right product for you. I've found some biodegradable products to have a displeasing smell or texture. I had to stop using one shampoo because it actually made my hair feel greasier AFTER the shower. But, for the most part, I've been happy with the products I've chosen. Like anything, it takes time and patience.

Shopping Tips:

1). Some biodegradable products are multi-purpose, like Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. They boast that you can use this soap for 18 different things! As a tiny houser, this is a total win.

2). Home remedies also work! White vinegar and water, mixed together in a spray bottle, is an excellent affordable cleaning solution. Coconut oil is a great moisturizer.

3). Biodegradable products are more expensive, but there are affordable products as well. Choose products with simplistic packaging. Companies that care more about what's inside rather than on the bottle are usually going to gain my respect. You can also look around at your local farmer's market. Often there will be at least one booth for natural soaps, lotions, etc. Ask them if their product is 100% biodegradable.

4). Read the directions. Many natural products are concentrated, therefore you can buy a smaller bottle and it will last you as long as a large chemically-enhanced bottle (another win for tiny housers).

3). As a bonus, many biodegradable products are cruelty-free, vegan, manufactured with renewable energy and contained less cancerous materials.

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HELP ME GREEN MY GREY WATER! 

Okay my green friends, if you have a biodegradable product you'd like to recommend, please comment below!

Let's produce more enviro-friendly products and create less sewage.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — October 30, 2014

Filed under: Biodegradable   Cypress   Giant Journey   Green   Grey Water   Lifestyle   Products   Tiny House   Tumbleweed  

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