Zee’s Tiny Classroom On Wheels

Tiny homes are versatile. While many use them as permanent minimal dwellings, others convert small shelters into gorgeous guest homes, lucrative vacation rentals, backyard offices, or tiny traveling solitudes. So, how about a tiny mobile classroom?

Zee Kesler is an artist and educator-in-training residing in Vancouver - a city known for having the second MOST expensive housing in the world according to a recent U.S. Think-Tank survey. She found it hard to find a permanent residence while attending school, and so last summer Zee attended Tumbleweed’s 2-day Tiny House Workshop with Derek “Deek” Diedricksen presenting. “I had so many questions,” said Zee. “And I really loved hearing Deek talk about salvaging, because I’ve always been good at resourcing materials.” From that moment on, Zee was hooked. She bought plans to build her own Cypress, not for a permanent dwelling, but instead this education-lover intends to construct a mobile community classroom.

Unique, you betcha! But this isn’t Zee’s first experience in portable education. She is also co-founder of MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels, a traveling classroom/hackspace/art studio in the back of a converted cube van. Her tiny house will be an appendage to this idea, but with more amenities and better insulation.

Zee hopes to fit 8-10 foldout desks inside her future modified Cypress, with classes available for payment-in-trade (meaning you can pay with cookies, a t-shirt, or anything deemed worthy)! Some example subjects offered in the tiny classroom include: sewing, cooking, yoga, meditation, sculpting, origami, foreign languages, etc. All classes will have a qualified instructor, and Zee will organize and manage the entire operation.

That’s the goal, but this tiny houser is just getting started. Zee purchased a trailer this week and is currently resourcing salvaged materials. The build begins soon, but she just can’t help it - Zee wants to makes her Cypress’s construction an educational experience as well! “I hope to hire carpenters, roofers, plumbers, and electricians that will lecture as they build the house. “ Zee explains. She might even have the students build a miniature Cypress for some hands-on experience. That’s right: a miniature tiny house! “When I was at the Tumbleweed workshop I know a lot of people left wanting to build a tiny house, but didn’t have the resources. I want to share my build to help the tiny house community. This way, we can all learn together.”

Zee's build will begin in July and August. If you are in or around Vancouver area and would like to stay in the loop, join the mailing list found on her blog and/or support her here.

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Top Artwork by Brian Archer

Center Photo & Bottom Layout Artwork by Zee Kesler

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — May 27, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   classroom   diy   Events   See a Tiny House   small house   Tumbleweed  

Step Inside a Tumbleweed Cottage

Take a tour of this adorable 600 square foot home in Little Rock, customized from Tumbleweed Whidbey plans. 

Video courtesy of P. Allen Smith Garden Home

They might have the smallest house on the block, but one thing's for sure: Lyndsey and Tom's tiny cottage packs a lot of punch! As you float through the entrance, prepare yourself to be enthralled by a plethora of eclectic decor. From the vibrant couch pillows to the cozy lofted workspace, these tiny housers have created a feast for the eyes in this lovable little shelter. 

Notice how the white paneling elongates the room, while a clever use of storage gives the couple's home a wide open feel. "Little House in Little Rock" is colorful, quirky, and classy all at the same time. As Lyndsey describes her house in detail, with materials partly coming from salvaged resources, it's obvious that this tiny houser has a special connection with her abode. A bond that only few home owners will ever know. That's truly the spirit of tiny living! 

The house glows as sunlight beams through a multitude of windows and skylights. Storage was a priority for the couple, and the house has no shortage of cubbies and shelves. But the space that really steals the show, is the couple's gorgeous open kitchen

At Tumbleweed we're always amazed at what "build-it-yourselfers" can do with our plans.

Our homes come in two categories:

  1. Our "House To Go" is on wheels and range from 117 to 172 square feet. 
  2. Our "Cottages" (shown here) are built on foundations and range from 261 to 884 square feet

After seeing Lyndsey and Tom's customizations, we felt inspired! One of our Whidbey layouts now reflects their idea of an open kitchen, which we absolutely adore! 

While the average home is triple its size, "Little House in Little Rock " perhaps has the bigger heart. Thanks to Lyndsey and Tom for inviting us into their charming home and for inspiring us with their tremendous creativity. 

Catch up with the Arkansas tiny home couple on their blog

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    Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — May 12, 2014

    Filed under: Build it yourself   cottage   design   diy   home design   look inside a tiny house   small house   tiny home   tiny house   tiny house decorating  

    Erin & Pete's Tiny Farm House

    Many tiny housers fantasize about being completely self-sustainable or “living off the land” but never have the resources to reach that goal. Enter Erin and Pete, a tiny house couple with a drool-worthy 40 acre dream.

    With backgrounds in wildlife biology and forestry, the duo spent several years traveling and living on the road. When they finally decided to settle down, they returned to their home state, Michigan, and began the search for their forever home. Erin remembers one open house in particular with an enormous basement. “If we live here, we’re gonna fill this basement with stuff we don’t need,” she recalls saying to Pete. The couple had been considering a tiny house for years, but it was only in that moment that they decided to make their dream a reality.

    In May 2012 Erin and Pete bought Tumbleweed Fencl plans (now known as Cypress) and began their build with little to no experience. Two years later, the build continues at Erin’s mother’s house, over an hour drive from their apartment.

    “We make the trip almost every weekend to work on the house,” says Erin, “But we have to be done by winter.” With the exterior complete, the tiny house just received a heavy dose of wool insulation - a necessity for Michigan winters. Erin hopes to have their interior cedar panelling up in the next few weeks, as long as the weather is compliant. 

    Erin & Pete with their tiny house after a snowstorm. Photo credit: Big Lake Tiny House

    But what the twosome is really excited for, is the next big move. Recently Erin and Pete purchased 40 acres in Chatham, Michigan. The plan is to move onto the property this summer with the almost complete tiny house, building as they go. The ultimate goal? A fully operational farm complete with: dairy cows, chickens, pigs, bees, a veggie garden, and sugar maple trees (which already occupy half the property)!

    The couple also aspires to build a barn for the animals and a structural bath house. “We love to cook.” Erin explained, “A separate bath house will free up space to accommodate a large kitchen.” Plumbing in the tiny house will be minimal, the stove and heater will be propane, and electricity will run off solar power.  

    With their outdoorsy backgrounds and ambitious attitude, we bet Erin and Pete will have a cozy tiny house cloaked in a beautiful farm before long!

    Look for updates on Erin and Pete’s tiny house here.

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    Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — May 05, 2014

    Filed under: Farm   Forestry   House   house plans   Lifestyle   Michigan   Sustainable   Tiny   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny Houses   tiny kitchen   Tumbleweed Cypress   Wildlife  

    Composting Toilets - DIY Bucket

     

    As a newbie tiny house builder - currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress - I eventually found myself stuck at the crossroads, looking down two narrow paths and forced to make the “big decision”: compost or flush?

    First I plugged into cyberspace and watched a variety of informational videos on human waste (yep, that's my life now). I learned that by choosing a composting toilet, I would be picking the greener alternative while decreasing my utility costs and eliminating my need for a black water tank. All good things! So the choice was made - compost - but I feared that this decision was perhaps my gutsiest thus far in the build.

    I turned left at the crossroads, onto Humanure Boulevard. It was then that I realized my decision wasn't complete; there are countless composting toilet options including manufactured and build-it-yourself units. 

    Which head was to be my maiden throne? How do I take care of the waste? And, perhaps the most important question of all, will it stink? I needed an education in composting. 

    Compost 101: my first homework assignment was to research the “build-it-yourself” compost toilet option. I had heard good things at the Tumbleweed Workshop from the presenter, Ella Jenkins. She’s a young, hip chick that built her own tiny house. If she can do it, well maybe I could too...

    Photo courtesy of Ella Jenkins

    Photo by Wolfgang Berger via https://flic.kr/p/asSFkE

    Bucket & Sawdust “Do-It-Yourself” Unit

    - $25 - $50 to construct using a 5 gallon bucket from any hardware store.

    - Usage requires placing a scoop of sawdust or peat moss in the bottom of the bucket and in between each use. Empty as needed.

    PROS: I could toss out my plunger! It’s small, simple, inexpensive, self-contained, and very manageable. No sewage. No water usage.

    CONS: Unlike many manufactured compost toilets, this simple bucket unit would not include luxurious perks such as: 1) a ventilating fan, 2) a concealing screen (to block the sight of any.. unmentionables), and 3) a urine diverter.  I never thought that urine would play the role of “stench culprit” in this performance, but some believe that mixing the liquids and solids is the source of all-that-is-smelly in a compost toilet.

    So, like any rational person without composting experience, I feared my tiny home would reek like a cattle pasture after a fresh rain... that is, until I found a few solutions to the dreaded liquid/solid conundrum. One is to have two toilets: one for liquids and one for solids. Another is to purchase a urine diverter from a manufacturer. 

    But what about the other perks you get with a manufactured compost toilet? Watch out for my follow up post, as my education continues and I make a final decision! 

    Compost toilet photo (open) by Wolfgang Berger 

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    Jenna Spesard is a tiny house builder and writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

    Written by Jenna Spesard — April 30, 2014

    Filed under: Compost Toilet   Composting   Jenna Spesard   Tiny Bathroom   Tiny Home   Tiny Homes   Toilet  

    No Power - No Problem

     photo by Magnus Bråth

    Nicole is completely off grid in British Columbia

    I dropped off the power grid fifteen years ago and have never plugged back into it. It didn't happen out of personal disgust with the utilities company, nor because of a violent urge to “go green”--the cabin I rented in northwestern Canada was simply past the reach of power lines. Having to choose between creating my own miniature power grid with solar panels, batteries, and a generator at the expense of a couple thousand bucks or keeping my money and doing without, I chose to do without. And what I discovered wasn't a life of hardship—I found out that living without electricity is not only incredibly cheap, it also instills a great sense of freedom.

    Appliances and electronic gadgets not only suck power out of the socket, they have the same effect on my wallet. First they have to be bought, then they break down and need to be replaced, and the whole time, I need to cater to their electricity addiction. Being able to unplug, period, freed me from that cycle. My home wasn't filled with the constant noise of the radio and hum of a fridge, the glow of my laptop, lights being switched on and off, and the phone ringing (there were no phone lines or cell phone signals at the place). My home was filled with peace and quiet.

    Having no source of electricity at home didn't turn me into a stone age hermit. Since I worked in town, I had access to phones and the internet there. It dawned on me that it's possible to make use of even more things. So I bought a little AAA and AA battery recharger to plug in at work—this enabled me to keep my headlamp supplied with power throughout the winter. Not only that, I could even indulge in listening to the odd music CD at home now (remember personal disc players?). Because the batteries didn't last very long, listening to music became a real occasion. I now knew and savored the luxury of having music.

    There was obviously no washer and dryer at my place, but doing laundry was easily done at the laundromat in town. Making do without a fridge and freezer was a more tricky issue. I was able to share freezer space with plugged-in friends, and a camping cooler underneath my floorboards did an okay job at keeping groceries fresh. When it was really hot, I simply bought groceries more often. And substituting kerosene lamps for light bulbs was a no-brainer. More luxury crept into my home in the form of a wind-up radio, but since it requires physical effort, my radio program consumption went the way of music: it became a conscious choice, and I would actually listen.

    And so it went for seven years, until I dropped even further off the grid by moving to a fly-in location. Check back here for tried and true tips for living the good life, unplugged.

    Written by Guest Blogger — April 24, 2014

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