Hi, my name is Lora, and I have been living tiny for a little over a year now. I purchased my Tumbleweed Cypress in September of 2014, and I absolutely love it!
I am currently living in Georgia at a wonderful RV park that allows full-time residents. One of the advantages of having a custom built Tiny House RV from Tumbleweed, is that I am RIVA certified. I was able to title and tag my Tiny House RV just like a traditional RV and have had no issues with the park where I am.
I am always excited when I get to share my experiences with other people who are interested in this lifestyle. Today I wanted to share 10 lessons with you that living tiny has taught me: Part 1!
1. Living tiny has helped me differentiate between NEEDS and WANTS
I have always been a simplifier and organizer, and I never really considered myself much of a shopper, but boy was I wrong!Once I went tiny, I realized how much of what I purchased didn’t actually add value to my life.It was kind of an alarming and depressing realization.On the upside, downsizing has made me much more intentional about the things I buy.I now have a solid routine in place for each trip to the store that helps me decide if I truly “need” something or if I just “want” it and whether or not an item is worth the purchase.
Before you go tiny, get in the habit of looking at every purchase.Ask yourself the following questions:Does this add value to my life?Is this item really necessary?Do I have room for it in my new space?These are questions I never really considered before I moved into my Tiny House RV, but they have become key components of every shopping trip I make.Now that isn’t to say, I don’t still splurge on pure “wants,” it’s just that now when I purchase something I can tell you how it’s going to add value to my life and that has made all the difference in the world.
2. Living tiny has changed my perspective on space
If you had ask me a year ago if my Tumbleweed would fundamentally change me, I’m not sure how I would have answered. However, after a year in my Tiny House RV, I realize that it has made me more conscious of how I use space and certainly more appreciative of what I actually need and want to be comfortable in terms of square footage.
If you are just starting out on your tiny house journey, make sure you take the time to analyze how you use your current space and how you want to use future space. Make a list of the activities you want to do in your space and make sure you match your smaller living space with your “must have” list. And the next time you are traveling take the time to pay attention to the space you use in your temporary home. Is it all really necessary? Is there anything you can do without? Taking the time to notice the space around you, will help you immensely when it’s time to design your space and make the transition to a smaller home.
3. Living tiny has encouraged me to spend less
Closely related to the first two lessons, living tiny has encouraged me to spend less.I spend less partly because I have less space, as I mentioned earlier, smaller spaces encourage more intentional purchases.The fact that I try to determine if an item is truly going to add value to my day-to-day life before I buy something has greatly reduced impulse purchases.I am much less likely to roam the aisles of a major superstore now than I was before I moved.Again, the mindset adopted from asking myself if each purchase adds value (and fits into my space!) has made me less likely to spend money on things I don’t really need or want.
I am also no longer in a constant state of “upgrading and updating” my home.When I lived in my townhouse, I was always spending money on the next project.However, when I went tiny, I was able to hire Tumbleweed to build my house exactly like I wanted.This alone has saved me thousands of dollars in renovation costs on my “traditional home.”Ask yourself the following questions:How much would I save if I wasn’t always trying to update my current space?How much do I spend on non-essential decorative items in my current space?What do I truly need for my home to feel like “home”?Asking these questions now can help you save money in the future.
4.Living tiny has helped me escape the
Before I downsized, a considerable amount of my monthly income went to housing expenses.These included my mortgage payment, home owners association fees, utilities, upkeep and maintenance on my primary home.I could afford these things, but I never felt like I could get ahead with my monthly budget.
Living tiny has allowed me to cut my actual living expenses by more than half, which has freed up a considerable chunk of change each month.I have been able to use this money to pay-off debt, save in my emergency fund and have more fun!Spend some time to understand your expenses if you downsized.How much could you save?How else could you spend that money to help you create the life you really want to live?Taking some time to estimate expenses now and in the future can give you a head start in deciding if downsizing is right for you from a financial perspective.
5.Living tiny has simplified my wardrobe
One of the challenges of living tiny is the lack of storage space.Although my Tumbleweed has some amazing storage features, it still required a big shift in the amount of stuff I owned.When I downsized I offloaded more than 80% of my possessions in a little less than two months.As you can imagine, that was a big adjustment!
Probably the biggest adjustments, besides getting rid of most of my books, was the change from a walk-in closet to a much smaller closet.I now have 36” of closet space (gigantic by many tiny space standards!), which required a well-thought out strategy on purchasing and wearing clothes.To make the transition somewhat easier, I measured out the amount of hanging space I knew I would have in my smaller space before I ever downsized.I spent the time literally measuring the clothes I owned to determine what I could keep and what I needed to get rid of before I could transition to a smaller space.As with most things, I realized how many clothes I owned that I never really wore.I am actually in the process of simplifying my wardrobe even more by following the 333 project.If you know clothes might be a challenge for you if you downsize, consider checking out this challenge.
While I still don’t consider myself a true minimalist (I still own way too many books, dishes and duvet covers to be considered a minimalist), I am much more thoughtful about the stuff in my home, particularly my clothes.Take an honest look at your clothes and donate the stuff you don’t currently love and wear.
Last week we posted a Guide to Window Design for Tiny House RVs, which explains the visual aesthetics you should consider for your window placement and size. What about functionality?Your windows need to be beautiful but also: stable, moisture resistant and rated for your particular needs. In this article, we discuss how to choose and purchase the perfect windows for your Tiny House RV.
TINY BUILD TIP: Before ordering your windows, make sure you are ordering the ROUGH OPENING sizes and that you give yourself 6-8 weeks of lead time.
1). Decide on your Window Functionality
How do you want your windows to function vs. how much you want to spend. Picture windows (or windows that do not open) will be the cheapest option. For functioning windows, single hung are going to be the cheapest, while casement are usually the most expensive. The window brand we recommend is Jeld-wen.
The type of windows you choose is completely dependent on your preference and budget. Most Tiny House RV owners like to be consistent with their window functionality placement. For example, you might choose awning windows for you loft and casement windows for your bay windows.
Think about cross breeze, rain and ventilation. Two casement windows placed opposite each other will provide a strong cross breeze. Awning windows can be left open or cracked when it's raining. Choosing to have a variety of functioning windows, but being consistent with their placement, could benefit your overall window design.
Russ used stained glass overlay on several windows in his gypsy wagon. The overlay is etched so that it has the texture of real stained glass.
Special shaped windows, custom sizes and grids will cost you extra. We do not recommend stained glass windows for those traveling with their Tiny House RV because they tend to be fragile, expensive, single pane and not compatible with tempered glass. Instead, try stained glass overlay or window film.
2). Moisture Resistance Ability
In a tiny space, moisture can be problematic. Not all windows are created equal when it comes to moisture resistance. Aluminum windows are inexpensive, but they are prone to condensation. Vinyl windows are the most resistant to moisture, but they are generally not as visually stunning.
We recommend aluminum clad windows because they are beautiful, long lasting and a good middle ground for moisture resistance. You still may need to do some maintenance to ensure moisture does not become a problem (this can be the case will all windows in Tiny House RVs). Aluminum clad windows are more expensive than other windows, but replacing an inadequate window can be time consuming and expensive as well.
3). Insulation Value
We do NOT recommend single pane windows to be used in Tiny House RVs. In most cases low-e double pane windows will be enough of an insulator for your windows, but in extreme weather destinations (such as Alaska), triple pane is worth the extra cost.
4). Tempered glass
Any structure that is traveling down the road should have tempered glass windows. We also recommend shutters (or a protective piece of plywood) be attached on the windows on the tongue side of your trailer.
5). Altitude Rating
Similar to when you ears pop due to change of air pressure, windows are sensitive to changes in elevations. If you do NOT plan on moving your Tiny House RV, you can purchase windows that are rated for the altitude in which you are located.
If you plan on traveling with your Tiny House RV, we recommend purchasing high altitude windows. If you do NOT choose high altitude windows, and you travel to a high elevation, you are risking seal breakage from the pressure difference. If this happens, your windows will fog and collect moisture between panes, and you will need to replace them.
At Tumbleweed, we outfit all of our fully built Tiny House RVs with high altitude windows because they are built in our workshop in Colorado Springs, at 6,000 feet.
Save money with reclaimed windows!
Aside from your trailer, windows will be the most expensive purchase for your Tiny House RV. Sourcing reclaimed windows is a great money saving option, but we caution you to consider all of the above variables. If you're interested in reclaimed windows, check Habitat for Humanity or ask for materials being thrown away at a local construction site.
Deek Deirdrickson explains the benefit of working with reclaimed windows:
Today we are going to discuss three design elements you should consider for the windows in your Tiny House RV: PROPORTION, BALANCE and SYMMETRY.
Proper PROPORTION can make all the difference
Consider the photo above of a Tumbleweed Cypress. The windows are in correct proportion to each other, the size of the structure, and the front door. It's pleasing to the eye.
As you can see, we've now changed the proportion of the windows. The result is less pleasant.
The front bay windows are very small and odd looking. The side windows are large, creating improper proportion to the front door and the overall structure. Making your windows too large can also compromise the structural integrity of the RV and decrease your R-Value.
Create BALANCE in your Window Design
It's important to be consistent with proportion, the amount of windows and their symmetry to create balance in your window design.
Windows attract the eye, so it's important to distribute them evenly. In the above example, the balance of window versus open space is inconsistent. You don't want to have five windows on the left side of your Tumbleweed and only two windows on the right side.
Can you guess why the next example is NOT as well balanced as the original?
The bay windows are centered in the above photo, yet the effect is not quite as charming as the original Tumbleweed Cypress. Why? It has to do with the front door. The front door in this design has a window, so it should be counted in the overall window design. The bay windows have too much open space on either side in comparison to the space around the door window. Therefore, the balance is imperfect.
Don't Forget Symmetry!
To achieve symmetry in your window design, draw an imaginary line down the center axis of your Tiny House RV. As you can see in the above photo of a Tumbleweed Elm, the windows on either side of the center line are a mirror image of each other. The windows are completely symmetrical.
"You can also have a near or approximate symmetry in your design. Here there is no mirror image, but the masses placed on one side of the axis are roughly copied on the other side. There may be side extension that is different than its cousin on the other side, but they are of similar shape and size."Source
The Tumbleweed Cypress is an example of approximate symmetry. In order to counteract the asymmetry of the door placement, a hip dormer is centered over the bay windows. Therefore, the window design is not a mirror image along the center axis, but the visual weight is counterbalanced by the doorway and dormer symmetry.
Next we'll discuss window functionality, specifically for Tiny House RVs!
John Ericson and his wife, Linda, spend six months of the year traveling around the world. How do they do it? They travel in style with their incredible homemade house truck!
John and Linda have built twelve homemade campers in the last 35 years, each time improving on the design and functionality. Currently they use a renovated bus for temporary living in Alaska and a wooden house truck for adventuring around the world.
John & Linda's Renovated Bus based in Alaska
John & Linda's House Truck
Built on the chassis of a Mitsubishi, Fuso, the Ericson's house truck features a spacious kitchenette with an apartment size propane refrigerator, sleeping space for three and a propane heater. The house truck is outfitted with a small RV toilet. For showering, they have an innovative outdoor shower setup.
John and Linda's house truck has an impressive amount of storage for such a tiny space!
"We can go about a month without grocery shopping," John explained while showcasing the many hidden compartments in his homemade camper. Linda labels everything and plans their meals in a systematic fashion. Organization is so important in Tiny House RVs!
Other features of the Ericson's house truck include: a fresh water tank and solar power. The couple enjoys the flexibility of their off-grid camper. They can adventure anywhere, without the need to plug-in or stay at expensive campgrounds!
Wooden awnings flip out over the windows for shade, while two skylights offer plenty of natural light indoors. The dutch-style front door is a creative touch and allows for proper airflow in the warmer seasons.
“I just try to keep moving for as long as I can.”
– John Ericson
Where has their house truck taken them?
The Ericsons have driven over 133,000 miles in their homemade house truck in the past five years, and most of the time, Linda likes the drive. Recent road trips include: Baja, Mexico, South America and Russia.
Wes Sekeres enjoys small spaces but found it challenging to design a Tiny House RV for his tall frame - 6'4." He, like many others, was initially worried about feeling claustrophobic or cramped in less than 250 square feet.
"It was a necessity for me that the bathroom FEEL big; that the kitchen FEEL big; that the living area FEEL big." - Wes Sekeres
In order to achieve his open and spacious design, Wes decided to build his tiny sanctuary on Tumbleweed's new Low-Wider trailer, which maximizes height and width by building around the wheel wells.
Wes's Tiny House RV features white walls and a simple shed roof
Wes noted that attending last year's Tiny House Jamboree was really helpful in his design process. At the event, he was able to tour multiple designs, speak with builders and ask questions.
He recalls discussing his plans with Tumbleweed workshop host, Mario Soto and other Tumbleweed employees at the Jamboree. "I wanted to consider everything," Wes explains."They were very helpful."
Wes's stunning kitchen features a full size refrigerator, full-range stove and gorgeous royal blue countertops
"I love that other people love it! I'm big on hospitality, so it's nice to have a Tiny House RV that others find unique and exciting." - Wes Sekeres
One item that Wes really wanted in his design was a tile bathroom. Many Tiny House RV owners shy away from tile due to weight, expense and durability on the road. This is also why drywall is not recommended for many Tiny House RV designs. That being said, can you have tile and/or drywall in your Tiny House RV? Of course! Wes researched a variety of products and chose a tile that is extra durable and lighter than many others on the market.
Wes has subway tile on the back wall of his tiny bathroom and his entire shower. His contemporary interior design gives his Tiny House RV a "big city" feel.
"My Tiny House RV is a perfect blend of two things I really love: a simple life and custom carpentry." - Wes Sekeres
To learn more about Tumbleweed's Low-Wider trailer, and other trailer designs, click here