Big Thoughts About Tiny Spaces

Last weekend we went to the Tennessee Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga. We didn’t “fall in love” with one single home, which is how I know this recently resurrected idea of ours might actually have some traction this time.

This time? Yes, in 2015, we met Scotty and immediately fell in love. Scotty was a vintage 22-foot travel trailer in need of a little TLC…or so it said in the ad. At the time, we were so caught up in our grand ideas that we didn’t think much about the practical aspects of RV living or the problems one might encounter when dealing with a 30-year-old trailer and quite quickly we came to realize that TLC more aptly meant “Totally Lost Cause”.

For anyone who followed us back then, you know that adventure was sidetracked and we ended up staying put in Tennessee to help my mom. For anyone who wasn’t with us then and is interested in knowing what happened, here’s a good place to start.

What we learned from our flirtation with tiny living back then was that we had the specs right but our method was wrong. In short, we would have been better off with a tiny house in a permanent location than trying to haul a leaky hunk of aluminum all over creation with a mid-size SUV and a super-size cat.

Which brings us to the present…

We constantly toss around the idea of putting a tiny house in my mom’s backyard. Our city recently revised zoning to allow for tiny houses on permanent foundations. While we’re not yet sure what that means for tiny houses as accessory dwellings in a residential area, we’re still pretty excited by the progress and are finding the topic of tiny living coming up much more often.

A good example of a bad ladder.

As we toured the tiny houses at the festival (all of which were on wheels), we oohed and aahed along with everyone else while also having a serious conversation about the practicality of tiny living. We decided some things were just a non-starter…like a loft bedroom that is only accessible by ladder. We’re not old by any stretch of the imagination but we are over 40 and falling headfirst down a ladder during a midnight potty run is not high on our list of fun things to do at night. Besides proper stairs, our other “must haves” include: a combo washer/dryer, a covered porch, and off-grid plumbing and electricity.

We saw several homes that partially met this criteria but none that ticked all the boxes (as they say on HGTV’s House Hunters). So what does this mean for us? I’m not sure yet. We are in our current lease until next summer so we have plenty of time to flesh out a proper plan to go tiny should we decide to move in that direction. In the meantime, we still need to find out if a tiny house in the backyard is even legal here. I’ve also suggested we find a tiny house rental through Airbnb and try that for a week – not during vacation but during a regular work week. A trial run is something we should have considered two years ago. I can’t help but think of the headaches it would have saved!

Could you live in a tiny house? What are your “must haves” to give tiny living a go?

Here are some of our favorite elements from the Tennessee Tiny House Festival.

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#5TF: Maintenance Woes

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 9 – August 19 – 25, 2017

You might say that this week’s theme was “home repairs” or rather “how many times can you call maintenance in one week??”. It all started with the strange circle that appeared on our bedroom ceiling (definitely evidence of a leak) and progressed to our fire alarm going off for (what seemed like) no reason at all. Turns out the two were related. When maintenance replaced the HVAC unit upstairs earlier in the week, the drain line wasn’t properly installed and it began leaking into our ceiling and consequently, into the smoke alarm. It’s always fun to twist off a screaming smoke detector only to get a face full of water!

To add insult in injury, we opened our water bill for the month only to find that it was nearly triple what it usually is. We pay a set rate for water, sewer, trash and pest control each month – usually $33.68 for up to 1,800 gallons of water. This bill was $82.23. The kicker of this part of the story is that we were making a conscious effort to be more conservative with water this month! We used the dishwasher only 6 times and washed only 9 loads of laundry in a month, and that doesn’t even include our shortened shower times, so we knew there was no way we’d used 8,800 gallons of water. Prior to our conservation effort, we only ever went over the 1,800 gallon mark once and that was when we had guests.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was planning a weekend getaway with my mom and Angie. Next month we are all going to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, TN. It was fun to sit around together talking about what we wanted to see and do and where we wanted to stay. We haven’t been on a trip together since May when we went camping in Kentucky so we are all looking forward to the getaway. And who knows, we may find that tiny “dream house” (on wheels!) that we’ve talked about for years now.

I am grateful for the farmers who provided our great CSA baskets this season. We picked up our last Wednesday basket earlier this week and we’ll pick up our last Saturday basket tomorrow. We’ve gotten some really great fruits and veggies, in addition to getting to know some great folks at the Farmer’s Market. We’re very grateful to have a freezer stuffed full of goodies for the winter – corn, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, blueberries, blackberries, carrots, peppers of all sizes, tomatoes, and even a few bags of cauliflower rice.

I need to let go of checking on my niece and the baby every five minutes. Okay, so maybe it’s more like every few hours, but still, it is something I need to stop doing. They are still homeless, couchsurfing at the moment from friend to friend, and my niece has made it pretty clear that they do not want our help. I would admire the “can do” attitude if it were actually there but at this point it’s more about her just not wanting to get a job or live by the rules of our home than it is about her actually wanting to make it on her own. So, I need to let that go of that and focus on things I can change for a while.

We made progress on side hustles and trying new things this week. We surpassed our October vacation savings goal by $10 but have decided to keep working a few easy side hustles to save for other trips down the road. In fact, Angie is off right now doing an Easy Shift. As for trying new things, we downloaded a yoga app to Roku and gave that a shot on Monday. Though this particular video wasn’t for me, I agreed to try another one tomorrow. Angie has been using the app regularly all week (but then again, she does enjoy exercise more than I do…probably more than most people do).

The funniest thing that happened this week involved yet another repair job. We were on our way to mow Mom’s yard yesterday when we passed by a new shop that repairs mowers. I offhandedly joked that since we sold the Xterra and couldn’t tow a trailer anymore, it would probably be easier to just ride the mower up to this shop if we needed to have it repaired. For the rest of the drive to Mom’s house, we laughed and joked about how we’d wear costumes and wave at passersby as we made our way through town on the mower. Angie even suggested we toss out candy or hand out bottles of water. When we got to Mom’s, I hopped on the mower and what do know…the cable that engages the blades broke when I moved the lever! So I guess sometime tomorrow you should look for two superheroes riding a Murray lawnmower through the streets of Gallatin, TN.

On another note, a friend of ours was inspired by my post on redesigning our dining room and decided to do something different with hers this week. Our friend has two sons (ages 11 and 14). The boys have been complaining about sharing a room so my friend decided to convert her dining room into a bedroom for her youngest son, who happens to be a Yankees fan as you’ll see. Since they live in an apartment and can’t put up an actual wall, she purchased two utility shelves to separate the space from the living room and backed those with curtains. She says the shelves will serve as storage for her husbands work and play gear. I don’t have a “before” photo but picture a typical dining room with a large farmhouse table. I think it turned out rather well!

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