Daily Life Small Homes

Small Home Alternatives

I’m beginning to wonder if my ongoing posts of renovation angst are beginning to grow a bit stale. Since that’s where a great deal of my time and energy have been going, I’ve had trouble motivating to write about anything else. But one thing that continues to fascinate me without fail is reading about the creative solutions other small-housers have come up with.

So, while I continue to slog away at making my own place habitable, I plan to post brief write-ups every Friday morning on a variety of other small home examples.

Perhaps one of the most unusual solutions Ive read about recently is a gentleman whose decided to live in a seriously modified interior of a garbage truck. I love how hes cleverly incorporated a sleeping loft, storage cabinets, a kitchen, and a work area into a limited amount of space. Plus, the concept of recycling a garage truck, of all things, makes me grin from ear to ear.


Changes to the Home

Well, so much for my good intentions to at least have an entry every Friday. My work-life got insanely crazy working with banks right now will do that to you and I am more than a little behind on updates on the house. Please bear with me while I try to catch back up

Three weeks ago I spent the week up in Oregon so that I could meet and discuss siding,windows, roofing, and colors. He very wisely insisted that I come up and eyeball what he thought I’d probably want in the way of colors for the new roof and siding.

I had picked out a color scheme a few months back and sent him the make/model numbers for the siding and roof colors I’d selected. Naturally, since nothing about my remodel can go as simply as initially planned, I had picked out a different brand of siding than what Kenny actually wanted to use.

He did his best to match the colors, but they didn’t exactly sync up. And then I exercised my prerogative and changed my mind which complicated matters further. (Hey, at least I changed my mind before we bought materials or started putting them on the house.)

I’m using vinyl siding that is meant to look like cedar shake in a color called “cedar sunset”. The shake-style siding is considerably more expensive than regular siding. However, one of the advantages of having a tiny place is the impact of using higher-end materials in not nearly as dramatic to the total costs as it would be in a larger home.

One can argue that vinyl isn’t all that high end, but there’s no way I’m going with traditional shakes when wood rots as quickly as it does on the water. Ive taken a good look at some of my neighbors places that are covered with actual cedar shake and Ive got a sneaking suspicion I know where my former flying squatters may have relocated to.

Since I was already ripping the siding and walls off the house, I got into the spirit of things and decided to replace the battered metal roof as well. The roof will remain green, but is going to be a slightly darker shade than what is on there now. The manufacturer has very creatively named the color “forest green”.

Trim along the edge of the roof and the new railing on the rooftop deck will be done in white. We’ll have to see how it turns out, but I’m thinking it should be nice.

I have to say I was excited when I received photos from Kenny of the siding in progress. The place is starting to actually look and feel somewhat house-like again.


The Unique Phoenix Earthship

My mother was recently out to visit me in New Mexico. Shes always wanted to see Taos, so I planned an overnight trip for the two of us while she was here. As fascinated as I am by earthship designs, I decided to book our overnight stay in the Earthship, perhaps best described as the Ritz Carlton of earthships.

Considering the place is currently for sale for $1.5 M, the cost of a nightly rental is quite reasonable. You can rent the smaller West Wing, which consists of a bedroom, bathroom, and sunroom for $100 or the East Wing which includes two bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, central lounge area, and two bedrooms for $150. The two sides of the house both have access to the atrium which is perhaps the most spectacular feature of the house. You also have the option of renting the whole place for $250 per night. Even if you were to rent the full place, prices are very reasonable compared to more traditional hotel rooms in the city. And the Earthship is, hands down, far cooler than anything you will find in town.

The atrium was probably my favorite feature. It consists of a small jungles worth of plants, a pond stocked with Tilapia and turtles, and a small flock of parrots which fly freely about. The sound of the running water and birdsong was enchanting. I spent most of my time in the earthship hanging out by the pond watching the bird flutter from rafter to rafter beneath the glass ceiling which was reminiscent of Englands Crystal Palace.

I also adored the Chinese-red handmade kitchen cabinets and the curvaceous hand-sculpted bathtub that flooded with colored light when morning sun shone through the bottled wall. This earthship is also equiped with a large flat-screen tv which hangs over a colorful fireplace replete with fountain. And, of course, there is high-speed internet throughout the rooms.

I felt very privileged to have had the opportunity to stay in the earthship for the night and even was able to sneak a pick at the architect and creator of earthships, when he came through the atrium in the morning to check in with his work crew. It felt a little like spying on an eco-friendly version of Willy Wonka issuing his daily orders to a staff of especially hip, dreadlocked oompa loompas.

Below Ive shared some of the photos I took of the earthship and also a quick video. Please be forewarned that the video is terrible production quality. I took the video in a series of snippets on my digital camera. When I got home and saw the results, I decided it was time to purchase an inexpensive camcorder. So, hopefully, future video on this site will be significantly less disjointed and blurry.

I decided to go ahead and include the footage in this entry because I thought it gave a good sense of how close to nature you feel in the atrium and how the various spaces in the earthship flowed into one another. Both of which I appreciate and figured other might, too.