Less Is More Presentation Day

2015-03-19 23.07.49Presentation Day at Yestermorrow is always a bit like Xmas morning for me. Dave and I posted our list on Wednesday evening, asking our students to incorporate context/site, floor plans, elevations, and sections and/or models into their Friday presentations. And we were up late with them on Thursday night. So it’s a little like sending a letter to Santa and then trying to stay up to catch him. (Several of our Less Is More students were still up at the eleventh hour when I called it a night!) But inevitably, some of the design magic happens after we’re fast asleep, visions of elegant details dancing in our heads. We never know exactly what we’ll find on the presentation board when the designs are pinned up of the following day, so it’s a wonderful surprise!

This morning our presentations began at nine and everyone presented his or her work and then receive feedback from their classmates and our reviewers. Paul Hanke and Kathy Meyer are both architects and seasoned Yestermorrow instructors, so they brought a fresh set of eyes and great insights.

It was a delight to see the designs our students developed over the course of the week, including:

  • Bert’s mobile house and studio
  • Carol’s historic barn to cottage conversion
  • Dani’s southern farmstead with indoor-outdoor rooms
  • Emily’s complex of yurt dwellings
  • Eric’s tiny house on a trailer with a unique roofline
  • Genevieve’s little house on the go
  • Jason’s timber-framed cabin
  • Luke & Katie’s renovation to create a cozy community
  • Matt’s caboose-inspired home, art studio, and apothecary
  • Max’s sailboat-inspired off-grid tiny home
  • Rick’s vardo as showman’s wagon

What an honor it is to teach at Yestermorrow and enjoy the company and creativity of such inspiring students!

I’m looking forward to my next week-long small home design course, which I’ll be co-teaching with John Labovitz in Portland, OR in November. Contact me if you’d like to be added to the notification list for more information!

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Less Is More Tours & Programming

2015-03-17 14.24.08We’re about to begin our third day of Yestermorrow‘s Less is More class, which is focused on small home design. The first two days had a similar itinerary: small home tours in the morning, afternoon design lessons, and evening presentation and studio time. (Today the high is supposed to be 17 degrees, so it’s probably just as well our tours have wrapped up!)

In just two days we’ve had the chance to explore seven homes, ranging from 200 to 2000 square feet. And while the larger homes are certainly not tiny (and I wouldn’t consider them small either), they did offer good ideas for clever storage, creative work-arounds, and matching layout to program. They also provided good fodder for last night’s discussion about design concepts that make small spaces seem larger. We now have good examples to point to as we discuss the strategies we’re using in our own small home designs. This group of students has been asking great questions and they do a wonderful job working together to understand the various considerations and trade-offs when designing a small space. I’m looking forward to seeing their designs evolve!

They’ve already begun exploring layouts both in our life-size mock up and on trace paper. Today we’ll continue the process with elevations and sections.

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Hello Again, Less Is More!

2015-03-15 20.12.56I’m back in snowy Vermont for more Yestermorrow goodness. I spent my weekend in the Design-Building a Successful Design-Build Business class, taught by Adam Cohen. He was a wealth of information and wisdom and I learned just as much from my classmates who were quick with questions and ideas.

Last night we started up another round of Less Is More: Designing the Small or Tiny House. I’m honored to be teaching with Dave Cain who is a creative designer, a bicycle adventurer, and an all-around great guy!

Last night we kicked-off class with introductions, complete with inspirational imagery and then we launched into our first design project. The photos in the gallery are the result of that exercise. We have an action-packed week lined up, including tiny house tours, programming, intro to drafting, presentations, and lots of (but never enough) studio time. Final presentations will be all day on Friday and I’m already eager to see what this creative bunch will come up with!

Follow along this week on our adventures! Meanwhile, you can read about last year’s class here: Welcome to Less Is More, Less Time, More Drafting, and Less Is More Presentations.

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How to Start Designing a Tiny House

How to Design a Tiny House StillSince I’ve been working on tiny house designs for three clients this week, space-efficient design is even more on my mind than usual. So I figured I should share some of my tricks for designing a small space via this little video from the 2014 Tiny House Conference. You can watch the video by clicking on the link below. Enjoy!

Lina Menard on How to Start Designing a Tiny House

Oh, and start carrying a tape measure so you can get a sense of scale in the places you visit and love!

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Tiny Home for the Holidays

Advent CalendarIt’s so nice to be home for the holidays! Yes, I did go see two of my sisters in Washington for Xmas and that was really lovely, but I mean that it’s splendid to finally be in my little house this holiday season!

I moved my tiny house to Simply Home Community in mid-October and spent the next month working on it. Then I moved most of my things into the Lucky Penny in mid-November just before our Housewarming Party. But it wasn’t until Raffi and I started sleeping in the Lucky Penny at the beginning of December that it became real. Now that we’ve been in my tiny house for a month, it’s starting to feel like home. I even hung up the advent calendar my aunt made for us when I was really little. I’ve got My Chiller on the Porch and I’ve dedicated time over the past couple weekends to Putting Everything in It’s Place and it’s so nice to be settling in!

Is it done? Well, no, not quite. I haven’t yet set up the shower. (But luckily I don’t have to yet because I shower in the big house and at the yoga studio after hot yoga classes.) And I haven’t yet gotten my electrical all set up properly. (But after living in a Home, Sweet Yurt, I’m pretty good at minimizing my electrical demand. I’ve found that I can live off a beefy extension cord with a three way splitter end for my Envi heater, lights, and a free outlet for whatever else I want to plug in.) And, of course, I haven’t yet finished the trim. But it’s totally workable and I’m loving it.

My house was a dream and a set of sketches for a couple of years as I lived in other tiny dwellings and tweaked my design. Then I finally picked up my Iron Eagle trailer in mid-May and hosted my wall raising party over Memorial Day weekend. For six months my time was divided between working at the Breathe Building and constructing my little house. So it’s really wonderful to be catching up with friends and family this holiday season.

I’ve had friends over for brunch (I can make a mean French toast on my induction cooktop and we just pull out a drawer and put the cutting board on top and pull up a couple of stools!) I’ve had landies over for tea and a chat on my window seat. I’ve had clients over for design consultations (oh, by the way, I’ve resumed consulting, too! If you know someone interested in help with their space-efficient housing dreams, tell them to check out my 2-Hour Consultation!) And a couple nights ago I hosted a dinner party for 10 in the Big House at Simply Home. Our community has a supper club going now, too, so we’re taking turns cooking for each other. On Tuesday nights I cook for my landies and four other nights I come home to a nice warm meal. It’s divine!

I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring for me, Niche, and the Lucky Penny!

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Giving Thanks for the Little Life

Here are just a few of the many, many things I’m thankful for today:

  • Curling up on my window seat with a friend, my cat, and a cup of tea (thanks for a lovely pre-Thanksgiving cup-o-tea, Lish!)
  • Waking up to the sound of rain on the skylight of my tiny house
  • The many Tiny House Helpers who helped me create my beautiful little home, The Lucky Penny
  • Getting my kitchen organized in preparation for cooking and baking this winter
  • The landmates (“landies”) at Simply Home Community who cook delicious meals, play games, watch movies, go out dancing, take care of my kitty when I’m out of town, and generally make life a whole heck of a lot of fun
  • The incredible vistas when driving up Highway 101
  • The view from my sister’s living room
  • Getting updates (with photos) of the houses I’ve helped make real (congrats Katie and Tatiana!)
  • Baking chocolate pecan pie with my “baby” sister
  • My loved ones near and far who are taking time today to name their gratitudes
  • The feeling I get when I step onto the front porch and peek through the window and think “ahhh! home, sweet home!”
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Move In Day & Housewarming

Window Seat

Window Seat

Six months ago I started building myself a tiny house called The Lucky Penny. And last night our Tiny Cohousing community, Simply Home Community, hosted a housewarming party. It was good timing, too. Portland has had the first wintry weather of the year this week, so it was awfully nice to have people warming the place up with compliments and congratulations. (Having the space heater running on an extension cord probably helped, too!)

It was great fun to share my little house with friends whom I’ve neglected because… well, I’ve been building my little house. I’m looking forward to wrapping up the last few absolutely necessary things so that I can start Settling Into My Tiny House AND resume my social life!

(Speaking of socializing, it was also neat last night to share tours of my house with friends of my landies and to discover mutual connections we already have. It’s a tiny world after all! And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have strangers say “Your house is gorgeous!” or “It’s like a cathedral in here!”)

When I My Tiny House Build Began, my work plan indicated that by mid-summer I would complete the first two phases: Get it Dried In and Make it Functional. I figured I’d give myself some extra time for the unforeseen and I’d begin Phase 3: Make it Home by the end of summer. But, of course, it’s a construction project, so it’s taking twice as long as I originally estimated.

Copper Canisters, Copper Sink & Faucet

Copper Canisters, Copper Sink & Faucet

It’s now mid-November and my house is just now functional (if you consider that my house doesn’t have to be fully independent because I have access to the kitchen and bathroom in the Big House). My friend Benn Kovko (who built Kangablue at Caravan – The Tiny House Hotel) has been working with me on the plumbing and we’re about 1/3 of the way done. We’ll be working on it again today. Still on the list after plumbing: electrical, trim, and The Punch List.

But for the sake of the housewarming party I’ve already shifted into Phase 3: Make it Home. Yesterday I moved most of my possessions into The Lucky Penny and started the process of putting Everything in its Place. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to hang decorations yesterday morning!

I’m looking forward to Settling into My Tiny House! Stay tuned for catch up blog posts this winter sharing more information and photos about the build process.

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Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

Living Large in Tiny Houses Graphic

Love Ablan believes in tiny houses so wholeheartedly that she relocated to Portland, Oregon – Capital of the Tiny House Universe – so that she could get involved in the tiny house movement. Over the past couple years she’s put her writing and photography talent to good use, spreading the word about living in small spaces. She recently published and article in the November 2014 issue of Unite4:Good Magazine, entitled Living Large in Tiny Houses. I’m honored she included me in this story. Here’s a snippet. You can click on the link below the excerpt to read the whole article.

Living Large in Tiny Houses TextClick to read the rest of Living Large in Tiny Houses by Love Ablan

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Lucky Penny’s Maiden Voyage

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed up to ask how the move went. The tiny has landed. I repeat. The tiny has landed. Everything went according to plan and the Lucky Penny has Come (Simply) Home

10387224_10105245055917830_316295343464841875_nOn Monday morning my build buddy Laura Klement arrived before dawn to pick up me and the tiny house mover. The tiny house mover is a power dolly that has helped many tiny houses in Portland nestle into their spots. We weren’t sure we would need it to wrangle the Lucky Penny out of her parking spot at Green Anchors but we didn’t want to need it and not have it, so we brought it along.

Once we arrived at Green Anchors we secured things inside the tiny house, using scrap pieces of rigid foam to pad the tansu. We tucked the stairs inside. Then we strapped My Flip-Up Front Porch into its traveling position. We hooked two ratchet straps to each other and passed them through the kitchen windows then closed the windows, exited the house, flipped up the porch, and joined the two pieces of ratchet strap and cinched them tightly. We put chucks in front and back of the wheels and lowered the tiny house from its jacked-up position onto its wheels. The final detail was screwing a piece of blocking into the windowsill of the arched window to ensure that the arched window would stay closed.

When Morgan from Gerlock Towing arrived he assured us that it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get the Lucky Penny out of her spot. So we hefted the tiny house mover back into Laura’s car and then filled in the space around it with tools and supplies while we were waiting for Morgan to get the house secured to his truck.

The move itself went quite smoothly. We went the long way to avoid hauling the tiny house up Baltimore Street but it was just fine on the more gradual slope. After that, it was nearly a straight shot from Green Anchors to Simply Home Community. Laura and I followed behind in her car and we got a kick out of watching people’s reactions. There were definitely a few double takes but it was amazing how few people actually noticed. It made me realize I should be paying more attention when I’m out walking. Otherwise you may never know when a tiny house is cruising down the road past you! Of course, it may be that tiny houses are becoming so ubiquitous in Portland, Oregon – tiny house capital of the universe – that people don’t bat an eye anymore!

In either case, Morgan helped get the Lucky Penny off the street and backed into the spot between the house and the garage before he headed out again. Then we hauled the tiny house mover out of the back of Laura’s car and Tony navigated the Lucky Penny into her spot with the help of spotters all around. I was lucky my landies were having a work party and stopped to help my little house get tucked between the big house and the greenery that separates my house from The Rustic, the next tiny house over. Hooray for community (and people who are already familiar with tiny houses and their quirks!)

There’s a lot of work left to do before I’m ready to shift my belongings from my room in The Big House to the Lucky Penny. But I’m already enthralled by the way being tucked in the garden has made for awesome views. I think we’ll really like it here!

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Coming (Simply) Home

friends gather for the Lucky Penny Open House

friends gather for the Lucky Penny Open House

It’s no use trying to get back to sleep. I’m wide awake before dawn, just as I was three years ago when My Tiny House Adventure Began. Only this time the tiny house I’m moving is my own. In just a few short hours we’ll secure My Flip-Up Front Porch into transportation mode, hitch it up to one of Gerlock Towing’s big rigs, and the Lucky Penny will hit the road for the first time. 
My tiny house is not yet finished, but the time has come to move the Lucky Penny to Simply Home Community. Simply Home is a tiny house community in Portland, Oregon where I’m living with a handful of fabulous people, all dedicated to intentional living. It’s actually very much like My Vision for Tiny Cohousing. There is a big house with bedrooms, a huge living room, a dining room, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a basement for laundry and storage. And in the yard there are (soon-to-be) four little houses, which serve as detached bedrooms. We all share the big house but a few of us have our own space via the tiny houses.

I moved into the big house at Simply Home Community in August, just after I finished teaching the two-week Tiny House Design-Build class at Yestermorrow. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to my Home Sweet Pea at Pod 49. It’s a great little house and I love the neighborhood and the neighbors there. But it was also exciting to be making a move towards a long-time dream of Tiny House Community.

Before moving to Simply Home Community I’d lived alone for more than three years. First in my big house (832 square feet). Then in a 15 foot long travel trailer. Then in Brittany Yunker’s tiny house Bayside Bungalow. Then an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) called Granny’s Garden Cottage. Then in a 12-foot diameter yurt. And then in Sweet Pea, another tiny house on wheels. I’ve loved having a wee house all to myself. So I’ll admit I was a little nervous about living with other people again.

But it’s been wonderful! It’s nice to have other people to come home to. It’s nice getting to know their friends and family. It’s nice having that sense of being in on something together. I’ve enjoyed participating in community workdays, movie nights, and potlucks. Even our weekly house meetings are fun – which is no surprise considering the group of people! And nothing beats getting a text message right before hopping on my bike to head home after work that says “I hope you’re hungry because I just made a ton of soup!” I look forward to this winter when we are settled in and we can start up our supper club.

I do wish the Lucky Penny was completely ready for me to move into it. But as those who joined me on Friday for my Lucky Penny Open House can attest, I’m now on the home stretch.

(A quick thank you to everyone who came out for the Lucky Penny Open House. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be surrounded by people I love – many of whom are tiny housers themselves – as I prepared my house and myself for the imminent move! I had fun staging the house with candles, my spice rack, and the copper canisters I found on my Tiny House Treasure Hunt. But the highlight for sure was when I flipped up the porch and we dedicated my little house. I couldn’t bring myself to smash a bottle of champagne on any part of my house so instead we poured sweet wine over the tongue of the trailer. I started out by officially naming the house and then one-by-one my friends stepped forward to say a few words about what they hope for me and my house. It was a perfect send-off!)

My goal is to make the Lucky Penny functional by the end of October so that Raffi and I can shift our belongings there and switch into Phase 3: Make it Beautiful. (Fortunately, plumbing isn’t going to be a pre-requisite of livability since I can use the big house for cooking and bathing. I do plan to install plumbing because I want that flexibility for the future, but I don’t have the hurry I would have if I were moving the Lucky Penny somewhere that I need to be self-sufficient. In fact, none of the little houses have bathing facilities right now because we all shower in the big house or at the gym!)

I’m going to miss building at Green Anchors. It was the perfect place for my build buddy Laura Klement and I to build our little houses. I’ll miss the views of the St. John’s Bridge. I’ll miss those precious evenings we rewarded ourselves with a beer or a milkshake down at the river. I’ll miss my neighbors (like Rory who helped me build My Flip-Up Front Porch. And, of course, I’ll miss the ability to spread out and stain a bazillion shingles or make a racket as late (or as early) as I’d like. But as the days get shorter, it will be really nice to just pop outside to work on my house. (Besides, I have plans to build other little houses at Green Anchors. Stay tuned for more on that! I look forward to hatching my schemes…)

I’m horribly backlogged on blogging, but I do have more to share about my process. Those stories will unfold in good time. For now, I’m staying focused on the next steps: electrical, built-ins, and trim.

Wish us luck with the big move today!

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