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Cocktails at the Campsire

This past week I was at a small camping festival in rural Minnesota.

The event featured several speakers throughout the week, including myself.

I did two workshops. One was on beer and one was on tiny houses, two of my favorite subjects.

Matt and David enjoying cocktails during our camping trip. Photo by Cara Schulz.

Matt and David enjoying cocktails during our camping trip. Photo by Cara Schulz.

In my tiny house workshop I mentioned my problem with the way our culture has glorified the act of being busy. We aren’t socially allowed to have “too much time on our hands” or else we are judged by our peers or our community. I talked about how disturbing I find this trend and how slowing our lives down can create more satisfaction and peacefulness in our lives.

I encourage you to scroll/click below to read more about my thoughts on busy-ness.

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Wilmington Office Build

It seems to me like many of the people who are embracing the tiny lifestyle are those who are looking for a sense of freedom in their lives.

Many tiny house builders and dwellers are also entrepreneurs or otherwise self-employed. Those who work for other companies are doing so on a remote basis to be able to work from home and have a better work/life balance.

To earn extra money, we have Piglet sell things on the internet.

To earn extra money, we have Piglet sell things on the internet.

But it is one thing to work from home in a 2700 square foot house and another to do it from 120 square feet.

Just like there is no one right answer for everyone on which tiny house they should build or how small they should go, there isn’t one right way to work from home in your tiny house. See below to read a few things I’ve learned along the way as I’ve been working and living out of 120 square feet.

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an evening concert

In a recent comment, someone asked the question:

“As a skier, kayaker, biker rider, backpacker, organic vegetable gardener and food preserver, I would love to see more small homes that have folks who are living very active lives with the accoutrements that go with these lifestyles.”

I thought I might take a stab at addressing tiny house hobbies. Of course, as usual, I can only speak to my own experience. I hope that maybe other tiny house dwellers that have different and perhaps more complex hobbies can also chime into the conversation.

When I was thinking about our hobbies I realized that many of them, with the exception of two that I will get to later, are designed to use very few accessories.

guitar on the wall

I encourage you to read below to learn about our 5 tiny house friendly hobbies that you might want to do too:

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Piglet in the Loft

I have a confession to make.

When I lived in a large suburban house I was not that organized.

I had a theory that if I would use an item again I didn’t want to have to put it away only to get it out again to use it.

Not only that, but mail would pile up on the counter and clothes would never make it back to the closet after they were washed.

piglet laundry

So, I wasn’t precisely sure how living in a tiny house would change anything. I figured it could get just as messy but worse in a small space.

As it turns out, going small helped me with my organizational skills. Here are 5 ways I stay organized in the tiny house and you can too.

Put it away. The good news about a tiny space is that the place where something belongs can’t, by nature, be too far from where it is used. Put it away. Does that salt shaker go on a shelf? Don’t leave it on the counter. Did you just get home from the Laundromat? Put the clothes in the closet now, not later.

For more ways to stay organized in a tiny space see below:

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I’ll admit – it has been a long time since I was single. Over 18 years, in fact. Since I live comfortably in 120 square feet with one other person (and a cat) I started to think about what kind of space would be right for a single tiny house owner.

Before I provide my list of tiny house designs for singles I do want to say that the perfect tiny house for anyone is whatever tiny house they want to live in. But, without further ado, here are 5 designs that I think would be great for just one person.

Renzo Piano’s Tiny House. This teensy tiny house made the circuit a few weeks back. The approximately 8X10 tiny house is a lifelong dream for 75 year old award winning architect, Piano. The tiny house, called Diogene, may have been named for the Greek philosopher Diogenes who believed the artificial growth of society was not compatible with happiness. When the tiny home hits the market in about three years it will cost around $45,000. This minimalist home appears to have everything that a single person might need to be comfortable.


I encourage you to see more tiny house ideas for single people below:
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People ask us all the time how we can live together in 120 square feet. It is asked as though people are surprised that a couple would even have any interest in being that close to one another. We always smile and laugh politely and tell them that we have 15 acres so we always have an exit. In reality, we’ve never had any problems living in our tiny house. That isn’t to say we haven’t fought, but we also fought in a 2700 square foot house and the dynamics don’t really change.

So when I was talking with Alex here at Tiny House Talk about my next few topics and he suggested Tiny House Plans for Couples, I was intrigued. As far as I am concerned the best tiny house for a couple is whatever tiny house they want to live in. But, I accepted the challenge and here are three tiny house plans that I think can be great for couples.

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1. Tarleton Tiny House

Inside our Tarleton. Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

Inside our Tarleton. Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

The Tarleton by Tumbleweed Tiny House. Okay, I am a bit biased. Our tiny house is a Tarleton that we modified slightly as we built it. I think this 120 square foot home is perfect and has everything two people need: a reasonably sized kitchen, a bathroom with a shower, a nice sitting area, and a loft. Friends came to visit recently who hadn’t yet been to the tiny house and they commented on how much bigger it was than they thought. It is a pretty spacious little house that is designed well. Buy the plans here.

Take a look at my other two favorite tiny house plans for couples below:

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I have been part of the tiny house community since I first saw Jay Shafer on Oprah back in 2008.

We used that inspiration to begin building our tiny house in 2009. As you might imagine, since that time I have seen a lot of other tiny house blogs and become part of the small but growing community of tiny house builders.

There are so many great designs and ideas out there now and many tiny house builders are creating some amazing homes that are smaller than most traditional bedrooms. I thought I might share my favorite tiny houses – in no particular order.

1. Macy Miller’s Tiny House on a Gooseneck Trailer

Photo courtesy of MiniMotives.com

Photo courtesy of MiniMotives.com

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Artificial Wetland or Graywater Treatment

Along with our solar power system, we have set up a relatively primitive water system in our tiny house.

I have mentioned our Berkey water filter before, but that is only one step in our water process.

It starts at a spring about 150 vertical feet down the mountain. Right now we collect water from the spring in aquatainers which we then carry up to the house.

We usually have to do this two or three times a week. We have considered pumping mechanisms but for now this works fine and it’s a reasonable way to get some built in exercise.

Eventually we are planning a rain catchment system so we will re-evaluate our needs at that time.

Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

Photo by Laura M. LaVoie

Once the water reaches the house, we fill our Berkey. It takes about 3 gallons at a time. We also have a smaller commercially available Pur water filter outside which we fill for shower water and outdoor cleaning needs – we usually do dishes out on our outdoor kitchen surface.

I encourage you to continue reading below to learn even more about our off the grid water system.

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Power up!

So throughout this tour of my tiny house I have described how we live “off the grid” but I haven’t really described exactly how we do that. So, for the penultimate installment of the series, I present to you what it really means for us to live off the grid.

There are two main “systems” that run our tiny house. One is far more technical than the other.

The first, and more technical, is our solar power system. We have two 245 watt panels and a 45 amp Tristar MPPT charge controller. The whole system feeds three 110 amp hour AGM batteries. We have an 1800 watt inverter that converts the energy from DC to AC going into the house. (Some people advocate the use of DC within the house to be more efficient which is true and would be a better solution in many cases.)

Photo By Laura M. LaVoie

Photo By Laura M. LaVoie

Please click or scroll below to read more about our solar system and how it works.

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