Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

So the blog is experiencing a bit of a silent treatment at the moment. Not because my fingers aren't itching to clean up the lovely old circus wagon trailer and start building, but right now I've got two other big things going on that are taking up my time: one being my driver's licence, which I will hopefully have by next week, should I not experience severe brain failure during the driving test (which I very well might) - which brings me to number two: the fact that I'm very pregnant and the baby could decide to show up any time now! (But most likely in another three to four weeks.) I tell you, pregnancy makes you not very clever. It's hard to keep track of many things at once and it's easy to get stressed over nothing. All I really want to do is take my time, take it easy, chill out, and blissfully be. So once I've done my driving test on Tuesday and either miserably failed or victoriously passed, I don't know whether I'll find the energy to pull the trailer out from the barn and give it a good pressure wash (to get the years of circus mud off), or if I'll just leave it to hibernate while I mentally sink deeper into my pre-baby bubble. Time will tell, but rest assured that the project will move along - eventually!

Meanwhile, I'm collecting inspiration on a regular basis and if you haven't checked out my Pinterest boards yet, why not give them a browse?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hocus Pocus

You know that lovely, tired circus wagon of mine? It's gone. Yup. In two hours, two feisty men - whom I will refer to as the Romanian hurricane - powered through the barn where the wagon stood sleepily expecting nothing. Once they were done, this is what my future tiny home looked like:

It certainly took me most of the following night to get to terms with what had just happened. Even though I had given them my permission to whack it all down, because in the end it was all basically built with sticks, and with all the work it would take me to strip the paneling one by one, remove the rotten bits, and then rebuild and fatten up the frame to allow for better insulation, my unborn son would probably be starting school. So I am very grateful. It's a crazy amount of physical labor they've spared me - and they even sent two other Romanian chainsaw-friends yesterday to help me clean up the mess! Now it's just up to me to clean off the thick layer of what looks like 30 years of collected circus dust (or mud) from the trailer, and I can start with the actual building!

At first I felt like, why didn't I just start building on the trailer I already had? (remember that?), but I actually like this one so much more - I really like that it's bigger, higher up and the wheels are completely underneath the trailer rather than on the side of it, because then I won't have to build any sort of pocket for them and they won't interfere with the floor space. And buying the circus wagon, gutting it, and really seeing the structure of it has been a great way to better understand how to build something like it. All in all, I'm pretty sure the Romanian hurricane was a big win.

Here are some more pics from that stormy evening:

Now I'm going to brush my teeth and head up to the barn to document the somewhat healthier look that remains after the clean-up team did their magic yesterday. (I helped by sweeping the floors. I'm not completely useless.)

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Circus Wagon SketchUp

I played around in SketchUp yesterday to figure out the best interior layout for the wagon. I've settled for pretty much the same idea as I had for my house on a trailer (see previous post), but the measurements are slightly different. (The colors and furniture are just for fun and probably nothing like what the actual interior will be.)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013


On a wholly different subject than that of construction work, let's talk about pee and poo. With about two months to go before baby Samson arrives, I'm getting into nesting-mode and preparing the last bits. (I'm the kind of person who starts packing boxes months before the actual moving date.) With great friends and family who have given me all I will need in terms of baby clothes and gear (second hand, of course), there are only two things I can think of that I still want: one being a nice organic baby wrap carrier, and the other being a set of all-in-one cloth diapers. After much research there were two (seemingly very similar) brands that caught my attention: American bumgenius and Swedish Poops! I decided to go for the Poops! diapers in organic bamboo/cotton as it's a local, tiny company that I feel good about supporting. Poops! is run by a woman named Jane who, not minutes after I placed my order, wrote me an email offering to meet me literally one minute's walk from where I live to deliver the package, rather than send it via mail. I'm sure that's because she would be in the neighborhood anyway, but still, that's good service! In my order I had also mentioned that I'd love to see some other colors introduced, and she told me that two of them - orange and purple - are on their way. What's more, they do great package deals with multiple diapers, extra inlays, a diaper bag, and a changing mat. I went for that option, containing 18 diapers. For the time being, the website is only in Swedish and I'm guessing they only deliver within Sweden, but I might be wrong. If you live elsewhere, I'd look into bumgenius. I love their colors and patterns, and they will soon release a great new collection of fabulous designs:

It might seem like it, but I'm not getting paid in any way to write about these brands. I still haven't tried them so I'm only basing this on what other people have said about their products. Depending on Samson's size when he's born, I may or may not be able to use the cloth diapers straight away. But of course once I have, I'll let you know what I think!

You can read more about bumgenius here and Poops! here.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Demolition Mission

So, the wagon has had some time to settle outside the barn, including a week of quiet contemplation as mom and I headed off to London for a course in active birth at the Active Birth Centre (which was totally awesome and inspiring and something I highly recommend for anyone who is soon to attend a childbirth.)
With every day that passes I move more and more like a duck, and with the SPD I'm really struggling to bend or lift anything heavier than a milk carton. But with a little help (in the aggressive force department) applied to the really tough bits, I've managed to strip the wagons inside and am about to start on the outside (which will take longer due to the thousands of screws all being painted over - which means I'll have to use a heat gun and scrape the paint off before being able to remove the panels.) The frame is really thin so eventually I will have to fatten it up at least to double its current size, in order to get enough isolation to keep warm during the Swedish winter months.

The before pic.

Lots of nasty styrofoam and glass wool in the walls...

Tadaa! Unfortunately, the gable panels, some of the roof panels, and some of the frame timber is in pretty bad shape, so all that will have to be replaced.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The Day A Circus Wagon Popped Up

Almost five months have passed since I last wrote. Five months of being sick a lot, aching, working, sleeping, learning to drive, and peeing way more often than convenient (especially at night). I can honestly say I haven't done much else, except dreaming and planning for the future - the future where I'll be a mom to baby Samson who is now due in 8-12 weeks! It took me a while to realize that I wasn't about to start building a tiny house from scratch. What with the SPD pain and overall feeling of being totally zonked, it just wasn't going to happen. I slowly accepted that fact. "I'm going to stay put in my tiny non-movable house until spring, and then move back into my tiny, 2nd floor studio flat, closer to town, closer to a social life, closer to the work I will eventually have to find, once my year of maternity leave is coming to an end," I told myself, "and the tiny house on wheels will just have to wait, maybe a year or two, until baby Samson is slightly bigger and not glued to my boobs."

But even though I put the building plans on ice, I still couldn't stop looking at tiny-house websites and blogs, dreaming up nifty storage and layout ideas, and generally just longing for a place I could call my very own. So yesterday when I, as I sometimes do just for fun, typed "circus wagon" into the search field of the Swedish ebay equivalent, I certainly had no idea that just hours later I would find myself the proud and very excited owner of an old, smelly, neglected and run down, but oh-so-sweet former horse trainer's dwelling - future party-of-two home on wheels. A friend with a tractor helped me pick it up earlier today, and now she stands, blue and rusty, half gutted and wet on the rain soaked courtyard outside the barn. Tomorrow I will continue to tare her insides apart, hopefully revealing a not too rotten frame, which will be the skeleton on which I will mold the most charming tiny house in Sweden. With absolutely no idea of how to build anything more complicated than a shelf, having this foundation, this frame to work from makes me feel so much more at ease than just standing next to an iron trailer with a pile of wood and pondering over the best way to fit the floor joists. This I can do!

I certainly don't think it will be done in a jiffy. Baby Sam is still making it hard to move like a normal person, and with every inch he grows we're getting closer to the actual meet. Once that happens I know he'll have my full-time attention for a long time to come. But if I could somehow have the trailer fixed up enough so that it's livable by next summer, we will have an awesome home to spend the sunny, lazy days in. And that feels like a good goal.

The front bit. See that rope with a weight on the left? If you flip the metal "wings" down and crank out the yellow awnings, swish: you have five places on each side of the wagon to tie your circus horses!

I love the horse warning triangle.

Nellie boxer checks out the interior. (She wasn't impressed.)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Downsizing my downsizing

Some clever fellow said that design is perfect not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to remove. Due to a change of circumstances* the building of my tiny house is dragging, but theoretically, the project is coming along very well. I can even say with confidence that I'm quite happy about the slow process, because I've realized that building a future home (no matter what size) requires a lot of serious thinking, and rethinking (and rethinking).
The issue I've been pondering over has been that my planned house, with a sleeping loft, would be way too tall to be practical. This is because my trailer is not the standard double-wheel kind you see on, for example, the Tumbleweed houses, but rather an old truck frame with a very sturdy wheel axle and huge tires; meaning the bottom of the house (the floor) will already be a meter (about 3.3 feet) from the ground. 
After careful consideration, I've decided to simply skip having a WC in the house for more than one reason: 1) The homestead where my house will stand gives me access to an outhouse and washing (sauna) facilities anyway; 2) The freed up space means I can build a much lower sleeping loft with extra sleeping/relaxing/storage space underneath; 3) Should the day ever come when I move my house to a new location, I can always build an outhouse should I need to; 4) This way, I save on both space, material, and money.
So, here follows yet another SketchUp drawing:

see-through view from front of house.

*And now to the big news: I am, as of today, 8 weeks pregnant, which is still early days, but none the less a pretty massive change of circumstances. Although I had kind of planned for a little one to fit into the old house design, this new one just feels like it creates a great space underneath my bed for a child (once it's no longer a baby). Granted, a bathroom and toilet in the house is very nice when you have a baby, but then again, one right outside doesn't make much difference. A pot and a sink is really all you need.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Stay Calm, and Take a Bath

We're on the slow side to start building our tiny houses, mom and I. Basically, we need to figure out exactly what is the ultimate way for attaching the thin metal plates that will go on the frame to stop rodents from getting in: should we drill tiny holes it them for venting any potential moist that might otherwise ruin the insulation?; can we somehow construct an air pocket between the metal plates and the insulation instead?; do we need to worry about this in the first place? (According to some highly knowledgeable carpenter and home-builder friends, yes we do); and then, what insulation would be the best?

We have decided to put a thin layer of silicone between the trailer frame and the metal plates, as putting metal against metal is not a great idea - even the tiniest friction would mean eventual rusting, and that would just be not so good.

But while figuring this tricksyness out, I have managed to score the prettiest bathtub the world has ever seen (thanks to my wonderful mamma who found it at an auction site and payed a big chunk of the final selling price as a birthday gift to me) - THANKS MOM!

Behold, the zinc tub of your (well, my) wettest dreams:

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Trailer Treasure

It's done! The trailer has been welded, sand blasted, rust treated, and painted to perfection. Now I need to let it stand for a week or so to make sure the paint is completely dry before the building begins...can't wait!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

One Man's Trash...

This is it. My foundation. My beginning of a home. (Sure, there's some welding and blasting to be done, but it's only days away now! Yeah, it's upside down in the pic.) I bought the truck frame from a farmer and it cost me 750 SEK, which was the scrap price. The wheel axle (tyres included) cost 6250 SEK from the scrapyard. A friend of my mother's has sawed off a big piece of unnecessary metal from the frame and will weld the axle on, stabilize the frame, and add metal plates with pre-drilled holes to which I will attach the floor joists. I will pay him 5000 SEK. Then the trailer will be sand blasted and painted to prevent it from rusting. This will be done by a professional for 4500 SEK, giving me the total cost of 16500 SEK (about $2550 / £1685 / €1970). A lot of money, but a lot less than it would have been to buy a brand new trailer. This one will, from the research I've done, happily carry about the same weight - 5 tonnes / ~11 000 pounds - as a trailer that would cost me nearly five times as much (in Sweden). Can't wait to see it finished!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Stairway to Heaven

So...The thing about sleeping lofts is that (usually) you have to climb up a ladder to get there. If you're a toddler, a grandma, or a drunken buffoon, this might not be a thrilling idea. Obviously, building a staircase in a tiny space is due to make that space a lot more tiny, but what if that staircase is also a pretty awesome bookshelf/wardrobe/general storage unit? Behold the even more, once again, slightly improved (Don't you think?) tiny house design:

Friday, 1 March 2013

Sketch it Up

The new layout in 2D!

Here's a closer look at the sliding wardrobe hiding behind the bookshelf.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Erase and Rewind ('cause I'll be changing my mind)

Ok, yes, I just made a new layout plan for my tiny house. But hey, a girl can change her mind.  It just so happens that I was interested in finding out more about the idea I had of a moss roof, so I googled "tiny house moss roof" and found >>this<< piece of lovelyness. Needless to say, I fell head over heels for the open kitchen area and book shelf wall, so I decided to rethink my layout once again. As I've been avoiding the city for the past few days, hanging out with my mom in the countryside, I haven't had time to do a SketchUp of it yet, but mom - who is also planning to build a house on wheels - drew it up on her computer in Photoshop. So here it is, the new and improved version:
The blue area shows where the loft extends to. Basically, you enter through the double doors and find the kichen stretched along the right short wall. (I'd like a bay window here, to put lots of fresh herbs in, but we didn't draw that in. In fact, since we used mom's drawing for her house as a base, the outline of her porch is still there, but never mind that.)
The wood stove will be on the left side of the entrance and a kitchen table with chairs will be right in front it, next to a big window on the opposite wall. Along that same wall will be the sofa/guest bed which will be right up against the bookshelf wall which leads (through a sliding door) into the bathroom. To the left of the bathroom, hidden behind the bookshelf wall, will be a pull-out wardrobe. 
I'm really happy with this design because it feels more open, spacious, and better proportioned and balanced.

Today we visited a shot blasting company to find out what it will cost to turn our (now quite rusty) trailers into shiny beauty queens. It was more than we hoped, but we managed to get the price down a bit by asking the big boss man to do them both at the same time (and batting our eye lashes a little more than usual.) He certainly enjoyed having two ladies in his office and after showing us most of the pictures on his iPhone (including the house he built and the view from it, his grand children, and some vacation pictures from Spain), as well as his carpenter journeyman diploma (presented to us in a nothern dialect O_รด), and telling us how much taxes he paid last year and about all the other businesses he runs, he offered to also throw in the stuff I need to treat the wood for my house (which I don't want to paint) and show me how to do it properly :)

We also stacked up all of the material we've been given so far (for free!) today. Oh, the pure joy I feel when looking at those planks, boards, panels, studs, and trusses!

(and that's not even all of it!)

Sunday, 24 February 2013

New Design

I spent yesterday drawing up a new design in SketchUp; a program I'm really enjoying more and more. Here  is the result:

 Of course, this is just a general idea. The exact look, materials and window placements will depend on what I find as I go along. But I think the layout is pretty much there.

 I want to make a wine barrel shower, which I think looks great and takes minimum space. Like this:

 I got the idea of making the shelf-ladder from >>this<< very cool house by Colin.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Funky Functionality

A tiny house builder/dweller told me recently that the number one tip she could give me would be to draw, draw, and draw. You get new ideas and a better overview of what your house would actually look like when you put it down on paper - even if it's just basic sketches. I took her word for it and sat down to brainstorm. (Before I had only made some design ideas in Google SketchUp when I first had the idea of building a house on wheels. I think it's a very good start, but with a blank sheet I've actually had some new sparks of genius!)

Let's start with the SketchUp design, so you know the general layout. Don't mind the Swedish - a lot of my ideas have changed since making this, but the entrance, kitchen area, loft, and extra bed/seating area are still in the same place (Inside measurements are 600x250x330 cm):

You know those slim, tall, arched windows from an old castle tower that were given to me? These ones:

Well, I had this idea of building a bay window - something like this:

Then I thought that really, wouldn't it be cool to build a storage bench along the short side, skip the traditional table and chairs, and instead create a more asian style (raised) floor seating with a low table? Something like this:

It would give me plenty of storage, more floor space, and a great dining area that could be turned into a guest bed by simply unstacking the cut-to-size foam cushions and placing them side by side, creating a mattress - like this:

Pretty groovy, no?!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Light My Fire

One of my best childhood memories is arriving late on a rainy night to our summer house on the Swedish west coast; the century-old house damp to its core after a long, cold winter and rainy spring. My parents would light the wood stove in our bedroom and lie for five minutes in each of our beds to warm them up before we crawled in. The sheets would still be a little cool and damp, but we would lie in silence, listening to the crackle of the fire and watching the fluttering beams of light dance on the ceiling, before drifting into sleep.

I intend to have a small wood stove in my tiny house to heat it during the cold months (which are more or less six out of twelve), since it's really the most economically and ecologically friendly option - cozy factor aside. A couple of months ago I made a real bargain on Lauritz (one of  my idle pleasures in life) when having the winning bid on this little jugend gem:

Isn't it just gorgeous? I got it for only 2000 SEK (€230 / £205 / $320). The make is Swedish Husqvarna and it was released on the market in 1905. It is 77 cm high (just over 30 inches), 34 cm in diameter (just over 13 inches), and wonderfully decorated with daisies. I absolutely love it!

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Best Things are Free

Sure, there is laughter and love, but boy how my heart hops when I'm given building materials - totally free of charge! I spent my Sunday off (only two weeks left of service-slavery now!) with my mother, who has been a very busy bee indeed. She is this brilliant force of nature who forces nature to behave how she wants (as a landscape architecht and general green-finger-goddess), who knows too many carpenters, builders, excavators, decorators, plumbers, electricians, farmers, and utility men to count on all my fingers and toes. These fabulous men in overalls (they happen to all be men) are like wells of wisdom when it comes to everything anyone might need to know if deciding to, say, build a tiny house on wheels. Also, these men in overalls often come upon material left-overs such as planks and boards, bricks and tiles, and sometimes even 18th century double doors and arched windows from a castle tower. And when these men in overalls do, since a few months back, they give it to my mom and me! So lo and behold, my tiny house treasures:
Paneled double doors. These will be my front doors, which will have to be reinforced during winter with inner doors that will keep the heat in.

Arched windows There are eight of them, but I'm not sure they're all in good enough shape to use. I will have to mount them in pairs to make double glaze windows (for isolation purposes).

 Lovely door handle which I intend to use for the bathroom sliding door.

 Two of these tyres will go on my trailer. The board pile is growing...

More material...

Perfect size bathroom window!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Ecotistic, how so?

So, first of all (because I'm a word-nerd), let's have the Oxford Dictionaries clear up the difference between the words egoistic and egotistic:

The words egoism and egotism are frequently confused, as though interchangeable, but there are distinctions worth noting. Both words derive from Latin
(‘I’), the first-person singular pronoun. Egotism, the more commonly used term, denotes an excessive sense of self-importance, too-frequent use of the word ‘I,’ and general arrogance and boastfulness. Egoism, a more subtle term, is perhaps best left to ethicists, for whom it denotes a view or theory of moral behavior in which self-interest is the root of moral conduct. An egoist, then, might devote considerable attention to introspection, but could be modest about it, whereas an egotist would have an exaggerated sense of the importance of his or her self-analysis, and would have to tell everyone.

(But you already knew that.)

Quite frankly, I find the egotistic aspects to blogging rather disturbing: the belief/hope that strangers would or should care to read about what goes on in my tiny world is surely a little self-invovled? Yet still I can't help but be excited to share my plans and how they unravel because I know I'm not alone in my thirst for non-conventional paths in life. There are thousands of people out there (you might be one of them!) who are becoming the change they want to see in society, who are taking matters into their own hands, and following their own hearts. The questions we need to ask ourselves, as Alan Watts so eloquently puts it (here), is What if money didn't matter? How would you spend your life if every door was open; if every possibility was available to you? What is your idea of freedom?

Freedom to me has little to do with making money and buying things. Of course, in this world, at this time, money is a necessity (no matter how evil), but most of us really don't need as much as we may have come to believe. As for things; clothes, furniture, houses, cars, jewelry, flat screens, and so on, I probably would not be happy with nothing, but we've made so much stuff in the last decades that it would last us for centuries.
Enough is enough. I've decided to stop talking and start acting: I'm discontinuing my big-city life and my well-paying job, leaving my fancy flat, selling most of my belongings, moving to a tiny red house in the country, working in a garden, building an even tinier house on wheels and, once that's done, joining a collective of friends who are living life to the full with less.