How to Choose a Toilet For Your Tiny House

How to Choose a Toilet For Your Tiny House

The Toilet – One of the Most Important Tiny House Decisions You’ll Ever Make


Living a “normal” life in a “normal” home, you’ve probably never given much thought to your toilet.  It’s there when you need it, it does its job and it takes care of business with little muss or fuss.

But when you live in a tiny house, your toilet becomes a big deal.  Like, you’ll find yourself thinking about it, talking about and considering the various aspects of it A LOT.

(And consequently - people start ASKING you about your toilets - A LOT!).

It might sound a little ridiculous or even a little uncomfortable for some, but the fact is, when you make the transition to tiny living, you’re going to have to start thinking outside of the norm.  And partaking in toilet talk will just be part of that journey.

What’s the big deal about toilets?

Well, it’s simple… first of all, if you want to be off-grid, you’re going to have to use an alternative to the traditional flush toilet, that’s just a fact. 

You can always upgrade down the line to solar panels and water catchment systems for your other utilities, but if you don’t plan for an alternative toilet from the very beginning, then you will always need access to a sewage hook-up...

 

The Problem with Your 5-year Plan

The Fallacy of the 5 Year Plan

As you probably know, I’ve taught at more then 25 tiny house workshops and events over the past 2 years.

My favorite part is talking with everyone at the workshops, hearing their stories, and helping them start their journey.

Every time we teach a workshop, I end up losing my voice answering so many questions! It’s always fun to stay up late with people who share your values.

(PS - I’m hosting the first and only VIRTUAL Tiny House Workshop this weekend! You can register here and join us!)
 

 

One thing I’ve been noticing more and more while teaching and speaking at these workshops, is that people have long timelines for their tiny house journeys.

I definitely think everyone should follow their own path and work within a time frame that suits their unique situation and life story.

Vermont and Maine Adventure: Small houses and Design/Build Inspiration

Vermont and Maine Adventure: Small houses and Design/Build Inspiration

Hello there, friend! I'm happy to say Matt and I made it back from our Vermont/Maine trip, where we ate a ton of maple creemees (sometimes 2 in one day) and lots of blueberries.

I graduated from college last Sunday with a degree in Sustainable Design + Build. So now it's "official". A lot of people ask me if I feel relieved or like I can now just relax for a bit but that's not really my style! Mostly I'm just excited that there aren't any more little nagging things left to do admin-wise and that the degree is in my hand. I didn't think it would be an important moment for me, to get that piece of paper, but it was definitely nice to be recognized for all the projects I've been doing!

Dave Sellers, the famous architect/designer and my dear friend, was the commencement speaker at the ceremony. He gave a really great speech that instead of making us graduating students feel like it was time to just relax and take a break, we really need to get to work on our full potential! At least that's how I felt. So the day we got back from the trip I started writing another big thing. I can't wait to share it with you soon.

Graduation, Renovation, and The Next Phase

Graduation, Renovation, and The Next Phase

Hello friends!

This blog post is an update so that you know what Matt and I will be up to this month and next. I just wanted to let you know because we have a very busy 2 months lined up and we're excited to have a few new adventures lined up to share with you.

1. I'm graduating College, and my ceremony is THIS WEEK!

So, I technically finished school and graduated from college in June, but because my college only has "residency" (on campus time) twice a year, my actual ceremony isn't until this weekend. I will be graduating from Goddard College in Vermont on Sunday August 24th. It has been a wild ride. I fucking love Goddard and will miss the freedom, autonomy, faculty and friends I have made there. I never thought I would actually make it through college - I'm fundamentally opposed to the whole system - but Goddard was such a special exception. They helped me see the value of doing it your own way within a support system.

I will graduate with a degree in Sustainability, concentration on Ecological Design and Sustainable Business. And because I've been designing my own curriculum the entire time and have been studying tiny houses for the past 4 years, I believe I'm probably the first person to get a degree in tiny houses :)

"California Design: Living In A Modern Way" at the Peabody Essex Museum

"California Design: Living In A Modern Way" at the Peabody Essex Museum

Last weekend Matt and I went to Salem, MA for a special exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. I had never been to the PEM before, and had no idea how beautiful it was (and it's only an hour away! I'll definitely be returning). I love Salem - I like the witchiness, the ocean, and the Willows. We ate delicious burritos at Comida Mexican Taqueria right next to the Museum. My burrito had pickled radishes and other fermented treats in it - it was fantastic.

The exhibit I was so keen on catching was called "California Design 1930 - 1965: Living In A Modern Way", and we saw on the last day it was at the PEM. I'm so glad we made it! The Exhibit was incredibly well done. It included a fiberglass car and a gorgeous Airstream Clipper, along with lots of examples of furniture, swimsuits, and home designs/floor plans. It really encompassed all aspects of mid-century life in California, and it made me miss being in that part of the country on our road trip! There is definitely something special and unique to the design of that place at that time.

Explaining Tiny Houses to High School Students

Yesterday Matt and I made our long awaited return to the amazing Anne Richards School in Austin, Texas. You might remember our visit last year, where we were brought in to teach the all-girls engineering class for 2 weeks, as they were doing the first COMET Camper-inspired curriculum, Project  Ventura. The girls had to design an eco-friendly trailer to be used by the school community.

This year, the girls of the Anne Richards School have a bigger budget and a bigger project: to turn a huge Airstream trailer into a teacher's lounge powered by solar panels. We are so excited to be in Austin again hanging out with these amazing high school girls. Their passion and innovation is incredible. I keep telling them how lucky they are to be restoring vintage trailers as a school project! I think they realize the importance of the project and the opportunity it creates.

So yesterday Matt and I gave the class our introduction to Tiny Houses. I'm used to giving this presentation to groups of older people - people living on their own already, and people with jobs and kids. But giving the presentation to high school students was totally different! They could see the COMET lifestyle (either in a trailer or tiny house) as a way out of their parent's house, or as an alternative to expensive college dorm housing. We heard many of the girls exclaiming "I have to rethink my whole life now!!", which was awesome!

Tiny House Road Trip Part 2: Preparing to Hit The Road

Last Spring, Matt and I embarked on what we called Tiny House Road Trip. The goal was to leave from Massachusetts, travel down the East Coast, through Florida, and then around the south and back up North again. On the way we stopped at the tiny houses of friends, met some fellow bloggers, and took a million photos and did 15 interviews all about tiny houses, vintage campers, and simple living. We even got to hang out with Deek Diedricksen and Steve Harrell, along with many others we had met on our “tour de tiny”, at the April 2013 North Carolina Tiny House workshop at Steve Harrell’s house. We learned a lot about what it meant to live in a tiny house, and were equal parts surprised and intrigued by everyone’s answer to the question: “Why do you live in a tiny house?”.

    It turns out, unexpectedly, that the act of going on the road trip was just as important to Matt and I as the data we collected. I didn’t realize how changed I would be after living out of my Honda Element for 2 months. I learned a lot about what comfort is, what needs vs. wants are, and what I truly want out of my life. Essentially, I discovered my self on that trip: I am happiest when I am living out of a backpack, sleeping in the car, and waking up in a new, beautiful place every morning. When we got back, I realized how BIG the COMET really is! Sounds crazy, but it just felt so spacious compared to the tiny car we had been living in. I had been nervous about downsizing into the COMET, and now I realized I could downsize again (which I did - major purging happened upon our return). Matt said he couldn’t imagine us traveling the country, me in the passenger seat beside him, with a big camper behind us, saying something like “what is all that space for?”.

Tiny House Q + A: What should a beginner know before building a Tiny House?

Tiny House Q + A: What should a beginner know before building a Tiny House?

The other day I did a Q + A session online about tiny homes. Everyone had really interesting questions, many of which I’ll answer in greater detail on the blog in the next few weeks. I figured that these answers might shed some light on things that you guys have questions about too. Feel free to send me your own question by contacting me, and I’ll answer it!

Question:

I'm still in college but I'm really attracted to the idea of a tiny house. The only problem is, I don't have any experience building or anything of the sort. How hard was it to learn all the technical stuff?

 

Answer:

Find a friend or "mentor" that you can learn building basics from. There are also groups that are always doing group builds/barn raising type style stuff. I recently saw this and thought it looked really neat: http://thepoosh.org/. It is a group that connects people who want to learn how to build hands-on with building projects that they can join. It is a great program! Look and see if someone in your area is building a tiny house and ask if you can help (look at the tiny house blogs and search your city, or post on craigslist). Or you can take a tiny house building workshop. Yestermorrow Design/Build School's 3 week Tiny House Design/Build class is AWESOME, you build a tiny house start to finish.

"Technical" stuff like electrical and plumbing is actually super easy. My advice is to look at youtube videos. Dan Louche of tinyhomebuilders.com has an awesome, very technical book and video series. Electricity is like water and plumbing IS water so it’s very relatable. Tiny Houses can be set up very simply, which is an advantage we have!

The Power Tools to Build Your Tiny Home Or Trailer

The Power Tools to Build Your Tiny Home Or Trailer

A lot of people ask me where I got all of my tools, and more importantly how I got them. There are so many tools out there, and so many different versions and brands of each one, it can take a while to read through all of the reviews and purchase the right one for the job. I’ve bought and returned twice as many power tools as I have in my collection at one point or another. Sometimes it just doesn’t turn out to be what you thought you needed.

So I thought I would do a post about the power tools that I use and love. This way, you don’t have to go through the tedious task of searching for the best tool, the best value, and read all the hundreds of reviews online, because I’ve already done that!

Where Do I Fit In?

Where have I been?It's a good question! I've been really busy the past two months, but haven't made a ton of progress on the COMET. Other vintage camper people out there, have you ever tried polishing the pitted, foggy aluminum back up to a mirror finish? It takes forever! It also requires a large angle grinder, which I'm embarrassed to say I can't really lift up in the first place (so it becomes Matt's job). We've been working on it little by little, but it takes many hours and is a crappy job. It's the one thing standing in between me and a beautiful exterior paint job (also Matt's forte because he used to do fancy pin striping and decals on cars).

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT: www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com The reason I have been so busy is because I really need money to complete the COMET and I had to put a lot of time and energy into my Etsy shop, where I sell awesome vintage clothing. My shop is called Planet Queen Vintage (based on the T Rex song but also referencing awesome ladies that do cool stuff to positively impact the planet) and I would be so grateful if you guys took a minute to check out all the new stuff and hard work I've been putting into the shop the past few months. I added 100+ new items, took better photographs, and increased the overall awesomeness content. Bet you guys didn't know I run a business on the side in addition to the COMET?!