Tiny House – Finishing all the things

Oh boy… the last few weeks have been crazy, stressful…and I’m at a loss to describe it. I just need a nap for a few days.

Why all the crazy? Because I needed to be moved in to the tiny house by last Saturday. So yes, technically I’m moved in and sleeping in my awesome loft! Unfortunately, the finish plumbing isn’t done, I’m surrounded by piles and piles of boxes, and the solar doesn’t want to work. Basically, I’m camping in a box with windows and candles.

So that’s why I haven’t been updating the blog and the next pictures will be a mishmash of unrelated things.

You’re welcome.






Bathroom door…



Water line…



Cabinets WITH doors…


Shoe storage…


Bathroom vanity….that I decided to paint blue…


Shower rod…and the only fixtures that are in…





Closet Drawers…


And the tiny house move-in process…


So, so crazy.


Make-It-Your-Dang-Self Light Fixtures

Saturday morning I spent 4 hours making light fixtures. This didn’t include all the time spent beforehand researching design blogs, how-to websites, Pinterest, and Youtube.

I came to the conclusion I needed to make these things when I initially priced light fixtures. Goodness. It is possible to buy them for about $7 a piece at Lowes. But they look weird. As in, circa 1982 weird. Those that are marginally cool will run anywhere between $35-$50 and depending on how trendy or elaborate, the sky is the limit.

So. What do I do about my 10 light fixtures? Yes, 10. Eight wall sconces, one main room ceiling light fixture, and one porch light. What can I say, I didn’t want to live in a dungeon.

Seeing as how I was looking at a $500 price tag (at least) for just light fixtures, I decided it was a good idea to look in to alternatives. I found a bevy of blogs on how to make them…there were all kinds of clever ideas using galvanized pipe and found parts.

Since galvanized pipe is a theme in my house, I decided that will definitely make an appearance.

So here is a breakdown of what I needed:

  • twisted wire (vintage look and just cool)
  • sockets
  • strain reliefs (apparently this is a thing)
  • mason jars (12oz Kerr jars…already had these on hand; spray painted the lids bronze)
  • light cages (spray painted with bronze)
  • scrap wood (for the back piece of the homemade sconces)
  • bulbs (edison bulbs, of course. what is the point of seeing the bulbs if they aren’t cool)
  • Main Room ceiling light (I wanted something amazing, so I decided to turn an antique tin ceiling tile into a light fixture…got that on the Electronic Bay for $25!)
  • Wall Lights that were waterproof for Bathroom (not that I’ll be hosing them off, but I needed something that is good for wet environments)
  • Porch Light that was ok if it got rained on

For the Porch Light and Bathroom Lights, I decided to buy them. They absolutely have to be rated for wet environments and I can’t make anything like that, so off to Lowe’s I went. I went with a semi-nautical theme for those (they are also the :


For the other fixtures, I went online to Vintage Wire and Supply for the sockets, strain reliefs, and twisted wire: http://www.vintagewireandsupply.com.

The process of cutting wire, stripping wire, and attaching all the things took a while….


I had to google “How to wire a light socket”….


Strain relief…



Oliver helping…


Cages with pipe…those will be attached to blocks of wood for support.


It’s tough being a supervisor.


Tiny house – building furniture

Last weekend was full of furniture…the desks, the kitchen sink stand, and the bathroom vanity. And I think random cabinet doors and the last of the pipes…

For the desks, I used the plans from Ana White: http://www.ana-white.com/2016/05/free_plans/flip-desks-convert-table-our-tiny-house

She and her husband are carpenters and have all kinds of useful information on their website. Also FREE PLANS! WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!!!

For the desks, I had to modify her plans a little so I could fit them over the wheel well. But it started by learning how to make pocket holes with a Kreg jig. This nifty tool makes hidden holes so you can screw furniture pieces together. The only thing is, you HAVE to pay attention or you’ll make the hole too deep and it will go all the way through the wood and your screw will slip out the other end. I’m guessing.


Pocket holes in action… Getting the pieces started is squirrley especially if you have glue on one end it wants to slide around. Quite a bit of time was spent correcting crooked pieces.


The carcass of the desk. See that short back leg? That’s the part that will eventually sit on top of the wheel well.


Then the bathroom vanity was next. Again, I used Ana’s idea from here: http://www.ana-white.com/2013/09/plans/48-turned-leg-vanity

Her plan calls for a 48″ wide vanity and NO WAY do I have that kind space in the bathroom…so I had to modify the size. I kept the basic design the same and doodled out what I thought I wanted it to look like.


Then I started putting it together.


The end product turned out a little different…I decided to put 1×2’s on the bottom shelf as opposed to a solid shelf.  And as much as I wanted turned legs, I wasn’t about to pay $69 a piece! Forget that. I’ll just use 2×2’s. I did find these finial things at the Lowe’s and they make cool feet (shown further down)!


And lastly, the kitchen sink stand….


This one did NOT want to cooperate. I got the front assembled, but the wood was warped or something dumb so I had to pull the back legs in to “square”. There was some cracking, but I’m pleased to report, nothing broke! At least not yet.


Wash-tub sink…


Then I had to schlep all the things in the house to check the fit. I’m not going to go to all the trouble of finishing the thing if it doesn’t fit!



Everything fit perfectly 🙂 So now it was on to painting… you’ll see below when the two desks are pushed together along the long edge, they almost form a square that will be for the dining table!


Bathroom…you can kind of see the cute little feet here… there is still quite a bit of work to do on this one, but at least the guts are done.


Desks DONE! The top I found at Lowe’s…I think it’s called a craft board? It looks kind of like a butcher block. I asked Lowe’s to cut it for me, then I stained it….


…and attached hinges to the back for some more storage. This space is countertop, office, storage, and dining…


I also finished the railing for the lofts…galvanized pipe painted Oil-Rubbed Bronze…


And the cabinet doors are done, but not attached. Details, details…


The stairs are cabinets… or are the cabinets stairs?

There’s no need to decide!


As with most designing aspects of this project, I started with a blank Excel sheet. You heard me: an Excel sheet. Why? Because I’m in finance and spreadsheets are my JAM!


Once I decided on the WHAT, I had to figure out the HOW… that part started with the color. I may have picked it for the name…


Then I drew the placement of the rise and run on the wall per this guy – https://tinyhousebuild.com/gain-sf-under-stairs/.

He is a professional builder so clearly he knows what he is doing…


I took my newly-cut 3/4″ thick mdf board and stood it in place to check the fit… also, as a side note, I had Lowe’s pre cut the mdf board in to 18″ strips. That made it MUCH easier for me to transport (mdf board is stupid heavy) and made sure the cuts were straight. Which seems to be a challenge for me.



Stuff like this bugs me, but I have to keep repeating:  It’s not perfect, it’s precious…  Thanks to my awesome sister for that reminder!


Once the fit was right, I prepainted all the pieces. It saved a lot of time taping off the edges!


I have to be careful where I set the pieces to dry…not having an enclosed workshop means I have to be mindful of dust, leaves, and bird poop.


I screwed the supports in to the wall and then screwed the risers (tall pieces) to the supports…


Following the marks on the wall, of course. Although you can see where I XX’d out a mistake…thankfully I saved my leftover wall paint, so I went back afterward and fixed that lapse in judgement…




Done…kind of. I still need to put hinges on the cabinet doors for it to be official, but you can walk up to the loft now! WOO!!! I’m noticing the pics are slightly blurry…they were taken on my phone, so maybe that had something to do with it…oh well.


Then I finished out the closets…

That started with a box of pipe. I bought this months ago and then somewhere along the line I threw away the plan. So it took me a while to remember how I had designed it.


The basic idea is that I’d use galvanized pipe as the rods in the closets. But I wanted to paint them oil-rubbed bronze.


Turns out this brand works like a champ…





It’s hard to get a full picture because of the small space, but the right side will be for longer items, the left for short items, and the middle will be a mix of drawers and something else that I haven’t figured out yet.


Kitchen coat closet


Shelves next to the closets and opposite the stove/sink area…


That business took me about 2 days. It’s a pain getting all that pipe and board level, straight, blah, blah, blah. But at least it looks cool 🙂

And to think it all started with a spreadsheet.



Tiny House – #bubbleinthemiddle

On the docket for today: the tiny house deck. As with all things in this project, the goal is to be perfectly level…gotta make sure that bubble is in the middle!

The deck itself went together pretty fast…as decks go. I designed it to be a floating deck; built on deck blocks (as opposed to pier blocks), not that high off the ground, and not attached to the tiny house.

The wood is also in a pre-cut size that I can find at Lowes. Meaning, I don’t have to custom cut any lengths. Just lay it out and GO!

All the materials just laid out…somehow I thought there would be more…

Since I bought unfinished wood (it’s cheaper than treated wood or redwood decking), I had to seal it myself. I found this stuff online….it’s chemical free, water based and turns the wood a cool weathered color. Oh yeah, and it waterproofs the wood too…


Before the stain…


…..and after!


Since this is chemical free, I’m also staining the tops of what will be my countertop…here’s a comparison of the color…


Lining up the deck blocks…the deck is 8’x12′

IMG_2430 (1)

Checking for level…and it wasn’t quite there yet. I had to do some rigging to make sure side-to-side and front-to-back were all set. There is probably a scientific or otherwise “proper” way to lay out a deck. But I don’t know what that is and didn’t feel like spending a few hours on the Youtube. So I figured it out my dang self.


The long support beams are 2x8x12…the top of the deck is made of 2x6x8


Finally can start screwing down the deck boards…


But 5 boards in, I ran out of screws. As a side note, if you’re planning on building a deck, get the bigger box of screws.They are sold by the pound and I thought “oh, 1 pound sounds good.” No. I ended up making a total of 3 trips to Lowes…one trip was just to get a 5 pound box of screws.

Also, there is actually a difference in brands of screws. The brand in the 1 pound that I bought first…horse pucky. I mean, yes, the screws went in to the boards…eventually. I had to lean my full weight on them and they kept clutching out my screwdriver. I could feel the screwdriver overheating and drained out 1 full battery in only 4 boards. When I switched back to the Grabber brand (I used that brand on the interior), problem solved! Maybe the size made a difference, I don’t know, but I had the same problem with the Fas-N-Tite in other places. I guess it’s just a trial and error thing. They both look the same, but you can feel the threads on the Grabbers are sharper. But enough of that…






Lest you think I whipped this thing out in just a few hours, it took a total of 12. Also, I stopped in the middle to take a nap.  This morning I was so sore and tired I stayed in bed until 8:30 watching reruns of Blue Bloods and eating Peanut Butter M&Ms for breakfast.

Tiny House – the ceiling, the trim, the floor, the bench, the door, the wheel covers and a partridge in a pear tree.

Over the past few weekends I’ve gotten SO many things checked off the list.

So. Many. Things.

I love checking things off my “list” so much that sometimes I’ll put something on the list that I’ve already done just so I can check it off.


I’m learning with this phase of building that precision REALLY matters. Because there is only so much you can cover up with caulking. I’ve tried. Therefore, going slow is the key.

This is not an easy process for me. Right now I just want to live in my cool house! But furniture (for example) looks a lot better and is way more functional if there aren’t any gaps in the sides, if it’s level, and square. Kind of like when you’re baking cookies….they taste better if you measure all the ingredients right at the beginning.


So here’s what I’ve been measuring and mixing the past few weeks…

Ceiling – I changed the original plan (shiplap) to make it look more like a Victorian tray ceiling. The hole at the top of the picture will be the light fixture that will be made with a cool tin ceiling tile I got on the Electronic Bay 🙂


Prepping the loft floors – I decided to use super thin plywood (almost a veneer). They come in 4×8 sheets and make the entire process super fast.


Stained with the same color as the window trim…


Bathroom door – I used leftover siding and I’m pretty sure it will be awesome! Although it is a little crooked, so I’ll need to true that up a bit before I hang it…


The wheel covers – The fenders are super NOT insulated and look pretty tacky, so I covered them with scraps of 2x4s, 2x2s and plywood…



The Bench – This will be the couch/storage/other sleeping place in the main living area. It’s 2×6 and 16″ deep and will have a 3″ cushion on top when it’s all done.



The color turned out perfect! It’s a midnight blue that I put Plaster of Paris in to make it look more chalk like. I’m SUPER proud of this! It took 10 hours to get it level and square, but it was worth it.


Fabric for the bench cushion!



Tiny House: Water Heater…making the outside the inside

One of the many challenges of building a tiny house is trying to fit all the things you need inside.  Either you find a smaller version of said “thing” or you throw it out altogether.

For the water heater, I had to find a little one.  As much as I like the idea of kickin’ it pioneer style, I still want a hot shower now and then.

I chose a gas-powered instant hot water heater by Eccotemp.  BUT it is technically an indoor water heater.

You guys…I tried to get it to fit inside.  It just wouldn’t go.  Either it wouldn’t fit in between the studs (so it could be hidden), or it needed to be vented outside and would make for a weird hole in the wall (so much of this project comes down to aesthetic for me), or it stuck out from the wall in an obnoxious, HERE’S-A-WATERHEATER, kind of way.

So, I put it outside.


Now the challenge was, how do I make it an “inside” waterheater again?  The only option was to build a case around it that was vented, but protected from the sun.


Lack of pre-drilling sometimes leads to this…


Leftover screen (from a screen repair project) made for a perfect  bottom and top cover!


Also, leftover siding…


The hinges work and everything! I’ve since stained the wood to blend in a little better 🙂  If you have leftover materials, fight the urge to throw it away until after you’re completely done.  You never know what you could repurpose next!

Thanks to Lucy and Tacy for coming out and helping me finish the doors 🙂

Tiny House – Solar Powered

In an effort to be “off grid”, my house will be entirely solar-powered.  Like I said earlier about the confusion around electricity, solar isn’t much better.

How many watts do I need?  What inverter will handle the wattage?  How big do the batteries need to be?

Sweet Jesus.

I’m so glad that part is over.  Unless you’re “down with electricity” or whatever, be prepared to devote many hours (even weekends) to researching this system.  The good news is that technology has improved to the point that solar is a lot cheaper and much more powerful than it used to be.


I found the best deal on solar panels (and the widest variety of brands and components) at Wholesale Solar in Mt. Shasta, California:  http://www.wholesalesolar.com/

They are super helpful when you call them and have engineers on staff that will set up wiring plans for you.  It’s an extra fee and I’m cheap so I searched online until I found one that included all the components I bought:  https://rvseniormoments.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/ms2000_newmar_inverter_wiring_01_20_2013.jpg

I ended up choosing 2 panels that are 315 watts a piece.  That means they produce 630 watts in ideal conditions (direct sun).  The batteries will hold a total of 5,000 watts (I’m estimating that’s about double what I will need on a super hot day).  I’m also planning to have a generator for just in case…but I haven’t gotten that yet.

The entire system was purchased from a variety of places even though Wholesale Solar carries everything you need.

Since Mt. Shasta City is so close, I decided to make a road trip up there to pick up the panels and batteries….also, that saved me $400 on shipping 🙂


Lake Shasta ^

Panels all loaded up …


Batteries that weigh 120lbs a piece…I can barely get them to move.


Other components fit in this box in the front seat….pretty sure there were switches, a mini breaker box and a few cables in there as well…


Being that I just spent over $2000 for the solar stuff, I had Spendingitis (the technical term for being weary of seeing so much money go out the door).  Naturally, I was hesitant to call Wholesale Solar and ask about the solar panel racks….I just had a feeling they would be expensive.  When I talked to the guy on the phone he explained that for the panels I got, they only sold racks that would hold 6 panels, nothing smaller.

Of course they don’t.

But the good news is that I could build my own out of 2x4s if I wanted!

Um, what?  It’s that easy?  And cheap?


I do believe he said the magic words!

So I immediately got on the old Youtube because where else do people go to learn stuff these days?  After watching a few videos that were WAY too technical for me (ie. they used huge drills to make holes in the ground and started welding stuff…so I turned it off).  I got the idea for the design of the frame from this guy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aQSrIrqZRg

It’s pretty amazing how much you can learn from there.

Also, thank you Lowe’s for the screamin’ deal I got on the Build-It-Your-Dang-Self solar panel racks:  just under $50!

Parts for the racks:

1 box 2″ Deck Screws

2x4x8 – 15

Industrial hinges – 2

Bolts – 3 (for the supports)

Little bolts – 20 (to hold down the panels) 3/8″ I think…

The bottom has hinges so I can adjust the panels for the season/angle of the sun…


It went together pretty fast since I didn’t cut any of the 2x4s.


The blue box in the background is the batteries and inverter and other wires and switches.  They sit up on a platform that I need to build a case around, just haven’t gotten to it yet.


The only thing I’ll do differently from the video is on the supports.  Instead of permanently screwing them in, I’m going to attach them with bolts; that way I can easily change the angle of the panels.

But more on that later…

Tiny House – Plumbing in the Rough

Welp, the pipes are in!  THE PIPES ARE IN!  We are one step closer to sealing up the walls, kids.

Who is the amazing plumber, you ask?  Not me.  I just ordered the pipe rolls on Amazon.  My plumber  – is Jeremy Koyama.  A superhero in the pipe world…or at least he should be!

With my newly-purchased pile of pipes, fittings, faucets, and water heater, I said, “here you go,” and he said those few words that (turns out) I LOVE to hear:  “Cool.  I’ll take care of it.”

And he did!

The starting pile…


This is where water comes in to the structure (on the left), breaks off to the water heater, and continues on to the bathroom sink…


Bathroom pipes, no fittings…DSC01045


…with fittings…DSC01065


pipes running up the wall from the bathroom and through the ceiling…



…and to the kitchen!DSC01046DSC01066


Kitchen sink, drain, and propane pipeDSC01067




Water inlet valve on the outside of the bathroom wall…DSC01063


…next to the installed water heater!DSC01072


Leftover pipes…DSC01068

When the walls are in then we’ll have to finish out the plumbing with all the fixtures and I’m sure other things.  YAY!

Tiny House Siding: Frost and Friends and Fun Times

When I lived in San Francisco, I did a short turn as a real estate agent.  Part of the time was spent partnered with a developer who was kind enough to let me follow him around peppering him with questions while I tried to soak up everything there was to know about remodel projects.

One of the first things he taught me is this: “Construction always cost more and takes longer than you think.”

With certainty, I can say the latter is true.  I’m not yet ready to concede the costing more….not if I can help it!

So “my plan” once again was to have this tiny house of awesomeness completely done on the outside by today.  That didn’t happen….

I showed up to the house bright and early Thanksgiving day ready to start siding and I found this….DSC00735DSC00734

Frost so thick you could write in it…and I did.


Come to find out, it had only warmed up to 34 degrees by 8am.  I had to wait until 9:30 when the wood was thawed enough to see what color I was picking up.

On a side note, it hasn’t been this cold here since I don’t remember when…and I’ve lived here coming up on 8 years.  The trees are SO vibrant and I love that so I suppose I can tolerate frozen-ness for the pretty colors…



Then it was time to get to work…


Duane helped nail up siding…


My cousin Nate is a master with power tools which was awesome when it came to cutting the pieces to fit around windows…


And Jake finished out the window foam on the inside…


Aaron and Nate installed the door.


Then Friday I showed up to more frost, although it was only 38 degrees…


I managed to get quite a bit done but it took a long time to get the pieces under the windows to fit right.  At one point I worked for an hour cutting all the notches and making sure the board had all the right measurements….only to go put it in and watch it break in two places.  At that point I’m sorry to say I reverted to my 5 year old self and threw the broken pieces across the yard.  With my left hand.  From on top of a ladder.

Clearly, it was time to go get food and try again later….


In all, I got 8 rows done….not too shabby.

Then yesterday this happened!  Aaron and Duane helped me set the difficult angled pieces on the ends of the short wall.


And it turned out PERFECTLY!


We got both upper ends done as well as the door trim and in about 4 hours.  All the hard work and freezing temperatures called for celebratory drinks and fries 🙂


So the first thing I ever learned about construction, so far, is half true.  I didn’t get ALL the siding done this week.  But I got to hang out with good friends, spend time outside in beautiful weather (made much more enjoyable when I remembered my hot coffee, gloves, and down vest), and the house is turning out exactly like I pictured it.  I have a lot to be thankful for!