Tag Archives: Noah house

a room of her own

Look what my wonderful husband made for me…a writing room!

Well, we already had the little room over on the side of the Noah House, but it wasn’t being used for much.  We had thought it would be a fun, tiny, room for Luc, but he declared it too small.  I waited a while to be sure he wouldn’t change his mind…he did have dibs after all.  But nope, he’s holding out for something bigger.  So, yesterday I asked him if I could use it for a writing room and he thought about it and said “Yes, as long as I can play in it, too.”  Deal!

Isn’t the forest view lovely?  Paul put in a desk for me and a shelf today.  Instant manifestation.  Actually, I asked him to “saw a board in half for me, so I can plunk it down on some cinder blocks or something,” for a desk, but Paul harumphed this and made me a built in desk, just my height, instead.  What a sweetie!

Then I said, “can you cut this shelf in half so it won’t block the windows?” and he looked suspiciously at the shelf and, instead, took it all apart, rebuilt it for strength, and installed it.  “I didn’t like the shelf spacing,” he said.  The curse of the perfectionist.

For my part, I installed twenty bucks worth of office-y things, a dry erase board, legal tablets, trash can, etc.  And a plant.

Boom!  My very own room!  And can you see that funny metal thing in the top left corner?  A mic.  That’s right, I think I’m going to go for it with the podcast-my-novel idea.  And now I have a room to do it in.

Isn’t the ceiling cool?  Let me tell you, for someone who has been living in one room with three other people, having my own room, however tiny, is a MIRACLE!  My VERY OWN ROOM.  For writing!!!

Action shot:

It works!

Hooray!  Thank you, Paul!

in which we move in to the recycled house, and are pleased

We have completely, and thoroughly, moved in, FINALLY, to the Noah House!

[cue cheering!]

That is to say, we haven’t moved out of the yurt, we’re just…spreading. And in case you don’t know what I am talking about, here is the beginning of the story of recycling a tiny house, the tiny house my cousin Noah built, and, more recently, here is a picture of how it looks from the outside.

But today I offer you pictures from the inside! With all our STUFF! I know you’ve been just aching to see these, come on, admit it.

Okay, without further ado, let’s walk in through the front door. What do we see but….

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A sofa! And some kids! On the floor, coloring! And some book shelves! Ooo, ahhh.

For contrast, let’s look at the view the day after the carpentry crew left:

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And here it is when Paul was about half-way done:

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But now, it’s a real room. With toys and books and computers and all my yoga props…I’m so happy to have a place for my yoga props, I can’t tell you.

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This is the view when I am sitting on that green futon sofa (craigslist, we love you). Look, you can see the yurt through the windows! And if you look a bit to the left, you see this:

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Lots of pine bead board and recycled cherry wood trim….

…and a little farther to the left, you see this:

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(UPDATE: for what happened with the little room to the side, visit here.) It’s an extremely pleasant space. It’s odd that it can be so small, 12′ x 12′, and still feel quite spacious, but it does, probably because of the height of the ceilings.

Because here is what I see if I look up:

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It’s fourteen feet high at the top, because Noah wanted to be able to stand up in the loft. In a tiny house, design follows the physical body of the person doing the building.

But Noah, being the thrill seeker he is, used to sleep up there with no rails. Not so great for small kids. So, look at those lovely rails that Paul built so that Sophie could have a loft, and I could NOT have a heart attack every time she went up there. Aren’t they pretty? The wood for the posts was left over from something else, stored for years now under the yurt. Paul says he cleared out a ton of old wood he had been storing, making all the trim. So whoopee for having less junk around, I say, not to mention the attractive price-point.

But really, I didn’t realize trim was such a big deal. (Don’t tell Paul I said that, because he used to be a trim carpenter.) Never the less, I can now say with confidence, trim is not just some wood slapped up in the corners! Trim makes the room. Trim is the trimmings, the details. And attention to the details is what transforms a space from a box to a lovely room you want to hang out in. I swear.

For example, here is the first step in the front door:


It’s a piece of cast off granite, rescued from a dumpster, and framed by Paul in oak. The floor here is recycled walnut. Plus a kitten always helps.

It’s gorgeous. Every time I step in, even if I don’t consciously think about it, I take in that beauty. The more details like that, the more a space feels right.

Build a small square room and it could be a hovel, a dark cave, a boring box. Give it lots of exposed wood, windows on all sides with lots of them in the south, and tons of love in the details, and suddenly you have something else entirely. I really do think the lack of love in the details is the reason speed-built, mass-produced houses so frequently lack soul. When you build things yourself, and when you do it on a tiny scale, the details are all within your power and creativity. And that’s a good thing.

Quick, before we leave, let’s take a peek up in the loft.

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Sophie lined up a bunch of teddy bears to live under the windows. Sitting here, reading while it rains outside, is about the most peaceful thing ever.

One last view from the corner. Hey, where did the kids go?

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Oh, here they are.


Keep it small, build it yourself, pay little or nothing for recycled materials, and make the details yours. You, too, can have a tiny, beautiful, personal, space.

Thank you, again, Noah.

poof, another room

We are in the process of moving into the Noah House. I don’t mean moving out of the yurt, just adding the Noah House as another room in our weird, Tiny House Compound. As I mentioned here, Paul finished the interior trim last weekend and, although there is still a punch list of thing to do (screens, door stop, improve the ladder up to the loft, just for a few examples), especially in the little side room (which we are conflicted about how to use—a writing office for me? Toy storage for the kids? Tiny loft for Luc?), we did get the electricity hooked up last week and we are now officially using it as an actual space.

Finally, huh? Well, it takes a while when the primary (and only) carpenter on the job works full time elsewhere as well as having a demanding *cough* family life. But here he is, finishing the deck yesterday….

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And here is the finished deck this morning…

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The deck functions now as a room of it’s own, in a way, another living space. I hadn’t expected that, but I’m delighted.

In keeping with our recycled building modus operandi, the stain Paul used was $5 a gallon cast-offs from the Habitat store. I’m not sure if you can see it in the photo but the horizontal surface is a gray-green and the outer trim is a blue-green that matches nicely with the blue-green on the door and windows. That was a happy accident, as you take what you get when you dip into the $5 bin. But those gallons would have been $30-$40 a gallon new, and it looks great, so win for us. Sometimes making do with what you’ve got can have lovely results.

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I especially like the stone stairs that Paul made, fitting together some rocks we had laying around. There is a solar light tucked in the corner that turns on at dusk, another cast-off. Thank goodness people throw out so much good stuff.

And look, the bottom rock has fern fossils!

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Can’t see it? Here, try this close up.

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Isn’t that cool?

Sophie and I shared a chocolate eclair in these chairs this morning while the sun came up over the trees. Our new breakfast nook?


today’s news from the yurt

Today Paul finishes the interior of the Noah House! We’re so excited. The paper will come off the walnut floors, the tools and sawdust will be removed, and we’ll bust a bottle of champagne on the deck. Well, okay, probably not bust it. But I might have one of my pomegranate martini‘s, or as Sophie calls them, “Mommy’s Happy Drink,” (how did that get started???) to celebrate. What, you’ve never had a pomegranate martini? You should, they’re WONDERFUL. And besides, Oprah likes them, so they must be good for me, right?

As a tease, here is a pic Sophie took this morning of her loft with it’s new railing.


More pictures of the unveiling to come! And maybe a house warming party. Stay tuned.

One thing we splurged on for the Noah House was a 24 inch monitor for hooking our laptops into, or for watching movies on while over there. Lifehacker led us to an incredibly good deal on a decent enough monitor, only setting us back a couple hundred dollars. We also got a $20 iMac to put over there for the kiddos. We’ve reached 1:1 computer to human penetration in this household. What would the Amish say? Or those Waldorf people who hate tech? We’re clearly going to the devil. Fuck it. But about the monitor, I thought it was going to be a copy, only bigger, of whatever was on the laptop screen, and when Paul hooked her up I was disappointed to see nothing on it at all (except the wall paper). I kind of shrugged. Meh. But THEN he dragged a window from his laptop monitor over onto the big monitor, as if they were connected! Holy cow! It’s an extension, as if they are side by side! I had no idea! It was like magic. I’m sure I got chills. I’m also sure this is old hat to many, but I am stoked. For example, I’ve got this plan to make a couple of ebooks, one on yurt living, and one on recycled building, taking blog posts I’ve done over the past 18 months and fleshing them out, only I couldn’t imagine doing a bunch of desktop publishing work on my little 13″ laptop. Now I’m in business! I’d like to get those puppies done by the end of the year. Keep an eye out. Because, you know, I need another project for all this free time I’ve got.

Let’s see, what else? Luc is currently building a diorama of Bikini Bottom, complete with Spongebob’s pineapple house, Squidward’s Easter Island Head house, the Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket, and Sandy’s Dome. The whole thing is in foam blocks, with my yoga props featured as mountain ranges and the beach. He’s singing to himself as he works—I love it when he does that, it means he’s happy. Sophie, on the other hand, covered in about twenty temporary tattoos, just did a big glitter project and is now practicing her Yucky Mouth Noises, which means she is bored and I’d better hurry up with this blog post. Those mouth noises totally gross me out. This is an opportunity to practice my equanimity and deep breathing right? Serenity now! Good luck with that, Maya.

In other news, I have suddenly become a master of bobby-pin-fu and have been experimenting with complicated looking new hair-dos. Sometimes it is the pleasure of these small victories in life that get us through our days. Here is a photo Sophie took, telling me, “No, Mom, turn this way so you’re in the light. Now tilt your head, okay, turn—” I was expecting her say, “Work it, baby!” at any moment.


Cute, huh? Sort of sloppy chic. Kind of. Come on over, I’ll show you how you can do your very own Fancy Bobby Pin Do.

Finally, the goat babies continue to grow and Luc has announced that they are no longer babies, but goat teen-agers. I’ll agree with that, citing Cinnimon’s new interest in humping his sister, his mother, the cat, whatever. Testosterone is a powerful force. If you have some, try to use it only for good.

And that’s the Yurt Report. Good-night and Deity-of-Your-Choice Bless.

how to recycle oak flooring

We floored the yurt with recycled oak flooring. We paid $800 dollars for 800 square feet of the stuff (its sells for $3-$5 / square foot, new), and since the yurt wasn’t ready for it, we lived in our old farmhouse with metal bound bundles of it filling our living room knee deep for about three months. I don’t recommend that, but it was too good a deal to pass up and we had nowhere else to put it. Ah, the silly life of recycled-house-builders.

I’ll show you how in a minute, but first, here is the yurt platform with the flooring put down. You can see the ragged edge around the circle that hasn’t been trimmed yet, and the finish is the old finish—nothing has been sanded yet. This stuff had already had the old nails removed, which was part of the appeal of the deal.

And here they are, sanding:

The crazy thing about yurt flooring is that you have to put it down before you put the yurt up because the yurt lattice will sit right on the floor—so you can’t finish it once the yurt is up (unless you’re willing to leave a strip unfinished around the edges). Once they started laying the stuff down, the race was on to get it finished and the yurt up, before the next rain. How do they do this part in Seattle, I wonder?

On the night before the yurt was to go up, they were projecting 30% chance of showers, so Paul rigged up the biggest tarp on the planet. Here he is, putting on another coat of finish before the big Yurt Raising.

Luckily, it did not rain a drop. Phew.

Here is what the floor looked like once it was sanded, and finished:

Absolutely beautiful.

There are lots of places to get used flooring. Craigslist is a good source of scrap from larger projects, though the quantities may be small. Sometimes you can get the extra that a person ordered that was never installed, extra boxes/bundles from a big job. Other time it might be used and you’ll have to take out the old nails. Either way, you can get some really nice flooring for incredibly cheap. Other options are to get the flooring that is being pulled up in a remodeling job—this is how we got our yurt floor. Another good source is used building supply stores—there is a big Habitat store near here that we use for a lot things. Of course, if you have to get flooring from several sources in order to get enough for your project, it’s better to go with unfinished stuff, because when you sand it down, it will all be the same anyway.

But back to the present. We—or rather, Paul—is putting flooring down in the little Noah House today. With the yurt, he had to finish the floor after it was put down, but this time he is using pre-finished stuff, mostly because he got a good deal on a used flooring gun off of craigslist that came with a load of the stuff. With recycled building, sometimes you have to take what’s available when you need it and make it work.

Here is the truck load of scraps from someone else’s floor. An advantage to building a tiny house is that the leftover scrap from some huge McMansion is enough to be valuable material at the tinier scale.

Here Paul is using a grinder to cut off the old nails. This goes pretty quickly, and puts off cool looking sparks. The kids love that part. Luc especially liked the job of gathering up the cut off nails with one of his dump trucks and driving them to the Nail Dump. With sound effects.

When you’re ready to lay the floor, you put tar paper down, then start putting in one strip at a time, using the flooring nail gun to fix it into place. The pictures below are from from the little 6×6 extension on the side of the Noah House. It would have been Noah’s bathroom, but I think we’ll make it into a Luc Room, with a fun-to-climb bunk bed sort of arrangement that Paul will build. A cool little boy space.

Okay, flooring guns. Basically, your options are to buy a new gun (expensive, and if you don’t have a huge job, a waste once you’re done, though reselling might be a good option), buy a used gun (might not work, no returns), rent a gun (time consuming to go get it and return it, and you have to get all the work done in one day as the cost for more than one day is often the same as the cost of a used gun), or hammer it in in by hand (takes a very long time, wearing on your muscles, not as finished a result, could be a good choice if the area is very small). Like I said, Paul opted to get a used gun—he’ll probably resell it and recoup most of the cost.

Here he is using it.

It’s a cool, very specialized tool, holding the flooring strip in place, lining up the nail, and driving it in when you hit the back of it with a mallet. It fires the nail in with a puff of air (the red hose is going to a compressor), so you don’t have to apply a lot of force (which is hard on your body, especially with a big floor). It’s very fast. Boom, boom, boom.

The advantage, obviously, with the pre-finished stuff, is that once you get it down, you’re done. And it’s pretty, as well offering a durable surface—good for a little boy’s room. If he was using regular flooring, once it was in place he would have to sand it (probably renting a sander) and then finish it with tung oil, or polyurethane, or whatever suited the situation. I actually like the way the regular flooring looks, better, as there is a beveled groove on the pre-finished that bothers me (instead of the pieces fitting flush with each other), and the finish looks a little fake. But for what we paid, and for what it’s being used for—and the fact that we got it with the gun—it’s a good choice for this space.

Here is the completed floor in that little room.

Pretty, huh? With a space this small, the whole thing only took a few hours. Happy flooring!

how to recycle a tiny house, day five

After taking a day off for the big snow, the guys were back at work for their fifth day recycling our new, tiny house (see the last few posts for details if you are new to the story). They arrived just about the time I was going out to the barn. Here is Fancy saying “Good morning,” and “What took you so long?”

As I blearily made my way up the path, a grinding noise and then pop! Out fell a piece of the wall. We’d decided on an extra window and here they are, putting it in before I’ve even cleaned out the milker.

Here Monty is on the inside, trimming out the new hole.

And here the window is a hour later, installed, and surrounded by shiny siding.

Next came the interior walls, pine beadboard….

and while that was going on, outside, they got the deck started.

Meanwhile, Sophie was also hard at work building her own house.

I love the back view.

By the afternoon, the deck was nearly done.

And the interior was starting to look quite lovely.

The ceiling and the walls in little side room were the last things remaining unfinished as they packed up for the day.

Here is the view from the back at the end of day five.

And the front.

From a pile of junk, it has regained it’s cuteness! It was there, and now it is here, re-materialized, reconstituted, resurrected! Recycled!

My favorite country music lyrics of the day are also celebratory:

Maybe I’ll get me a new tattoo, or take my harley on a three day cruise, or even grow me a fu man chu….

Tomorrow, they’ll finish up the last details, and then, this weekend, we’ll get the electricity running out to it and start to fill it with…well, toys, probably. Oodles and oodles of toys. Books, too, as Paul has promised me mucho book shelves for my birthday, and maybe that will ease the book pressure as we currently have leaning towers of books on every surface, those not already covered with toys, in the yurt. We need to get a couch, maybe one of those futon ones that open into a bed—future guests, rejoice! And a railing for Sophie’s loft, and, and, and—

Moving the house is nearly complete—now comes the fun part of turning into part of our home.

ETA: They finished on day six. On the seventh day they rested. And Paul got to work. Ceiling sheetrock, oak flooring, interior trim and bookshelves…all lie before us. I mean, before him. But the moving of the house is complete and the recycling experiment is a success. This house cost my cousin Noah about $7000 in materials to build, and cost us about $4000 to move. Go tiny, and building a house becomes quite doable!

ETA 8/1/2009: Here you can see pictures of the finished interior. Woo hoo!

Click here to go back to day four, the afternoon.

how to recycle a tiny house, day four, afternoon

Continuing on in the amazing process of recycling an entire house. Here we are after the guys came back to work after lunch.

Monty started working inside, making the door between the two sections, putting up the loft, putting in the electrical outlets, etc, while Matt and Jose worked on the siding on the little side room.

Here are some shots of the inside so far.

Next, they started putting the tin on the roof. Sophie was totally interested in this part, I think because of the danger-factor of these guys high up in the air. She’s going to be one of those people they drop out of helicopters to snow board or something, little danger-junkie that she is. She took these pictures. I love the one of their feet.

Next the windows.

Jose continued on putting up the siding. It’s starting to look like itself again!

Here is how it looked as they were packing up for the day.

Recall that this:

is how it looked that morning, just eight hours before! A platform. That’s it. Now there is a house! How weird is that?

At the rate they work, they have maybe a day left, finishing the siding, and putting up the interior walls and ceiling. Oh, and the deck. The kids and I have had a great time watching them—it really is like a circus act, what with the ladder walking, speed building, and feats of strength. At one point they were throwing things up to the roof guy—tape measure, extension cord, pieces of wood, cordless drills—as needed the ground guy would just toss a thing high, high, high, to have it plucked effortlessly out of the air by the roof guy, whomever it was at the moment. It was like a dance, and they had obviously practiced a million times. That was cool.

And it’s a darn good thing they got so much done in one day, because here is what it looked like the next morning:

Covered in snow! I hope they take today off.

Click here to go back to day four, the morning. Click here to go to day five.

how to recycle a tiny house, day four

After taking the weekend off, the carpentry crew was back at eight this morning, slamming it into gear with their incredibly loud music and their hammers and full on get-it-done work ethic. I’ve been staring through the window in awe at their industry.

They’d been here about 45 minutes when it looked like this.

It’s just amazing to watch a building appear where there was nothing. Essentially, a recycled house is a pre-fab house—my cousin Noah fabricated it in its old spot. The fact that it is so small means four guys can handle a whole wall section and the whole thing is going up like a magic trick. Watch….

After getting the outer three walls up, they started on the tricker (because of the height) front fall, muscling it into position.

You can see the outer two guys are hauling ass on ropes while the two inside guys do their Incredible Hulk faces as they push that thing up. Then the rope guys held it while the ladder guys scurried around fixing it into place. I think I held my breath the whole time. It probably best that I’m not a carpenter or I would keep passing out from lack of oxygen.

Next came the lower front wall panel.

You see the guy on the ladder? Ladders to me are things to try to make absolutely stable—they are NOT TO MOVE while I am on them. But these dudes think of ladders more like…stilts. Or maybe surf boards. They just stick’em there, scurry up, and it’s rocking back and forth as the lean here or there, stretched way the hell out—one guy even kind of walked his ladder down the wall, while he was standing on it. It’s a carpentry circus out there.

Paul, who used to be into rock climbing, scoffs at ladders. He tends to just crawl up the walls, balancing the ball of one foot on some invisible ledge on the wall, swinging a leg up and over the roof edge, hammering out on some precipice like he’s a spider monkey. A spider monkey with a hammer. I, on the other hand, am good at standing here with my coffee and watching out the window. That’s my part in all this. Oh, and I take pictures. They’ve all been really good natured about my picture taking. But I suspect they think I’m a fruitcake.

Back to the action. The roof.

This guy, Monty, is up twenty feet in the air, his feet balanced on those little rafters, hammering away, like its nothing.

I was impressed, anyway.

Here’s what it looked like from the back after about three hours.

Four hours in…

And it’s time for lunch.

I snuck this picture through the yurt window—they just looked so cute, sitting in a row like that, admiring their progress. And they should. They’ve been busting their humps out there, drinking their red bull and blasting their country music. Yurt walls let sound pass right through, which can be cool at night, listening to the owls outside—but that country music is as loud in the yurt as it is out there for the guys to hear over the pounding of their hammers, and I’m realizing I’ve never really listened to country music. Most of the songs start with something like, “Sometimes I hate my job,” or, “My brother just got out of prison,” but then by the end they seem to be about gratitude, like, “my ticker keeps on ticking,’ or, “I’ve got a cold bear on a friday night.” Appreciating the small things in life. I can get behind that, I reckon.

Half the day’s work is done. Tune in for the afternoon’s update!

Click here to go to day four, the afternoon. Click here to go back to day three.

how to recycle a tiny house, day three

The guys brought the Noah House to its new home the morning of the third day. This the first load, pulling up to the yurt at 8:30 in the morning. Be glad there isn’t a picture of pre-coffee me, staggering outside to answer questions about where to put stuff. Scary.

The sun is coming in from the east and the piles are beginning.

Second load delivered. The piles are getting taller and sun is higher in the sky.

It’s a big jigsaw puzzle isn’t it?

Third and final load.

The sunlight is coming from the other side of the yard now and the guys start putting together the floor platform.

I tried to be a good hostess and cultivate plenty of carpenter good-will by bringing them hot tea and blueberry muffins. It didn’t hurt, anyway. Here they have put in the foundation posts and are moving the first floor piece into place.

Second floor piece. The sun is going down now and they are in shade again.

The floor is complete. Here is a shot from morning the next day:

Tonight is the coldest night in our area in years, a predicted low of 7. With all these house pieces in the yard, I’m just glad there is no rain in the forecast. Tune in for further updates as the walls and roof go up…

Click here to go back to day two. Click here to go to day four.

how to recycle a tiny house, day two

The crew was hard at work on the second morning. Here is what it looked like when we went over to the old site.

Here is the roof. Just a pile of stuff.

Then we came back about four hours later and the whole house was just a pile of stuff!

It’s hard to imagine this could ever be something worthwhile again. I must have faith!

Here is the trailer and the guys loading it up.

Here is the forlorn little platform that the house used to sit on. It looks so tiny like this!

And here is some framing from the small sticky-outie part of the house. At least these sections look sort of like they could be something.

Putting wall sections onto the trailer.

The guys were working hard, hustling these giant pieces of house onto the trailer. I felt like a total girl, “Ooo, such strong muscles!” as I was walking around taking pictures, and trying like heck not to get in the way. Go guys!

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment—the trailer full of house arrives at the yurt!

Click here to go back to day one. Click here to go to day three.