Hi There!

Well, I figured I better write a little something today….  I was quoted in an article at ozy.com.  Kind-of quoted, really.  A writer from the on-line magazine had called me several months ago because they were doing a piece on ‘tiny houses.’  I let them know that although the tiny house movement seemed very similar to living in a trailer and actually liking it, the two are not the same.

Tiny home people tend to have money and time to invest in their endeavor.  They are making the choice to live there in order to simplify, leave a smaller carbon footprint, or just see if they can do it – one of those things that just sounded like a good idea at the time.

People who find themselves living in a trailer suddenly, in their 30’s or 40’s, because of their job situation, a bankruptcy, a divorce, or a lousy decision, but who still consider themselves contributing members of society, and maybe even a bit stylish, are the ones who choose to make the most of a crappy situation.

That’s where my friends and I fit in….  It’s been 5 years since my life took a turn for the worst, and although moving into a run-down trailer was pretty much my only option at the time, it has truly been an awesome decision.  I love my tiny little trailer!  Sure it has some quirks about it that you don’t find in a stick-built home – tiny or otherwise.  For instance, a few months ago when the pipe going into the back of my toilet decided to break free from the constraints of toilet-tank life and shoot water all over my home, only the flooring in half of my place was ruined (because the pink trailer is not even slightly level).  But I love my tiny home.

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In fact I love it so much, that when I got married (yes, married) 9 months ago, he moved from upstate New York into the pink trailer.  So now instead of 450 square feet all to myself, I am sharing it.  But so far so good, I dare say he even likes it a little bit (he has never ever lived in a trailer before).

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So a lot has happened in the year I’ve been missing from my blog – I got engaged, married, went to Canada, Fiji, San Francisco, upstate New York, and Denver, and even had some house guests along the way.  Things are good, and the trailer is still as quirky as ever.  🙂

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Fiji

Rebecca Knabe Conti

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Living Comfortably in 400 (or less) Square Feet, According to Bob Vila

Posted by Rebecca

There’s a Bob Vila article buzzing around the internet today that has some great tips and photos to help you either make the leap to smaller-space living, or help you in your current small space home.  My little trailer is about 450 square feet of living space.  Here’s the gist of the article, but be sure to check out the full article for more information and a complete photo gallery.

–  Use a beautiful armoire as a home office.  The best part?  When guests arrive, just close the doors – no messy office to tidy.

–  Fill your tiny home with double-duty furniture, like ottomans or end tables that store clothing or blankets.

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–  If you have higher ceilings, hang shelves up to 18 inches from the ceiling for extra decorative storage or for your books.

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–  Glass, clear acrylic, or Lucite furniture can open up the space and add a modern touch.

–  Mount a shallow shelf above your kitchen or bathroom sink for pretty towels or bottles of soap and lotion.

–  Lighter colors give the illusion of space, so use them generously.

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–  Make like Julia Child and hang your pots and pans on the wall or from the ceiling to free up some cupboard space.

–  Use mirrors behind sofas, beds or other large pieces of furniture to expand the visual boundaries of the room.

–  A strategically placed book shelf can serve as a room divider and a major storage unit, all in one.

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–  Allow your tiny home to be flooded with natural light.  Keep windows clear, and if you must cover them, opt for sheer fabrics and shades to let in some beautiful filtered light.

Learning to live in a tiny place is challenging, but worth it.  Think of all the extra time, energy, and money you will save when you no longer have a large home to pay for and upkeep.

Rebecca Knabe

The Eight-Step Home Cure – Week 2

Posted by Rebecca

Ok, Week 1 is done and I’ve cleaned and removed stuff and bought flowers and sat quietly in my home.  Ready for Week 2!  Here is the list for this week:

Week Two:

Fix one thing in your home yourself.  Use the list you made last week of things that need to be done, and select one to fix.  Do it yourself and do it well.  By taking the time to pay attention to your home and heal one small thing, it will help you to connect with and energize your living space.

Clean your kitchen from top to bottom and throw away old food.  This is a biggie!  Clean all surfaces inside and out – counters, cabinets, fridge, floor, stove, etc.  Remove all food that is expired or has been unused for more than 12 months, get rid of nearly-empty containers and combine any doubles.  Get rid of all cups, glasses, and dishes that are chipped, stained, or unmatching; as well as any cookware that you don’t use.  If you find that you need new glasses or dishes at the end of this project, inexpensive and stylish sets can be found at stores like World Market, TJ Maxx, or Target.

Buy a water filter and use it.  While there are some fancy systems that can be installed to the plumbing under your sink, Brita, or other water purification companies offer inexpensive pitchers that can be kept in the fridge.  These will cost just a few dollars a year, and help remove a number of chemicals and microorganisms from your drinking water.

Run your hand over every wall in your home.  This sounds weird, but start at the front door and make your way around your home, behind the furniture, touching every wall with your hands.  This is an observation exercise that will teach you things you never knew about your home – which walls are hot or cold, which are drafty, which get dirty, which are solid or hollow.  By coming to know the physical structure better, you will be alerted to things that would improve it, as well as possibly find new ideas for arranging each room.

Clear a space for an “Outbox.”  An outbox helps you get rid of clutter in your home without the initial commitment.  The idea is to remove items from your home and place them in the outbox for a week.  If you don’t miss the item you can get rid of it permanently – either by throwing away, giving away, or donating.  If you do miss the item or have a difficult emotional reaction to living without the item, it’s not gone yet so you can re-introduce it into your home.  Once you get used to the idea of separating from your possessions first and disposing of them later, you may find you want to put more and more items in the outbox, making the process of clearing-out quick and easy.  An outbox should be a permanent fixture in your home, so find a spot inside or outside, where you can sacrifice some space.  I have had an outbox for a while.  It’s in a bottom drawer of one of my dressers – it’s out-of-the-way and neatly kept under wraps, but available to fill at any time.

Clear one surface and use the outbox.  Starting small, choose one surface, either a bookshelf or a dresser top or kitchen counter, and try clearing it by letting go of as much as you can.  Ask yourself: Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Does my house need it?  If your answer to any of these questions is no, put it in the outbox for a week, and then decide if you are ready to get rid of it, or bring it back into your home.

Buy fresh flowers.  Just like last week, if your fresh flowers have wilted, replace them with new ones.

Find a new recipe and cook one meal at home.  Cooking and eating at home are central to the well-being of your house.  Using your home daily for nourishment connects you to your food, your kitchen, and your dining room.  And it smells great!  Peruse your cookbooks, look on-line, or ask a friend for a recipe to try.  Find something easy, but healthy, to warm your home and feed your body.  And be sure to do your dishes before you go to bed.

That is the end of the projects for Week 2.  I hope they go well for you.  Happy curing!  🙂

Check out these cool vintage trailer note cards from Four to Go Design on Etsy. Click on the photo to get a closer look.

Rebecca Knabe

P.S. All the directions for The Eight-Step Home Cure are taken from the Apartment Therapy book by the same name. And you can get your very own copy here…. Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure

The Eight-Step Home Cure – Week 1

Posted by Rebecca

The cure is organized into 8 weekly segments that are designed to walk you through deep cleaning, repairs, and home improvement that will help you create “strong new habits for the way you live at home.”

In the book that we are following – Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure – the program is divided into two programs.  One is Deep Treatment, which “leads you through all steps necessary for deeply revitalizing your home at minimal expense.”  The second is One-Room Remedy, “for those who are ready to transform one room of their home.”

On this blog we are doing the less expensive portion of the cure – the Deep Treatment.  Each week I will give you the list of ‘To Do’s,’ some instruction, direction or explanation, and my personal progress.  So let’s begin!

Week One:

Make a complete list of repairs and solutions for your home.  Walk through your entire home and make a complete list of needed repairs.  This includes things like chairs that need fixing, tiles that need replacing, a clogged drain, a drippy faucet, and burnt out light bulbs.  Write it all down.  If you have a major repair or two that you cannot complete yourself, do the research to shop around for a competent person to do the job.

Vacuum and mop all the floors.  Deep cleaning the floors in this way will help you become acquainted with every corner of your home, and the general flow of your house.  If vacuuming requires a lot of shuffling around boxes, furniture, or books, make a mental note that these items need a new location, either in or out of your home.  Be sure to clean under furniture too – couches, dressers, beds.

Remove one item from your home and move it outside.  This is breaking you into the idea of getting rid of unused items around your house.  Find one item in your home (the bigger the better) that you no longer use, but is still in good shape.  Donate it or give it to a friend.  If you have more than one item that you want to get rid of, go for it.  Overattachment to possessions is going to be something strongly addressed during the cure.  Excessive emotional attachment to possessions is unhealthy and can throw off the balance between what you own and the space you have to house it all.  This can be a difficult process for some, but bear with me; the end result transfers energy and excitement to the whole process.

Buy fresh flowers.  Fresh flowers in your home are an affordable luxury that instantly enliven and beautify your living space.  It also sets a standard for attention to detail that will inspire you each day on your return home.  Look at stores like Costco and Trader Joe’s for the lowest prices on fresh flowers.  Or pick something pretty from the yard.

Sit for 10 minutes in a part of your home that you never sit in.  To shift your perspective and gain some insight into a room that is bothering you or that intrigues you, find a spot in one room that you have never sat in.  Either on the floor or in a chair, sit for 10 minutes without the distraction of TV, music, or your phone.  As you sit, imagine the room empty.  Observe the part of the room that you like the least and imagine taking away all the furniture; then return only the items that make you feel good.  Try to isolate the pieces that don’t work for you.  This will help you to single out the specific changes that you want to make, without the overwhelming feeling of changing the entire room.

Look into earth-friendly cleaning products.  Daily we come in contact with cleaning products for our houses and our bodies.  Many of these are harmful to the environment and our own health.  Earth-friendly products give your home a healthier feel because they don’t have harsh artificial or chemical scents.  So browse for these products at your local grocery or drug store, or peruse items on-line.  Decide if there are a few earth-friendly products that you would like to try, instead of your current cleaning brands.

Ok, that’s it.  6 ‘To Do’s’ for this week.  Give at least a few, if not all of them a try.  Happy Curing!!  🙂

Rebecca Knabe

P.S.  All the directions for The Eight-Step Home Cure are taken from the Apartment Therapy book by the same name.  And you can get your very own copy here…. Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure

Artwork by Margaret Crusoe – Click on the photo to see this lovely card in her etsy store

Could You Live in a 120-Square-Foot House?

Posted by Rebecca

What about 250-square-feet?  Or 360, or 450?

Several of my friends and I have made the leap.  I live in a palatial 450 square feet, while one of my friends lives with her husband in around 400 square feet, another is with her husband in 360, and another with her son in a little over 300.  One of my single friends shares her 232 square foot 5th wheel with her chubby cat.

How do we do it?  Organization, practice, and learning to live with less.  Why do we do it?  This article from yahoo.ca mentions 4 great reasons:

Low (or no) mortgage. ‘This can be freeing both financially and personally. “My life is less expensive, which gives me more time to enjoy it,” says one of the individuals interviewed.  He uses his extra free time hiking, writing songs, building guitars, and growing food in a small garden.’

A few of my neighbors found their trailers for free (yes, free!), paid for renovations as they made them, and are left with no house payment, just a small monthly space rent.  I paid $5,000 for my trailer, and put about $4,000 into it.  Pretty cheap for a lovely home!

Lower utility costs. ‘Tiny house dwellers have several options for utilities. Those who are eco-conscious appreciate not just the lower utility costs but the smaller environmental impact. Electricity or a water heater that is fueled from a solar panel can be a great option.’

If you don’t have the resources for solar energy, electricity and water can still be very inexpensive in a small home.  My electric bill is around $20 in the summer and $80 in the winter.

Trailers often use propane as an energy source.  This can be affordable for cooking appliances, but may run a little high for furnaces.  For this coming winter I’ve decided to stop using my central heat, which is run on propane and can be extremely expensive in the cold months.  After a lot of research I’ve decided on an infrared heater.  Here’s hoping it does the trick.  I’ll keep you posted.

Artwork by Zan Packard – this note card can be purchased at her etsy store. Click on this photo and check it out! 🙂

Less clutter. ‘A smaller living space pushes the homeowners to cut down on their possessions, but that means they have fewer belongings to maintain and spend less time searching for lost items. “It’s amazing, we just don’t need all that room or that much stuff,” says another individual, who’s previously lived on a sailboat.  Another says, “I’m still winnowing my belongings down, but that is a liberating process.”

‘Unlike a huge house with endless rooms to fill, a small home acts as a deterrent for buying more stuff. Everything in a tiny space has to be functional.’  If it’s not, see if you can part with it.

Financial freedom.  We all know people who are never around to enjoy their big houses because they are constantly working to pay for them.  Just think of all the free time you would have if your cost of living was greatly reduced, and you didn’t have to work so hard to pay for it!

Be sure to check out the full article here.  Some of these tiny home inhabitants have even found a way to live without electricity or running water….  But let’s not go crazy now, I’m not quite ready to give up hot showers or my flat iron!

Rebecca Knabe

Life in a Tiny Apartment

Posted by Rebecca

Reading My Tea Leaves is a blog by Erin Boyle who shares a 240 square foot Brooklyn, New York apartment with her husband, James.  Her blog features a series called Life in a Tiny Apartment that lists survival tips for teeny-tiny-space living.  So far, she has posted 26 tips which include these great ideas:

– Organize your closet.  One way to accomplish this is by using uniform hangers.  These hangers – Ultra Thin No Slip Velvet Suit Hangers – are excellent space-savers and look great too.

– Make the bed.  If my home is locked I have to enter by the back door, which spits you right into my bedroom.  For the first time in my life, I make sure to make the bed every morning.  It is awful coming home to a disheveled room, and since the bed takes up most of the room’s area, it must be neat and welcoming every day.

–  Take out your recycling.  Most small homes have small garbage cans to match.  If your area offers recycling, don’t wait for it to stack up….  Take it out right away.  It reduces clutter, and frees up space for other kitchen junk.

–  Compost.  Composting is another super way to cut down on your garbage can usage and stinkage.  If you don’t have a garden of your own, Erin recommends freezing your compostable items until you have a chance to donate them to someone who would love them.  I have a garden, but I also have a dog who moonlights as a garbage disposal.  If I even attempted a compost pile, Cassi would happily eliminate it everyday.  But I have a neighbor who is just itching to receive my peels and pits and whatnots, so I have a bucket with a lid to collect these nutrient-rich delectables.

– Unpack your bag.  If you go on a trip, don’t wait to unpack when you return.  It will save you many detours and stubbed toes, as you attempt to navigate around your luggage.

–  Buy baskets with lids.  I’m not a basket gal.  I once lived on a dirt road, and the house and everything in it was perpetually covered in a layer of fine dirt.  To me, wicker and baskets are just country-cozy dust collectors that you can never fully clean.  But I agree with the idea – all your storage items should have a lid so it can double as a table or a stool; and all your tables and stools should have a storage compartment.  If an item in your tiny home doesn’t serve double duty, you better really love it.  If not, get rid of it.

– Get a tiny dish rack.  I have a nice chrome one from Ikea that I usually fold up and put away, but if it’s left on the counter it doesn’t look too bad.  Make sure your kitchen is as efficient and streamlined as possible.

–  Splurge on pretty towels.  Chances are your towels will be on display – either on hooks or open shelves.  When I moved into the pink trailer I kept only the towels that matched, and were fluffy and not showing age.  You will only need a few towels, so make sure you love them and they look great.

Check out Erin’s blog for more small space survival tips, as well as yummy recipes, do it yourself projects, and great photography.

Rebecca Knabe

How Not to Be a Hoarder

Posted by Rebecca

Hoarding is relative, relatively speaking.  Some of us like the more lived-in cutsy-cozy look, and some of us are minimalists.  Some of us are very sentimental, and others, not so much.  And, some of us just like to have more stuff.  But the important thing to remember, no matter what our style is, get rid of the stuff that isn’t important or useful in order to help keep your home comfortable and clean.

Apartment Therapy (I know, I know, I can’t get enough of them) has some ideas on how to scale down and clean out.  My favorite ideas in the article are:

– Remove furniture that blocks hallways and walkways and choose smaller items that fit into the space, allowing room to breathe.

– Lose furniture that you don’t use, like tables designated only to hold piles of stuff that should be tossed.

– Clear out stuff from under the bed and under pieces of furniture that you can see.  Believe me, I know how valuable storage is in a small space, but if the piece of furniture is overwhelmed by the stuff stored under it, it may be time to eliminate that clutter.

– Recycle, donate, file at the beginning of every season.  If you didn’t wear or use it during the previous season, consider removing it for good.

– Recycle junk mail as soon as you receive it, or better, cancel it.

Read the whole article here, and Happy Un-Hoarding!!

Rebecca Knabe