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.


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).


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.  🙂



Rebecca Knabe Conti


Four Years


Four years is a relatively long time.  It’s enough time to graduate from college, or give birth to two separate elephants (although I would only recommend this if you were an actual elephant).  It is also the length of time I’ve lived in the pink trailer.  And that is the longest I have lived in any home, other than the one in which I grew up.

There have been ups and downs in my little portable palace, but overall, it’s been a good time.  And it has been a great life lesson.  Here is what I’ve learned:

Less is more.  Living in a tiny space forces you to keep only essentials.  This means I have fewer clothes, shoes, keepsakes, mementos, and furniture.  But it also means that the things I do have, I love!  It is very satisfying to love all the things you see in your home.  And when you fall out of love with a certain item, or curtain, or whatever it may be, then you can replace it with a new love.

Don’t always feel like you deserve better.  I’m not taking about sociological or psychological behavior – of course nobody deserves to be abused or anything like that.  What I’m talking about is the way advertisers love to tell you, “You deserve the best!”  “You’re worth it!”  “Get the ____________ that you deserve.”  These slogans are out there, not to remind you that as a human you should hold your head up high and realize you are special, but to sell you crap you don’t need.  To make you believe your life will be better if you have newer things, a faster car, a bigger house.  But all these things often just lead to a larger debt.  So if piles of bills is your thing, then by all means, you deserve to go and max out your credit cards.  But if a happy life is your thing, realize that the size or grandiosity of your home is no reflection of what is in your heart.

Contentment is key.  I have an uncle who is an atheist, and we were at lunch together a few years ago when the host prayed before the meal.  One of the things he prayed for was to be content with what he had.  Although he is non-religious, my uncle was very impressed with that thought, and decided to remind himself of that idea regularly.  To be content.  The desire to keep up materially and economically with those around you will literally drive you crazy.  Learn to accept what you have, as well as your situation.  Reuse your things, fix stuff that breaks, and feel the beauty that comes with feeling satisfied with what you have.

Keep your eye simple.  This means don’t complicate your life with acquisitions.  Yes, sometimes it would be really fun to own a boat and a quad and a dirt bike and a snowmobile and a….  But all those things need maintenance and time, and honestly, how much would I use them?  It’s the same with a home – a guest bedroom would be great, and an extra room for a ping pong table, and a space for a big dining room table for large formal dinner parties, and a separate living room and family room which would be great for entertaining….  But, honestly, would the number of times a year I would have an out-of-town guest or a formal dinner party really be worth all the extra money I would have to pay for a place big enough to support those moments?  For some people it would be worth it, but not for me.

Swallowing your pride isn’t as bad as you’d think.  My neighbor, Natasha, and I were roommates long ago – back in the 20th century – and we often laugh about how our 20something selves would be horrified that our 30-40something selves are living in a trailer park.  We were too proud.  And we were too worried about what others may think.  Now?  We realize that choosing to live the way we do has nothing to do with being “trailer trash,” but how we want to spend our time and money.  And it has a lot to do with our own creativity.  It’s much easier (and takes way less time, money, and effort) to renovate and re-renovate a trailer than it would a stick-built home.

Success in life has nothing to do with stuff.  I work at an estate planning law firm, and regularly meet with clients who have more stuff than they can list or remember.  They are busy trying to decide who will get the stuff they’ve forgotten they have when they die.  Sometimes they like to micro-manage their assets from the grave.  Often they have a larger retirement account than they do a measure of happiness.  And that is sad.  Focus on your quality of life, rather than your quantity of stuff, and when you die those around you will be so sorry to see you go, rather than kinda excited at the prospect of inheriting your junk.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve learned.  A lot of it I knew, but putting it in action is much more monumental.  And most of those points are generally related.  Basically, be happy with what you have, don’t long for what you don’t.  Live small.

Puffins are happy just hanging out.  I should be too.

Puffins are happy just hanging out. I should be too.

Rebecca Knabe

Liam and Jake

Jake & Liam

Jake & Liam

~Expeditions do not always have to be solitary ventures, as true happiness is often shared~

My baby brother, Liam, who is not such a baby anymore, and his friend, Jake, are soon to set off on the ultimate small-space-living adventure.  The two of them plan to ski out their front doors in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, and travel along the Great Divide by foot to Mexico, where they will complete their journey on bicycle.  Their transcontinental trip will incorporate 3 self-propelled sports – skiing, hiking, and cycling – all while utilizing a backpacker’s tent for shelter.  And I imagine a very stinky tent at that….

According to Liam and Jake, their endeavors are both adventure-seeking and educational:  “Through this trip, we will travel through areas we have only heard about and seen postcards of. We will discover lands in our own country we didn’t even know existed. We hope to experience local cultures, and meet interesting people. Since the trip will include three different countries, we will be able to compare Canada to other nations, thereby hopefully gaining new insight and perspective on our home.”

You can follow their progress on their blog:  A DoorStep Adventure.  They plan to begin late-April, and finish roughly at the end of the year.

The pair have calculated the cost, and it’s hefty, as I’m sure you can imagine.  If you would like to donate to their adventure, you can make donations here.  Any amount (even $1) is appreciated!  As an added bonus, a donation of $75 or more will earn you a fancy new hat, knitted by the one and only Liam Harrap.  Here I am in my very own Liam creation.  As you can see, the fit is spectacular.

Favorite Hat

Another way you can help these two, is by joining the journey yourself.  They hope to share portions of the trail with new and old friends, and if you’re willing, provide a stop for a shower and some shelter….  “If you live on the Great Divide/Rockies in either Canada or the USA and are willing to let two possibly grubby gentleman (only when we first arrive, after a shower I am sure we will be quite sparkling and merry) stay a night or two in your home, that would help us enormously! We have our sleeping pads, so all we would need is a comfy floor and some cheery company. ”

So if you would like to help a couple of Canadian lads on the trip of a lifetime, please do – either by monetary donation, food, shelter, shower, or just by following their blog.

Happy travels, Jake and Liam!!

Lots of love, from your favorite sister (and your friend’s favorite sister).

Rebecca Knabe

The Top 5 Things That Don’t Fit in My Trailer

1.  Secretariat.  Sure that Triple Crown Racehorse was only 5’6″, but he weighed nearly 1,200 lbs.  Sometimes during exceptionally vigorous P90X workouts, I worry that I will break through my floorboards.  And, thankfully, I weigh vastly less than that giant fella.  And horses smell bad.  And have freakishly large heads.  Terrifying.


2.  Shaquille O’Neal.  At 7’1″ he won’t fit.  An inch too tall for trailer living.  But it’s ok, because I don’t really know the rules of basketball, and I’m sure he doesn’t really know the rules of trailers, so it’s unlikely we have much in common.

(He's the tall guy in the back)

(He’s the tall guy in the back)

3.  Thailand’s Largest Reclining Buddha, Phra Buddhasaiyas, at Wat Pho.  Not only would it be impossible to get the 150 foot long, 45 foot high statue inside my home, I think the multiple plane tickets needed to get that thing a flight from Bangkok to Reno would be pretty cost prohibitive….

(He's the long guy in the back....)

(He’s the long guy in the back….)

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

Pretty hard to get a decent photo of this gigantor.

4.  The Duggar Family – Jim Bob and Michelle, and their 19 reality-TV-darling offspring.  Technically, they could probably fit.  I’ve had parties with more than 21 in attendance.  But why would anyone want 19 children in a single-wide trailer.  That would just be stupid.


5.  The Z Gallerie Conversation Pit.  9 1/2 feet wide, and 6 1/4 feet long.  Granted, my trailer is 10 feet wide.  But that is the outside measurement.  So if you factor in a few inches of non-existent insulation, baseboards, and the weird thingies that jut out from my windows, there’s no way you could squeeze in that couch.  It also costs nearly as much as I paid for my house, so there’s that.  However, it’s one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever set my tush on, so perhaps I should just sell my place and live on the Conversation Pit.


Rebecca Knabe

5 Small Space Reminders

Yesterday morning’s Daily Shot With Ali Wentworth on Yahoo was an interview with Maxwell Ryan, the Apartment Therapy blog guy.  He gave 5 quick tips for thriving in a small space, and he reminded us, “It’s not the square footage that makes it feel small, but a sense of smallness, or the way your eye moves about the room.”

1.  Have breathing room.  If your book shelf holds 30 books, only put 25 on it.  Don’t fill it up.  Declutter.

2.  Lighting.  There needs to be 3 points of light in every room.  Your eye removes shadowed areas, so to see the entire room, it needs to be lit.

3.  Add some color to white paint to bring a soft hue into your room.  Light colors expand and dark colors contract, so using an “off-white” paint brings in light and color.

4.  Take doors off whenever possible.

5.  Add vertical elements to accentuate height.  Use floor to ceiling elements, like curtains or bookshelves to draw the eye up.

See the whole interview here.

Dornob Solo Shelter

Rebecca Knabe



Do you have any friends that you feel like you’ve known forever?  I have a few.  They know me well, they’ve met my family,  they understand where I come from and where I want to go, they can read me like a book, we have history.

One of those friends is Natasha.  We met about a million years ago – ok maybe it was about 17 years ago – and we are still in each other’s lives.  We came to be roommates in Bend, Oregon in the late 90’s, and now, several years later, we’re trailer-park-mates.  She lives right next door to me.  It’s almost like living together, just without getting on each other’s nerves.  Perfect scenario.

That's me in the center, on the chair.  Natasha is on my right, holding the kid.  The 5 of us lived in a small 2 bedroom house.

That’s me in the center, on the chair. Natasha is on my right, holding the kid. The 5 of us lived in a small 2 bedroom house.

I'm the wench, Natasha is the gypsy.  Renaissance Fair 1997.

I’m the wench, Natasha is the gypsy. Renaissance Fair 1997.

That's us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

That’s us strolling around Athens, Greece in 2000.

This past week, Natasha staked a claim in epic-friend status by helping me build a 242 square foot outdoor paver patio.  Neither of us have attempted this before, so I googled like mad, and with a ton of hard work and sweat, somehow we pulled it off.  I’m pretty sure I owe her a beer or two….




I’m pretty sure we’re Supergirls.  You can almost see our capes under our dresses….


Rebecca Knabe

Living Large in a Small Space, According to the Pros

The March 2007 issue of Metropolitan Home magazine featured several articles on small space living.  Included were tips from designers, architects, and authors on how to make the most of your tiny space.  Enjoy their clever ideas….

James Gauer – Try to let the eye see as much of the floors, walls and ceilings in order to increase the visual space of a room.  Keeping colors the same on these planes, especially from one room to another will help.

Abbey Francis – Make as many furnishings as possible do double duty, like changing tables worked into bookshelves, and beds with built-in storage drawers.

Dan Shipley – Think of the space as an asset that does not necessarily need filling.  Natural light is the least expensive and best furnishing any room can have.


David Droese – Careful planning of every cabinet, closet and storage area can’t be stressed enough.  Get creative and look for any pocket of unused space for additional storage.  And weed out anything nonessential.

Todd Walker – If you have high ceilings, take advantage of the volume of the area; store things up, and consider a small loft.  Sheer curtains offer privacy while maintaining a sense of openness.

Paul Draper – Changing elements seasonally offers the experience of having two different rooms.  This could include decorative elements, as well as furniture structure and hardware.

Marlon Blackwell – Choose design elements that create a sense of order, expressive character, and imagination.  Openings for light and view are essential – they extend the perception of space beyond walls.  Vertical storage makes the best use of a room’s volume.

Rene Gonzalez – Bringing the landscape and the sky inside a space both expands and connects it to its surroundings.  The concept of reflectivity aids this connection.  Mimic colors from outside, bring in natural light, and connect your outdoor and indoor living spaces.


Paul Latham – Consolidate and simplify.  Group objects together while leaving some spaces clear.  Hang a mirror opposite a window wall to visually open the space.

Paul Field – Consider pocket doors to save space, and suspended vanities and credenzas so your eye can move below the space without stopping at their base.

Laurie Smith – When using dark wall paint, contrast it with light furniture.  They become focal points while the corners of the room are blurred with the dark colors.  These focal points enliven and open a space much like a window.

Brian Hughes – Since you don’t need as many furnishings in a small space, buy great quality, comfortable furniture that you love, and that perform multiple functions.

Not all these suggestions are needed, but pick one or two of your favorites and give it a try.  Let me know if something works well for you, or if you have other ideas of your own!  🙂

Rebecca Knabe