Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Home on the Range: Mountain Logging

Home on the Range: Mountain Logging: It already looks like dark snowy clouds are blowing in and it's only mid September, but then again it's mind September in Wyoming ...

Mountain Logging

It already looks like dark snowy clouds are blowing in and it's only mid September, but then again it's mind September in Wyoming so really anything is possible. With the coming cold weather  and the possibility of an exceptionally cold winter it's time for an ago old tradition to take place; the gathering of fire wood. The idea may be lost on many American's throughout the country with the invention of electricity and the use of natural gas to heat most homes. There are not many people now who have to worry about gathering and storing the right about of wood to burn to keep there homes warm this winter. I can thing of a few states where that is an exception, Wyoming being one of them.

When we first moved here I was surprised to find out that people actually still used wood burning stoves to heat there home. The first thing that came to mind was Laura Ingall Wilder's  Little House on the Prairie  books. I mean that's how they heated there home and they were pioneers. I had the impression that people had moved on from that. I thought electricity had replaced our wood burning stove a long time ago. 

Call me a romantic, but can I just say that I'm so glad to be wrong? Now I'm sure some people are raising their eyebrow at that and that's fine. For whatever reason I like to do or at least try out the "old fashioned" ways. I mean if it ain't broken why fix it?  

Just over a week ago our friend Josh took James and I out the mountain to teach us the ticks of trade. Unlike our pioneering ancestors we are not using axes or hand saws to fell our timber, but we are using a very usefully modern machine; the chain saw. While I appreciate the efficacy of chainsaws they still make me nervous and while I'm sure swinging an ax is just as dangerous I might almost prefer to use it instead. Anyhow, Josh got James dialed in on the chainsaw and that's were the fun begins.

When we're looking for fire wood were looking for dead trees that standing or  fallen. Which, here in Wyoming isn't to hard to come by since we've seen an infestation of Pine Beetles. You'll see large section of mountain sides covered in dead timber. It's rather sad to see, but the beetles are here now so the least we can do it clean the forest and make a pace for the young trees to grow up. 
Alright, so we find a section of dead wood and the saws begin to fly.  There is something wonderful about the sound of a tree when it falls. I'm not quit sure how to describe it. Since the "green" movement that has swept our country a lot of people I'm sure would be offended that people are cutting down the forest. Let me remind them, they're dead. If left alone they'd fall over and create great fuel for a wildfire, and don't get me started on that point. 

Falling dead wood is– I don't know liberating? To here the dry trees fall with a crash and to smell the sweet pine is all together something else.  Just to be able to work in the woods is amazing. I don't care what any environmentalist has to say. It is good to clear away dead wood. It is conserving our natural resources. I'm not for just cutting down, it all needs to be done in a cycle and when it is, it is beautiful. 

Whether people will admit to it or not the dead wood will be fuel for one type of fire or another. Using it to heat your home is economical while just letting it be burned in a wild fire is a great waste of one of America's greatest natural resources. Did you know that there are more trees in the US than there was 70 years ago? Roughly one third of the United States is forest land. That's a whopping 747 million acres! 

Sorry, here is another crazy fact to leave you with. It has recently been discovered that there are 3.04 trillion trees in the world. That's 422 trees to every person. I think our forest are just fine, don't you?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Home on the Range: Less is Sometimes More

Home on the Range: Less is Sometimes More: It's the day you've all been waiting for! The tiny house, which I've named Fremont is is finally, after many months, finish...

Less is Sometimes More

It's the day you've all been waiting for! The tiny house, which I've named Fremont is is finally, after many months, finished! Yes! Can you believe it? I know I find it hard to believe, but just over a year ago my husband James and I talked with our good friend Luke Anderson about the idea of building tiny. When we got the go ahead from Luke we started to design this tiny house. Looking back at our first sketches I'm so excited that the finished house looks so similar despite some changes that had to be made for engineering purposes.

The house is nothing short of a master piece, a true work of art. We started building roughly the first week of January and finished in the last week of August. Time is time, some may think it was a long time to build while others might be impressed with the speed but what matters is that it was time well spent. Time used to craft something beautiful. We all felt that it was important to fill this 230 square foot space with top-of -the-line, beautiful appliances and fixtures.  When you're living space is the size of some peoples walk in closet it is imperative to fill it with all things lovely, as you'll see it up closely every day.

 The home is built with standard 2x4 construction in which the studs are placed 16" on center.  When we were looking at insulation we chose to go with spray foam verses the typical fiber glass stuff. This is important because it doesn't allow for any air flow within the wall or ceiling. Oh, and the floors are insulated with EcoBat and reflective insulation and had an R value of roughly 30.  No need to worry about freezing pipes in the winter months.

The exterior siding is tongue and groove cedar which we sealed with a clear coat so you keep the natural color of the wood.  For the roofing we choose to go with tin because the idea is that this home is made to move down the highway. Who has time to deal with shingles blowing off your house as you pull it down the highway?Moving to the interior, the walls are covers in locally grown and milled, beetle killed pine. We wanted to use beetle killed pine because it gives the wood grains these fantastic colors. It is usually a grey blue, but we also had planks with orange, green and purple in them. This livens up the interior and provides a bit of visual interest. So you won't ever find yourself thinking that you live in a wood box. Instead you'll be thinking that your walls are a work of art.

Okay now let me tell you about all the cool features we put in to this house to make it a home. Living small can defiantly be a challenge. I'm sure most people won't even entertain the thought. After all, who would want to come home to a tight, cramped house? I wouldn't. When we came up with our floor plan our goal was to make it functional and livable. Livable for anyone. We wanted to challenge the idea that living small had to be uncomfortable.  Another goal we had that was instrumental in the design was the concept (and hopefully practice) of hospitality.

Most tiny homes are not made to comfortably house more than the one or two people who live in them. That didn't work for us. We wanted people to feel like they could have their friends over without worrying about were they would sit. So when you come into the house you step into the living room, if you will, where we built-in an L-shaped cushioned bench that will fit at least eight people comfortably. Oh, and you can sleep two adults on it so you can have people spend the night too!

Unlike the average tiny house we gave this home a galley kitchen. This allows clear passage from the front door and living space to the back of the house where the bathroom and loft are. This way the linear space is most effectively used. Moving left to right we have a full sized gas range, with about a foot and half counter space before you come to a mammoth white porcelain sink. After another section of acacia wood counter is a full sized stainless steel refrigerator.  Above the counter tops we have five floating shelves.

The lower cabinets and drawers are custom made by a  local cabinet shop to perfectly fit our space. All the drawers are equipped with the soft close feature. To switch things up we choose a gorgeous cherry wood and a soft warm finish and it's not just a vainer, but these are sold wood cabinets. They will not fall apart on you like an average cabinet which is made with partial board. Like I said above it was crustal to have high-end, well-made finishes in this house.
Past the refrigerator we have an compact dryer unit. Yes! It's true, you will be able to do laundry in this house. This single unit compact wash/dryer is the perfect size for this house and give yet just one more functional feature making it more livable. Above this unit is an amazing Rinnai instant gas water heater. With a flow rate of 4 gallon a minute this heater is more than capable to fill all the hot water needs of this house.

Moving past a hand made sliding barn door you come to a spa-like bath room. On the far wall you have a built-in utility closet and a small wardrobe. We left a space for a standard sized toilet at the end of the house. Some may thinks it's odd not to have put one in, but you know toilets are pretty personal. We felt that it was important to let the buyer decide what kind of toilet they want to install. Originally we were planning on putting in a composting toilet since this would allow the owner more freedom as to the location they may end up in. It could also be plumbed for a septic system.
Personally I would prefer the composting toilet. To me  it allows for the most freedom. It frees you from having to dispose of black water and I can park my home anywhere with out having to worry about hooking up to a septic system, but I'll stop there. Their are pros and cons to any type of toilet you pick.

The shower-I love this shower. Now we're facing the front of the home. In the corner is a full sized shower. I chose white sub-way tile because it's clean and classic with a gray grout to make it feel warmer. The floor is covered in small river rocks. Are you starting to feel relaxed yet? If you're not, just wait, you will.  For a shower head we chose a rain shower.
This way you don't have to worry about water spraying all over the place.Yes I know, how luxurious, right?  Exposed copper piping transports the water and to wrap up this super relaxing shower are glass walls!

Now moving to the right from the shower we have the vanity. The cabinet is made just like the ones in the kitchen with a dark walnut stained birch butcher block for the counter top.  On top of the counter we have a white porcelain bowl sink and a sleek stainless steal faucet.  Next to the vanity is another closet, for added storage.  

Are you ready to go up in the loft yet? Going along with the theme of livable tiny home we choose to give you stairs  instead of a ladder.  The stairs are made of angle iron and each step is welded on. The idea for these steps was to make them feel like they were floating. So you can see through them and it gives you the feeling of openness.  This loft is roughly 8' by 9'; large enough to fit a queen sized mattress.   Flanking each side of the bed are reading lamps with individual on/off switches.  Since we love big space in our tiny house we made sure that the slope of the roof was tall enough so you could sit up comfortably in bed without worrying about hitting your head.

Coming back down to the main floor a few feet for the end of the stair we have what is probably my second favorite thing this is house. I call it my coffee table. Basically it's a fixed table coming off the wall which looks through a huge picture window.  I can just imagine myself sitting there with my cup off coffee writing or working a sketch.  This space was also built to double as extra counter top space and a kitchen table.  Or for any other reason you can think of.

To heat this space we chose a Dickinson boat heater, which also runs of propane. This heater is a real space saver since it is mounted to the wall. I was a little worried that it wouldn't fit in with our rustic modern look, but it fit right in with everything else in the home. It sits on the wall to the right of the door as you walk in.

Congratulation, you just finished the basic tour of the Fremont. What do you think? I hope it challenged your perception of what it means to live tiny. We wanted to prove that living tiny could also mean living well, even luxuriously.  As you see it doesn't have to be cramped or uncomfortable. You don't have to give up your social life to live in one of our tiny homes.

Living small is one of the best ways to live large. Once you realize it isn't the amount of materialistic things you own that makes you content it allows you to focus less on yourself and more on others. It allows you the freedom to spend time creating experiences rather than just taking care of all the stuff you've collected over the years. After seeing all the amazing features and hard work we poured into this house the price shouldn't shock you. The starting price of the Fremont is $95,000. This house is an investment that will not deprecate like a luxury fifth wheel RV does as soon as you drive it off the lot, this is a home. If you are interesting in living tiny but aren't sure this floor plan will be your needs please feel free to email Luke Anderson at or call (307) 714-7505

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