The Windy City’s Unseasonable Weather Brings out Tiny Home Warriors

Visiting Chicago’s Shaumburg Boomer Stadium for the first annual Chicago Tiny Home Show, presented by Titan Tiny Homes was something I’d been looking forward to since my invite months ago. I knew there would be super cool homes on display and speakers I’d want to hear present. I assumed there would be floor plans represented that’s I’d never seen before and really great people to meet.

What I didn’t anticipate was that it would feel like January instead of mid-May.

The crazy thing about the 2018 home show’s response to the freeing rain, arctic temps and sporadic storms rolling through was that the people still came. They came, they toured, they listened, they asked questions, and they just waited out the weather and joked about the cold.

Chicago, You. Are. Warriors.

I was impressed by the thousands who poured into the freshly mowed baseball stadium, still smiling and greeting me warmly with their coffee in hand. The show’s guests were glowing from their excitement from touring home after home with lofts and bump outs, slides and an array of toilet options. They were getting their questions answered and they had done their prep-work.

Presentations were given by Bob Clarizio of Titan Tiny Homes, Luke Thill “The Tiny House Kid”, and myself of The Mama On The Rocks. The guests at the show were able to hear about zoning, coding, land approval, DIY builds, material weights, downsizing and how to do it, and the possibilities of living tiny as a family. The weekend was packed and Saturday was full of energy.

Houses were on display from 18′ to 40′ and even virtual tours from Utopian Village. The monster 40′ tiny home from Texas showed up Friday night to prove that everything really is bigger in Texas! The slide out feature was a must-see and a definite fan favorite from Hill country Tiny Houses.

Everyone ooohhed and ahhhed over Titan’s display models, especially the sliding door entry of The Everest.

My husband came with me to the show for the first time and we barely spoke to each other because the folks stopping by our booth had such incredible questions. We were so impressed by their thorough research and well thought-out planning. People were so friendly and Titan were great hosts.

If you missed this year’s Chicago Tiny Home Show, be sure to check the website for more info on next year because it is a show you won’t want to miss!

How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A How Big Is Too Big To Live Tiny In A Large Body?

Whether you are considering height (or lack thereof), weight, pregnancy, or the growth of children into teenagers, all changes in size should be considered when downsizing your living space. Many people wonder, and I get asked a lot, “How big is too big to live tiny in a large body?”

As a large female who is comfortable in my frame, I am happy to field this perfectly reasonable question.

In our experience with tiny house builders as well as our spending the better part of the last year living tiny, it all comes down to five things:

Bathrooms

No matter the height of the shower, the width of the bathtub, or the placement of the toilet, someone of size needs to consider the available space in a tiny house bathroom. Certain brands of toilets (like the Nature’s Head) sit up higher off of the ground, whereas a homemade composting variety can be build to suit. On the other hand, with low ceilings in most tiny house bathrooms, the shower height will be lower than most traditional home builds and the bathrooms, at their largest, are usually the size of an RV tub. This leaves little room for a relaxing bath for a new mom or for multiple kiddos.

Bedrooms

If you are of a large stature of any variety, the bedroom can be tricky business, but it can be done. Those who are tall should consider than many tinies, unless built into a custom design, won’t host a king sized bed or mattress. This leaves some of high stature with their feet dangling if it isn’t taken into consideration early on. Additionally, if a plus sized couple were to be in a full or queen bed, they may be less comfortable at night so keep that in might to allow more space during your build to walk around the bed or equip the room with a larger mattress.

Ceilings

Standard overall height for road capable THOWs (Tiny House On Wheels) is 13 feet. That is the maximum for being street legal (with up to an 8.5 ft width). This means you have to deduct the height of the roof, insulation, drywall and framework, etc.

Additionally, many tiny homes have one or more loft spaces for bedrooms or living areas. This can lower the overall interior height in some spaces down to under five feet (although, traditionally they stay at 6 ft.). This is an easy solve for taller home buyers/builders with the addition of the adjustable loft. These spaces can be raised and lowered by a variety of means such as pulleys or even removing the loft entirely. Many parents opt for this type of loft so they can enjoy the headroom in an upper bedroom until their lower level kiddos are tall enough to require the height adjustment.

Doorways

This concept follows along the lines of the ceiling heights. While many doorways are standard sized, some are shrunk for the purpose of space so front doors may have less width or a hallway might be more narrow. This includes the addition of galley kitchens or bar eating areas as space savers.

We have found the addition of pocket and/or sliding doors allows the privacy desired without the need to a non-adjusting or smaller sized door or hallway.

Seating

Many tiny homes use a bar style seating, foldable table or counter space, or stools for chairs. This can cause some struggle for short folks as well as those who are taller or weigh more than average. The simple solution is to adjust the height of seating or tables and to keep these in mind when building. We actually removed our original table, after finding it less than comfy and replaced it with a custom-built table that folds from a bar to a dining set with ease. It provides comfort and plenty of space and cost my husband less than $50 to make.

As with anything custom built, you can pretty much do whatever you want with your design. So this is a great way for people of all ages and sizes to experience the freedom tiny living has to offer!

How To Build A Killer Roadschool Room When Space Is Limited: 4 Tips To Make The Most Out Of Your Area

Living tiny with kids is something many argue cannot be done, but here we are–a year in and loving it. We have chosen to Roadschool our kids so we are able to continue traveling and exposing them to different cultures, a variety of customs, and real world learning. I work full time from an office space that has to be organized.

However, what do we do when it is rainy or when lessons involve the unavoidable worksheet or pen and paper classwork? We created a killer Roadschool space inside our rig that can accommodate our individual learner’s needs. So, keep in mind that every student learns differently, but these tips can be applied to creating everything from a preschool area to a high school room, a professional office to a crafting space in your tiny.

Make Large Items Foldable

Desks and shelving can take up a lot of space in a tiny home so making the best use of vertical space is crucial. A wall mounted desk can save on both space as well as create a place for storage. Many of these desks have internal storage for office supplies as well as the work space.

Shelving can also fold down and back up for when they are being used or when they need to be stored to travel.

Organize The Small Things

Whether you choose bins, containers, or totes, small things can get lost in a tiny house so keeping them organized is important. We recommend using a small metal rolling cart and magnetized bins, buckets, and small containers so the inside and outside of each shelf are most efficiently used.

Visibly Separate Space

Use items like rugs and shelving to break up a larger open space into smaller more divided rooms without putting up walls. We use a large rug to separate our office/Roadschool space from the rest of our kids’ room. Open shelving that you can see through are also a great option for dividing space.

Make The Space Creative

Whether you brighten it up with paint, decorate it with decals, or create a photo collage, make the space somewhere you want to be. We use a bright color palate, kid-friendly wall decals and trendy items like a globe and succulents to bring the outdoors in. Always incorporate natural light whenever possible as well in order to make a small space seem larger.

Whenever Possible, Make Space Multi-Functional

So our Roadschool room doubles as my office space just as much as the bar area in our kitchen is used for studying and eating dinner. Whether you use large items like a Murphy bed that doubles as shelving or storage that is also decorative, in a tiny home, real estate is a hot commodity so most designs need to be space-saving and multi-functional.

11 Easy Ways to Downsize and Simplify, No Matter What Size Your Home

Downsizing and going tiny isn’t for everyone, but purging your closets and countertops of unwanted and unnecessary stacks of stuff is not only good for your household but great for your soul. Many articles support that clutter encourages anxiety. So, let’s partner together on this organizational journey.

While my planner may be color-coded, sometimes my house isn’t. So, here are some simple ways even the messiest can become a minimalist.

Start Small: One Room at a Time

Right after Christmas, even though we live in a 36 foot camper, I felt like I couldn’t look somewhere that there wasn’t a stack of something about to attack me. I felt like I was about to be on an episode of Hoarders. So, I started with my pantry. No, it didn’t help with the piles of Christmas gifts and the graveyard of wrapping paper, but it was a small area that I could control. Once I finished that, the feeling of accomplishment was motivation to move on to something bigger.

Find Joy: If You Don’t Love It, It Has To Go

This was the mantra in our house before downsizing from over 2000 square feet to less than 300. Some studies suggest holding each item of clothing or trinket from your bookshelf in your had and if it doesn’t bring joy or trigger a positive memory, it has to go. So we are now left with only the things that have deep meaning for us or clothes and shoes that sincerely make us feel good.

Make Piles: Keep, Donate, Give Away, Trash

This gets easier the more you do it, trust me. Once you start throwing things into boxes, you get on a roll and it is so freeing to let things go. It feels great to donate to those who need the clothes you haven’t fit into since high school and then you have space in your closet for things you actually feel comfortable wearing. make sure not to let the boxes sit around cluttering up your space. Take them where they were designated and wash your hands of what you let go.

Make a Schedule: Rotate Which Rooms You Tidy Up

Once you’ve cleaned out and decluttered, make yourself an easy-to-follow schedule that rotates rooms in your house. Beyond your typical doing laundry and cleaning up leftovers, it will keep you from becoming overwhelmed to know that on Mondays you clean the bathrooms and on Wednesdays you straighten the living room, and so on. We also get our kids involved. Our six year old is an expert at taking out the trash and vacuuming and our almost tow year old loves to unload the dirty and clean laundry baskets. It teaches them responsibility and helps them feel like they are contributing to the family chores.

Counters Aren’t For Storage

This the main culprit of cleanliness-related mom anxiety. Why must we have piles of hair ties, a collection of Legos, and a mountain of bills and junk mail covering our counter tops? For the love of organization, throw. It. Out!

A clean counter in your kitchen will provide endless happiness for mom and send all of the unwanted treasures usually found there to their rightful locations. Then, if Suzy can’t wear a ponytail Monday or Johnny’s Lego truck only has three wheels, they will learn to pick up after themselves.

If You Haven’t Worn It/Used It In The Last Year, Say Bye-Bye

As a woman of pretty solid size, this one is hard. But what if i lose weight? Or But what if I gain some back? I like to be prepared.

However, some of us are hanging on to our pre-teen N*SYNC concert t-shirt and, sister, that reunion tour ain’t happening! We need to move on.

So, go through your closet, dresser drawers, show racks, and handbag holders, and throw out or donate everything you haven’t worn in the last year (six months is actually preferable). I promise you will be shocked at how many items this eliminates if we are truly honest with ourselves.

Rid Yourself of Expired Items

I have no explanation as to why many of us shop and hold onto pantry items like we are living through the Great Depression, but honey, this isn’t 1930! Even folks like me who know the struggle of Ramen noodles and paycheck-to-paycheck living can usually afford to replace the ranch dressing they’ve had open in their fridge since New Kids on The Block were actually new.

Many women have makeup that used to line the shelves of our 8th grade Caboodle case and hair accessories we haven’t worn since our headbands were hand-decorated with puffy paint. WHY!? Friends, can we have a collective trash bag frenzy please!?

Buy Quality Over Quantity

Okay, admittedly, this one might hurt a little at first but you have to trust me on this. When you cut your closet contents in half (or, in our case, by 80%), you want to sincerely love the things that remain. This means that when you buy a new item, you not only remove an old one, but you should also be buying things that will last.

I was just able to replace three mediocre sweaters with one from Patagonia that I honestly love and is versatile enough to wear traveling or to the office. The initial cost on these items seems higher, but when you can get 10+ years of wear out of them, your investment was well worth it!

Invest In Things That Have More Than One Use

This is a tiny living mantra. If it only has one use, I don’t need it. We need a coffee pot that doubles as a hot water maker, a can opener that opens bottles of wine and beer, and a table that is also a prep space and desk.

If you look at buying items, especially the larger purchases for your home, as needing to be multi-functional, you will spend less money and have less ‘stuff’.

For Everything There Is A Place 

Whether you live in a tiny house or a mansion, there should be some sort of order. Our kids know that they each have two toy bins. If new toys won’t fit, they have to rid themselves of enough old ones to make room or they have a choice to make.

My husband and I know that our wall-mounted mail holder will only hold so much so eventually we will have to go through it, separate it, and pay bills or respond to mail. In our old, larger home, mail would pile up, collect dust, and remain unopened.

This same rule should apply for kitchen items, pantry food, tools and gardening, and everything else one might keep in or around their home.

Some Things Are More Worth Your Money Than Your Time

This is an important step and one I am continuing to learn from. Whether you are a traveling single or a settled family, a retiree or a divorcee starting over, you have responsibilities. Sometimes our money is worth more than our time.

This means, instead of stressing over the heart-wrenching fact that I honestly cannot keep up with my family’s laundry on top of writing, a full time job, motherhood, wifing, and the everyday of running a household, it is a worthwhile investment to pay a dry cleaner to launder our clothes or a housekeeper to clean the toilets. There is no shame in that sister! It isn’t defeat. It is working smarter, not harder.