About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view Clothesline7's profile
    Posted July 16, 2012 by
    Prescott, Arizona
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Living in small spaces

    Clothesline Tiny Homes


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Living with her husband and their 9-month-old terrier, Clothesline7 says their choice to live in a small space was influenced by several desires, one of which was to be financially free. "We own our tiny home and do not have a mortgage and pay minimal rent for a site and utilities, freeing us up to work less and live more," she says. "I am so proud of our space. The cozy size inspires us to go outdoors and enjoy the huge natural world at our doorstep."
    - Anika3, CNN iReport producer

    My name is Carrie and I am an architectural designer. My husband Shane is a custom home builder. We are a couple who live full time in a tiny home that we designed and built ourselves in the spring of 2012. We documented the entire process of designing and building at our blog: http://clotheslinetinyhomes.com.

    We have been talking about living together in a small space since a few months after we met and fell in love in 2009.

    First we were eyeing a shed that Shane had built. He had to let the home go back to the bank due to the mortgage / housing debacle of the past few years, and we really didn't want to let the bank have the shed. But… it was built really well! And would have been very hard to move off of it's foundation. Next, we dreamed of living in a refurbished Airstream trailer. After touring a used Airstream we realized the insulation would not be substantial enough to allow us to live (comfortably) in a snowy climate. Finally, Shane convinced me to design, build, and live in a Tiny House.

    When Shane first flew the idea of living in 200 sf I was…. skeptical. Among other things. But he was very excited about the idea, so I did a lot of online reading and research and found that there were other people - even couples - who lived in tiny houses and did not murder each other. And, not only were they homicide free, but they actually loved living in a small space that allowed them freedom from all of their stuff.

    So, in February of this year (2012) we started designing and researching in earnest.

    The first step was the foundation, and we decided we wanted to use a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer, to provide the most safety and peace of mind when towing and to avoid having to crawl up a ladder to a loft to go to bed. We found a used car-hauler trailer on craigslist and were off and running on our design-build adventure.

    The next step was designing a space that could be used by two adults and a dog; providing privacy and spaciousness for both of us. We also wanted to keep the interior clean, bright, and white. This meant figuring out a way to use drywall inside; that would hold up to the rigors of moving without cracking. The kitchen has almost 10 linear feet of countertop, and is open to the living room. The bathroom has pocket doors on both sides and separates the bedroom from the "great room" allowing Shane to wake up early and use the living room, while I continue sleeping… The bed is on an elevated platform with a hanging rod and dog kennel below, accessed by stairs on both sides comprised of "his and hers" storage drawers.

    We ended up using mostly off-the-shelf building materials, including as many salvaged materials as we could find, and applying them in a way that was clean, modern, and elegant. The design allows for passive solar heating in the winter, has a metal roof for future rainwater collection, and uses an incinerating toilet to minimize water usage and avoid the need for sewage disposal. (sidenote: I would NOT recommend an incinerating toilet. It generates foul smells that make the outdoor spaces around the house unpleasant.) Our goal is to get a piece of land where we can start composting our waste (humanure toilet) and run the entire house off of solar power.

    We've been living in the house for about two months now and are really loving it! It was definitely an adjustment at first, but I am loving the experience of living in 204 sf.

    Some observations from living in the Tiny House: It definitely requires more communication to maneuver around and perform standard daily tasks, but I am finding this to be good practice for a person who shies away from much talking in general. I am also finally learning how to put my stuff away! I am one of those people who leaves a trail of artsy-crafty debris as I move from one project to the next, but that just won't work in a small space. I'm not sure if it's the motivation to keep our space clean and clutter-free, or if it's the fact that finally I have a place for everything to put everything in it's place, but my mother would be so proud to hear that I am finally learning how to be tidy!

    other benefits of living in a Tiny House include:
    - smaller footprint on the environment with drastically reduced electrical, water, and propane usage
    - smaller footprint on the landscape with a mobile foundation
    - motivation to break free of consumerism and shopping
    - enhanced connection to the outdoors
    - financial freedom! we built ours with money we had saved up and own it outright and our monthly land rent + utilities = $300.
    - design inspiration. starting with the basics and figuring out what we really need in a home
    - freedom to move whenever and wherever the spirit moves….

    Our company, Clothesline Tiny Homes, is offering plans for sale, architectural and construction consulting, as well as built tiny homes for anyone who wants one of their own. Please feel free to browse photos and check out our entire Tiny House design-built story at http://clotheslinetinyhomes.com.

    The Tiny House Movement is full of warm, responsible, kindred spirits and we have enjoyed getting to follow along on many other Tiny House adventures.

    Take care,
    Carrie and Shane Caverly
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