Category Archives: Aesthetics

Life Emulates Tiny (A Biomimetic Approach to Living Tiny)

An emerging approach for sustainable solutions to human challenges is to emulate nature’s time-tested phenomena, patterns and principles. This process, often referred to as biomimicry, seeks out and incorporates lessons learned over nature’s 3.8 billion years of innovation.

This methodology can be a great source for inspiration when designing tiny. Applications in rain water harvesting, heat-dissipating surfaces, energy creation, and even collective resource generation through intentional pocket-neighborhood master planning and more all have their place. Simply put, nature has already figured out how to live synergistically with it’s environment, we only need to get out of our own way to see this.

Like nature, we need resilient, zero-energy, zero-waste, regenerative environments that are aware, responsive and can learn to adapt to their occupants and surroundings. Why can’t tiny homes be a part of this too!

I posit that biomimicry in the built environment is a wellspring for the tiny home movement. It’s just going to take the voice and guidance of nature to be heard, moreover the skills of listening from the people to see this perspective an usher it into fruition.

A few examples to get the gears turning…

Wastewater Mitigation and Reuse – John Todd Ecological Design = wastewater treatment through purposeful treatment solutions using plants (Pocket Neighborhood Integration)

Energy-Sharing Micro-Grids – Based on the collective energy sharing of most all ecosystem types this method of collaborative consumption creates resilient self-sufficient communities. (www.philogic.co)

energy-sharing-Pocketneighborhood

 Super-Superior Materials – (the mollusk shell!) Could be used on anything from roofing shingles, windows, and trailer structures.

It’s as strong as steel and tough as a bulletproof vest, capable of withstanding the same amount of pressure it takes to turn carbon into a diamond. Scientists have discovered nature’s newest strongest material, and it comes from … a sea snail.

The list goes on and on! If you’re inspired to research this more feel free to reach out to Phi Logic, and take a look at www.asknature.org for quite an extensive list of animal niches.

Cheers, Rob

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Top 5 Tiny Floor Plan Designs Considerations

There are innumerable ways to assess how your tiny can best suit your living needs. I could go on personally waxing poetically about aesthetics, or finishes, or architectural provenance, but I’ll spare you for now on this one. Instead, I will do what I do best and wax in strategic technicolor…

Below, I have put together my top 5 topics to help get you started. There are for certain many more obstacles, and personal slings and arrows to address, but this’ll get ya started. Note: You’ll want to grab a pen and paper for this little exercise.

 1. Lifestyle – Do you have an active lifestyle? Do you like to chill after work watching Breaking Bad? In to ripping down a mountain at breakneck speed on your full suspension custom mountain bike? Have pets? Or do you appreciate the finer things in life like cooking and entertaining friends?

Think about who you are, who you will be  in the future and then think about how each of the activities you love to do or will do coincide with needing specific designated spaces and storage. One other thing is to think about how you’re lifestyle shifts throughout the seasons, as your needs/wants will too. Make a list and break it down by season!

cool-interior-design-ideas-with-long-table_Cool-Interior-Design-Ideas-With-Long-Table2. Personality – We all have a pretty good idea of our particular personality traits. If you’re a little foggy on this, just ask a good friend, they’ll tell ya. 😉

Your personality fits into the design and layout mix in an aesthetic way. People like to have their space reflect who they are, whether this might be crazy pillow covers, art, or cottage furniture. Have fun with this one, as it doesn’t relate particularly close to the physical layout so much as the finishing touches and accents. I’d suggest making a Pinterest board for this one.

crazy reading nook3. Hobbies – Are you a tinkerer? Do you like to snowboard? Ride you road bike everywhere? Do you sew, or knit? Acro-yoga fanatic?

Each hobby requires a certain ‘space’ to practice. Think about your hobbies and write them all down. See if you can’t create a space that acts in a multifunctional/modular to accommodate multiple hobbies. Other than that, keep in mind that your hobby most likely requires storage! Make a list of these and if you are coming up a number of them requiring more space than you need, think about numbering them from least to most engaging/fun and go from there to create your space. Remember, you can always take it outside if you need to.

deskE4. Career – This may not effect too many people when it comes to the design of their tiny, but if you’re like me and work the majority of the time from home, you’ll want a nice office.

Take stock of your current needs for work, or the possible near-term score on that dream career! Do you need a large desk to draw on? Using only a laptop. Keep in mind that many times, because this space is not utilized a lot you can create a drop-leaf desk, or build it in to another existing table, instead of designating an entire space to this.

5. Geographic / Locale – Location is a big one. The allure of living in a tiny is of course being able to be mobile whenever you want. The downside of this is that depending on the original climate the home was built in you may find that the vapor barrier has been placed on the wrong side of the walls and will not accommodate your next move. To avoid this, I suggest staying in relatively the same climate type that the house was built in.

Will you be living in a ‘cooling climate’, or a ‘heating climate’? Is it arid, or is it humid, or even tropical? What are the DOT size constraints on trailer sizes (these vary from state to state)? Will you be mostly bouncing around from park to park, or will you be hooked up to utilities and therefore not need to worry about electrical, water, and heating/ac needs?

I could go on about geography, climate and energy needs, but hopefully above thoughts will get you thinking from a productive and analytical perspective.

 

starboundhouse_zps2be52f8cIn closing, this is a very personal project offering you opportunity to tailor your surroundings toYOU, and who YOU are! Remember, have fun with it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original…or COOL!

 

TinyGiant’s Perspective Interior Views

When thinking about my tinygiant’s floor plan and flow, there were a few specific things I needed to address – Christopher Alexander smacked in detail of this process in his book, A Pattern Language. Among those were, my lifestyle, personality, hobbies, career, and geographic consideration.

I’ve run through countless arrangements and floor plans for tinygiant based on the above mentioned criteria: Here is where I’m at now… (I will address the in detail my considerations and reasoning in a following article)

1st Floor Perspective Plan View Perspective Loft View…by the way, I’ve chosen to go with a 24′ trailer in case any of you were wondering.

 

Renderings Of My Tiny Design

The design is a constant work in progress, but after about 7 months I think I’ve worked most of the design aesthetics, mechanical and electrical issues out. Below are a few renderings I made using SketchUp and the SU Podium plugin. Enjoy…

XO.2.2 2015-01-05 23451600000

Front ViewXO.2.2 2015-01-06 10194500000

Interior View from bathroom looking through the kitchen, ladder up to master loft on right, and office and the end.XO.2.2 2015-01-06 10325700000

Looking from inside the reading nook overhang through to the office, then kitchen and finally the bathroom below the movie/chill loft accessed by the climbing wall to the left.XO.2.2 2015-01-06 11094100000

Looking from the office through the kitchen and bathroom below the movie/chill loft accessed by the climbing wall to the left. Note the solid fuel Dickinson heater mounted to the left on the wall and clerestory windows in the chill loft.XO.2.2 2015-01-06 12352500000

View from the movie loft looking down onto the eating nook, dickinson heater. The kitchen is to the left and office at the end.XO.2.2 2015-01-06 12460200000

This is the master bedroom loft looking from ladder.
XO.2.2 2015-01-06 13204800000View from master loft out to the main floor. Note the aquaponics system above the kitchen sink that runs the length of the upper cabinets. Fun!

 

Interior Wall Structure & Treatments

I’ve been racking my brain at to what I’d use for the interior paneling in the TinyGiant. There are many options out there. It really comes down to two main questions; what is the aesthetic look I want to create while helping me achieve the functional rigidity demanded of travel?

First, let’s deal with function.

Functionality: This may all be obvious, but you’re building a home on a trailer that can bend and twist in transit and on-site prior to dropping your footers. That said, the home will be moving with the trailer and movement equals racking.

You want to choose an interior material that will move with the home without cracking, or buckling. Needless to say, gypsum (drywall) is definitely out of the question.pine wood interior - tongue and groove

One popular material is 1/2 pine tongue and groove board. If you happen to like the look of tongue and groove board this may be an option for you. I particularly do not, plus the idea of having this cover  my entire house, walls and all, is a bit aesthetically distracting and it’s a crap ton of wood everywhere.

 

Another route would be to use 1/2 plywood. Plywood comes in many different finish grades and veneers, which can be great if you’re particular like me about wood grains and coloring (tonality).

One thing to keep in mind is how the boards line up. You should be staggering the boards as they go up, so you will have noticeable seem transitions. Now, you could stay raw with the seams (keeping in mind that you want to leave 1/8″ gap between them for expansion/contraction/movement), but you could also borrow techniques like board and batten to cover seams. While this technique can be seen dominantly on exteriors it can create nice eye movement from low to high making the home feel a bit more spacious.

24"x24" alternating plywood interiorMy particular choice for interior finishing will be a 24″x24″ cut 1/2 ply arranged perpendicular to each adjacent piece. To me, it breaks the monotony of single large boards and doesn’t make the space as busy as tongue and groove board would.

Another option is reclaimed boards from old barn and shed structures. Forewarned, however, these will require a lot of rework to arrange them properly in the space.

Aesthetics: Creating a space you want to live in is paramount to your living experience. We spend a lot of time in our homes and creating the look and feel that fits your personality and lifestyle should be addressed. After all, this space IS tiny and you’ll never be further 4ft from any wall. 😉

There are numerous finishing applications for your tiny interior. There are innumerable stains, varnishes, paints, and everything in between on the market. Choosing a final application can be daunting. Below are a few thoughts…

Color: In my personal opinion I have seen many dark finishing treatments in tiny homes and I’m not a fan. A small space accented with a dark color will make the space feel even smaller. I guess if you are going for a cozy hibernation vibe this might work.

white interior with plyFor me, the brighter the better. Tiny homes have the advantage of having an exponentially higher square foot to window size ratio than any standard home. This lends itself well to having a ton of natural daylight. Why would you want to stifle such photonic relief with dark woods on the walls and ceiling.

So, you can probably guess where I’m going with this – White. White. White. White. There’s nothing more liberating than stepping in to a space that is slathered in white treatments. It not only makes the space feel, well, more spacious, it also reflects light around the home in much greater efficiencies. A splash of color here and there is great, but to me 70%-90% of white in your tiny home is where you want to be. Arguments for keeping white clean is a moot point me…keep your place nice, keep it clean and you will fall in love with your tiny every day you live in it.