Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Introducing Asheville Small Home Advocacy Committee

More big news from Life in 120 Square Feet!

Over the last several months Matt and I have been working with several local tiny house enthusiasts and builders to launch a project to make tiny homes more legally viable in the city of Asheville.
Asheville SHAC is a group of dedicated volunteers working together and with the city and Buncombe County to make micro homes a viable solution for affordable housing, urban density, and walkability of the city and surrounding areas.
We have been speaking with the city government and are actively seeking projects where we can go through the process of permitting a tiny house or a community of tiny homes within the city limits.

Our grand unveiling happened on Tiny House Listings and we have launched a Facebook Page so people can keep up with our activity. 

We would like to thank our partners in this process:
 I have linked the Asheville SHAC Facebook Page at the top of my page so I encourage you to follow it to get all the latest information. Our hope is that we can not only help our own city of Asheville NC but provide a blueprint of the process for other towns and cities across the country to follow.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Continuing Adventures of Life Outside 120 Square Feet

It has recently occured to me that my blog title is somewhat inaccurate.

I'm not going to change it or anything - it is part of my "brand" and ultimately the most important part of my journey. But building a house with my own hands and living in it has given me so many opportunities outside of the 120 square foot space that it doesn't adequately describe what my life is like.

Here are some recent events going on in our lives.
  1. Piglet is doing well. Piggy recently had surgery to remove a cancerous mass in her jaw. It was malignant but it appears they may have removed the entirety of the cancer. Our kitty is doing very well and continues to heal. While Piglet has been in recovery we have been staying at a house in town so she doesn't have to climb up and down the ladder or platforms in the tiny house.
  2. Our State Magazine's December issue. During the last couple months we have also been talking with Our State Magazine. We spoke with a reporter and they also sent a photographer out to our tiny house to take photos of us going about our daily business. The story, which will feature other North Carolina tiny housers, will appear in the December issue. Watch your newsstands to get the issue!  
  3. Traveling time! Now that things are mostly back to normal with Piglet we can focus on our next adventure: a 2 week trip to London, England. We planned this trip months ago. We are meeting two of our friends in London and exploring the city and surrounding area. We leave on Monday, October 20th and I am really looking forward to this. Travel is one of my greatest pleasures and the tiny house has afforded us the opportunity spend quite a bit of time in other places. Because I work for myself I don't have to worry about taking vacation time - I just readjust my schedule before I leave. We are also planning an epic month long trip in February. To get out of the cold mountains during late winter we are exploring the South Eastern coast from St. Augustine, FL to Wilmington, NC and several places in between. I can't wait for that trip as well. 
These are the things that living in a tiny house allows us to do. It really gives us the opportunity to live our lives outside of our tiny house in a way that enriches and engages us.  What could a tiny house do for you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tiny House Giant Journey's Trip to 120 Squre Feet

Earlier this summer, Guillaume of Tiny House Giant Journey was in Asheville, NC to host a workshop for Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. We met him at Bar of Soap on Friday night after I got off shift and had a couple beers. He invited Matt and me to the workshop the next day to tell a little bit about our story and answer some questions.

We are super glad that we did this and we met some great people there.

Here is the post I wrote about it after it happened.

But while Guillaume was in town he went with Matt and Art Cormier to see our tiny house while I worked another shift at Bar of Soap. I really wish I could have been there that afternoon but I am excited about the photos that Guillaume took!

Check them out! (All photos courtesy of Guillame Dutilh and used with permission.)

Our old barn.

Front view. This makes it look like 2 barns squished together, which isn't entirely inaccurate.

View from the Folk N' Ale

Matt at the Tiny House

Our trails.

Thanks so much to Guillaume for taking these photos. I love how he made our tiny house look huge and the land look magical. These photos gives me the same feelings I get when I realize how lucky I am to live in this little house on this mountain.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where is Laura of Life in 120 Square Feet?

Hello 120 Square Feet readers.

I wanted to pop in and let you all know that I am alive and plan to get back this blog very soon.

However, just because I live in a tiny house doesn't always mean that life is always sunshine and rainbows. Right after the Raleigh Home Show Matt and I got some news that made us have to stop in our tracks and focus on just one thing. Our precious cat Piglet, a favorite pet of many tiny house aficionados, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of feline cancer.

We may have caught it soon enough and we rushed her to a specialist an hour away from us where they immediately performed surgery to remove the mass and other affected tissue. She is safely at the vet the remainder of this weekend. We will be picking her up on Monday. Once we get her test results back we will know if there are additional treatments or if the surgery might have been a complete cure.

There is a longer involved blog post in this story somewhere, I just don't have the energy right now to tell it. There can certainly be drawbacks to living in a small space but that doesn't entirely discredit the benefits of tiny homes either. While Piglet is in recovery we will be staying at a house in Downtown Asheville. However, our simpler lifestyle and flexible schedules means that we have the ability to do this for a little while.

If you do want to keep up with Piglet's care and story you can follow her Facebook page here. We'll be back soon with more blog posts about tiny living.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Raleigh Home Show September 6th and 7th

On September 6th and 7th Matt and I will be speaking at the Raleigh Home Show.

We will be speaking about what it is like to live in a tiny house and when we're not speaking we'll be at a table to talk with people and sell my book 120 Ideas for Tiny Living.

Also in attendance will be Teal and Gerry of Wishbone Tiny Homes. They will be bringing their model home on wheels for tours! 

For more information on my schedule and the other speakers you can see while your there, you can see the stage schedule here

If you're in Raleigh, we'd love to see you.

Matt and I are available for speaking engagements and have spoken at a number of events around the country including the 2014 Tiny House Conference and Earth Day events at the University of South Carolina Upstate. Please contact me to learn more! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

3 Questions a Tiny House Can Answer, and One it Can't

The "Tiny House Community" was largely non-existent when we started building our house in 2009. We could only reach out to a handful of people doing the same thing, some of whom have since fallen off the radar. Over the last few years the concept has spread like wildfire and has been popularized by an amazing documentary as well as some reality television shows. Tiny houses appear to be bigger than ever.

With the new interest by people of all walks of life there have been a lot of folks asking questions about tiny homes. They want to know everything from how to get started to how a tiny house can change their lives.

My tiny home absolutely, unequivocally, changed my life. 

But maybe not for the reasons you would expect. I didn't know while we were building that a tiny house would become bigger than the building. I had no idea that tiny living was a philosophy and in order to fully embrace everything a tiny home has to offer you really have to dig into parts of your personality that you didn't expect.

So I learned that there were things the tiny house could answer, and one big thing it could not. Let's take a look at what these are. 
  1. A tiny house can make you brave. When we started this process we didn't know the first thing about building an entire house. Sure, we could put two boards together with a screw but that doesn't necessarily result in a livable house. I figured if I had the confidence to learn how to build a house, I could probably do anything. I learned that tiny living is all about risk taking. It is about living outside of your comfort zone, no matter what you think your comfort zone is. 
  2. A tiny house can help with finances. The biggest reason I wanted to build a tiny house was to reduce my expenses and pay off my debt. It did exactly that. However, it wasn't the actually tiny house that helped. It was simply the thing that changed my mindset and got me away from thinking in such cyclical terms. My debt was paid off before we moved into the tiny house. I quit my job before we moved into our tiny house. And that takes me back to the item one.
  3. A tiny house can give you opportunities. I had no idea when I moved into my tiny house that it would affect the way I interacted with my community. I think this has been the biggest benefit so far. Changing from a situation where I got up at the same time every day, drove the same commute, worked the same 9 hours at the same desk, drove home again, and sat on my couch to one where I felt free to schedule my own time made me excited about exploring my community and meeting new people. This has really changed my life. 
But, there is one very important thing to understand that a tiny house cannot do.

The tiny house itself can't fix the things that are broken. 

All three of these things: my confidence, my finances, and my desire to connect with community were already things I needed to fix. The tiny house gave me a new framework (no pun intended) to work on fixing them. But ultimately, I was the one who needed to do all the work. Not the nailing of 2X4s. Not the roofing. Not installing windows. In fact, in some ways, those were distractions. But as it came together it gave me a new perspective. It gave me something to work toward to give me the opportunity to fix these things in my life on my own.

A tiny house is not a magic bullet. 

The second you move into a tiny home your problems will not be solved. It isn't the responsibility of the building to solve them for you. It can be a catalyst for you, like it was for me, but you still have to answer these questions for yourself.

I know it can be done. I've done it. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. The tiny house allowed me the confidence to do it, but there were infinite ways I could have gone about it. Your job is to pick the things in your life that you want to change most and work on changing them. Only then will the tiny house be a worthwhile stop on your journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Camping Festival 2014

I just got back from the annual camping festival in Minnesota that Matt and I take with our friend Cara Schulz, of Martinis and Marshmallows, and a host of other friends.

The flexibility of my tiny house life is what affords me the ability to take trips like this throughout the year. It is very special to me and important. So I went and pulled a bunch of photos off of various Facebook feeds and am unapologetically posting them here. I can't take credit for most of them....

This is our annual 6 course meal. We invite people we want to get to know better. We serve food and wine and offer topics of conversation.

Cara set up tea each morning. It was a great way to start the day.

Our new tent is actually bigger than our tiny house!

And because it was already blue and silver, we decorated it in a Detroit Lions theme. We camp in Minnesota and our friends bring their Vikings tent so this was a direct response.

Our friend Ryan looking pensive...after having neon orange paint smeared on his face by some rogue teenagers.

And Matt played us some music.

And we enjoyed afternoon cocktails with friends old and new.


We all bought tiaras at one of the vendors.

This may be my favorite photo. I don't even know who snapped it but I was tagged. That is my friend Heather and me wandering off to the stage to check out some music.