Six Months in the Tiny House: What’s Good, What’s Not-So-Good

We’ve travelled 2,500 miles in our Tiny House in the last six months, staying put anywhere from one day to three months. It’s been a great adventure, and we’re getting ready to head north again as the weather changes. It’s hard to think that we’ve got to learn how to pack up for travel again, and slog slowly along the highway. Good thing gas prices are lower than they were last winter.

While it’s been mostly wonderful living in the Tiny House, there certainly have been challenges. Here are a few:

The floor.  We chose to paint the plywood that would, in an ordinary house, be the subfloor. We made this decision to save on weight since we knew we would be traveling a lot. Initially, I primed the plywood and applied two coats of paint. That lasted about a month as we were building on the surface and banging around with tools, lumber, etc. When we were done with construction, I applied another coat of paint.

Now I’ve applied two more coats of paint (and changed the color — the beauty of a painted floor), and just a few days after the latest coat of paint, it is chipping away. I think it’s because plywood is rough and just the act of walking on it, dropping things, etc. makes the paint come off. It’s particularly bad in the places where we stand a lot: in front of the sink and the food prep area. We’re considering a floor covering now, but aren’t sure what.

Room to do certain things. I love to do yoga and have managed to squeeze myself on the floor to do a few postures. But, that’s just it: only a few. There are simply a whole lot of postures I can’t do in the space! I tried a free yoga class, but didn’t like the instructor. Since the tiny house is on a concrete rooftop, I’ve been reluctant to do it outside. I could go to the nearby park and do it on the grass, but I don’t think I want to be that public with my practice. I ride my bike, walk, and play disc golf instead.

Portable keyboard and cover.

Portable keyboard and cover.

My husband bought a portable keyboard as he loves to play the piano. It almost fits on our table when it’s opened all the way — well enough for him to play, but a little snug if I need to walk by. Then there was the storage issue. We thought it would fit on the storage area under the bed, but no. So I made a cover for it with a handle, and now it hangs on the wall. Not that attractive (I tried to find prettier fabric with no luck), but it works.

Our favorite board game doesn’t fit on the table either, but we play anyway. The person sitting on the couch is stuck for the duration of the game, so you have to plan ahead for bathroom breaks, needing things out of reach, etc. The fridge is pretty small, too, so that I have to go grocery shopping every three to four days. I don’t like shopping, and I prefer to go every couple of weeks, but that’s not possible. Luckily, in our current location, the store is two blocks away.

In the past six months, I have also been doing all the paperwork associated with being the executor for my mother’s estate. Finding a place to store the records, and finding a place to spread out to collate documents for mailing has been challenging, but doable. Using the printer means putting it on the stove, so I have to make sure it’s not hot, and I have to find a place for the teakettle and anything else that’s on it. Living in the tiny house is a juggling act.

Having the toilet and shower in the same room. We’ve done this on a boat before without problems, so it’s been puzzling to me that it’s more challenging in the tiny house. The composting toilet began to take on water during showers (the same one on our boat didn’t), so we have to cover it with a plastic bag during a shower. We have to mop the floor after every shower as the drain is raised just enough that all the water doesn’t drain out (but this does keep the floor clean). And then there is the issue of what to do when one person needs to use the toilet when the other person showers. . . We’ve learned that you have to plan ahead when you want a shower to take all this into consideration.

Storage. Some works, and some doesn’t. I can’t reach the top two shelves in the pantry/kitchen area. I have to stand on a chair (and even then I can’t reach the back of the top shelf) or ask my husband to get something. Annoying. The storage in the stairs to the bed are great . . . but . . . I can’t see what I’ve got and have to paw around to find what the clothes I’m looking for (they open from the top). Luckily, I can often find what I need by feel, but it generally makes a mess of things and I have to refold and repack much too often.

The storage under the bed behind the hanging clothes is working — sometimes. Sometimes I  get frustrated because I have to push back the clothes, move boxes off the top of boxes to get what I need. Luckily, the things on the bottom are not needed very often, and I tell myself it’s just good exercise to bend and move stuff. Our exterior storage shed works great . . . if you want to access the first couple of feet. If you need to get in the back, you have to climb in and then over whatever else is in there to find what you need, all on your hands and knees, barely. Not my favorite activity.

The best storage we’ve got is the tool storage box we bought for the back of the pickup. Very easy to see, store, and access tools. Worth the price. And the storage under the couch has worked out well, too. Don’t forget your folding, all-purpose cart — it’s been invaluable for going shopping, to the laundromat, and to the trash and recycling bin.

The instantaneous hot water heater. It works, but is temperamental. Even though we’ve “set” it to the temperature we want (113), the water runs anywhere from 105 to 135. We deal with it, but when you buy an appliance, you expect to work as it’s supposed to…..

The tiny house sports a new exterior color — we call it Peach Sorbet.

The Good Things!

Easy to clean.

Easy to change the color of the outside (see above photo: do you like it?)

It feels right, even though there are times I’d like a bigger space.

The windows, especially the ones by the bed.

The bed loft — so comfortable and cozy without feeling too snug.

The stairs to the bed loft — easy up, easy down, even in the middle of the night.

The fold-out table.

Our outside folding table and chairs.

Showing it to visitors!

Learning how to live in the space creatively.

Being able to be self-contained while on the road.

Knowing we’re doing the right thing for the environment.