Last year I downsized my living and working space. Would like to work with clients who want to shrink their Ecological Footprints. Is this proposition true : as the physical shrinks the spiritual expands. I live believing it does.
Where to start?
A blank sheet of paper can be daunting, so it occurred some work from the past might be a good starting point. Almost all of my company's sweat has been renovation, remodeling and repair. I'm going to reach back a couple of decades to provide some possible Tiny Home paths. . .
My very first paying clients had a four unit apartment house in south Minneapolis. They could get government financing if there were five units. The Zoning Code puts limits on how much of a lot can be built on. We needed to add one, but could we add two? The Code also specified the minimum size of a one bedroom unit had to be 440 square feet. As I looked at my sketched site plan it suddenly dawned on me : what if we went up rather than out? I called the Zoning officer and asked if we could have a two level one bedroom. He checked with his boss. It had never been done before, but there was nothing in the Code precluding , so eventually we got a building permit.
The main level has a galley kitchen and hanging out space. Go up the spiral staircase to the lofted sleeping and dressing realm. That's also where you'll find a closet and bath. Given the size of the windows and stairwell no one believes it's 440 square feet. . .
In 1967 my Mother's parents bought a camp on the Orange River in northern Maine. In 1968 my parents bought two acres just up river. Grammy Carothers named it The Ledges from the rock formations in the area and it's perch on a hill. The land lay dormant til the Summer of '86 when Mom and Dad had a neighbor drop one tree. Suddenly there was a view down the river valley for over a mile. Can watch the eagles hunting. They commissioned me to design a place for them and two guests. At the top of my Father's Want List was a comfortable set of stairs. My Mother's a comfortable kitchen.
A local sawmill could supply 2x6 tongue and groove spruce flooring in sixteen foot lengths. I didn't want any joints to lessen the flow, so that determined the width. The US construction industry is based on a module of four feet. The Ledges is four modules wide and six long. Door and window locations were placed to keep the amount of framing lumber to a minimum. For fourteen years my parent's rhythm was to Winter on Amelia Island in Florida and Summer in Maine. It can get quite cool in the evening. A wood burning fireplace is the focal point of the main floor. The flue goes up through the loft radiating warmth throughout. The heat rises to heat the loft floor. above the kitchen. I tiled the hearth as their 37th anniversary present. It's bright red. My Mother's favorite color. The shape is a section through the middle of the house.
Because elders often need to empty their bladders in the middle of the night the WC was put on the loft level. The shower, laundry and storage was on the main level adjoining the kitchen and hanging out space. Cabinetry in the kitchen also provided buffet space for eating and everyday storage for games and stuff. A hide-a-bed sofa provided sleeping for guests. My favorite was sleeping in the wrap around screened porch. You haven't lived til you've been awakened by loons on the misty river. The porch is where most meals are eaten.
Given the unique construction approach my parents couldn't find a local contractor who wanted to take it on, so they offered it to me. Local gents helped me make it happen. The excavation contractor is the best I've ever worked with. We did the shell in '87 and finished in '88.
The view standing in the corner of the loft looking down to a bit of the hanging out space.
Once again. Red was Ma-Ma's favorite color.
Note the wall switches following the lead of the stairs. . .
One of the challenges was creating a sense of spaciousness while also providing a modicum of privacy when there were guests. This picture is taken from the front of the loft. The kneewall to the right follows the pitch of the stairway. Coming up the stairs you can't look into the loft. The prism on the left encloses the fireplace flue. On the other side of the taller partition is a walkway that separates the WC. There're doors to the shower and WC. All other spaces are open. Doors and full walls would create too much claustrophobia. Sight lines are all controlled. The reflection is one of the skylights over the loft.
Am hoping you'll pardon the quality of the pictures. Most of the documentation is in a dead laptop. Am hoping you'll agree something is better than nothing. . .