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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Living real small in the real world

So often the “small” live we see online and in magazines is what I like to call “decor porn”.  It’s so pretty!  Everything is clean and well organized, yes, but it’s super expensive, the built ins are truly built in, everything matches and was purchased at high-concept high-priced stores.

But there are actually people living in small spaces like us, doing it bit by bit and having to fit their lives into a very tight area.  But they are loving it all the same.

Thanks to Life Edited, we don’t have to start poking our noses into our neighbours’ homes to see someone living the real small life in real life.

RealSmallIn this story on their site, they tell the tale of Marya, her two cats and (cute) dog, who all live in 350 square feet in her home in Florida.  She also works out of the space, which is why she has boxes piled up.

As she says,

I live in one large room which serves as office, sleeping area, kitchen, and small sitting space. There’s a divider to separate off my bed from the rest of the room; it has bookshelves on one side and clothes closets on the other. My bathroom has a stall shower and a stacked washer/dryer. The kitchen area has under-counter fridge and freezer, 2-plate stove top, and a few built-in cupboards. I have a minimum of pots, pans, dishes but can entertain 4 people comfortably for dinner.

She has furnished her home with items from big stores like K-Mart, and has a cozy and comfy place that she owns outright, paying a monthly maintenance fee to the complex (which contains a pool).

It’s great to see that micro-living is within the grasp of people who are just like us, just wanting the simpler life and enjoying keeping her belongings to a minimum while she lives life to the max.

Put it in a box and put a ribbon on it — container homes

As soon as I heard about people using a shipping container for the shell of a small house I had to say owchamagowcha — what a great idea.  No surprise that seaport cities have led the way — in Vancouver and Seattle people are finding new uses for these sturdy structures that can be used singly or in combinations–the containers are literally thick on the ground around here.

In Seattle,

The first two cargo homes are being built at the ShelterKraft location in Ballard and set up on Whidbey Island. And, like a boat, they can easily be picked up by a boom crane and transported using a flatbed truck to a different location if needed.

“It’s the ultimate in reuse,” says Amy Gulick, an author and photographer, who purchased a Cargo Cottage with her husband, Chris Gulick. “I love the idea of taking a perfectly good steel structure and making it into something great instead of discarding it into a waste yard.”

Who can argue with recycling, it’s just the size of the tin cans that has changed.

In Vancouver in the heart of Gastown,

The 12 shipping containers on Alexander Street near Jackson Avenue have been converted into apartments by the Atira Women’s Resource Society, which bought a lot on the block in 2009. The first shipping container was dropped on the lot at the end of November, and each unit cost $82,500 to build.

Some of the homes will eventually be occupied by women over the age of 55, who will pay $375 a month in rent, while other units are intended for younger women, who will pay about 30 per cent of market rent.


Wow, said I, I would like to know more about how container living 24-7 — it’s so interesting.  And I found the source to find out more about living in containers, the blog My Home In A Box is a great way to follow the movement.

Small is beautiful!  Pass it on.

Day 92, a look inside

We met yesterday at the laneway to meet with Angelito before we all dispersed for our summer vacation.

We had signed off our kitchen cabinet drawings earlier that day, and hope that the kitchen all comes together in time for its installation in early October.

We also spoke with someone about the AV, TV, telephone connections, and the built-in vacuum.  Plus someone about our security (turns out our doors and windows already make the place into a live-in vault).

Angelito assured us that the radiant heat in the floors will not shrink our hardwood flooring because 1) it’s engineered wood, not solid hardwood, and 2) it’s made for radiant heat.  We spoke about where the electrical boxes will go for our bedside reading lights.

And I grabbed a couple of pictures.  Here you can see the bedroom wall with the radiant heat lines

20130806BedroomThe bathroom shower:

20130806ShowerThe bathroom sink and wall

20130806BathroomThe electrician has been busy and will continue to put in the switches and boxes we need.

Soon we will have the rolled steel roof installed — it’s ready for us!  We are looking forward to seeing that!

Heating is happening

Dropping by the laneway the other evening I ran into Vahid, the amiable plumber, who was connecting the red hoses for the heating system through the new framing in the bedroom wall.  I was happy to talk about it this morning with Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show on the Corus network.


The system is sealed, the water going through it will not be mixing with the potable water that will be serving the bathroom and kitchen.  Once everything is connected with the boiler it will just use the same water over and over, cycling through the boiler then the hoses.  The water will be kept at about 15 pounds per square inch (sorry, don’t know the metric).  But to test the system for leaks they pushed water through to 100 pounds per square inch and they’ll keep it there while the build is going up around it, to make sure there will be no water leaking from the system, or from any punctures that occur during the build. The water hasn’t been connected to the mains yet, they borrowed some from the main house.

And Vahid reminded me not to use any long nails when hanging things on the bedroom wall!  Don’t want any nasty surprises.


I didn’t get any pictures of the framed-in pipes — I didn’t want to disturb Vahid while he was working, and when I went back the house was completely locked up.  Those doors  do a good job of keeping people out.  We’ll be talking to some people about our security system this week, so more on that later.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the doors!

Every time I visit the laneway, I am struck by how it is looking more and more like a real house.  The framing is coming along nicely and the plumbing is continuing apace.  The big difference yesterday was the installation of the exterior doors.  And they look great.

20130802FrontDoorTopThe front door as viewed from the top of the stairs, with obscured glass because it will be facing the lane.

And the vice versa view:

20130802BackDoorInsideThose are beautiful, energy-efficient doors from our window maker Cascadia —  just slabs of glass held by a fibreglass frame. They have protective plastic film on them now so they are not showing their full beautiful sparkle.

Here’s the door that will lead from the sitting area to the deck:


The day was quite gloomy and cloudy.  Up to now we’ve only seen the interior in bright sunlight, so I was happy to see that there’s quite a lot of light coming in even on a dark day.

Out on the deck we now have access to what will be our mechanical “room”

20130802DeckAccessAnd we also had our first visitors:

20130802WindowGirlsThe ladies from the main house dropped in to see the changes.

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