Category Archives: Tiny House Extras

Basic House Framing

I started to write an article on basic framing for those who are very much into a do it yourself construction of a tiny house. I have learned first hand many of the concepts involved, some by trial and error. In order that walls, openings, windows, and doors are properly fit together, one needs to know some of the methods involved. For instance, do you know the three major ways in which corners are joined together in framing? Not only does the framing need to account for the connection of interior and exterior surfaces but also how the roof attached to the frames and the strategies for the connection of interior and exterior walls.

Nevertheless, as I was doing a little research on the subject, I realized that I would be repeating what is already available and it might be better to simply point the reader to some excellent information that explains everything so concisely. Not only would all this information be of benefit to those deciding whether to build their own tiny house but also those who would like to construct a cabin, shed, or other small building.

(Since I will be including links to various resources, please let me know if any of these links get broken.)


The Deck

 

The deck is what your structure will sit on.  We will keep things to the basics, here. Obviously, foundations can get a bit more complicated, especially with basements.

 

Click Graphic For Link.
Click Graphic For Link.

 

 

 

 

The Walls

 

Walls are different thicknesses as the result of the methods and orientation in using them. For instance, in a stick frame building in contemporary America, exterior walls can be composed of 2 x 6 lumber with 2 x 4 lumber for interior compartmentalization. Furthermore, walls made of brick, concrete, or concrete block will be of various sizes. Also, residential structures, as with any structure, can vary the materials used for walls based upon elevation or aspect.

The easiest and most common method of building walls in a residential environment is stick framing. One of the things to take most note of is the framing involved in corners, windows, and in the attachment of the floor and roof systems.

 

Link to Basic Wall Framing Page.




 

The above video is in parts. Watching all parts will give you a much better understanding of framing.

 

 

The video above has some interesting things to consider when framing a structure.

 




The Roof

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, much more goes on besides framing. Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, venting, and other technologies go into building a house, studio, or advanced shed. However, as daunting as it seems, with just a little bit of knowledge, it really is not all that difficult. It’s more hard work than mentally taxing.

 



HBosler

 

Folding Dining Set

Searching around for a space-saving alternative to a regular stationary table and chairs, one finds all sorts of design styles but it seems that only a few configurations are possible when looking for a dining set that folds up.

The most common setup has a table and benches that fold down from the wall or a wall hung box. Sometimes called a Murphy table, they basically function in the same way, although one can find modern to rustic in terms of style.



Murphy Table.
Murphy Table.

 

Murphy Table.
Murphy Table.

 

Murphy Table.
Murphy Table.

 

Murphy Table.
Murphy Table.

 

The second type of fold out dining set is an independent unit that is usually on rollers. These units can also include stools and benches.

 

Folding Table.
Folding Table.

 

Folding Table.
Folding Table.

 

Folding Table with Chairs.
Folding Table with Chairs.

 

Another type of folding set hinges from a wall or a cabinet connected to a wall and suspends the table surface from a cable from the wall or ceiling.

 

Table Suspension.
Table Suspension.

 

A Table Suspended from the Wall.
A Table Suspended from the Wall.

 

A Table Suspended from the Ceiling.
A Table Suspended from the Ceiling.

 

The advantage of suspending a table surface from a ceiling is that when constructed with pulleys, the table can be raised out-of-the-way. However, the disadvantage is that the surface will swing unless anchored in some way. Attached to a wall will give a lot of stability.

There is another system that has a hinged support that folds out horizontally from the wall and supports the surface. This is good for small surfaces and desks but not for anything substantial unless one has a solid metal frame or a robust support. People have used wood doors cut to size and then hinged to provide adequate support. A good piece of 3/4″ plywood will work as well.


Horizontal Support Table.
Horizontal Support Table.

 

Horizontal Support Table.
Horizontal Support Table.

 

Horizontal Support Table.
Horizontal Support Table.

 

In terms of fold out tables and dining sets, there is nothing new under the sun. At any rate, this article will attempt to show you in detail how you might make your own table by illustrations and instructions.

 

What will be attempted here is a table used for dinning in a small space which when not in such use can easily be turned into a desk, especially one that can fit up against a wall to consume as little space as possible. The other characteristic that we will look for is an independent unit that we can move.

 

 

The following illustrations provide the instructions to construct a piece of furniture that will furnish two iterations, a dining table and a desk. However, keep in mind that the basic instructions here can be expanded to create a much larger table. In an effort to keep things as simple as possible and to use as few resources as necessary, the scope of the design has been restricted.

 

The Fold Up Table.
The Fold Up Table.

 

The Fold Up Table.
The Fold Up Table.

 

The Fold Up Table Top Dimensions.
The Fold Up Table Top Dimensions.

 

The Fold Up Table Dimensions.
The Fold Up Table Dimensions in Inches and Feet.

 

The Fold Up Table Dimensions.
The Fold Up Table Dimensions Including Base Width.

 

The Fold Up Table Dimensions. (The Hinged Sides.)
The Fold Up Table Dimensions. (The Hinged Sides.)

 

From this point on, we will call the unhinged side that we saw as the “front” and the hinged base sides as “sides”. The side we have yet to see, we will call the “back”. The back is where the table top will hinge down to rest against the legs to shorten the piece into a desk.

The place to start is with the front and back base support structure. These, as well as the sides, are formed with 1 x 4 lumber (3/4″ x 3-1/2″) and attached with pocket hole joinery and glue.

 

The "Front" and "Back" Base Support Dimensions.
The “Front” and “Back” Base Support Dimensions.

 

Joining the Pieces of the Front and Back.
Joining the Pieces of the Front and Back with Pocket Hole Joinery and Glue.

 

Once the front and back are made, the sides come next.

 

Showing the Attachment of the Legs for the Sides.
Showing the Attachment of the Legs for the Sides.

 

Since the sides are held together by hinges, we first secure a 28-1/4″ length of 1 x 4 at each corner with pocket joints and glue (or by wood or construction screws if you desire a different method).

 

Showing the Attachment of the Legs for the Sides.
Showing the Attachment of the Legs for the Sides.

 

Applying the Corner Hinges.
Applying the Corner Hinges.

 

Hinges are applied to the side leg supports and the 1′ sections which will start to form the collapsible section of the frame.

 

Applying the Side Hinges.
Applying the Side Hinges that Connect the Two Side Legs.

 

On the outside middle of the side a hinge connects the front and back sections which are attached to the side legs. The hinge is mounted to the outside and not the inside. On the inside, we have hinges on both the side legs. This allows for the section to fold in.

 

The Hinge System on the Inside and Outside.
The Hinge System on the Inside and Outside.

 

Another View of the Hinges.
Another View of the Hinges.

 

The base is finished and is ready for the table top in two pieces.

 

The Hinges on the Two Piece Table Top.
The Hinges on the Two Piece Table Top.

 

The hinges fit in the center of the separation between the two 2′ x 4′ table top sections and on the seam close to the edge on each side. The two pieces should be centered both front and back on the base with the front section of the table top attached to the front frame as shown in the above illustration. This prevents the top from moving but allows for the back section to fold down when this furniture is used as a desk. To restate: Only the front section is permanently attached.

 

Showing the Orientation of the Table Top Hinges.
Showing the Orientation of the Table Top Hinges.

 

The Table with All Hinges Installed and the Top Attached.
The Table with All Hinges Installed and the Top Attached.

 

The Top of the Table.
The Top of the Table.

 

Showing the Folding Action.
Showing the Folding Action of the Frame.

 

Showing the Folding Action and the Table Top.
Showing the Folding Action and the Table Top.

 

Showing the Folding Action and the Table.
Showing the Folding Action and the Table.

 

Showing the Folding Action and the Relation to the Table Top.
Showing the Folding Action and the Relation to the Table Top.

 

Showing the Folding Action and the Relation to the Table Top.
Showing the Folding Action and the Relation to the Table Top.

 

The Table Frame Folded and Half the Top Dropped for the Desk.
The Table Frame Folded and Half the Top Dropped for the Desk.

 

The Desk with the Chair.
The Desk with a Chair.

 

The Desk.
The Desk.

 

The Desk, the Table, and a Chair.
The Desk, the Table, and a Chair.

 

Because of the length of this article, I did not include a design for a folding chair–even though I have one. Actually, a set of folding chairs is not tremendously expensive to purchase at many locations which is most likely the best solution. Nevertheless, I will include instructions on a folding chair in a short while. And possibly the very attractive one in the above illustrations, as well.


Materials

 

  • Pocket hole joint kit with screws for 1-1/2″ material.
  • Exterior glue.
  • (Optional) 2-1/4 to 2-1/2″ wood or construction screws if not using pocket hole joinery for the side legs.
  • Obviously, 1 sheet of plywood or other sheet material in 4′ x 4′ dimensions for the table top.
  • Four 1 x 4 x 8′ lumber for the frame. The frame can also be made of plywood by cutting out lengths that match the cut list below.
  • Nine hinges (around 4″ to 5″).
  • (Optional) Nail sliders or gliders or some other method of separating the bottom of the furniture from the floor.

 

Tools

 

  • Drill. (Remember to pre-drill if using wood or construction screws.)
  • Circular saw or Jigsaw for cutting sheet material.
  • A straight edge or guide for cutting sheet material.
  • Pocket hole screwdriver and/or drill bit.
  • Device for measuring the boards and carpenter’s pencil.
  • A router if rounding or beveling the edges.

 

Note: The Materials and Tools list do not include paint, stain, and finishing supplies since these will vary considerably depending on your choice of how this piece of furniture will look. However, to save on labor, an electric sander is highly recommended.

 

Cut These Lengths for the Frame.
Cut These Lengths for the Frame.

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas.
Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas.

 

A Lounger For Outside

Since the outdoors is a fundamental part of living for not only tiny house owners but people in general, I have included these instructions for an easy to make patio lounger made of just 2 x 4 material that is excellent for a patio or covered area. In the spirit of DIY, which can be of interest to tiny house people, the step by step instructions below will allow you to make your own unique piece of patio furniture.


Lounger
Lounger.

 

There is nothing like lounging around the pool or on a sunny deck. Lounge chairs are a part of relaxing and resting. This patio lounger is not only stylish but also easy to put together.

 

Patio Lounger.
Patio Lounger.

 

In fact, this relaxing chair only uses one wood material, standard 2 x 4 (1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″) lumber.

 

Patio Lounger.
Patio Lounger.

 

We begin by constructing the sides of the lounger first.

 

Patio Lounger Side Dimensions.
Patio Lounger Side Dimensions.

 

The sides of the lounger are pieced together with exterior glue and pocket hole joints. Place the pocket hole joints facing the inside of the chair and, remember, that there are plugs made that will fill and hide the holes once puttied and sanded.

 

Looking at the Back Cross Connectors.
Looking at the Back Cross Connectors.

 

The 30″ back connectors are also attached with glue and pocket hole joints. However, the inside piece is joined as in the illustration with one pocket hole joint on the inside center and one on the bottom. The reason for this is that there are already pocket holes in the side pieces which would interfere with the connector’s joints.

 

The Back Cross Connector.
The Back Cross Connector.

 

The other cross connector is applied with joints facing front to the very back of the sides. (The other connector has been removed for clear viewing.)

 

Both 30″ Back Cross Connectors.
Both 30″ Back Cross Connectors.

 

The Back and Seat Side Piece.
The Back and Seat Side Piece.

 

The back side is attached to the seat side with pocket hole joints as shown in the above illustration. The top joints will secure the top cross back piece.

 

The 30″ Top Back and Seat Front Pieces.
The 30″ Top Back and Seat Front Pieces.

 

The 30″ top and front of the back and seat are connected as in the illustration.



The Attachment of 27″ Back and Seat Slats.
The Attachment of 27″ Back and Seat Slats.

 

The Attachment of 27″ Back and Seat Slats.
The Attachment of 27″ Back and Seat Slats.

 

The 7/16″ Gaps Between the Back Slats.
The 7/16″ Gaps Between the Back Slats.

 

The 5/16″ Gaps Between the Seat Slats.
The 5/16″ Gaps Between the Seat Slats.

 

If you wish, the gaps in the seat slats can be all the same width. The difference between back and seat as illustrated is purely aesthetic.

The back and seat slats may be placed either before attaching the seat frame to the outside frame or after.

 

The Seat Frame is Attached to the Outer Frame.
The Seat Frame is Attached to the Outer Frame.

 

The seat frame is attached to the front of the outer frame by use of a pocket hole joint on the bottom edge at the front as shown. The back is connected to the outer frame by using a couple of 2-1/2″ construction or wood screws through the back side frame and into the sides with the back leaning on the inner back cross beam support. It is important to secure the back while the chair is upright in the proper position. You want the point at which the seat sides and the legs touch the ground evenly and simultaneously so there is no rocking or legs off the ground.

 

The Lounger with Seat and Outer Frame Connected.
The Lounger with Seat and Outer Frame Connected.

 

Finished Lounger.
Finished Lounger.

 

Materials

 

  • Pocket hole joint kit with screws for 1-1/2″ material.
  • Exterior glue.
  • 2-1/2″ construction or wood screws.

 

Tools

 

  • Drill.
  • Miter Saw.
  • Pocket hole screwdriver and/or drill bit.
  • Philips screwdriver.
  • Device for measuring the boards.

 

Cutlist




HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

Do Your Own Cabinets

Many cabinets are simple boxes. Some have added drawers and movable shelves. They can also be quite expensive when purchased pre-made at cabinet shops and even home supply stores. However, making your own cabinets can save money, especially when you need custom sizes or shapes. Here we will examine some basic cabinet forms and shapes.

The dimensions of cabinets vary but some are rather standard to account for height and surface area.

 

Dimensions Showing Overall Placement.
Dimensions Showing Overall Placement.

Parts of Cabinetry.
Parts of Cabinetry.

 

As one can see from these diagrams, the distance from the wall to the edge of the countertop will be somewhere between 24 to 26 inches. The space on the wall from the countertop to the bottom of hanging cabinets is around 16 inches, whereas the wall cabinets will be around 12 inches from front to back. All these dimensions are flexible depending on the needs or applications of surfaces and storage areas.

Base cabinets do not need a toe kick but would benefit with one if the unit goes from surface to floor in one piece. The usual size of the toe kick is 3-1/2 inches deep and up to 4 inches tall. Cabinetry can also rely upon legs or platforms to remove them from direct contact with the floor.

 

 

Bathroom Vanity Design With Toe Kick.
Bathroom Vanity Design With Toe Kick.

 

Toe Kick.
Toe Kick.

 

A Cabinet Design on a Platform With Legs.
A Cabinet Design on a Platform With Legs.

 

This is a Unit on Legs With a Bit of a Twist.
This is a Unit on Legs With a Bit of a Twist.

 

Once you have a box and put legs, a platform, or a toe kick on it, the face of the cabinet will determine what kind of doors, drawers, and hardware will be used. A box can have just shelves or just doors with pivot hinges. Pivot hinges allow a door to swing on pegs fixed on the top and bottom of the door allowing it to sit flush with the edges or they are scissor sort of looking things that attach to the top and bottom of the cabinet and the door.

 

 

Pivot Hinge.
Pivot Hinge.

 

Another Pivot Hinge Configuration.
Another Pivot Hinge Configuration.

 

Obviously, anything can be a DIY project and pivot hinges are no exception. I have taken a simple mending plate, placed a wood screw through an end hole that is inserted into a washer then screwed into a cabinet door. Once the mending plates for the top and bottom of the door are affixed to the carcass of the cabinet box at the top and bottom, the door can swing on the screws. To prevent the screw head from digging into the cabinet where it pivots, a small piece of embedded metal such as a penny, dime, or any other sort of wear resistant material will prevent the screw head chewing up softer woods. Even a nail with a large enough head will work in this situation as long as it is short enough not to go through the thickness of the cabinet.

I use pivot hinges a lot because I like the modern look of inset doors. Of course, there are many types of hinges. An excellent description of the four basic types can be found at this LINK.

 

HardwareSource Website.
HardwareSource Website.


A video on hinges:

 

 

The fronts of cabinets are essentially of two types. One is without any front face and the other is made with a frame or piece attached to the cabinet carcass. Without a face frame, the cabinet is basically a box with doors or drawers designed to close flush with the cabinet or to hinge or shut against the cabinet body directly. With a face frame, usually, doors or drawers sit on the surface of the face frame when closed.

 

 

Basic Cabinet With Shelf and Face Frame.
Basic Cabinet With Shelf and Face Frame at 24″ wide x 36″ high.

 

For a good explanation of the different types of hinges and the different types of doors, Rockler has an in-depth examination of all the basic types. The type of front and the type of door hinge will determine the door’s dimensions to a large degree.

The following instructions will explain how you can make the above cabinet, which is simply to illustrate the basic construction. The same method may be used for cabinets in other dimensions such as width or height.

 

Sides of Cabinet.
Sides of Cabinet.

 

To begin construction of the cabinet, you will attach the bottom shelf to the sides even with the top edge of the toe kick.

 

The Side Dimension Including the Toe Kick.
The Side Dimension Including the Toe Kick.

 

In this case, the toe kick is 4″ tall and 3-1/2″ in depth. The side dimensions are 35″ tall by 23-1/4″ in depth.

 

The Toe Kick.
The Toe Kick.

 

To connect the shelf to the sides pocket hole joints are used with a quality interior/exterior glue.

 

Looking Underneath the Bottom Shelf.
Looking Underneath the Bottom Shelf.

 

Next, we attach the two back supports, which are 1 x 4 (3/4″ x 3-1/2″) lumber cut to 22-1/2″ lengths.

 

Back Support Pieces.
Back Support Pieces.

 

The top support piece should account for the placement of pocket joint holes that will come through the cleats used to affix a countertop. So bring the pocket holes down a bit. (Refer to the graphic further down in the article.)

 

Attachment of the Toe Kick.
Attachment of the Toe Kick.

 

The 24″ toe kick is connected at the front with pocket joint screws. Now, this toe kick is really only for reference since you may want to connect more than one cabinet together. When connecting several cabinets together a long toe kick will span all or some of the sections and will be attached with finishing nails, for instance. Seen in this graphic, the 24″ piece would leave a gap when slid up against another cabinet. So only take the above graphic as an example of a stand-alone item.

 

Back Panel.
Back Panel.

 

The back panel, 24″ x  31″, can be of any suitable material which should account for the function of the cabinet. If the cabinet might receive moisture, a water-resistant plywood could be used, for example. The thickness of the material should be between 1/8″ to 1/4″ depending on the material and use of the cabinet.

 

The Face Frame.
The Face Frame.

 

The face frame is made of 1 x 2 (3/4″ x 1-1/2″) material, with the uprights at 31″ and the horizontal pieces at 21-1/2″. The frame can be made of more expensive, denser materials since it will receive more wear and requires little. The frame should be glued and connected with pocket joints. However, as a tip, to keep the lengths even when inserting the pocket joint screws, clamp a piece across both connecting pieces to ensure that they do not move and become uneven. 

 

Placement of the Front Frame With 1/4" Overlap.
Placement of the Front Frame With 1/4″ Overlap.

 

In order that the cabinets appear even with each other, we give a 1/4″ overlap of the frame to make it easier to lay cabinets side by side. Otherwise, if there were unevenness, then gaps would be nearly impossible to hide.

 

Attaching the Front Frame to the Carcass.
Attaching the Front Frame to the Carcass.

 

The above graphic illustrates the use of pocket joints to connect the front frame. In this way, when cabinets are placed side by side the joints are not seen and not visible from the inside as well. However, the joints, depending on the view, may be placed on the inside, too. Remember that pocket joint holes can be covered with wooden plugs made for hiding them.

 

Front Frame Connection From the Other Side.
Front Frame Connection From the Other Side.

 

Next, we install the top cleats.

 

Top Cleats.
Top Cleats.

 

The top cleats are cut from the same 1 x 4 material used for the back supports and are also 22-1/2″. They are connected as seen in the graphic with pocket joints and glue.

 

The Shelf.
The Shelf.

 

The shelf may fit loose on a peg system or be permanently attached with pocket joints. A peg system uses pegs readily available at hardware stores that can be inserted along two lines of holes placed toward the front and back of each side of the interior of the cabinet. The allows the pegs to be moved and, of course, the shelf to be adjusted.

 

 

 

 

The Finished Basic Cabinet.
The Finished Basic Cabinet.

 

As was mentioned above, different configurations exist when it comes to putting a door on this cabinet. A future article will show various easy DIY doors that will work on the cabinet as well as putting in drawers using different methods. This is basically a reference work to show how one can easily build a cabinet in all sorts of sizes. Wall cabinets are essentially the same except they lack a toe kick and the top cleats are replaced with a solid piece. Also, they generally have only around a 12″ depth.

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

 

Movable Cabinets

Movable Bathroom Sink and Cabinet.
Movable Bathroom Sink and Cabinet.

Why is cabinetry in the home expected to be built-in? When attending architecture school, I designed a rather inventive duplex where most everything was movable. This included the walls, the cabinets, the closets, and even a second story bedroom. Due to regularly placed pluggable drainage and snap on, snap off plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, and toilets could be moved. The walls were a steel mesh that allowed for hanging pictures and objects but a metal cleat system hung wall cabinets while kitchen cabinetry all sat on the floor as ordinary furniture with any backslash attached to the cabinets and not the wall without the need for special carpentry. One could change the entire floor plan. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or any room was only limited by the number of square feet of the structure. Since I still have the architectural drawings and plans for this duplex, perhaps I will include that in a future article because of the various space-saving ideas that would work in small or tiny houses.

One of the great ideas involved in the house mentioned above is the use of mechanisms to allow the movability of cabinets and storage. One such mechanism utilizes the French cleat.

The French cleat is a strong, simple wall attachment mainly known by those who run a workshop of some sort. Woodworkers, carpenters, auto shops, and all sorts of workers affix shelves and carpentry to walls making use of the French cleat.  Why it is not taken advantage of in the home more often is beyond me but it permits cabinetry movement and flexibility in arranging.

The other great thing about the French cleat is how simple and cheap they are to make for those into DIY. Simply take a 1 x 4 or a long section of plywood and cut in the center at a 45-degree angle and voila! Attaching one piece to the cabinet and another piece to the wall and one has a system.

 

French Cleat Cut.
French Cleat Cut.

 

French Cleat Cut and Separated.
French Cleat Cut and Separated.

 

Showing Articulation in the Proper Orientation.
Showing Articulation in the Proper Orientation.

 

Connected.
Connected.

 

Beginning Attachment.
Beginning Attachment.

 

The top part of the cleat will connect to the cabinet, while the bottom will connect to the wall.

 

Attached to Cabinet Showing Articulation.
Attached to Cabinet Showing Articulation.

 

I haven’t bothered trimming the cleat to the width of the cabinet simply because that would be unimportant to the illustration. Also, normally one would only need a cleat at the top of a cabinet with a leveling piece on the bottom. However, if the cabinet will hold a lot and/or heavy objects, two cleats will secure the cabinet even more.

 

Further Illustration of the Articulation.
Further Illustration of the Articulation.

 

Bottom Articulation.
Bottom Articulation.

 

Top Articulation.
Top Articulation.

 

Wooden French cleats are not the only strategy. Metal ones are readily available at hardware stores.

 

Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.
Metal French Cleat.

 

 

Cabinets are not the only thing to work with French cleats. Shelves or anything meant to mount on a wall can utilize the French Cleat.

 

Showing a Wooden Shelf Support.
Showing a Wooden Shelf Support.

 

 A French Cleat Shelf System.
A French Cleat Shelf System.

 

French Cleat Board.
French Cleat Board.

 

French Cleat Board.
French Cleat Board.

 

Now, as far as free-standing cabinets go, one can find them at IKEA and other modern furniture stores. As long as a cabinet is well-built, one meant to attach to a wall can be slightly modified and find a place on the floor not attached to a wall. Credenzas and sideboards will work as free-standing cabinets.

 

Kitchen Unit. (From a DIY Project of Mine.)
Kitchen Unit. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

Sink and Cook-top. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)
Sink and Cook-top. (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

Sink!
Sink! (From a Credenza DIY Project of Mine.)

 

The following IKEA free-standing cabinets are used just as an example of what is available in many places.

 

Ikea Varde Kitchen Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Kitchen Cabinet.
IKEA Free Standing Kitchen Surfaces.
IKEA Free-Standing Kitchen Surfaces.

 

IKEA Varde Sink Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Sink Cabinet.

 

IKEA Varde Kitchen Storage Cabinet.
IKEA Varde Kitchen Storage Cabinet.

 

 

Stainless Steel Free Standing Sink.
Stainless Steel Free Standing Sink.

 

Unless for safety reasons, a cabinet does not need to be attached to a wall and made a permanent fixture. For a small dwelling, the ability to move appliances, as well as cabinetry, gives an invaluable flexibility to account for changing needs and spaces. Sometimes, the best places to look for such things includes restaurant and office supply companies that aren’t wrapped up in conventional notions of what residential cabinetry is all about.

 

 

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

Yurt Campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest

Dozens of campgrounds throughout the Pacific Northwest are not only yurt-friendly, they also offer opportunities for campers to enjoy the unique experience of yurt camping. The map below showcases the campgrounds in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho that make yurts available for overnight or multiple night rental.

 

yurtinterior

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A DIY Challenge

I love designing furniture and have created many pieces in my house. I have a bar table that is a little worse for wear and devoid of storage possibilities.

 

Bar Table.
Current Bar Table.

 

Instead, I have taken the challenge to create, using simple materials and techniques, a sophisticated sideboard in mid-century modern style. In doing so, sharing the project in a step by step manner which will allow the reader to reproduce this piece of furniture with the ability to utilize the design as cabinetry in different forms. This concept will become clear as this article progresses.

Here is the sideboard:

 

Credenza, Sideboard or Cabinet.
Credenza, Sideboard or Cabinet.

 

First of all you will need this list of materials:

  • Two 2″ x 2″ x 8′ lumber preferably in a hardwood for the legs.
  • Two sheets of 4′ x 8′ furniture grade plywood or four sheets of 4′ x 4′ plywood or 8 sheets of 2′ x 4′ sheets of plywood. An excellent grade of pine is fine, but birch or better grades of plywood are even better. If you intend to paint instead of stain the surface, then a less expensive piece of wood is OK as long as the finish is durable and the substrate is strong. Of course, if you know how to plane and join hardwoods or can find boards in the proper size, then using solid wood such as hickory or maple will produce furniture that will last a very long time and provide an exquisite surface. Another note, many hardware stores or lumber yards carry plywood already cut to the above dimensions. I purposefully designed this piece so those without a lot of tools could buy supplies pre-cut. Unfortunately, this only goes for the top and bottom.
  • A good quality wood glue.
  • Pivot hinges. Not entirely necessary, other sorts of hinges are possible, but you will have to account for changes in width or other accommodations for the shape of the hinges.
  • Sandpaper from coarse to very fine. An orbital sander would be ideal for obtaining a very smooth surface.

 

Pivot Hinge. (The peg part with places for screws goes on the door and the peg pivots on the reinforced hole.)

 

 

These are the only materials one will need. The only other important note is the tools. This project utilizes a pocket joint. To accomplish a pocket joint, a special jig is a necessity. A pocket joint jig allows an angled hole where a self-tapping screw establishes a butt joint between surfaces. A Wikipedia article on the pocket joint. One other thing, the simple jigs are not very expensive at all, starting at 19 dollars and up.

 

Pocket Holes and Joints.
Pocket Holes and Joints.

 

In order to cut the sides, middle, shelves and doors, a metal-cutting guide will help considerably. A circular or jig saw will work as long as you use the appropriate blade for cutting fine wood.

 

Circular Saw and Guide.
Circular Saw and Guide.

Here, too, one does not need an expensive guide system. A straight piece of wood and a couple of clamps to secure the material will suffice as a guide. Since you will be making just a few straight cuts, a fancy or complicated system is entirely unnecessary.

To install the doors and to drill the pocket joint holes, it will be vital to have a drill. Nothing fancy. A simple inexpensive electric drill will do.

Cuts: 

  • The top, bottom and back of the sideboard are 2′ x 4′ so you need three pieces and as mentioned above, lumber yards and hardware stores sell plywood in this size.
  • The sides and middle are 23 1/4″ x  24″ so cut three of these. It should be noted that 2′ x 2′ pieces are sold in many places.
  • The two shelves are 20 7/8″ x 22 1/2″. The width of 20 7/8″ makes this shelf flush with the supporting pieces. If want the shelves to move or you will be using adjustable shelving pegs, you will need to cut the width narrower accordingly.
  • The two doors are 23 7/8″ in height and 20 3/4″ in width. The doors fit inset to the carcass of the cabinet and, therefore, should have enough reduction in the width and height so that the door easily closes and opens on pivot hinges. Depending on the thickness of the pivot hinge attachment plate, the door height can be cut to 23 3/4″ allowing for more room to swing.
  • Cut 4 legs at 27 1/2″. if you wish to have the side table taller simply increase the length allowing for more space between the bottom and the floor. Since the tops of the legs are flush with the top of the table, no other changes are created by giving more height.

Construction:

 

Begin by attaching two of the legs to the back. Pre-drill the pocket joint holes to permit easier assembly. You probably do not need as many pocket joint holes as seen in the following images of the back. Five or six on each side attaching the back to the legs is probably enough. Also, be careful with pocket joint jigs. A tendency to move the material when attaching can leave the surfaces uneven. Use clamps to stabilize the two pieces that you are joining before screwing tight.

Note: Glue only where the legs are secured to the top and bottom. You may glue elsewhere, but due to the expansion and contraction of wood, without glue wood can adjust to the humidity and temperature. However, plywood has layers of wood with the grain in different directions and the contraction and expansion may not be that great. If you are using a less expensive plywood that could use the extra strength, use glue liberally. However, if you have decided to take on this project with hardwood, use glue where the grain follows in the same direction and sparingly in spots.

 

Back of the Side Table Showing Dimensions.
Back of the Side Table Showing Dimensions.

 

The back will be 3/4″ from the top of the legs. This is to account for the 3/4″ reserved for the table top.

 

The Back Showing Pocket Joint Holes.
The Back Showing Pocket Joint Holes.

 

You can next affix the top and bottom to the back and front legs and to the back panel. (Before installing the top and bottom, these two pieces will receive the sides and middle supports. It is a good idea to mark where these supports will go on the top and bottom before doing anything else to make them easier to insert later on. Look further down for placement.)

 

Showing Pocket Holes for front legs.
Showing Pocket Holes For Bottom Front and Back Legs.

 

Only the bottom can have two pocket holes on each corner. The table top can have two in the front, but only one in the back since 3/4″ of the 1 1/2″ leg is taken up by the back panel. Before attaching the legs, make sure to drill any holes beforehand.

 

The Front Legs Connected to the Top and Bottom in the Front.
The Front Legs Connected to the Top and Bottom in the Front Upside Down (Displaying Dimensions).

 

The Legs, the Top and Bottom and the Back Panel.
The Legs, the Top and Bottom and the Back Panel Right Side Up.

 

Next install the sides and the middle piece. (If you want to use a peg system for adjustable shelves, mark for the holes now. See the section below about the shelves.)

 

The Sides Are Offset By Two Inches.
The Sides Are Offset By Two Inches.

 

Side Showing Dimensions.
Side Showing Dimensions.

 

A View of the Side and Middle Piece With Pocket Holes.
A View of the Side and Middle Piece With Pocket Holes.

 

All Three Pieces Installed With the Top Removed For Clarity.
All Three Pieces Installed With the Top Removed For Clarity.

 

If you wish to give the cabinetry extra strength by providing pocket holes on the back of the three upright pieces in order to attach to the back panel, that is entirely alright.

Now that we have the legs, back, top, bottom, sides and middle pieces connected, the only thing left is the shelves and doors.

 

The Shelves.
The Shelves.

 

The shelves may be attached by various methods. Yet to make them adjustable, drill two rows of holes on the middle and side supports that will accept pegs. Hardware stores have brass pegs for shelves that just require insertion into a hole. Obviously, marking for these holes before installing the pieces will be much more convenient. Here is a video about adjustable shelves:

 

 

In this case the doors are installed with pivot hinges. The direction for installing pivot hinges is given above in a video. Nevertheless, pivot hinges come in a few different forms and instructions may be included when buying them or on the manufacturer’s or company’s website. At any rate, plenty of information is readily available.

 

Showing Door's Dimensions.
Showing Door’s Dimensions.

 

The graphics being used display a circular wood handle made by cutting a circle in half, offsetting the application of the half circles so that they meet on the edge of the central support and act as a stop. The featured image shows a steel handle. Using a handle from a store means you will also have to think about a stop to prevent the door from going too far into the body of the cabinet. The simplest and easiest to install is a magnetic stop. This can be as simple as a small L shaped bracket as the stop and a magnetic strip on the door. Whatever you might purchase will most likely come with instructions. Of course, if you decide to go with something like the round wood door handle (very mid-century modern), you might not need a trip to the hardware store for a stop. One other thing concerning the doors, the shelves dimensions will only allow the door to shut flush anyway. Why all the information about stops, then? You don’t want the doors constantly banging against the edge of the shelves and you want the doors to stay closed.

 

Wood Door Handle.
Wood Door Handle.

 

This is it, except for the painting or staining. Whichever you use, I suggest a glossy finish. The mid-century modern look to the cabinet certainly suggests such a finish.

 

Completed Credenza or Sideboard.
Completed Credenza or Sideboard.

 

Here are some further suggestions on color and finishes:

 

Credenza or Sideboard in Yellow.
Credenza or Sideboard in Yellow.

 

Credenza or Sideboard in Turquoise.
Credenza or Sideboard in Turquoise.

 

Credenza or Sideboard With Applied Pattern.
Credenza or Sideboard With Applied Pattern.

 

Credenza or Sideboard in Turquoise, Yellow and Light Wood.
Credenza or Sideboard in Turquoise, Yellow and Light Wood.

 

Credenza or Sideboard With Red Legs and Light Wood.
Credenza or Sideboard With Red Legs and Light Wood.

 

Credenza or Sideboard With Dark Legs and Light Wood.
Credenza or Sideboard With Dark Legs and Light Wood.

 

Credenza or Sideboard With Light Wood.
Credenza or Sideboard With Light Wood.

 

Credenza or Sideboard With Dark and Light Wood.
Credenza or Sideboard With Dark and Light Wood.

 

Of Course, Our Graphic in Three Different Stains and Woods and With Round Handles.
Of Course, Our Graphic in Three Different Stains and Woods and With Round Handles.

 

Now, the reason for inclusion on moderntinyhouse.org, this simple and inexpensive cabinet design can work very well as cabinetry and storage for small spaces:

 

Sink!
Sink!

 

Sink and Cooktop.
Sink and Cooktop.

 

Kitchen Unit.
Kitchen Unit.

 

The sink and cooktop installation involves simple cutouts with a sabre saw and access through the back. The unit with shelves is created by extending the back 27 1/2″ legs an additional 36″, hanging some IKEA shelf supports and adding 12″ shelving. A convection oven in the bottom and one has a small kitchen system.

 

Sink With Door Open.
Sink With Door Open.

 

Sink With Door Closed.
Sink With Door Closed.

 

Sink With Cooktop.
Sink With Cooktop.

 

Sink, Cooktop and Shelving.
Sink, Cooktop and Shelving.

 

Sink, Cooktop and Shelving.
Sink, Cooktop and Shelving.

 

If you decide to tackle this project, good luck. Since I am making one myself, I will append the images to this article as soon as they are available.

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

 

L-Up Chair: DIY For Outdoors

L-up Chair
L-up Chair

 

The L-Up Chair comes from a series of designs by me to see how many outdoor furniture works I could come up with that can be made with simple tools and materials and without complicated angles and joinery, all the cut angles being straight or 90 degrees. To my amazement, just with casual and dining chairs, the number continues to grow. Working on my second volume of Outdoor Furniture You Can Make Using Simple Tools and Materials, the collection has risen to 30 dining chairs alone.

As with any size house, modernist impulse leads to an intimate relationship between indoors and outdoors in designing space. Especially important for the tiny house, outdoors areas increase the living spaces through decks and patios. The chair becomes one of the most significant furniture additions to any outdoor venue.

The chair, which I will tell you how to construct, has a floating look due to the difference between the front and back supports and emphasis based upon the way in which color is applied to the chair. As with all the designs in the series in which this comes from, this chair requires few materials. In this case, five standard size 2 x 4 studs. Every cut is made at 90 degrees and can be done with a miter box, although an electric miter saw is recommended.

In terms of joinery, the following instructions do not include any particular method. Some of the pieces such as the seat and back slats could even be set into place with nails. However, in the above mentioned book, the suggestion to use pocket joinery makes for a strong connection. Plus, a good and generous use of exterior wood glue helps keep water from deteriorating the ends of the wood pieces. Being very much a modernist, I quite enjoy when mechanisms or differing materials are left exposed. So when joining the slats for this chair, for instance, a large washer and lag bolt proudly showing on the side of the chair would make for a strong and attractive attachment. At any rate, wood screws of 2 1/2″, lag bolts or construction screws of the same length or 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws with a pocket hole jig will provide excellent fasteners.

Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System
Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System

 

Kreg MKJKIT Mini Kreg Jig Kit
Kreg MKJKIT Mini Kreg Jig Kit

The first Kreg Jig Kit comes to $39 and the Mini Kreg Jig Kit only $19. Extremely easy to use, these jigs will give a strong joint that will last a very long time. However, rather than always use the jig, a place where a construction screw will go straight through the material and into the end of a piece, with glue, gives a very strong joint and cuts out the added time of drilling the pocket holes. For this chair, in formation of the side structure, pocket hole joints will work great. The rest is up to you which joinery you would like to utilize. Just remember, my second choice for joints is construction screws that are weather resistant and tough to break a grip.

 

Start:

You will need 5 standard length studs (92.675″). If you have or obtain 96″ or 8′ studs, then the cut list can remain the same. You will have a little more waste. If you are a viewer from a metric country and stud sizes are different, possibly the instructions will be clear enough to allow you to still construct this chair. The illustration below shows how the studs will be cut. Remember to cut each length separately. If you draw lines on the board and cut along the lines, then the pieces will be inaccurate. The blade of the saw will take out material on both sides of the incision. Instead, to ensure that a 17″ length is 17″ in the final cut, you must cut one at a time with the saw cutting up to the line, but not over it in any way.

 

L-Up Chair Cut List.
L-Up Chair Cut List.

 

 

L-Up Chair
L-Up Chair

 

This chair contains two Ls on the sides, one up and one upside down. The chair floats on a back piece that juts out 2 inches on either side. Let’s make the side frames.

 

Chair Side (Bottom).
Chair Side (Bottom) Showing Dimensions and Pieces Used.

 

Once you have these pieces assembled, add the top, upright piece. The top/side pieces should be attached to the cross top piece first and then you may attach to the bottom seat frame.

 

Back Frame Added to Seat Frame.
Back Frame Added to Seat Frame.

 

Attachment of the Slats.
Attachment of the Slats.

 

The slats on the back, attached flush to the front, are approximately 1/2″ apart. However, you may wish to adjust the spacing slightly because you do not want to go past the end of the 14 1/2″ lengths. The bottom seat slats will need to go underneath the lowest back slat. To set the slats consistently, make a spacer to place between the pieces.

 

Attachment Position of Lowest Front Slat.
Attachment Position of Lowest Front Slat.

 

The lowest front slat should line up with the back strengthening support cross-piece, so both should be placed starting at 9″ from the ground. If necessary, adjust the slat spacing.

 

Showing Seat Without Back Attached.
Showing Seat Without Back Attached To Show Spacing.

 

Slat Gaps on Bottom Seat.
Slat Gaps on Bottom Seat.

 

To begin adding slats to the seat, start from the front of the chair and work your way back leaving 1/2″ spaces between them.

 

Back Legs With Dimensions.
Back Legs With Dimensions.

 

Back Leg Showing Strengthening Brace.
Back Leg Showing Strengthening Brace Flush to Front.

 

The back legs are rather straightforward. The strengthening cross support is flush to the front because the seat support that crosses the middle of the bottom of the seat slats is secured to the center of this support. Remember to attach the cross support’s bottom edge 9″ from the bottom end of the side leg. (If you wish to use the full width of the top length to secure to the seat/back piece to the back legs, refrain from attaching the cross support until after attachment to the seat/back.)

 

Seat Attached to Back Legs With the Back Removed to Show Attachment.
Seat Attached to Back Legs With the Back Removed to Show Attachment.

 

Secure the completed seat and back construction flush to the length of the back leg assembly leaving 2″ on each side.

The only thing left in terms of building this chair is the middle support that connects the back legs to the seat/back L shape.

 

Central Attachment.
Central Attachment.

 

The central attachment at 16 1/2″ attaches to the lowest front slat and the back cross piece attached to the legs.

 

Slat Leg Distance.
Slat Leg Distance.

 

As previously mentioned, the lowest front slat and the back cross-piece should align by being 9″ from the ground.

With all the pieces connected, the chair is ready for paint or stain. I strongly suggest creating a difference in color between the seat/back and back leg pieces. The design purposely emphasizes the difference so the chair seems to float. Even so, sand and prime the chair and use a good exterior paint such as Arbor Paint by Benjamin Moore. Get creative and bold with paint and you can take an inexpensive DIY chair such as this and have something very useful and attractive that will last a long time.

 

Completed L-Up Chair.
Completed L-Up Chair.

 

L-Up Chair in Alternate Colors.
L-Up Chair in Alternate Colors.

 

 

L-Up Chair On the Patio.
L-Up Chair On the Patio.

 

Back of L-Up Chair.
Back of L-Up Chair.

 

DIY Book.
DIY Book.

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait in Red.
Self-Portrait in Red.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…

One of the things that can occupy a large footprint in a room is the bed. It is also one of the essential objects that one can not be without. Minimizing the space taken by such necessary furniture becomes an important part when designing a small or tiny house. Fortunately, many ideas have come about since this dilemma reared its head.

Some of the main strategies are:

  • Fold the bed up and out-of-the-way.
  • Use the bed as a piece of multipurpose furniture as with a daybed.
  • Slide the bed underneath an elevated area.
  • Elevate the bed to free up floor space.
  • Fit in the size bed that one desires and forget about the loss of floor space.

Let’s start with different ways to collapse or fold up a bed to relieve congestion:

Bestar Pur Queen Wall Bed.
Bestar Pur Queen Wall Bed.

The good old Murphy bed, an invention of William Murphy which he patented according the Smithsonian in 1911, filled the need for small apartments and dwellings as the result of an explosion in the need for housing around the turn of the century. Due to the moral climate of the time, in order to entertain a lady, Murphy could transform his room from a bedroom to a parlor by folding the bed into a closet.

Like the bed pictured above, the Murphy beds of today, even though one that stows away in a closet is still an option, mostly come in a cabinet. However, the cabinet can be made in a variety of ways such as those that contain a library or office when closed. Also, the cabinets do not have to be tall, but can stand about half the height of the more familiar beds.

 

open41pcgha8g-l
Original Coffee Queen Creden-ZzZ Cabinet Bed.

 

Some interesting variations of the Murphy bed concept occur with a bed such as this:

 

Zoom-Room Murphy Bed. (Photo from Zoom-Room Website.)

Almost like a magic trick the Zoom-Room Murphy bed rolls up into the cabinet. With many different styles, this bed includes storage of all kinds from office to entertainment centers and certainly does a great job of providing extra floor space during the day.

As for the multipurpose furniture that turns into a bed, many configurations exist, the most common is the daybed and pullout sofa. Yet other types are available:

Coaster Sleeper Bench/Ottoman.

 

The above bench/ottoman converts to a sleeper by unfolding. There are, however, disadvantages in terms of size and possibly comfort in dealing with such designs.

Fold up beds do not have to be put away lengthwise. Movement sideways is possible even though the bed is slightly harder to make up.

 

Gold Sparrow Tampa Convertible Big Chair Bed.

Then there is the chair that converts to a bed. This solution also takes little space, but the bed is generally narrow. Even so, the designs can be quite attractive and modern and are excellent for guests as well.

The old method of a daybed is a solution that provides many choices in terms of availability, configurations, styling and size:

Homelegance Modern Design Daybed with Trundle.
Homelegance Modern Design Daybed with Trundle.

 

Then, of course, is the pullout sofa:

 

1PerfectChoice Sectional Pull Out Under Seat Sofa.
1PerfectChoice Sectional Pull Out Under Seat Sofa.

 

 

1PerfectChoice Modern 2 pcs Sectional Sofa Pull-Out Bed.
1PerfectChoice Modern 2 pcs Sectional Sofa Pull-Out Bed.

And the usual pullout sofa:

 

Benchcraft Safia Queen Sofa.
Benchcraft Safia Queen Sofa.

 

It almost goes without say, but sliding a bed under an elevated area requires customization of the area and the bed. This means that a good deal of design, construction and carpentry will make the bed function properly:

 

Bed That Slides Under Elevated Area.
Bed That Slides Under Elevated Area.

 

The sliding bed can roll lengthwise or sideways. The disadvantage of this arrangement for some people results from the necessity of making the bed every time the bed is put away. Certainly, a different method can be purchased and not require construction.

Elevating the bed can free up space underneath. This occurs in many of the tiny houses on wheels where bedrooms are placed in “lofts”.  Nevertheless, a loft bed means something a bit different:

 

Signature Sleep Metal Twin Loft Bed
Signature Sleep Metal Twin Loft Bed

Loft Bedroom.
Loft Bedroom.

As one can see, a loft bed or bedroom does not have to be as in a trailer, but can work equally well in all sorts of house sizes.

 

Lofted Bed With Room Underneath.
Lofted Bed With Room Underneath.

 

For DIYers, one can find many plans for loft beds:

 

Loft Bed With Work Area Underneath.
Loft Bed With Work Area Underneath.

 

In an article on www.gadgetspage.com, a creative individual hinged a bed to close over a bathtub!

 

guest bed folds down over the bathtub
Guest Bed Folds Down Over the Bathtub.

 

Anything that can be covered with a flat surface is eligible for the same treatment as the bathtub above. Nevertheless, if a flat surface isn’t required, many other solutions such as a hammock or sling come to mind. Or sleeping on mats like the Japanese that can be rolled or folded up will work for those that can accept such arrangements. And don’t forget the fold up or roll away bed and the cot.

 

Bed Over Bathtub.
Bed Over Bathtub.

 

At any rate, most people want something resembling a standard bed instead of exotic means to save space. Here, thinking out of the box can lead to amazing results.

 

HBosler

Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas.
Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas.

Big Solar for Tiny Houses

SOLAR REPORT

Off the Grid in a Tiny House

solar-panel.jpg

The Cost and Practicality of Solar Power

HBosler

Modern Tiny House

 

 

A Comparison of Energy Sources

Before anyone gets all excited about going off the grid and telling the traditional energy companies they are no longer needed, let’s look at a comparison of different energy sources.

Now, before doing that, let’s note that the desire to go off the grid with a renewable energy source like solar does not come down to just cost for many people. Some have ecological and environmental concerns. Others just like the idea of not being reliant on a company or agency which, not only will impose a cost, but also possibly rules or regulations. So for many, cost is not the only determining factor.

Unfortunately, solar, wind or other renewable sources of energy have become a religion to some, so one must take a jaundiced view of information on these sources. In fact, one can find information that actually states that wind and solar provide the same or less expense as conventional sources. This is patently untrue at the moment. However, a realistic view can be made up from rather clear information found from credible authorities. Also, figures can be skewed a bit due the relatively heavy subsidies that solar power might receive depending on the location.

Another recent factor to consider is the dramatic decrease in the cost of fossil fuels and the emergence of natural gas as a strong competitor to coal and other fuels for electricity generation.

Table showing costs as computed by the Department of Energy in 2014:

 

Power Plant Type Cost

$/kW-hr

Coal $0.095-0.15
Natural Gas $0.07-0.14
Nuclear $0.095
Wind $0.07-0.20
Solar PV $0.125
Solar Thermal $0.24
Geothermal $0.05
Biomass $0.10
Hydro $0.08

(Solar PV stands for Solar Photovoltaic.)

As one can see, over a 100 hour period, the cost of solar amounts to $12.50 while coal spends $9.50 and up and natural gas $7.00 and up. (It should be noted that this article only applies to the United States. Other countries’ energy expenses are generally much greater than the US.) According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the average cost per watt for solar PV installation is $3.60.

Nevertheless, computing the expense of Solar PV is highly individual depending on location, local government and the type of system used. Showing all the various abstruse calculations does not clarify the purpose of this article. Leave it to say that solar is in general between 40 to 60 percent more expensive than the cheapest fossil fuel.

Types of Solar Setups Affecting Expense

The simplest solar PV setup contains a solar panel, a charge controller and a D.C. device or devices. In order to run A.C. devices, an inverter becomes necessary. A simple setup has limited application and delivers nothing at times of little or no sunshine. Storage batteries deliver electricity at night and during inclement weather. Batteries are by nature direct current devices, supplying usually 12 volts at various amperes depending on the size and cost of the battery. Generally a battery bank will set one back quite a few dollars, but is less expensive when purchased as part of a system.

For the purpose of this article, we will assume that the devices powered include a modest sized refrigerator, a television, a computer and attendant objects like a router, lights for a house around 300 sq. ft. and a small air conditioner with the occasional use of a washer/dryer. Appliances like the stove and heater can utilize propane. So we will need a system that can furnish a number of comforts and entertainments 24/7 during the night as well as during stormy, overcast days. If you are not located in a area like myself, the desert southwest, you would probably want a backup generator for those times when sunshine becomes hard to obtain.

Appliance Wattage List

 

Refrigerator 1200 watt-hours /day
Television Between 215 and 350 watts
Computer and Router 80-270 watts
Air Conditioner 1100-1600 watts
Washer/Dryer 300-400 watts
Lights 80 – 160 watts*
Miscellaneous 200 – 600 watts/day#

*The lights are low voltage CFL bulbs.

#This would consist of things like a toaster or electric shaver.

Obviously, items such as the television or washer/dryer are not used continuously. The trick in computing the amount of electricity needed is to determine the watts consumed per day. If one washed clothes on a Saturday only, dividing the watts used by seven will give one the answer. The above example table shows the variability of computing an overall number.

Besides the load needed for a tiny house, location becomes a very important matter. Living in Palm Springs, California one would expect to collect significantly more solar power than someone living in Portland, Maine. Check out the Solar Energy Map at the Department of Energy which gives the watts per hour per feet squared per day.

 

The Solar System Size

For a system that includes the above appliances and electrical devices, the number of a kWh system will be somewhere between 86 to 232 kWh in a location with 5 peak hours for 30 days per month. This is for an off-grid system.

To get a rough estimate of the size of the system one would need, follow this link or here.

A lot of information is available on the Internet as well as calculators for the size of a system. A simple search for “solar size calculator” will give a tremendous number of results. Many companies include this as a resource on their websites.

Expense

Of all the sites that I have reviewed, the expense for a basic off the grid system starts at around $3500 for a very tiny house to up to $8000 for a small cottage sized dwelling in a location of sufficient sunshine. Depending on the factors, the cost can rise several thousand dollars. Now, this whole discussion only suggests solar for an off-grid system. A system can accept some power from other sources such as from the grid or from wind or gas generators. So a mixed system is less expensive. Nevertheless, individual needs as well as installation can lead to greater cost.

The life expectancy of solar panels figures into the equation. Most panels are warranted for 25 years with the expectation that they will produce at least 80 percent efficiency during this time. Other components such as inverters and charge controllers may not last as nearly as long. Batteries require regular replacement. For an interesting article on batteries for solar power systems click this link.

CONCLUSION

The reason this article is of such a general nature is because of the tremendous number of variables involved with solar energy production and differences in the various cost factors. The competition from solar energy companies leads to the most obvious notion of checking around for the best deals on a solar system. Ask any seller whether you qualify for a tax credit or subsidy or any other advantage.

The feeling of not being beholden to anyone for one’s power is tremendously alluring to many people. Not having to pay a monthly bill leads many to take the plunge and invest in a power source that gives them a greater feeling of freedom.




solar power

HBosler

Self-Portrait-watercolor-grey.png

Modern Small Kitchen Design

The nature of the kitchen in small houses varies as much as the wants and desires of the number of people who have small kitchens. Some people want large appliances for a gourmet experience, some require little space, preferring simplicity and efficiency. The configurations for kitchens in tiny houses are also widely varied with modular kitchenette to custom cabinetry and individually purchased devices.

The complete kitchen unit, as shown in this image, has advantages over custom-built kitchens. Not only does one know the exact dimensions of the unit, but also the entire features as well as cost. Such a unit should generally cost between 1200-1300 and 2200 dollars. Any sort of complicated or time-consuming carpentry is negated. Plus, many companies offer a considerable number of designs and sizes and styles. Gas or electric, installation usually takes little time and the models are not particularly heavy.

Although the modular kitchen is usually complete, it does have the draw back of a lack of customization. The appliances are well set and a larger refrigerator or bigger stove is not always possible. A unique construction allows, of course, for an almost infinite variety of configurations, depending on the space. The materials and finishes on either type will determine cost. However, customization allows for a wide consideration of the materials used. Even used appliances, unique materials, and reclaimed objects reduce prices. Conversely, expensive materials can be used if the budget permits.

Tiny house DIYers have long known that picking things up at thrift stores and garage sales and transforming pieces of furniture or objects into something else, combines the notion of pre-made and customization. For instance, a mid-century modern credenza can be reworked into a sink and counter for the kitchen or bathroom.

The great thing about using free-standing furniture in fitting out a kitchen is that everything is movable. Rearranging or remodeling involves less tearing down and cleaning up. Besides accommodating unique problems in a space, the ability to adjust and reorganize also allows one to change the nature of the space such as in the definition between living and dining rooms. A piece can act as a room divider, for instance. Since many found objects don’t usually garner great expenditures, plowing right into a transformation doesn’t create much anxiety, either. Depending on the creativity of the designer, the results can offer great satisfaction. Using a credenza as a bathroom vanity as in this image, only alludes to the great number of possibilities involved in re-purposing items.

Not only do people redo used furniture, but inexpensive shelving and other pieces from Ikea or other stores indulge the creative impulses of “hackers” who turn these pieces into all sorts of items without spending a lot of money.

Some ideas don’t require elaborate planning and execution. Many times a bit of paint or adding some legs are all that is necessary in creating a one of a kind design. However, with modern ideas, by keeping things simple, one can never go wrong.

Ikea Shelving Made Into Kitchen Storage
Ikea Shelving Made Into Kitchen Storage

 

 

A tiny house kitchen needn’t perform inefficiently or not provide enough space. As is mentioned over and over again regarding tiny houses, vertical space affords a great deal of organizing solutions. Pegboards or hooks will handle utensils, pans and spice racks to name a few, for example. Cabinets and shelving that go all the way to the ceiling, with access by step stool, will ease storage shortages. Yet storage should not be limited to the particular area. Nothing is wrong with placing non-kitchen items in excess space, regardless of the traditional notions concerning functions. In a small house, nothing is too far away.

Great way to keep small appliances off of countertops. ---6 Organization Lessons to Learn from Tiny Houses | Apartment Therapy:

 

Central to the whole concept of any kitchen the single most important question arises, “What do I actually use a kitchen for?” Many people have more kitchen than they really need simply because they have an image in their mind of occasions that may not actually happen all that often, if at all. Thinking carefully and objectively about how one uses a kitchen is essential for the proper kitchen. Too much kitchen eats up valuable room and upsets the free flow of space, consuming budgets and time. If in anticipation of preparing a meal for a major holiday once a year inflates the size of a kitchen, a good hard look at what one truly wants becomes necessary. Better yet, be creative and include in the design a way to expand the kitchen and dining areas temporarily, while keeping the kitchen an appropriate size for the rest of the time. For those of us lucky enough to live in a balmy climate, of course, the outdoors can furnish plenty of cooking, eating and entertaining space.

- To connect with us, and our community of people from Australia and around the world, learning how to live large in small places, visit us at www.Facebook.com/TinyHousesAustralia or at www.TinyHousesAustralia.com:

 

Dining Table and Seating Pull Out Of Kitchen by Alno - - To connect with us, and our community of people from Australia and around the world, learning how to live large in small places, visit us at www.Facebook.com/TinyHousesAustralia:

I would love to have an outdoor kitchen and do something like this. So cool it is like a Murphy picnic table. : ):

Tiny House Basics on Tiny House Swoon - to seat 6 for dining indoor/outdoor or for large work-surface indoors and on deck or porch:

 

critter mobile kitchen: Initially envisioned to be moved between indoor and outdoor spaces, the system works especially well in the house. And with dimensions 240 cm x 65 cm x h 91 cm – it can fit even in a small studio apartment.:

 

One of the greatest things about modern design is that nothing is fixed to tradition or period style. A modern kitchen includes what one wants without regard to what preconceived notions one has about what a kitchen should be. Not all functions of a kitchen need be in one place, for example. The kitchen can fold up or hide or flow outdoors. So many modern designers from the 20th century through the present have created amazing, magical ideas for kitchen design, that with a little research, one can find a solution to any problem or desire.

Bon Appetit

HBosler

Self-Portrait
Self-Portrait

 

20+ Beautiful Staircases – Design Milk

This is a wonderful article on staircases, which is of keen interest to tiny house creators and dwellers. Many of the designs are quite unique, if not artistic. See these on Design Milk: http://design-milk.com/20-beautiful-modern-staircases/

Alternating Stairs

Here is a short video:

Here are some others that should lead you to the idea that stairs have a greater design flexibility than you would think: