Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tiny House Nation

The tiny house movement started several years ago, so it was a just a matter of time before there was a TV show featuring tiny houses.  It's actually kind of a welcome change from episodes of House Hunters and Property Brothers, where the people couldn't possibly live in a house that doesn't have double sinks in the master bathroom, space for a 70-inch TV, and enough cabinets to store an entire aisle of oversized packages of food and paper products from BJs.

The other night, I watched the first two Tiny House Nation episodes sitting in the living room at our fairly tiny house. Our beach cottage is about 340 square feet, 450 if you count the screened porch.

And that's actually not as tiny as some of the houses featured on the show. One, built for a couple and their two-year-old daughter, was less than 200 square feet. I'm pretty sure I couldn't live in a house that small, especially with a toddler, but the people who design these houses have some really great ideas for maximizing space, including telescoping tables, Murphy beds that turn into couches, sleeping lofts, and even a smugglers cabinet built into a deck.

We don't have anything quite that creative at our beach cottage, but watching the show got me to thinking about all the ways we've worked to fit in everything we need. We do have built-in storage cabinets over the bed, where we store extra sheets and pillows:

A military trunk, purchased for $50 on Craigslist, serves as a coffee table in our living room while also storing a food processor, a waffle iron, and a crockpot:

The living room also features a vintage Coleman cooler that hides our supply of Mutt Mitts as well as some magazines, while a picnic basket and another cooler hold binoculars, board games, and puzzles:

In the kitchen, we have mostly open shelving that Doug built from repurposed doors.  Vintage wooden crates, bread boxes, and picnic tins are our pantry:

We also use lots of cup hooks and a magnetic knife holder, taking advantage of valuable vertical space:

Doug also fashioned a mini pot rack out of a turkey roaster and some hooks he bought at a kitchen store:

On the porch, a yard sale dresser holds placemats, dog towels, candles and barbeque tools:

In the dining room, a bar Doug made from a free crate holds all of our glasses, while a vintage cracker tin stores happy hour snacks.

And a vintage hamper hides a mattress cover for the futon:

The best thing about all of this is that we can justify our ever-growing collection of vintage containers because we use all of them.

I plan to keep on watching Tiny House Nation because it's fascinating to watch the host show people how much space they actually have for storage--and then watching the homeowners sort through their stuff. It makes you think about what you really need and what you have just because....

It's kind of funny though that the pendulum has swung so far from the McMansion direction.  I don't think most of us are ready for Tiny House Living, but we could probably get by pretty well in a lot less than 3,000 square feet.

And one nice side effect of little houses? At least in the two episodes aired so far, they brought the family members closer together.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I recently spent an afternoon on the porch at our beach house reading The Art of Racing in the Rain.

I admit that I wasn't sure I was going to like the book because it's told through the voice of a dog, and I tend not to like fantasy and other unrealistic types of stories.

But once I started, I couldn't put it down, and I ended up reading the 300-page book in about 4 hours.

The dog's voice is very convincing, and the message of the book is timeless and ageless.  Racing (cars) in the rain is an extended metaphor for life itself--it requires adjustments and compromises and different equipment, and to be successful, you have to make decisions about all of these things at the right time.

 But the one message that really struck me was the simplest of all: The car goes where you look.

The car goes where you look, and so for the most part do our lives.

And once again, I thought of our little beach place.

I had no reason to think that I would find anything we could afford when I looked at the realtor's website, but that didn't stop me from looking.

And once we bought the place, I kept on looking where I wanted to go, and the house came along with me.

Last weekend, we spent a wonderful July 4th weekend there.  I was feeling a little down before we went--our friends were all away for the weekend, so we knew it would just be the two of us. We were expecting a hurricane, so the weather didn't look promising. But by the morning of the 4th, the storm had moved on, leaving in its wake cool, sunny weather with low humidity. We packed up the pets and by noon, we were watching World Cup soccer in our living room with all the windows open and a breeze blowing through.

Our little place was decked out for the holiday:

In between games, we walked on the beach, and in the evening we went to Dover for concerts and a fireworks display.  We didn't know anyone, but we had a great time watching people, listening to music, and admiring a great fireworks display. Legislative Hall was decked out for the party:

And later, it was lit up with alternating red, white, and blue lights:

Doug took this selfie of us while we were waiting for the music to start:

The beautiful weather continued all weekend, and the next night we saw a beautiful sunset over the marsh:

We also hung a new stained glass window that we bought at our favorite antique store--I apologize for the terrible picture, but it really does look good in the pass-through between the living room and the kitchen:

A few days after the 4th, Doug and I left for what was supposed to be a two-night stay at a B&B on Chincoteague.

But unlike our glorious Independence Day weekend, the getaway didn't turn out so great.  The inn looked better online than it did in person, the beautiful post-hurricane weather gave way to unrelenting heat and humidity, and a planned sunset boat cruise was cancelled because of thunderstorms. We ate lunch in a pizza place with a kid video blaring through the entire dining room, and the breakfast at the inn was so bad that I raided our cooler for string cheese and cherries to stave off my hunger until lunchtime.

Although we had already paid for the second night, we decided to just pack up and come home. Staying because you've paid for the night when you're not having fun is a little like continuing to put money into a slot machine because you've already put a lot in. Our time and peace of mind are worth something, and staying under less than ideal conditions offers no further returns.

So we're home and planning a local outing to Strasburg, one of our favorite towns in nearby Pennsylvania.

The car goes where you look.

Monday, July 7, 2014

We've Been Featured!

"Some people have the coolest stuff."

That's how a blog entry on a website called Mobile and Manufactured Home Living begins.

And it's about OUR little beach house!

Doug and I were so surprised to learn that we had been featured in an extensive writeup on this site, which is run by a woman named Crystal Adkins.  We were also extremely flattered that Crystal took the time to gather so many of our before, during, and after photos and that she said such nice stuff about us.

Like "the couple handled the entire remodel like champs, making the impossible possible time and again."

Crystal finished the writeup by saying, "This is such a great vintage mobile home remodeling story! Not only is the end result amazing, but it's a great example of the endless possibilities that a vintage mobile home has. Plus, this is about as close to a mobile home jackpot as one can find - fine home, great location, and bought at a great price."

Thanks, Crystal. We love our little place, but it's great to know others think it's cool too.  And it's really interesting to see some of the other makeovers on your site!