In yesterday’s post, Making the Move, Part 1, we talked about what led us to this lifestyle. Today, we’re going to show you how we made tiny living work for our family of 3 (plus 2 cats and a dog) in our 12×16 cabin.
Where does a person start when they decide they want to live on a Modern Homestead? There are so many things to consider. There’s even more to ponder. It’s the simple things in life that we all take for granted. For example, how do you wash your dishes? Do you have a washer and dryer at home or do you go to the laundry mat? Do you love the feeling of the hot water pounding your shoulders in the shower? Are you the kind of person who runs the shower to steam up the mirrors before getting in? I love a bot bubble bath in a deep soaking tub with jets. My favorite thing to do after a long day at work was soaking in the tub with a glass of wine and a good book.
Not anymore! Our modern homestead is dry. Do you know what that means? It means we don’t have running water, there is no plumbing in our cabin. We haul water in when we need it. We’re blessed to have access to a gravity fed natural spring, but we’ll get into that more in another post.
Our cabin is 12’x16’ with a loft and a 4’ front porch. The loft is actually 12×20 because it provides cover for the porch. However, this little perk is offset by the fact that a person can’t stand up in it. The ceiling height at the tallest point is only 4’.
This is tiny living at its finest. Okay, maybe not at its finest, but it really works well for us. It helps if you’re good with puzzles because tiny living is much like a puzzle. Finding a home for all your belongings gets challenging. What helps most is making sure that everything you have is multi-purpose. If you’ve ever seen the shows where they build the Tiny Houses, you’ve heard it a million times, “You can’t afford to bring anything in that doesn’t serve more than one function.” Guess what, they’re right!
Our kitchen has an RV stove/oven with 2 Rubbermaid cubies, one on each side. These cubies serve as counter space and a place to store things like dishes, eating utensils, and everything else kitchen related. Next to the kitchen is our wood stove, a space to stack wood and the pots and cast iron pans that hang on the walls. I use a large stock pot to heat up water and a plastic tub to wash dishes in. This works great and most of the time I don’t even miss not having a kitchen sink.
Next to the kitchen, and I mean right next to it, is a small book shelf that holds the TV and DVD player. The shelves hold our canned food items. Next to it is a tall book shelf that holds all the dry goods.
We have a Primo water dispenser that we use for our drinking water (it’s our personal joke that we have running water) on the wall next to the large book shelf. Next to it is another Rubbermaid cube that holds multiple things. From clothes to tools and even our first aid items.
Turn the corner again and you have the sofa by day, queen size bed by night. It’s not your average futon, my husband made it for us. The main box on the bottom serves as storage for seasonal items, summer clothes in the winter, winter clothes in the summer. Shoes that we won’t wear depending on the season as well. It slides out when we’re ready for bed. My favorite thing is that it isn’t a futon mattress either. We bought a 6” memory foam mattress many years ago that we use on it. It’s very comfortable for sleeping or sitting.
There are about 2 feet of space between our sofa/bed and then we have the school corner. It consists of a small desk that we use for school. This is Vance’s desk and houses all the items he needs for each day’s school assignments. One side of the desk sits beneath a window and above the window is a shelf that holds lots of books. To the other side of the desk, there is a set of stairs used to get into/out of the loft. There are nails on the outer rungs of the stairs that are used to hand bath towels, jackets, hats, and headlamps. Butted up to the other side of the desk is a multipurpose room. It has a closet, a birch branch my husband cut me so we can hang clothes. There is the cat box, cat food and water bowls, and our “honey bucket”. If you don’t know what a honey bucket is, I’ll tell you. (This may be disturbing for some, but it’s a reality of dry living.) A honey bucket is a potty chair. Ours is a medical potty chair and it’s only used at night and only for going #1. It’s emptied daily, rinsed and put back. We found that a little RV toilet treatment goes a long way is controlling odor here and it gets bleached about every 2 weeks.
And there you have it. That’s our cabin! Each of the 3 downstairs windows has a shelf over it, this makes great storage space as well. We use LED rope light strung length wise across the middle of the upstairs and the downstairs. They work great because they are bright yet use next to no power. We have clothes line strung out on one side of the cabin that we use to dry laundry in the winter. And as you’ll find in most small cabins, the roof timbers have nails in them as well throughout. These are especially useful for smaller items such as measuring cups, keys, and other small gadgets.
For our laundry, we use 2 5-gallon buckets and a plunger. The first bucket is used to wash with the plunger. The plunger has several holes drilled through it to allow the water to pass through while still getting the same agitation you would in a washing machine. The second bucket has several holes drilled through it in the bottom and around the lower parts of the sides. This is to allow the water to drain. Put one bucket inside the bucket with the holes and sit on it and you have the spin cycle without the spinning. It is very effective for getting the majority of the water out of the clothes before hanging them on the line.
For our showers, we use the large stock pot, a Kool-Aid pitcher, and a 5-gallon bucket. We use the pitcher to bucket water over ourselves. It’s a great system, works well and doesn’t require running water.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about what we do on a daily basis, what our finances look like, and how we afford to live this lifestyle. You won’t want to miss it!
Have you lived off-grid before? What are some “hacks” that you came across or even invented yourself to make life a little bit easier? We would love you to share with us in the comments section below.