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Step into the Hearth through our weekly blog posts.  Catch up on the latest events, tiny house updates, and book club reviews or read one of our monthly columns. 

Ryan Bonaparte writes about being an engineer in a creative community, Amy Beth Harrison writes from her art studio, and Miranda Aisling muses on the importance of creativity.

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Category Archives: Blog

Open Space and Folding Stairs

Open Space and Folding Stairs

One of the most fascinating things about building a tiny house is that it makes you come face to face with your values. As an artist and a community builder, I knew from the very beginning that my tiny house needed to have a central open space. I wanted to be able to have several people in my house at the same time, to play my guitar without bumping into things, to dance with my partner, and to do yoga inside to name a few things.

With such a small space, one decision turns into a domino effect that impacts everything else in your house. To achieve my desired open space, I knew I would need to have my bed in a loft, a small kitchen and bathroom (the saddest part of which is that I don’t have a bathtub), and limited storage.

The biggest questions become: How do I get up into the loft and where do I put my things?

The second question was the easier one to answer. My friend Art, a tiny house dweller in Louisiana, instructs people not to build any storage until they move into their house. Because even in tiny houses, if you build it, you will fill it.

Following his advice, my clothes started out in a pile on the edge of the sleeping loft. This was quickly replaced by a cheap shoe rack at the edge of the loft and later by six canvas bags screwed into the wall under the stairs. Because they’re made of cloth, these bags only take up as much room as I have clothes. The closer to laundry day, the less room they take up.

(Laundry day in a tiny house!)

The trickier question to figure out was how to get up into the loft. I knew I didn’t want storage stairs, both because I had no idea what I would put in them and because they would take a big chunk out of my open floor space. I also wasn’t particularly thrilled with the concept of a ladder.

While on the search for inspiration, I found an image of metal stairs made for folding down out of attics. This seemed like it would take up too much space under my loft, so instead of folding out of the ceiling, I wondered if my stairs could fold out of the wall. I envisioned each step as a separate plank united by a bar that I could lift in one motion.

As a trained painter but an amateur carpenter, I decided to ask a trained woodworker to see if this was possible. Alex Jaynes is not only a trained woodworker, he used to work at NASA thinking of the human element in space design. As he described in his talk at WhatIMake last year, if there’s something that looks like a handle hanging at eye level than in an emergency someone is going to grab it. It doesn’t matter how many signs you put up afterward telling people not to.

After one conversation about my idea for stairs and quite a few measurements, Alex disappeared into his woodshop and I got back to work building my house. A few months later, he reappeared with the beautiful staircase you see in this video. Just goes to show that when you hire a trained artist, they often have the skills and imagination to take your idea and run with it.

Think you might have a furniture problem that Alex could solve? Check him out at http://alexjaynes.com.


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Support Tiny House Hurricane Relief in Houston

Support Tiny House Hurricane Relief in Houston

This weekend at the 3rd Annual Tiny House Festival, we’ll be raising money to support Nu-Waters Co-op, a small business incubation started through Project Row Houses to address food deserts in Houston. Nu-Waters runs a Tiny House Build Site with 15-person teams who work together to collaboratively build tiny houses for each participant.  In theContinue Reading

The Expressive Technique (aka Dumbledore’s Pensive)

When my mind or my heart gets too full and I finally start listening to what my body needs, I inevitably find myself in my studio. As an interdisciplinary artist, I have many avenues at my disposal to get whatever is rattling around my brain outside of me. They are not mechanical techniques or well-practicedContinue Reading

The Acadia by Tiny Living Spaces

The Acadia by Tiny Living Spaces

The Acadia by Tiny Living Spaces is a total of 275 sq feet of living space. Roadworthy at under 14,000 lbs and 13.6 high X 8.6.wide atop a 24 ft tiny home trailer with 4 ft bump out. Ample storage throughout, on demand hot water and prepped for D/W and W/D combo unit. The homeContinue Reading

Hammerstone Building Workshops and Guest House!

Hammerstone Building Workshops and Guest House!

Hammerstone: Carpentry for Women is THE east coast venue for women to learn basic carpentry skills in a supportive, judgement free environment. This year they’ll be returning to the annual BIG Tiny House Festival after their debut in 2014 to share those skills with you! Hammerstone will be offering two 2.5 hour workshops on Saturday, SeptemberContinue Reading

Destiny Dweller!

Destiny Dweller!

I have lived in my 160 sq. ft. tiny house in NY for about 8 months now and have loved every second of it! Fully equipped with a living area, dining room table, deep closet, kitchen, full bathroom, and two lofts, this house is the perfect fit for me active and carefree lifestyle. The unique thingContinue Reading

Kat Mondieu’s Converted School Bus

Kat Mondieu’s Converted School Bus

Kat Mondieu turned a 2002 Freightliner FS65 schoolbus into a tiny home on wheels. It sleeps 4-6 with bunks, a queen size bed in back, a dining area that converts to a bed, composting toilet, kitchen, wood burning stove & tub. She’s been working on it since June 2016 with her partner and has lived in itContinue Reading

I will not be filled with hate.

I will not be filled with hate. I can feel it hurtling towards me, heated by the fire of your tiki torches, trumpeted by the chanting of your racist slogans, engraved in the photographs of your snarling faces. It ravages; fueled by the husks of dark history built into this country’s foundation, a wildfire sparkedContinue Reading

Volunteer at the Tiny House Festival!

Volunteer at the Tiny House Festival!

The 3rd Annual BIG Tiny House Festival is fast approaching! With several thousand people expected and a parade of tiny houses on the way, we’re going to need some help pulling this off. We’re looking for volunteers who are interested in: Working the welcome table Facilitating art and community activities Taking photographs and videos of the eventContinue Reading

Daring to Write Your Own Story

I write to explain myself to myself. To take the things that have happened to me, especially ones where I have felt disempowered, and tell them as if I had planned for everything to happen. As if living through a divorce, which left me distrustful of anyone’s ability to commitment, was something that needed toContinue Reading

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