Saturday, October 8, 2016

House Beautiful?

After my dry run with Sheilagh putting the tiny house through its paces and living in it I realized I needed to address seating. Not just seating for dining, but for lounging around and entertaining. In my planning stage I was thinking hanging chairs and hammocks for their versatility. But now that I had been showing the house to visitors who were curious about my tiny house I acquired a desire to make the house more conventional in the sense that strangers looking in the door could see that it was a home and not a fishing shack. Something that would read "house" in the sense of cultural icons that represented what people could identify as a home in a magazine spread. This was the first time in my life that I had had so conventional a thought process. 

My conception of interior space and decor had run through more bohemian territory with witty references to convention. I had at one time lived with a housemate who brought with him an iron bathtub set up on pieces of lumber that we filled with cushions and used as a place to lie in and read. It was the most comfortable piece of furniture any of us had experienced. When he moved into his own house taking his "couch" with him, I recreated the bathtub couch and being unable to find claw feet set it up on galvanized plumbing pipe connectors which I painted to look like elephant feet.

Our house in Thailand had a wide bench with Danish modern legs. Upholstered in turquoise Chiangmai cotton and furnished with throw pillows it had been my mother's idea of seating. When I took possession of it I just had to replace the worn out cushions. In the same house we also had one of those hanging rattan basket chairs popular in the '60s. My father designed built-in counter height cabinets that ran along one wall and served as a workspace while my mother had another cabinet that served as a sewing table. These were built by the carpentry shop on the corner and made up in teak. There was also a bar with two swiveling teak wood stools. Along with the marble coffee table on tapered legs that matched the couch this was our hip mid-century modern living room. The apple does not fall far from the tree in this arena of house decor I realized.

A couch would offer a place to lie down that would not entail climbing up to the loft or crawling into a hammock. And of course it would be good if whatever I built would serve more than one function. I had already decided that the cooler would sit against the wall opposite of the kitchen and serve as seating. This led me to design a bench to slide over the cooler paired with another one for storage for my sewing machine. I made cushions from the leftover memory foam I had cut off the topper of my minimalist mattress and bought good quality upholstery fabric to go with the blue green of the kitchen. Frugal style is knowing where to spend your money.

As for a dining room table, there were plenty of drop down tables built in tiny houses and that Ikea roll around table with two folding leaves and drawers in the center was also popular with tiny house people. The engineering of the drop down table was quite complex. I could do it given the wall space I had, but the legs were a problem with benches. After much drawing and research I realized that I already had a table I liked perfectly well. It had been a utility table for a computer printer that I had rescued from an office move. The polished blond wood and chrome legs were pleasing to the eye. The legs had wheels and a storage shelf at the bottom. I'd been using it for my sewing table. I could add fold down leaves to it and make it into a dining room table. And it would roll into the space under the stairs where I had originally planned to put the cooler. I could postpone adding the drop down leaves since it would not be a built in so I would not have to build it before moving the house.

With the bench and cushion covers in the works I turned my attention to shelving. I wanted as much footage as I could fit for my book collection. I was not a minimalist Kindle person. I had amassed a book collection in preparation for a collapse of the electrical grid. I had books to help me homestead an off grid life, build shelter and grow food. Books for home maintenance and fixing things for clients. Plus all my shamanic books and autobiographies of interesting lives that I hadn't read yet. I was after all a writer. I needed books. 

It was easy enough to make shelving from doors, but what to use for shelf supports? I could make wood farmer style supports, but that was too much work. Shelf supports were a decorative fashion thing I noted, but also a bonafide piece of hardware. I could indulge in buying shelf supports. I chose some plain iron ones that looked like a blacksmith might have hewn them. There were also some inexpensive hyper modern ones I'd never seen before that functioned like the hinge on a fold out desk holding the shelves at both ends. These were clever and minimalist with the added feature of serving as book ends. They came in white and the shelves were white which picked up the white of the window frames. When I installed all the shelves things finally began to look like a house. It was not just a couch then that makes it a house. Shelves and the ownership of things to put on them added significantly to the iconography that says here is a house.

On the kitchen side I had long planned to make shelves out of the strip of desktop I had cut off when I made my kitchen counter. I made two shelves of different lengths to accommodate my Berkey Filter that would serve as my water dispenser for drinking water. The rounded edges of the shelves matched the kitchen counter top in a very satisfying way. When adorned with my gold rimmed cocktail glasses I had saved from a client this definitely said house beautiful.

Speaking of client gifts, I had a number of such gifts from clients who were eager to contribute to my tiny house. I now had a rather butch quilt made by a client's grandmother from mens shirts and pants in a plain pattern of simple squares. The client had gone to the trouble of washing it several times to rid it of its musty smell just so she could offer it for my use. I was touched by this. I'd also been given a folding travel iron, a mirror, silverware, bachelor casserole dishes and most interesting a velvet curtain that had gone over the door of a client's therapist's office to muffle sound.

After discussion with Sheilagh over matters of privacy in the tiny house we decided that the loo needed a privacy curtain, but the shower did not since such an act of bathing would not be shared with guests in the house unless a lover in which case the act of bathing would be willingly shared. And since I would not be spraying water over me I would not have to contain shower spray with a curtain. Pouring water was a much more controlled use of water. Thus the burgundy curtain became the privacy curtain for the loo adding a luxurious touch of class. Fishing shacks most definitely did not have velvet curtains.

Satisfied that I had firmly established that this was a house with all the functions of a house I was ready to move.

1 comment:

  1. Beauty. Getting pretty posh in there. Silverware, velvet, gold trimmed glasses. Where will the fisher folk and treeplanters sit? Looking lovely. Perhaps you could put an old tub out in the yard for rustic memories of comfy reading room, clawed foot tub of course. With an overhanging umbrella for rain or shine.