Mini-Adventure to the Thrift-Store

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Over the past 2 1/2 weeks, I’ve been taking the “Writing in the Digital Age,” e-course with Tammy Strobel of RowdyKittens. Many thanks to my Mom & James for the lovely gift. It’s been an uplifting and empowering educational experience! This self-paced course offers a variety of encouraging ideas including, the use of tools to start and stick with a writing practice, how to find time & space in our lives to write, and how to share our most authentic voice with a wider audience. It’s been a complete joy receiving the lessons each morning and reading what others share through the Facebook group. I’ve been a bit behind on the assignments (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me well), but will catch up & participate as I can. One of the writing prompts this past week was to go on a mini-adventure and share the story. Here’s our latest adventure…

We were eager to get to work on the house this past weekend; with the Tiny House Warming Party set for March, the time-crunch is on! It was warmest on Sunday afternoon, so I painted the bathroom shelves while Aaron finished off the ceiling in the loft, started on the shelves in the kitchen, and made battens to cover the seams in the white oak paneling. But when we showed up to work on Monday morning, it was too damp & cold to do a second coat of paint and we were running into a situation of needing a sheet of plywood on cite to do next steps on the kitchen shelves… with only the Honda Civic as transport. It was a bit overwhelming and we were not sure what our ‘next best step’ should be.

Feeling worn out from the long week but wanting to stay productive, we decided to take a break from building and set off to find some second-hand treasures for the house. Aaron had been thinking of designs for a bench in the living room, but was also interested in saving time and hoped to find something already made that would work just as well in that spot. We also put good vibes out to find fun fabric for curtains… which we did find & it was on sale, but not at the thrift store.

Our 2 best finds at the thrift-stores are shown below. The first is a Lane Cedar chest, which looks to be from the 50′s, and the second, a small handmade storage box with deep drawers and an exotic wood veneer. The small box looks as if it was found in the captain’s quarters of a boat and used to his hold pens & compass; it just has that feel to it. We’re not quite sure where to use it yet, but know it will be useful somewhere in the house. The cedar chest still smells fabulous… the first thing I did when we opened it was stick my head inside and take in a long, deep breath. I’ve always wanted one; it’s so beautiful. I found a small wrapper used to label loops of thread at the bottom of the box; it makes me even happier knowing it was used in a past life to hold sewing supplies.

Aaron plans to take the legs off as well as the edging on the bottom front of the bench – both are additions to the original piece. He’ll add a toe-kick and a slender drawer underneath for additional storage. We couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect. I’m so thrilled with it! I’ll make dark navy blue cushions to sit on top of the bench to go with the curtain material we picked up at the fabric store. The other exciting news is that we picked up cork flooring for the great room and kitchen! More photos of the floor to come, but there’s a sneak peak of the cork sample in the photos up top.

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2 Responses to Mini-Adventure to the Thrift-Store

  1. Jennifer says:

    Hi there,
    Your home looks very exciting! I may be jumping the gun, as I haven’t read through your entire blog yet. But I had a question. I have always thought that using reclaimed furniture and such would be so much fun for the interior of my future (still in the dreaming phase) tiny house. I’m already really good at that in my regular sized house. But the part that scared me is that they are always so heavy, and thinking about weight limits for trailers kind of sucks out the fun and replaces it with fear. These pieces are beautiful, but how do you account for their weight? Thanks in advance!

  2. aaron says:

    I imagine designers, architects, and engineers tense up a little bit when they read that we are “piecing things together”… even if they were assured that said items were collected based on material composition and craftsmanship above aesthetics.

    The chest is constructed of solid red cedar and weighs 62lbs. A chest of similar construction composed of hardwood would become too heavy for a single person to comfortably lift… and would probably also smell musty come to think of it. Either way… the DF toe kick I added to bring the top of the chest up to a comfortable seating height is the extra 2lbs… and the chest is not permanently installed.. think of it as a module… it can be removed to make room for the “crib” module if we ever have a baby … and if we have a baby we probably wont need a place to sit anyway.

    The Rough hewn DF Beams in the ceiling became a point of contention on weight too.. most people would go with redwood or cedar framing as it would have saved 100lbs + on roof framing (just about what steel roofing material would weigh)

    anyway … with the salvage lumber, we are in better shape with weight/volume ratio because the wood is fully dried and cured. Not only is salvage lumber lighter weight, it won’t dry out and warp over time (because it already has). Our Ridgeboard (rough DF of true 2″ dimension) weighed 41 lbs … which was actually significantly less than the (very fresh) redwood available on the market when we were fabricating the roof. I could have gotten a cedar beam which would have saved 5-10 lbs… but seriously … have you seen our rough hewn beams? totally worth the extra weight in my opinion.

    I guess to answer the original question about old pieces being very beautiful but heavy… Get a feel for this table and keep it in mind when you are out antiquing.

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-density-d_40.html

    That wardrobe constructed of inch thick solid cherry would look awesome converted to a murphy bed / computer desk and function perfectly in a tiny space… but as beautiful as it is… is built out of solid cherry.

    You can still make it work, if you absolutely have to have it… One tactic could be to construct furnishings as modular units that are moved seperately from the house and can be easily installed/removed once the trailer is up on jackstands…

    Another tactic could be to dismantle the object and “trim the fat.” Take the solid sides of the furniture and remove material using a router… replace the 3/4″ plywood back with a piece of Luan…. it’s amazing how much you weight you can cut without compromising the appearance or structural integrity of a piece.

    As far as our trailer… The GWVR of the trailer is 9988lbs… which is pretty much as big as an item like this can get without a commercial vehicle designation. Currently, the trailer weighs 1700lbs (trimmed 300 lbs of fat… ramps, tie downs, metal fingers, and wooden deck) and the structure (plus contents) weighs 4200 lbs.

    we are just under 3 tons now… which is mammoth to say the least, but I am confident that I could put several hundred more pounds in the house and still tow it with ease so long as the load remains balanced.

    So … as you dream about your future tiny house, ask yourself where it’s going to end up eventually. Are you planning on pulling it over mountain ranges and up a 3 mile long dirt road? Will you need to be able to pick up and go at the drop of a hat? In building a house on wheels, weight and portability are among your greatest concerns, yes, but if an extra 400 lbs means that you can get super nice custom rosewood cabinetry that you will look at, use, and love for the rest of your life… well … I say go for it. It just means that you have to rent the F350 to move it instead of the F250.

    Also, keep in mind that just about any tiny house will need to be partially dismantled for travel anyway.

    Oh … and that tensu haribako in this post… the thing weighs so little… I don’t know what it is made of, but is some kind of burl… it has the feel of balsa.

    You may have noticed our marble kitchen countertop too. This is actually a furniture top with 1/4″ marble tile epoxied to cedar plywood. It weighs less than a corian top would have, although slightly more than melamine :P

    just about everything that looks heavy in our house isn’t what it appears to be. Except the solid oak interior window trim, sills, and batten… It is actually solid oak and not just alder stained to look like it… I couldn’t help myself… I am not known for doing rational things anyway.

    Thanks for reading!

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