Paneling the interior (bathroom walls included!)

I can’t believe it! We have paneling on the walls & trim on the windows! The 1/4″ white oak ply paneling came from the living quarters of the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, as did the oak trim and window sills. Once the paneling was up, Aaron was eager to start on the bathroom walls; the only 2 interior walls in the place, giving structure & strength to the sleeping loft above. He bought the 3/8″ tough & groove spruce paneling with 5 time-dollars…. or hours of labor.

Time-dollars are an alternative way to exchange hours of work for a product or service; instead of using dollar-dollars, you donate your time to something you enjoy doing (helping with a gardening project, giving a cooking or sewing lesson) and you’ll receive ‘time-dollars’ to use on all sorts of goodies (massage, hypnotherapy, permaculture consultation, a plumber). The Bay Area Community Exchange ( is an excellent example of individuals coming together to build upon each others talents and in doing so, have created a vibrant community & economy. Good Stuff!


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Paneling the Ceiling

Aaron has been working hard, finishing up the insulation on the walls and getting the cedar panels up on the ceiling. This is the first of the interior to go up… the first pieces of the construction process that gives us a visual on what the Tiny House will look like on the inside.

I love all the lines created from the cherry-stained panels, 2×4′s and spray foam; from the textured redwood beams holding up the roof and the roughed cut white reclaimed beams holding up the loft. There have been so many layers laid down to create this space from the sub-floor on up. It’s been intriguing to watch the patterns emerge only to be covered up again by another layer. Soon the 1/4″ white oak paneling reclaimed from a local convent will cover the 2×4′s and Insulfoam, creating a whole new visual of the interior.

Our friend Jesse stopped by to check on our progress. He and his wife, Kate have taken major steps to simplify their lives from growing their own food and brewing their own beer, shopping local and using public transportation/bikes/feet to get around the Bay Area. He’s even let go of the need for a cell phone! They’ve been quite inspirational and supportive to Aaron and I through this process & we look forward to brewing some beer with them in the near future!

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Siding: Complete

Just before we left for Portland, Aaron completed the siding on the house. It’s SO pretty!

See for yourself….





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Deconstructing a Convent


Whole House Building Supply was commissioned to do the demolition of the nun’s dormitory for the Church of Nativity in Menlo Park, which, by coincidence is where Aaron’s grandmother went to church when he was a child. She had 2 sisters that were nuns who lived on the East Coast, so felt quite at home in this space and became quite close with many of the nuns there during the 80s. The convent had 3 kitchens, a gathering space with a library & numerous bedrooms upstairs with shared bathrooms mingled in between.

We were most interested in the white oak paneling & oak trim located in a back room where there were tables, a small stage, and a confessional just to the right of the door. Aaron spent 2 days peeling the panels off of the walls and de-nailing the oak trim; well worth the time to salvage all that material! I spent most of the time wondering around with my camera, taking photos of my favorite items. The 50′s decor really struck a cord with me; the teal counter tops, yellow cabinets, steel-plated outlet covers (which we snagged for the Tiny House) and frosty white light shades all drew me in. As did the ‘welcome’ mat that sat outside a hidden entry which matches the one my grandparents had at their doorstep when I was growing up.

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Whole House Building Supply


One of the most asked Tiny House questions is… “Where are you building it?”

This is the place!! Whole House Building Supply is a locally owned business selling architectural salvage building supplies in San Mateo. It has been a valuable resource to the Bay Area since 1994, recently moving north from East Palo Alto.

Owner Paul Gardner runs a demolition crew that disassembles homes piece by piece that are to be remodeled, renovated or torn down; this saves precious old-growth redwood beams, hardwood floors, appliances, cabinetry & decor that are normally left for the landfill. They also accept donations from other contractors & visitors (on approval only!!) The warehouse is full of lumber, windows, doors, toilets, bathtubs and all sorts of odds & ends for your building project.

The Company organizes “Demolition Sales” which are like estate sales but instead of selling the furnishings, fixtures are sold; doors, windows, flooring.. even the kitchen sink ……  Be sure to sign up on the Demo Sales email list to be notified of upcoming sales & listings! (Click link at bottom of the page.)






This is also a great place for artists & gardeners!! Handmade planter boxes & small shelves made from salvaged lumber make a great edition to the backyard. You can even have one custom made to fit a specific spot on your patio!

The Book & Art Room is a favorite place of mine to hang out in the shop. There are shelves with donated art books & exhibit programs from museums across the Bay as well as how-to manuals on the likes of needlepoint & woodworking from the 1970′s. Old ribbon, small tiles, random frames at various sizes fill this room ~ you’ll never know what you’ll find! WHBS also sells door-panels at standard & custom sizes that make great canvases! So, if you’re an artists who is looking to use recycled materials in your work ~ this is the place to shop!


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Bathroom walls & loft

One of the most important areas of the house for us was the bathroom. We really wanted a bathtub and considered them at all sizes (even up to 72″ long as there was whirlpool tub available at WHBS at a great price!) Once we got a grip on how big the space was going to be, we dropped down to 60″ tub, which would take up as much space as most Tiny House bathrooms! We finally settled on the 46 1/2″ tub. It’s large enough to bathe & shower in without feeling claustrophobic and gave us an extra foot of closet space in the hallway! How incredible is that!!

Getting the bathroom walls up facilitated 2 things: the height of the sleeping loft & the room left over for the kitchen & living space/office. Even though we’ve made numerous drawings to scale, we realized that we need to throw them all out and fit all the appliances in where there is room for them. It’s Tetris for real life.

The ceiling is insulated in the loft and the radiant barrier is attached – next step is to install 3″ cedar panels. The panels were salvaged from a job Aaron worked on over 2 years ago where he took out accordion doors in an apartment remodel; he knew they would come in handy someday!


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OffGrid Todd & Cedar Shingle Siding

Last week, we drove down to Cedar Valley Shingle systems in Hollister to meet up with Todd Dubois who sold us 30 panels of cedar shingled siding for the house. He’s even built a Tiny House of his own!

Todd is an Off-Grid consultant and THE GUY to talk to about water collection, grey water systems, photovoltaic systems, composting toilets & sewer systems… everything Off Grid &/or alternative building materials! He also has THE BEST hook-up for cedar shingled siding!!

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Watching the pieces come together…

I am actually quite surprised at how big the space feels now that the walls are up & it’s all enclosed – minus the back door, of course, which is a work in progress. It feels like the amount of space I was expecting it to be, 8′ x 18′, yet it doesn’t feel too confined, which was what I was expecting…. does that make sense?

We’ve slowly adjusted each time the boundaries of the house have been re-defined. Whether it be the actual size of the trailer bed after the JobBox was cut off or after the subfloor was complete; when the framed walls were raised, installed, then sheathed, or the roof being added & sheathed, etc… We’ve each reacted differently to the amount of space created as we’ve made progress on the house.

So I am happy (and a bit surprised) to report that the inside dimensions of the space, created when the windows & front door were installed & the loft enclosed, actually feels quite nice. I was worried that would be the moment it felt too small to live in. To my relief, I felt quite the opposite. Standing inside the small enclosed space, bathed in the natural light, I was comforted by the coziness I felt; by the thought of preparing meals in our kitchen, of waking up in the morning to the smell of giant Redwoods in our yard, of having movie nights for our family & friends to watch movies projected on the side of the Tiny House. I am eager for that life; to continue on the path of simplifying my life & making space for what is most important.

Aaron, who has seen his work space go from an flat, open-air platform to 8×18 dark, enclosed shed where he tends to loose more “counter space” to put his tools as we progress – ie: window openings & wall supports – tends to feel a bit less comforted by the amount of space currently available…







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Our very own front door

Complete with a built-in doorbell! This door came from a demolition job through Whole House. Back in March, when we were building the subfloor Aaron & I drove down to Menlo Park where a young family was remolding their home. The moment we saw it, we knew it would be perfect for the Tiny House (even though it’s 36″ wide – quite large for a Tiny House door!) The blue tone became the (new) color inspiration for the trim of the house and we’re on the verge of purchasing the Andura Roofing which seems to match quite closely.


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Installing the Windows

We got a lot done this week! I was on vacation from work so we both put in long days to enclose & insulate the house. Aaron finished up the sheathing on the loft, installed the front door & had some help from Paul to install the windows. I spent most of the week adding the first layer of insulation to the walls with Insulfoam & (many) cans of spray foam to fill in the cracks. I also worked as the errand girl; handing tools up to the roof & making supply runs – mostly in the form of foam, food & caffeine!

It’s incredible. It’s really starting to feel like a house.

When Aaron was building the walls & blocking out the window openings back in March, we became concerned that the windows we had bought we’re too large for the space, that it would look unbalanced. But now, having them installed in the house, they are the perfect size. They offer a nice amount of natural light to come into the rooms, which was an important feature for both of us; even though they are a bit larger in scale than one would expect in a Tiny House, we feel they are a beautiful fit & a nice proportion to the of rest of the house.

I love how the shapes in the Marvin windows & front door balance one another out; the Marvin also has a fancy handle on the window sill that folds in when you are finished opening or closing it. The large window in the kitchen, which we bought at Whole House, is dual pane and has hand-crafted wavy glass installed in it. As I stood in front of that window, opening it slowly & for the first time, I became giddy with anticipation to wash these windows. I’ve never felt like that before! Seriously. Excited. Windows of my very own to wash. Sweet!




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