Let’s say you’re an Iowan plotting to haul a 240-square-foot tiny house-on-wheels across the country to the West Coast. What would be the most desirable — and logical — final destination? Portland? Olympia? Joshua Tree? Sonoma County?
If you guessed Sonoma, “epicenter” of the not-so-underground-anymore tiny house movement, you’re right on the money. The micro-minded north-of-San Francisco country is where web designer/micro-living enthusiast Alek Lisefski, his girlfriend Anjali, their dog Anya, and their lovely little trailer-bound wooden abode recently landed after making the 30-hour-plus trek from Fairfield, Iowa.
After a journey filled with both setbacks (snowstorms in Texas) and pleasant surprises (randomly passing a Tumbleweed Tiny House, also in transport, while on the road in the Southwest), now that the designed-from-scratch labor of love is settled for now on the property of a tiny house “host” in Sebastopol and the necessary set-up requirements (water, power, compost piles) have been checked off the list, Lisefski is ready to start sharing the story of — and building a community around — his own tiny house project.
With the tagline “Less House. More Life,” Lisefski did technically start in with the Tiny Project while working on the house back in Iowa. But since the home’s arrival in Sonoma, the project has gotten a huge amount of attention. Lisefski explains that the home is his “attempt to live a simpler, more conscious, debt-free life, and in doing so helping to set and example and educate the community about alternative, affordable, more sustainable ways of living.”
He goes on to say:
The main aspect of the Tiny Project is to build a tiny house. Inhabiting such a small space will force me to live in a simpler, more organized and efficient way. Without room to hoard things and hide away from the world, I’ll be forced to spend more time outdoors, in nature and engaging with my community. This will foster better health and healthy relationships. With no more rent to pay, I’ll save money, allowing for a less hectic work life and more time and funds for health, leisure and travel. I won’t be able to keep closets full of clothes or store 5 year old trinkets in a house so small. But I also couldn’t possibly spend $100/month to heat the place, like I do with my apartment now. It has its trade-offs, but one thing is certain: While living in a such a small house, my space, and in turn each area of my life, will be simpler, less chaotic, and free from all but what is essential.
As for the house itself, it’s a beauty. Designed by Lisefski on SketchUp 3D modeling software and built by hand in around seven months using traditional construction techniques and locally sourced/sustainable materials, it features all the functional trapping of a “traditional’ home, just none of the physical space to store/display/hoard life’s not-entirely-necessary clutter.
Ten windows (including large south-facing ones for passive solar gain) keep the home’s interior bright and airy without the need for artificial daylighting (all lighting is LED and CFL-based). The double-pane windows, all of which can all be opened for natural circulation, also help to promote the home’s connection to nature. “ I took a no-compromise approach to opening up the small interior space to the outdoors, to feel less claustrofobic and more connected to my surroundings,” writes Lisefski.
Inside the home which, as mentioned, is built atop an 8 x 20 trailer, you’ll find a washer-dryer combo, a fridge/freezer combo, a decent-sized shower, a composting toilet, a kitchen sink, a bathroom sink, a 2-burner propone stove and oven, plenty of multitasking built-in furniture, and room for a queen size bed comfortably tucked away in the elevated sleeping loft. Hot water comes from an on-demand water heater that lives in a storage closet. Solar panels and rainwater collection systems will possibly be added once the home is hunkered down in more permanent spot.
Lisefski’s approach is not of a severe minimalist — there is stuff everywhere — but of a careful, community minded right-sizer who very much values comfort and hominess … just in a petite package.
Please do take a look and let me know what you think.
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