Posts Tagged With: art

Sheer madness, shear strength

Scottish sheep

Scottish sheep. Credit: George Gastin

When I was in film school, I wrote a short screenplay called Shear Madness about a sheep and a hairdresser who was waiting to hear if she had breast cancer. It was a strange, dark little serio-comedy; probably a good thing it didn’t go further than paper. What interested me was playing with various takes on the words shear/sheer and madness.

over the hedge

We took ourselves very seriously in film school.

I had to look up the terms for this kind of word play, which opened up a whole new esoteric world. According to Wikipedia: “In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Thus homonyms are simultaneously homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation) and homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling). The state of being a homonym is called homonymy.” Try saying that three times fast! Homophones that are spelled differently are called heterographs. Confused yet?

In that weird cyclical nature of life, shear/sheer and madness – in all their heterographic and homonymic splendor – have come up again 17 years later as I find myself pondering plywood and wool for my tiny house. Continue reading

Categories: design, thoughts on tiny | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On being not so still

Ortelius World Map 1570

Ortelius World Map 1570. Click on any of the maps for an interesting discussion of early world cartography.

There’s a delectable tension between being still and not so still. Each bear gifts and each have limits. Tiny houses on wheels embody a beautiful blending of the two.

This has been on my mind for two reasons. One is that I got the call that my trailer is ready, which excites me to no end. The other reason is that after I wrote my post on designing sparefully, which included a lot about the importance of being still, I noticed that WordPress lists my user name as the author: notsostill. That made me laugh. It also made me reflect on the role of stillness in my life – or rather, the lack thereof – and why a tiny house on wheels is so perfect for me. Continue reading

Categories: tangents, thoughts on tiny | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

On roofs and beds: a fashion parade of tiny house styles

Ready for some tiny house eye candy? First you must endure a short lesson and then you’ll get your reward… 🙂

One of the first decisions you need to consider when designing your tiny house is what architectural style you want.

Unlike their land-tied, foundation-built cousins, which can be made into virtually any shape from any material, tiny houses on trailers have certain limitations that need to be negotiated in their design. These involve road legal limits for height and width; weight of materials; and structural stability to withstand vibrations, torquing, wind shear and other road-related stresses. There are also aerodynamic considerations to make the houses easier and cheaper to tow.

For now, we’ll keep it simple and just look at 1) roof shape and 2) whether or not there is a loft. These two elements are surprisingly crucial to designing a tiny house that’s right for you well into the future.

“But how does your roof make you feel…?”

Roof-Types-Diagram2

Some of the many styles of roofs to choose from.

Continue reading

Categories: design, thoughts on tiny | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Designing sparefully – a manifesto of sorts

red fox

Red fox in front of a Swedish house. Credit: Jonn Leffmann

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

~ William Morris

Tiny house design forces you to consider every square inch. If you’re going to live in something smaller than a parking space, each structural element and object needs to be there for a reason. There’s not a lot of room for that broken vacuum cleaner gathering dust in the basement, that unused dining room, or that guilt-producing Wii fitness program that seemed like a good idea at the time.

As I’ve embarked on the design for my tiny house, I’ve thought a lot about the concept of spare.  It’s an awesome word, one of those rare cases where it means both one thing as well as its opposite. Scant, frugal, economical, minimal, but also: being in excess of present need, to give or to lend without inconvenience or loss, such as “spare change” or “spare time”.

All of these meanings apply to tiny housers who downsize to small, simple dwellings, often built on very tight budgets. At the same time, without soul-crushing mortgages and high monthly utility bills, they have more time and money to pursue the lives and careers they really love, to connect with those they care about.

Even better is the obsolete word spareful. Last spotted in the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, it means prudent and restrained in the use of resources. Many tiny housers are motivated by a desire to leave a smaller footprint on the earth. Much thought is given to building highly efficient tiny green homes to reduce energy consumption and carbon production. Materials are selected based on the least chemicals and lowest environmental impact in their manufacture. Roadsides and salvage stores are scoured for siding, windows and other items that can be reused.

Let’s dust the cobwebs off spareful and give it the honor it deserves! Breaking it down into its component parts, spare + full, gives a glimpse of just how meaningful the word can be. The pop phrase “Less is More” is similar, but what does it really mean and how can it guide us in our design choices? Let’s plumb the depths a little. Continue reading

Categories: design, PAD, thoughts on tiny | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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