Building a tiny house, like building any house, is full of decision making and problem solving. Of course, there's the big decisions like how big it should be, what kind of siding and roofing to use and what features to include inside of it. But there are also a lot of smaller decisions and "problems" that are unique to a tiny house. For the past few months, I've been downsizing my belongings and have managed to get rid of a LOT of stuff. The other day I even took a semi-painful trip to Goodwill with my old pom uniforms, girl scout uniforms, prom dress, first communion dress and graduation gown. (I'll pause for a moment while you sentimental-types get back up off the floor and regain your composure) Yes, it was a little difficult but when it comes down to it, what am I really holding on to them for? So now that I've really narrowed it down to the small amount of things I really want to keep, the question comes up of WHERE TO PUT THEM.
Little nooks or surface areas that you probably take for granted in your house are prime real estate and hard to come by in a tiny home. So I'm going to hold off on making any final decisions about photos and the few sentimental "knick knacks" that I'm keeping until after the house is finished so I can see what I really do have room for.
But there are a couple things that I know will present their own unique challenges...
1. This floor length purple mirror that I got for a STEAL at Garden Ridge. I heart it so much, it has to come with me. But where do you put a mirror that's almost 6' tall in a tiny house? We shall see.
2. My collection of roughly 100-150 shot glasses that I've collected for years from everywhere that I visit. To me, they are not just trinkets. Each one represents memories of a specific place at a specific time with a certain person or people. And although I don't frequently throw back a shot of hard liquor, they're fun to look at and use on that special occasion that calls for marshmallow-flavored vodka (like my tiny housewarming party!).
3. Dog bowls. Again, something so insignificant and so "normal" in a regular-sized house becomes something to consider in a tiny house. Floor space is just as valuable as counter space since there's not a lot of it! So you want to keep it as uncluttered as possible. With one straight shot from the front door to the kitchen and the bathroom, you want to have clear walking space. So where will Cc and Pedro's bowls fit into this puzzle? Again, I'll let you know when I do, but off the top of my head, I'm thinking a hidden drawer in the kitchen...
But small decorating issues aside, now that my house is in the process of being built and the clock is ticking away, I have to really get serious about a pretty major decision/dilemma.
The toilet. (If you're super-sensitive to potty talk, stop reading now.)
Ah yes, the infamous question of what kind of toilet to put in my tiny house. If you know anything about tiny houses, you know that this is actually a pretty big deal. There are so many options... a standard flush toilet, a dry flush toilet, a self-contained composting toilet, a remote composting toilet, a homemade composting toilet or even an RV toilet.
I knew before I even started building my house that I did NOT want a regular flush toilet. If I had one of those installed, then I would always require a sewage hook-up. Whereas, if I went with a composting or RV toilet, I wouldn't have to be hooked up. This will really be important later if I want to go "off grid" and live out in the boonies somewhere.
I also knew that I didn't want an RV toilet because then I'd have to deal with pumping out the tanks every couple of days. Not happening. So that left, composting toilets.
I had decided from the beginning that I wanted a remote composting toilet which basically means that the waste isn't stored and composted inside the bathroom unit itself, but instead goes down into a tank underneath the house. This seemed like a great option because 1) the part in the bathroom itself pretty much resembles a regular toilet (so no freaking out my guests), 2) it'd be more likely to be odor-free and 3) you only have to empty them like once or twice a year and by then, it's just "potting soil"! :-)
The only problem (I thought) is that they're kinda pricey. I mean like at least $1k. Yea... for a toilet.
But I was willing to make the sacrifice and work it into my budget if it meant having the potty that I want! That is until I realized two things.
1. I'd have to have a special kind of trailer and still dig into the ground a good 4 or 5' to fit the remote tank under my house. Which no, I don't have a special trailer and I'm pretty sure anyone that lets me rent space to park it, won't want me digging to China in their yard.
And 2. I'm having a rooftop deck installed on top of my house and guess where composting toilets vent? Ding ding! The roof.
Sooooo... issue #1 just meant I might have to suck it up and go with one of the rather gargantuan self-contained models and just deal with emptying it more often. But issue #2 is a little trickier.
Any composting toilet is going to need to vent UP, so do I want to take the chance that I have guests over and we're relaxing on the rooftop deck when suddenly the wind blows the wrong way? Probably not.
So, I'm thinking at this point, I have 2 options.
A waterless flushing toilet like this one from Dry Flush - a good option because it doesn't use water or chemicals, is odor-free, easy to use and clean and only has to be emptied about once a week. The biggest downfall being that you have to pay for cartridges with the bowl inserts (it basically vacuum seals when you flush) and that could get pricey.
A homemade composting toilet like this guy - admittedly, scary to think about at first and was originally my last choice. BUT the more I research and read about them, the more I'm thinking why wouldn't I save $500 and do something like this? Apparently, if you use them correctly, there is ZERO odor, you still get a comfy toilet seat and it's pretty easy to use.
So like I said... tiny house problems. ;)
But in reality, it's all part of the adventure! And it feels good to be able to make decisions about a house that I will OWN outright when it's done. And it's kind of fun being part of a community that is so unique and to be able to learn from one another.
I will be taking a trip to visit my tiny house build this weekend, so I will post another update next week with more pics and maybe even a solution or two for some of these questions.
~keep your worries tiny and your dreams BIG!