Tiny Home

Maybe it’s my pragmatic ways or my frugal nature, but the movement in the real estate world toward simple, functional spaces completely speaks to me. I’ve always vastly preferred a 1,200 square foot bungalow on a tree lined street to a 3,500 square foot subdivision abode. In fact, our current house (at just under 1,700 square feet) is actually the largest we’ve owned to date!

Have y’all heard of the Tiny Homes popping up around the country? Their cottages, all below 1,000 square feet, are as big as their homes get! What they don’t have in square footage, they definitely make up for in function and character.

I mean, tell me, what’s not to love?!

Tumbleweed Tiny Home

This home is an absolute treat – all 557 square feet of it! Like this perfect little entry. You’ve got to optimize every square foot!

Tiny Home Entry

After you enter, you come into a big open space that houses the kitchen, dining room and living space.

See the loft space above, as well?

Open Room

That kitchen pretty much left me speechless. The details on this house are perfection!

Tiny Home Kitchen

Right off the kitchen, there is a great dining space that has bench seating (with storage underneath – smart!).

Little House Dining Room

And then a stones throw away from the kitchen/dining space, you have a cozy little living room.

Little House Living Space

This house has two tiny little bedrooms. One of which is used as a flex office space for the home owner.

Again, this home owner optimized space by using clever storage solutions under the bed. Genius.

Tiny Home Bedroom

And this little back porch. I think the chickens seal the deal 😉

Tiny Home Yard

What do you think? Would you ever do the tiny house thing? Jay and I talk about buying some property in the mountains, and I’d love to build something like this for a vacation spot and then perhaps have it for retirement in the future. I’m personally completely smitten!

Want to read more? Here is the Tumbleweed website, and here is the blog for this homeowner!

Washer Woman

O. M. capital G, y’all. I washed my own pantolones in my own house this weekend. I didn’t go to the laudro-mat, or beg my neighbors, or, ya know, wear stinky clothes (again). We hooked up that son of a gun and washed our clothes. In our house.

BAM.

Now, if you’ve been following along with the saga that is our second story laundry room, you’d know that these advances in modern technology did not come easily. Or, ahem, cheaply. Ah contraire, my friend. But alas, after our first washing machine bit the dust, we were left with the hard reality that if we wanted to clean our clothes, we’d have to (gulp) buy another one.

But first, ‘member how I mentioned our door was a bit too tight, well we had to get to removing the extra trim around the frame to prep for washer delivery 2.0.

Removing Door Frame

It appears Jay is adjusting well to life in the south as a hillbilly that doesn’t wear shoes around power tools and shards of debris. Not advised, not advised. {do not attempt this at home}

He does look proud of his demolition handy work though, wouldn’t ya say?

After our demoing was done, the next morning the moment was upon us and our new machine was entering the house. I made Jay come home on his lunch break, since the whole thing just made me feel like I was going to vomit. Something about another washing machine not making it up the steps just made me get weak in the knees. But you guys – the delivery guys were ROCK STARS. They even brought our old, busted machine into the garage for free AND brought up our dryer, which was becoming a permanent resident of the Living Room.

No more appliances in our bedroom – Huzza!!

Breaking Washing Machine

The delivery staff hooked up the washer, and tested it before they left, so we had complete peace of mind that everything was peachy keen before they bid us farewell.

Monumental sigh of relief.

Once the ball was back in our court, we still had to level the machine and lift up the dryer (which is half the weight of the washer, thank God). Leveling the machine required 30 minutes or so of tweaking before we got it just right.

Making Sure Washer is Level

We wanted to spend some extra time being diligent on this step since we had heard that having the machine level is crucial to avoid any extra shaking you might experience during the spin cycle. We’d read some horror stories online of washing machines shaking the entire house when they’re on the spin cycle, so we figured it made sense to dedicate some extra time up front vs. regret it forevermore.

I seriously don’t know how Jay motivated me to do it (I did not want to), but he convinced me I was capable of helping him lift the dryer up onto the washing machine. Now, it wasn’t that heavy but ya know, I had a few bad memories flooding through my head as we attempted to once again maneuver an appliance around the house. Thank GOD, this appliance remained unscathed. WHEW.

Before we knew it we were loading these beasts for the first load of laundry!

Washer Shaking on Second Floor

As mentioned, we had heard that second floor laundry room’s can lead to some serious house shaking, so once the machine hit the spin cycle, we pretty much both hunkered down to watch this thing, and see how bad it was going to get. Should have grabbed popcorn, man, it was that entertaining.

Washer Shaking House

It wasn’t bad at all though! For 99% of the cycle you can’t even tell the machine is on, it’s so quiet. When it transitions onto the spin cycle there is about 10-15 seconds where there is a bit of vibration, but it’s not something that’s all that noticeable, and it certainly doesn’t feel like the entire house is shaking, so that’s good!

I think we had hyped it up in our heads, so we were not quite sure what to expect, in all honesty.

The units themselves are quite large and have a ton of different settings. We feel like we’re living in the lap of luxury 😀

Samsung Washer

And although it’s oh so fine to have a washer and dryer in da house, the rest of the laundry room is lagging behind in the style department. You know, stuff like all of this plumbing and electrical. Ugly alert.

Plumbing in Laundry Room

Our general game plan is to cover all of this up with a built-in bookcase, but for now, it’s just depressingly ugly. Realistically, it’s going to be a few weeks (months, dare I say) before we come back to this room and start to make the magic happen.

When we do though, this is the general layout, and idea of what we have planned.

Laundry Room Storage

Since we were able to cut out an access panel behind the washer and dryer (in our attic space) we’re going to completely enclose the appliances so that they look more or less built-in.

Although the bookcase will not be deep, it’s going to be very tall, and I’m so excited to have all this extra storage!

Since we knew we’d be procrastinating on our final laundry look, we did re-install that door though, to keep all the ugly on the other side 😉

Newly Installed Door

So who else out there has a second story laundry? I’m curious to hear feedback from others on what works and doesn’t work with their spaces.

Rolling me Down the Highway

People, we’ve got some HUGE news to share. Gigantic. Life changing. I really can’t even believe I’m writing this post right now – everything still feels so abstract it’s hard to put my hands around it and accept that we’ve got a totally new future ahead of us.

See on Monday, this happened.

How to Sell Your Home

And instead of buying another house in lovely Ann Arbor, we’re moving on down to the land of the pines and setting up shop in Durham, NC! WHHAAAAAAAAA??? I know. That’s what I keep saying.

Let’s travel back a few weeks, and I can tell you our tale. See it all started when our attic looked like this (aka NOT done).

Drywalling Attic

My engineer of a husband got a call from a recruiter down in North Carolina, asking if he’d like to interview for a position with a company down in Research Triangle Park, basically a science and technology hub located close to Durham. We kind of looked at each other and shrugged. I mean, on one hand our attic looked like the photo above (scary). On the other, we’d always wanted to relocate to North Carolina and it kinda felt like exactly the right thing. Like we should at least try for it and see where we landed.

And in all honesty, we still haven’t completely landed. See Jay is still interviewing for that job. He’s had FOUR interviews with this company (including an in-person interview, where we drove down to Durham), and we are still waiting (on baited breath) to hear back from them.

But something else happened. While my husband was going through the interview process with this company, I thought I should probably start looking for a place to work, too. Just in case his job worked out. And as luck would have it, the exact position I’m working at right now opened up at Duke University. Since I work in a pretty niche job market (promotion of alternative transportation i.e. walking, biking, transit, etc) – it was pretty insane that a position like this just happened to pop up exactly when I needed it to. And guess what, I got the job. This is where I’ll be working. SOMEBODY PINCH ME. No, I take that back, SLAP ME.

Duke University Campus

I really couldn’t possibly be more excited about it. The job is part-time, which I feel is just right for this phase of my life. As you all know, things have been picking up a lot with interior design clients and of course there is the blog, so I feel like I’ll be able to finally find a bit more balance in my life, vs. working a full-time job, and then working at all my other side ventures practically full-time, too. I’m so excited to take all that extra time and put it back into growing a business that I absolutely love. Seriously, I’m SO EXCITED.

Durham North Carolina

Durham is such a cool city, too. We were not sure what to think about it, since we’d heard some mixed feedback from people. Now don’t get me wrong, Durham is so not Ann Arbor. It’s much more gritty, but in the best way possible. The city has got character and there are so many really, really cool things happening there. A lot of the neighborhoods are transitioning in the city right now, which I think will be a great opportunity for the Mr. and I. You all know that we don’t mind getting our hands dirty every once and a while, so moving into a city with so much activity and rejuvenation going on feels like a completely new and fresh adventure for us. We absolutely adored living in Ann Arbor, but it’s a city that has most definitely already arrived. In Durham, that growth and energy is just happening, so it’s very cool that we have the potential to be a part of that.

Historic Homes in Durham

We’re still not sure exactly what the future holds, but we know that as soon as the hubby has firm employment, that we will be on to the next house renovation in no time flat. And if you know me, you know I’ve already picked out that house! 😀 We are so hoping that the job he’s been interviewing for works out, and if it does, we should be in the next house by mid-April. Please cross your fingers for us!!

I know, from the deepest part of my heart, that this is the right path for Jay and I. We’ve dreamed so long about relocating down to North Carolina, so to actually have this be a new reality for us is just a beautiful thing. Even though we are so, SO excited, that doesn’t mean it’s not bittersweet for us. Michigan has been my only home. It’s where my family is. It’s where some of the best friends we’ve ever had the honor of knowing are. I’ll miss (so much!) being able to spend an afternoon with my Mom and sister, or going over to my parents house on a fall evening and watching football, or spending Thanksgiving saying grace with my hands clasped in a chain of 30+ relatives, all of them a part of me. I’ll miss the amazing group of people we’ve met in Ann Arbor, truly just incredible, hilarious, sincere human beings.

But if there is something I’m realizing as I get older, it’s that things won’t always, and can’t always stay the same. If you want something – you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there and fight for it, even if it hurts sometimes. There are so many things we will miss about our home in Michigan but I know it’s time to start the next chapter. And as bittersweet as this transition is, I know amazing, amazing things are so close to happening for us and that just excites the be-jesus out of me! We’re so excited to enter this next phase with open hearts and minds and can’t wait to have all of YOU along for the journey!

Daydreaming

It’s so dang hopeful to have a dream in your heart, isn’t it? Since I’m such a real estate addict, I’ve found one of my favorite ways to dream away the day (or night, or morning – I’m really not all that picky on the time of day), is to go virtual house hunting. More often than not, the Trulia tab is pulled up on my browser and I’m drifting through one town or the next thinking about the places we will call home.

I know – way to totally buzz kill the present. 😉 The thing is, when your 10-day forecast includes snow – in October – that usually leads to these Southern Planning escapades. 😉

Michigan Weather

Today, my day dreaming took me to North Carolina, which is where the hubster and I plan to call home at some point in this crazy little life of ours. How about … Asheville? Shall we?

The Family Home

Everyone is on the hunt for the Leave it to Beaver family home, right? Well by George, I think I found it.

Asheville Houses

OMMERGAAUD. Does this house just scream to you the way it hollas to me? Cuteness. Way too much cuteness. Plant some ivy along that path and some perennials up front and you’ve got yourself a cute brick abode with some majjja curb appeal.

I could see myself waking in this lovely, bright and cheery little bedroom each morning. See the porch off the back (ahh!!). Seriously – I need it, I want it, I can see it.

But also, perhaps this house is a bit too done? Perhaps not enough projects for these twitchy little DIY hands. Let’s move on to the next candidate.

Bright Bedroom

The Lawyer’s Office

This one’s just bursting with potential, an older, gorgeous home, converted into offices. I say – high time to convert it back!

Asheville Homes

It would be pretty fun to turn this kitchen into this kitchen, right?

Old Kitchen Cabinets

The Showstopper

I can’t find  a single thing wrong with this beauty. If the exterior of my house looked like this guy, I think I would cry every time I walked up the path from pure gratitude. Every single detail about this 1920’s house is absolute perfection. I’ve always wanted a craftsmen home – they just ooze character. From the shingle sidings to the built-ins when you walk in the door, this house would be the perfect home – wouldn’t it?

Asheville craftsmen House

I mean, seriously, look at this front porch. Pour me a glass of wine and let’s talk about your day. All walking distance to downtown Asheville – if that’s not a warm pumpkin doughnut right out of the fryer – I don’t know what is.

Front Sitting Porch

At Your Service

Look at this cutie patootie. Another craftsmen with all the to die for details.

Asheville House

If I had a house with a butler’s pantry, I think I might fall over and die. Which would frankly be a shame, since I wouldn’t be able to enjoy said butler pantry, cause I’d be dead. But seriously, I can just picture it now, lined up with baskets and mason jars and other cute/functional storage accessories.

I’m totally loving those light wood floors, too. Aged to perfection.

Butlers Pantry

Anyone else out there have this hobby obsession? 😉 It’s down right addicting when you get started.

Let’s take a vote, if we were moving today, which one would YOU go with? I’m pretty obsessed with the big red house. Think it will still be around in the 5+ year’s it will take us to get down there? 😀 Never know!

Asheville Housing

Psst… We’ll have the bookcase reveal on Wednesday! Be sure to swing by to see how that turned out.

Once I Was a Carpenter

God – it can be so hard to know which way to go in life sometimes. Some decisions are harder to come by than others, harder to find the resolution when there are so many conflicting messages flooding your mind.

What do you want, and what do you want right now. I heard that ages ago – can’t recall where – probably Suzie Orman or something (he he). I love it though – it’s become my mantra when I have a hard time making a decision. Or when I want to go out and buy something and not tell my husband. 😉 It’s my restraining tool.

I’ve found though, that when it’s something BIG, that mantra can still work, but the answers don’t come as easy. Looking at a snickers bar. What do I wan’t – flat abs. What do I wan’t right now – carmelly goodness with some peanuts on top. But when it comes to fork in the road type of decisions – I sit there – saying this in my head, desperate for some clarity, but it’s fleeting, and not all that insightful.

Right Decision
Right Decision

In complete and total honesty. This spring is getting me down. Or should I call it the extension of our winter. But beyond the weather, I’ve been asking myself some difficult questions. What do you WANT Mary, what do you want right now. I was telling Jay the other day, I think the more you start to hone in on exactly what it is that you DO wan’t – this question actually becomes more difficult, because what you want, and what you want at this very moment – may be exactly the same thing. But maybe that is just a cop out for asking myself the hard questions. Maybe that’s me just turning off and trying to find a resolution.

I love my husband. I love him so much and I can’t wait for the future ahead. I think sometimes though he has a hard time understanding how the mind of this woman works. That’s alright, I guess, since I scratch my head a good deal at his antics as well. But it’s funny how I can be so phenomenally indecisive and yet so very certain at the same time. I’ll yap Jay’s ear off for 2 hours and tell him all about my plans I’ve made, how they are really set in stone now, that he shouldn’t really bother trying to persuade me otherwise. Being the obliging guy he is, he just nods, maybe offers a word of caution or two. The next day, I tell him I’ve changed my mind. Off to the next plan. It’s rather dangerous territory. I guess it’s really that some things in life are easy to change, some things are not. Some things are more permanent, or harder to reverse at least, so I better gosh darn be sure I am setting my foot down in the right place.

Case A: We need to move to North Caroline TODAY, Jay

Especially this spring. God. It’s taking everything within my being to not grab my suitcase and set up shop in our idyllic future right now. I’ve always been an obsessive weather tracker (I blame it on my bike commuting to work, but really, it probably has more to do with my control freak like tendencies) and lately I’ve been noticing that every. single. person. on my facebook newsfeed seems to live in a climate that is 30 degrees warmer than mine. Ohio – 83 degress today. Swear to God, I just checked. Our friends that live in Athens, Ohio posted pictures of themselves out on the lawn – sunbathing – while I am still wearing my mittens and watching flurries scatter around me. 3 hours south of me. Tell me – where is the justice in that. (At least this is what the weather looked like when I wrote this post last week – the 10-day forecast holds more of the same…)

So I picture this life for us. This perfect life for us. We wear summer dresses (actually, probably just me) in February and have tomatoes and fresh greens from our garden in April. We smile every day, because the sunshine warms our hearts and makes us happy from the inside out. I already picked out our house, do you like it?

Raleigh Real Estate
Raleigh Real Estate

I’ve been struggling so much lately with what I want for us. For me. For our future.

I feel this incredible tug lately to set roots. To feel like the present is not only good enough, that it is everything I ever wanted and more. My wildest dreams come true. But what is it that roots you in life – will I ever feel it, ever feel truly grounded in the present, enough to be rooted. The trouble with a perpetual dreamer like me, is the dreaming is never done, is it. Always something to reach for. To try and reach out and grasp. Problem though with this root setting desire is that I don’t know what it is I want to do that will “root” me. I think why I am struggling so much with these next steps – is because I am desperately afraid that I’ll still have this awful sense of foreboding and indecision sitting in my belly after I take the plunge.

Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom

As I feel this tension within me (what do I want, what do I want right now) I’m sincerely struggling with the next steps to take in this journey of life. Will the next steps I take lead to happiness, or only more searching. Actually, I’m totally ok with the searching aspect, but the uneasyness that current sits inside me, that I could do without. More than anything, I’m realizing that I desperately want to be happy. To FIND happiness in whatever path I chose. To find a sense of content. But goodness, that can be hard for my type – even impossible, maybe. If you gain the content – do you lose the drive? Or can you have both – still searching for the answers…

This song has become my mantra the past week.

I ain’t from Texas, but I made my way from Dallas
And I know the lonesome sound is following
I ain’t a gambler, but I can recognize a hand
And when to hold, when the queens are staring back at me

Once I was a carpenter, man my hands were calloused
I could swing a metal mallet sure and straight
But I took to the highway, a poet young and hungry
And I left the timbers rotting where they lay

Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black dress drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die

And I don’t come from Detroit, but her diesel motors pull me
And I followed till I finally lost my way
And now I spend my days in search of a woman we called purpose
And if I ever pass back through her town I’ll stay

Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black dress drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die

And my life is but a coin, pulled from an empty pocket
Dropped into a slot with dreams of sevens close behind
And hope and fear go with it, and moon and the sun go spinning
Like the numbers and fruits before our eyes

Wagon Wheel

Dreaming is what I do. The present, I’m not so good at, but conjuring up a perfect future and reminiscing about the past, THAT I can do. Quite well, actually. I had a dream once, it’s still a dream that still lives in my heart. Actually, I do believe that a true dream never does leave your heart. It might change and evolve (in ways you never expected), but it stays with you.

Right before Jay and I got married, I lived and worked in North Carolina. Being the perpetually forward thinking, future scheming, girl that I am, when I found out Jay would be applying to a graduate school down in the land of the pines (NC), I thought I would proactively get a job down there, start things off for us. Jay didn’t get into that graduate program, and we never moved. But we dreamed about it. We carried that dream so high in our hearts, both of us did, this shared notion of a perfect tomorrow that we would start together. That time in our life, right before we got married, was filled with so much hope and promise that looking back, I feel so nostalgic when I think about how blissful we were about a future that never came to be.

North Carolina Trip
North Carolina

Sure, we got married, lived happily ever after. But we quickly learned that with all of life’s transitions, come some bittersweet realities. Jay not getting into that graduate program was actually a BIG deal for us. It was proof that I couldn’t plan away every detail of my (our) life. That sometimes, even though you try so damn hard, and want something so damn bad, it doesn’t work out. There was a song that Jay sent to me, after he found out he didn’t get into grad school, but we were still holding onto the dream of North Carolina (like our last hope) that makes me tear up every time I hear it. The song was sent to me like a promise, like we can still make this happen, Mary. Our dream is not dead. It meant so much to me at the time (still does) because it represented the future I knew we would make together, and the future we thought would revolve around this location that we had created as some type of mythical Eden.

After he sent me the song, I came up to Michigan a few days later for a short visit (while still living in NC), and we went with a close friend to a bar we used to hang out at when we were in school. The song – came on the radio. To us, it was this random folk song that no one else could possibly know about. We just looked at each other with huge smiles on our face with a tear in both our eyes, because we knew, no doubt about it, that the song was playing just for us. Years later I hear this song all the time blasting from frat houses in the summer, and I’m sure that the song was gaining popularity even then, so it’s probably no coincidence it was playing, just a top 40 song. But to us, the moment was magical and it absolutely meant the world. So when I saw this print on etsy, I gasped. Literally. And then I pulled out my credit card and bought it.

Etsy Print, Rock Me Mama Like a Wagon Wheel
Etsy Print

Jay was really forever changed by that rejection (it was the only program he applied to), and it startled me to see my confident and carefree husband be so bristled by an achievement that slipped through the cracks. I’m never one to let a rejection get me down long – sure it hurts – but I quickly find a new dream to hold onto. I guess that’s the advantage for us head in the clouds, looking to tomorrow folks, there is always a new dream to capture. But Jay, Jay is softer and I swear, sometimes I still see the shadow on him of this missed opportunity for an alternate reality. I think he knew in his heart, that he was carrying a dream for both of us with that grad school application. I think he knew that the rejection, actually felt like a rejection to a deep and very powerful hope that we both carried. A dream for our future. Here is the picture, a smaller version, in our new art collage. Every time I look at it, I smile.

Hallway Art Collage, DIY Collage
Hallway Art Collage

So on this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to give an offering to my sensitive, loving and capable husband. And to let you know, I’ll always keep the dream in my heart – perhaps one day, we’ll make it a reality. For now, let’s always try to remember that it’s in our hearts and that we can live that dream, in Ann Arbor, MI, or Raleigh, NC.

Wagon Wheel 

Headed down south to the land of the pines
And I’m thumbin’ my way into North Caroline
Starin’ up the road
Pray to God I see headlights

I made it down the coast in seventeen hours
Pickin’ me a bouquet of dogwood flowers
And I’m a hopin’ for Raleigh
I can see my baby tonight

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me

Runnin’ from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time stringband
My baby plays the guitar
I pick a banjo now

Oh, the North country winters keep a gettin’ me now
Lost my money playin’ poker so I had to up and leave
But I ain’t a turnin’ back
To livin’ that old life no more

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me

Walkin’ to the south out of Roanoke
I caught a trucker out of Philly
Had a nice long toke
But he’s a headed west from the Cumberland Gap
To Johnson City, Tennessee

And I gotta get a move on before the sun
I hear my baby callin’ my name
And I know that she’s the only one
And if I die in Raleigh
At least I will die free

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me

– Old Crow Medicine Show