Building it Green: “Holy” Wood

1-heaven's gate countertops

The Kemper Tiny House is continuing to build character, as some of the final touches to its interior are almost complete.

Brad Kittel, the owner of Tiny Texas Houses, found and salvaged some beautiful Long Leaf Pine from a Methodist Church in East Austin dating back to the 1890s. The wood was previously used as a church pew, and was originally 16 feet long without a single knot in the entire plank.

2-heaven's gate countertops close-up 3-sink side cabinets

The wood will be used to build the counter tops inside our home, and Brad has just finished cutting the wood down to size. Brad said he could hear the prayers and feel the passion of heaven’s gates while slicing through the wood. A hole will also need to be placed for our kitchen sick, which is only appropriate, since the wood is already holy.

To view more pictures of our Tiny House, please see our Facebook album

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Building it Green: A Very Unique Bed

1-5-drawer bed frame

Our Tiny House will have a very unique bed, a “Captain’s bed”, which has five drawers to increase storage for linens, bedding, and clothes.  Like the rest of the house, the bed is made of 100+ year-old wood, and…

2-beautiful old wood drawers 3-bed frame nearing completion 2 4-view of bed finished from bathroom

The uniqueness of this bed begins with the way it functions. It will be “dropped” from the ceiling beams by a hand winch and pulley system, lowered by cables to the floor when needed. When not needed, the bed will be raised to the ceiling beams, out of the way during non-sleeping times.

Brad and his crew at Texas Tiny Houses are an amazing bunch. It is a delight watching our Tiny House coming together so beautifully.

To view more pictures of our Tiny House, please see our Facebook album.

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Building it Green: Wood from Deconstructed Homes

1front door and kitchen

It’s simply wonderful, and a total joy to watch our tiny house as it approaches completion.

The wood being used to build the cabinetry, window trim, the ship ladder to the loft space,  countertops, shelves and all other interior and exterior details is longleaf pine, reclaimed  from a tear-down, slated for demolition due to highway expansion through Luling, Texas.  Estimated age of the wood is approximately 100 years.

2Kemper tiny house ancestor 43lofts over kitchen in progress

Most satisfying is knowing that every last bit of wood, windows, doors, fixtures, and flooring comes from very old houses gently deconstructed, rather than being sent to a landfill or waste incinerator.

The beauty, richness, and character of this energy-filled wood will absolutely jump to life once rubbed with Tung Oil, the final step prior to our taking delivery, around January 15.

Brad Kittel and his crew at Tiny Texas Houses (www.tinytexashouses.com) is doing an amazing service for us, and for our planet. 

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: The Richness of Ancestral Wood

1ceiling view to gable on bathroom-kitchen end

As we anticipate with glee, the receipt of our tiny house, it is exciting to see the progress being made day-by-day.

The richness of the ancestral wood has given new life in the birthing of our new tiny house is becoming so obvious, as the milk paint emphasizes the wood’s energy and character.

The bathroom and kitchen walls are being erected, and both gable ends are now at the point of completion, with
the beautiful wall boards, ceiling boards and wainscot being finished or nearly finished.

To bring forth the final finish of this deeply rich wood, the surface will be lightly sanded, then finished with
Tung Oil.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.  Thanks for following our progress.

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Building it Green: Wainscot Bead Board

interrior walls 2

Our tiny house is taking on its character, a character with the energy of its ancestors.

The ceiling boards are reclaimed from a home built in the 1860’s, the wainscot bead board from another home constructed in the 1880’s, the door from a home welcoming those who entered through during the 1850’s to 1860’s.

The “bubble gum” bead board in our tiny house is covered with old milk paint, in very light hues of blue, lavender, pink, yellow and green, kind of like old-fashioned Easter egg colors, or, the colors of bubble gum. Once paneled along the base of the walls in wainscot fashion, the bead boards will be lightly sanded and treated with Tung Oil, natural oil derived from the Chinese Tung Tree.

The striping look of the bead board comes from letting the natural unpainted board show up, providing contrast and showing the beautiful rich Long Leaf Pine with 140 years or more of natural patina. Both the bead board and the ship-lap boards (oriented horizontally above the wainscot) are at least 100-years old, and originate from materials salvaged from once stately homes, deconstructed to make room for new development. There is a fair number of cheesecloth tacks still present in the ship-lap boards, which once held the wallpaper in place for a century. Wallpaper was used in part to be fashionable, but mostly to stop the wind from penetrating the walls into the living areas of the former home.

We’re ecstatic as we joyously anticipate receiving delivery of the Kemper Tiny House in mid-January. The most wonderful things about the creation of our tiny house are the history, living memory, and embodied spirit of those who have resided among the beautiful wood and glass that now make this little house the sanctuary it will be. Perhaps what is most meaningful is that our Tiny House embodies the resurrection of the former homes that otherwise may have ended their lives in a landfill or incinerator.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: Energy-Efficient Insulation

IMG_0056Since my last posting, an important stage in the progress of our Texas Tiny House is now complete. The interior walls have just been coated with expanding Isonene Foam, which adds a layer of highly energy-efficient insulation to the interior of our tiny home. This will reduce the necessity for continuous and fossil fuel dependent heating and cooling throughout the year.

The ceiling and floors of our Tiny House have also been insulated between the roof rafters and floor support beams and joists. To further improve our tiny house’s efficiency, we’re also having screens built for the windows to take better advantage of Mother Nature’s generosity in providing fresh air during the spring and early summer.

When our energy-miser tiny house is complete, we anticipate our monthly utility bills (gas and electric) will be around $15-$20. The final touches should be complete any day now. More updates to come.

For more pictures of the energy-efficient stage of our Tiny House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: Our Tiny Texas House

1tconcept drawing Kemper kitchen end 2tKitchen end framing of Kemper

Recently, Margaret (my wife) and I bought a 1940’s “Austin stone” house in an eastern Dallas neighborhood. Upon buying our home, we immediately decided to remodel, and were faced with the decision to temporarily rent elsewhere, or live in a home filled with dust. Reluctant to disrupt our lives completely, we opted to build a backyard studio where we could temporarily live while our house was being remodeled. Since we had previously discussed building a space where visiting friends, musicians (www.eastdallashouseconcerts.com), and family could stay, the decision was easy.

After researching several options, we soon came across a magazine article featuring builders who were committed to building green, sustainable, small footprint homes. As we read through the article, we were immediately attracted to a company called Tiny Texas Houses in Luling, Texas, owned by builder and artist extraordinaire, Brad Kittel.

My wife and I quickly fell in love with Brad’s exceptional works of art, craftsmanship, and keen sense of design and we made a trip out to Luling. Upon arriving, we knew that we would soon own one of Brad’s amazing creations.

Unlike a typical home, a Tiny Texas House is built from salvaged materials, collected from deconstructed old homes, usually found in the path of economic development and highway projects. These wonderful old homes are typically 100 years or older, and yield thousands of feet in timber, boards, windows, fixtures, hardware, stained glass, and many other one-of-a-kind resources.

3cKemper tiny house ancestor 4stained glass kitchen window

In addition to Brad’s use of reclaimed materials, every Tiny Texas House is energy-efficient, insulated with Isonene Foam, so that heating or cooling is unnecessary, except during extreme temperature conditions. Every salvaged door and window is rebuilt, re-hung, re-weighted, and resealed with silicon stripping, ensuring that the entries are weather tight. The houses are then plumbed and wired to exceed municipal and state codes, as well as federal standards in the U.S.

Brad’s eco-friendly homes average 336 square feet, and house two people comfortably…perhaps more if you’re OK with sharing a small space. Once complete, our tiny home will be 252 square feet, and will house three cats, our cowdog Hank, as well as Margaret and I. We anticipate that we will live in our Texas Tiny House for a total of nine months while our house is being remodeled.  To see the beginning stages of our Texas Tiny House, visit the Dolphin Blue facebook page.

front from kitchen endfront from living end 2

Although it may be small in size, we are excited to live in a unique structure that will allow us to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. I’ll keep you informed over the next several months.

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My Trip to San Francisco: Segway’s, Muir Woods, and Yosemite

My wife and I recently spent our 2nd anniversary travelling around San Francisco, Muir Woods, and Yosemite.

While in San Francisco, we thoroughly enjoyed riding emission-free on Segway’s, touring the downtown and Wharf area, Segway’s provided by San Francisco Electric Tour Co. Beats the heck out of taking a polluting bus or car, and we hopped on and off with speed, ease, and using no gas to get around.

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-My-Trip-to-San-Francisco-Segways-Muir-Woods-and-Yosemite.html

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Hero of Sustainability Wangari Maathai Passes Away at Age 71

Last weekend, the world lost a luminary when Wangari Muta Maathai passed away at the age of 71 after a battle with ovarian cancer.

 The Kenyan native, whom we honored earlier this year as one of our “Heroes of Sustainability,” is known for being the first African woman and first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but that accomplishment is only one of her many firsts.

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Hero-of-Sustainability-Wangari-Maathai-Dies-at-Age-71.html

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Air Pollution: Killing People, Killing Life-Supporting Earth

When any given person dies because of respiratory problems, it is probably not possible to trace the cause of death specifically to smog-producing ozone in the air. Even so, statistical studies show increases in mortality and morbidity are correlated with increases in ozone in the air. There is no doubt that high levels of ozone kill some people and make many others sick.

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Air-PollutionKilling-People-Killing-Life-Supporting-Earth.html

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