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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Living Large In Small Spaces - A {Tiny} Cottage In The Woods

Second post in the series
"Living Large in Small Spaces"


A {Tiny} Cottage In The Woods



It's my pleasure to welcome Lin of A {Tiny} Cottage In The Woods to A Joyful Cottage. 

I was introduced to Lin when she left a comment on one of my posts, and I've been reading her blog ever since. The creative, gracious life she and her husband live in their Colorado cottage epitomizes what it means to live large in a small space.  I know you'll enjoy what Lin shares with us today.


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When Nancy invited me to write a guest post for her series, "Living Large in Small Spaces", I decided to not only share a little about the house and our building experience, but to also answer the question ~ what is it really like living in such a small home?


The Life We Imagined

In designing and building our 375-square-foot cottage, we had the opportunity to redefine The American Dream. Our dream was to live in a comfortable home without a mortgage. To live without credit cards or debt of any kind. We wanted to live surrounded by nature enjoying the days and seasons, and we wanted to live a healthier lifestyle, to be more self-sufficient, and to live life at a slower pace ~ enjoying each day to the fullest.


Building Our Dream 

We both had worked in software development and didn't have any construction design/building experience, but when the opportunity presented itself, we decided to take a leap of faith and just go for it. Building a house is like learning how to do anything else ~ it's just one sequential step after another. The first step was to draw up the plans, get the necessary soils, foundation, and truss reports, and obtain a building permit. Then it was research, research, research, purchase and load the supplies for the current task into the pickup, build, pass the inspection, and repeat until done.

~ building the house ~

The entire house would fit into the same square footage as our former McMansion master bedroom/bath. We built with many green options including an off-the-grid solar/wind electrical system, and it all fits within a small footprint on the side of a mountain, keeping the land that surrounds us wild and untouched.

Our house is open like a loft with an enclosed 5'x8' bathroom. The open floor plan and cathedral ceilings are visually uplifting, and when people visit for the first time, they're always surprised at how large it seems when they step inside.

The sofa can face the wood stove in winter or the French doors that open to the view, providing a place to relax, talk, read or watch DVDs. Furniture is arranged to suit the two of us, but can quickly be moved to accommodate six for dinner, or a larger get-together outdoors on the patio.


~view from the kitchen window ~

The kitchen is L-shaped and has an RV oven, 12-volt yacht refrigerator, and deep bar sink. No worries with the smaller appliances. I cook most of our meals at home and have made Thanksgiving dinners with all the trimmings in this little kitchen. The farm table multi-tasks as a desk and art & crafts worktable, as well as a place to prepare food and enjoy meals together. Often my husband is at his computer at one end of the table, and I'm crafting or drawing at the other end.

~ our eat-in kitchen ~

We decided on wall sconces for lighting to free up floor space from lamps and cords, and installed separate switches for each one to conserve electricity. The house is wired for both 12v and 120v, and we use the little 12v automotive light bulbs in the sconces. Windows all around provide natural light and passive solar, and blur the line between outdoors and in.

Just before moving in, we built a simple queen-size platform bed that lifts up to reveal queen-size storage underneath.

 ~ photo of the platform bed reflected in a mirror ~

We've talked about building wall-to-wall cabinetry with a murphy bed along the south wall, but after living a simpler lifestyle, perhaps the more elegant (simple and beautiful) solution would be to purchase a prettier bed befitting a tiny cottage in the woods and keep the armoire. We're still thinking about this one.

~ clothes and art supply storage ~

There are no rules when it comes to furnishing a small home. It does not mean that you have to live with just the basic essentials or go with a minimalist look (unless that's what you want). It means having enough. Enough of what you need to be comfortable as well as having the kinds of things that make your house a home. I love French cottage/farmhouse style with a mix of handmade and gently used items and a little touch of whimsy for fun. We still have some finishing/decorating work to do, but to me, that's the fun part!


A Gentler Lifestyle

My husband and I drive to town once a week to run all of our errands together, and then usually spend the rest of the week quietly at home.

 ~ I love to draw, paint, and craft ~

People joke and ask how can we stand to be together all the time in such a tiny house, and that question always surprises me. We've been married for 33 years and enjoy each other's company, so there isn't a need for separate rooms/spaces ~ just a respect for what the other person is doing. After living here, I find myself looking back and wishing that we'd raised our children in a smaller home.


True for Thoreau in1854, and Still True in 2014

In Walden, Henry David Thoreau wrote ~
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
We couldn't agree more. Living simply in a small home opens up the opportunity to live a larger life ~ to have the time and financial freedom to be with and do what matters most.

Thoreau stayed at Walden Pond for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days. As of this writing (September 26, 2014), we've lived in our tiny cottage in the woods for 5 years, 9 months, and 6 days, and hope to stay here for the rest of our lives. This is home.


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Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me to share our story. I look forward to reading about all the homes in this series, as well as following the progress of yours!

xoxo,
post signature
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Thank you for inspiring us, Lin.

You can see more of Lin's charming cottage and the lovely art she creates on her blog


Featured at


Join me next Saturday for another post in the special series

 Living Large in Small Spaces


See more home tours in the 
Living Large In Small Spaces Series here.


Would you like to share your small space story 
or have your home 
featured  in this special series?
Send me an email and let's collaborate.
(See the "Contact Me" page for email address.)



63 comments:

  1. I LOVE that armoire!!! Keep the armoire! Love the shelving in the kitchen too. Congratulations on living your dream!

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    1. I love that armoire, too, Anne. And the mirror, and the baker's rack, and the table. and. . .

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  2. Molto bella lapiccola cucina!Tutto curato con gusto!Ciao,Rosetta

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    1. Yes, Rosetta, Lin did a wonderful job of creating a very workable, tasteful kitchen. Thanks for joining in the conversation. Ciao!

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  3. Hi Nancy, I'm amazed at Lin and this is a good example how living in a smaller space is an easier way to live. It makes me want to clean out some clutter I have in my house! Thanks for this wonderful post Lin. Have a wonderful fall weekend Nancy and Lin!
    Julie @ Julie's Lifestyle

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    1. I'm so happy you joined us today, Julie. Lack of clutter is one of the many benefits of living small. There's just no room for a lot of unnecessary stuff. :)

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  4. I enjoyed all that Lin shared about her TINY COTTAGE IN THE WOODS. I have such a love for small kitchens and Lin's little kitchen is perfect. As was mentioned above, I think that we are in need of a bit of decluttering in our little cottage. My, such a pretty view from her kitchen window. I love the charm, the warmth and the simplicity of her tiny cottage. Thank you Nancy and Lin for sharing. Weekend Blessings ♥ Teri

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    1. Thank you, Teri, for visiting and leaving us with such sweet words. I'm glad you enjoyed Lin's post. God bless.

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  5. What a beautiful post!... I just love Lin's tiny cottage in the woods and could so live there myself... I have known Lin for quite a few years now, and I am always in awe of the beauty of her cottage and her surrounding woods... she lives a life many of us dream of... amongst Nature and all of God's precious little creatures... I am blessed to own several of her artistic creations and she is such a talented lady all around... thanks for featuring her... xoxo Julie Marie Hello Lin!... xoxo

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    1. Julie Marie, it was my pleasure to feature Lin, and I feel very honored that she shared her cottage and life here. I agree with all you wrote about her. She's very special. Thanks for joining us. Hugs.

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  6. Thank you for sharing. The best part, I think, was Lin's comment about having "enough." Her home is just adorable and her life is admirable.

    Big hug
    Elizabeth

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. Lin is a wonderful role model for anyone who desires to learn the art of living with "enough". Blessings to you, and thanks for that "Big Hug". I love those.

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  7. Good Morning Nancy. Ohhhhh Lin was a great choice to feature today. Love her tiny cottage and how cozy and nice she has made it. That is the way to live. Lin is so creative and just a fun blogger to follow. Have a great week end girls.
    Kris

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    1. Thanks for your sweet comment, Kris. I'm really glad I became acquainted with the lovely and talented Lin. She is my inspiration. xxx

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  8. I have followed Lin's journey from close to the beginning and admire everything about their choice to build a tiny Cottage in the woods. My husband and I (along with our four children) sold everything we had and moved across country with hearts to do the same. It didn't work out for us though, and we ended up back in California struggling to make it. We were gifted a 16 ft. Vintage travel trailer that we use to live in along the Coast for weeks at a time. It very well could end up being our 'home' one day. Life is simple in a small space and one gets to enjoy the beauty of being outdoors in nature. I have never lived in a large home, I prefer a cottage life.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this. I'm sorry your heart's desire wasn't realized and that you had to start over. This has happened to me as well, so I know what that's like. I do think a vintage trailer on the Coast would be heavenly. I love the ocean.

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  9. Nancy,
    What a wonderful series you have planned. I knew some of Lin's amazing story but absolutely find her story inspirational. Lin, I will return back to your post and leave another comment ... after dinner is over and dishes are done! You story is one of beauty and understanding lifes blessings.

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    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I'm so glad you stopped by.

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  10. This is such a great post, Nancy. Lin's home and life with her husband sound very idyllic, and I'm sure there are many of us who would do well to downsize and live more simply. What a lovely cottage in a beautiful setting!

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    1. Yes, "idyllic" is the perfect adjective, Julie. I'm glad you enjoyed Lin's post.

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  11. I just love reading your blog! My hubby and I read this post together and looked at your photos! You have such a beautiful home and it's so comfortable. We would love to have a small home on the beach some day. It's my dream. Happy weekend my friend! Hugs, Diane

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    1. I hope your dream of a small house on the beach comes true, Diane. xxx

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  12. I have visited Lin's blog and I'm always inspired by her posts. I love her story and so relate to her choices. We too adore our small home and our cozy days and nights together in our tiny space...no escape hatch needed! ;) Can't wait for the next installment!

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I'm really having fun with this series, and enjoy reading all the comments. Have a great week. xxx

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  13. That was a very inspiring post. I'm off to check Lin's blog.

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    1. I'm glad you found it inspiring, Magali. So did I. :)

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  14. love lin's charming cottage! and lin, keep that gorgeous armoire:)

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    1. I agree, Lynn. The armoire is gorgeous, and Lin should keep it. I've got a feeling she will.

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  15. I am enjoying and learning a lot reading about the quest for a simple cottage life on your blog. One of my concerns is green living and avoiding as much toxins in the home as possible. Have you and your husband done any research in this area for your plans?

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    1. Hi Karen. My husband is a retired architect who studied environics under Patrick Horsbrugh at Notre Dame in the late 60's. Some of the "green" features of our home design include siting the home so it makes use of natural heating and cooling principles such as shade and passive solar, and minimal adverse impact on the site; reusing an existing structure on the site for work space in order to minimize the home's footprint; insulation in structural members, walls and attics; using low-e windows, high-efficiency heating system; choosing building materials and products with low or no toxic emissions (wall board, cabinets, paint and other finishes); using sustainably harvested natural products; whenever possible choosing materials that come from local sources; using water efficiently; some xeriscaping. Just as important to us is supporting the local economy -- buying locally and using local contractors and services. Hope this helps.

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  16. Lin is just a sweetie, and I love her style and attitude! Great post :)
    Susan

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  17. The way you and your husband have chosen to live is truly inspiring, Lin! I sense you all have a very good understanding of what the "good life" should be about.
    Mary Alice

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  18. Thank you for this post. I found you over at Lin's blog. This is a dream of ours, and we are working towards this goal.
    Thank you for inspiration.
    Carla

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    1. My pleasure, Carla. I hope you'll come back and visit often. Blessings.

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  19. Absolutely loved this Lin and Nancy! Lin has been an real inspiration to us on how to live a beautiful life.

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    1. Thank you, June. You're right about Lin. She inspired me from the moment I first visited her blog. Blessings.

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  20. Nancy...thank you so much for inviting Lin to write about she and her husbands experience in building the home of their dreams. I've followed Lin for awhile but never heard the whole process like this. I admire their simplicity and love of an authentic life. She is a dear. And you have an interesting blog here!!

    Jane xx

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    1. You're so very kind, Jane. Thank you. I'm glad you stopped by to read Lin's post, and I hope you'll return. xxx

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  21. I love Lin, and her beautiful home. Great feature, Nancy. xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Sue. I'm very happy Lin agreed to share her story with us. Hugs.

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  22. Thank you all for these wonderful, supportive comments! And again, thank YOU, Nancy for inviting me here.
    xoxo,
    Lin

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    1. The pleasure is all mine, Lin. It's been a lot of fun. xxx

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  23. I think this is great, Nancy! I follow Lin, also, and enjoyed reading this post. You are both great gals!!
    Debbie
    xo

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  24. Such an inspiring post! I am all admiration for Lin and her husband and their beautiful little home.

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    1. Thank you, Jacqueline. It's been pure joy to feature Lin and the sweet cottage she shares with her husband.

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  25. I loved this! Though the home is very lovely (just my style), it is their goals that I really admire! Thanks for sharing this on the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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    1. I was happy to share Lin and her husband's sweet cottage and lifestyle at your party. Thanks, Jes.

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  26. How nice to see your beautiful little cottage that is also inviting. :)

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  27. Lins home looks lovely Nancy! It sounds as though they are doing what they love and want to do. I have never lived in anything that small. I think it would be a grand adventure! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. The smallest home I've ever lived in, Jann, is a 300 sq ft apartment. That was years ago before my late husband and I started a family. I don't remember much about it, except that it was easy to keep clean. :)

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  28. Good morning! Thank you for sharing with the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Your post has been featured this week! :) Please join us in our new link up which is up and running! Have a lovely week~~

    http://strangersandpilgrimsonearth.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-art-of-home-making-mondays-please.html

    P.S. This post was the #1 viewed as well! :)

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    1. That's great, Jes! Thank you. I'll pass this news along to Lin. Have a great week!

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  29. I love everything about your cottage home! I love that you are living right in the middle of nature. I love how cosy and inviting your home is. Your kitchen is stunning and the sketch of the birds nest is too! Good on you both for creating the home you both desire, you've inspired me to live small with our four children. Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful little home with all of us!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Elisha, and sharing your thoughts. I'm sure it's a huge encouragement to Lin. xxx

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  30. Oh Lin, I am so very inspired by you. You live the life I dream of living one day. Yes, simplicity, tranquility, love, art. Your home is lovelier than ANY other fancy home than I have EVER seen. If only I could see it in person. One day...maybe, one day. Much love! xoxoxo Jen

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    1. Very nice of you to leave such a sweet comment for Lin, Jen. Thank you. :)

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  31. Another gorgeous cottage, I went to her blog to try and find wider shots because everything here is so lovely.

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