When Washington–based couple Robert and Samantha Garlow decided to downsize to a mobile dwelling, they knew instantly that they wanted to build the home themselves. To document their DIY project, they set up the blog SHEDsistence so friends and family could follow their progress.
"The idea of having the chance to experience the consequences firsthand, both positive and negative, of our design and construction decisions was a valuable proposition," says Robert, who is an architectural designer. "This also meant the design process was directly related to—or hindered by—what we could do ourselves on weekends using off-the-shelf materials."
Since this 204-square-foot mobile trailer was the couple's first experience building a tiny home, they chose DIY-friendly wood framing rather than light gauge, which would have been more challenging. They combined the frames with thin plywood to counteract lateral forces from road travel.
Robert and Samantha designed the trailer to have a kitchen and lofted bed on one side of the home, and feature a bathroom and storage room on the other end. There is also a living area, which sits in the center.
Worried that the extensive use of tow-away furniture might become a nuisance for everyday living, the couple opted for simple, sturdy, multi-functional, built-in units.
In fact, the only loose furniture item in the home is a two-seater bench in front of the breakfast bar in the kitchen, which doubles as a workspace.
The Garlows liked the visual spatial connection created by the height difference between the loft and the lower living space, so they ended up using netting rather than a partition wall.
The only functional space separated by a wall and door is the bathroom, which has a shower, sink, composting toilet, and modular shelving.
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To accommodate for their love of outdoor adventure, the couple also made the decision to set aside 24 square feet of precious space for a gear room, which is located behind the bathroom wall.
"Our goal in building a tiny house on wheels was to better enable the life we wanted, so having all our outdoor gear with us at all times was a necessity," states Samantha. "These are the tools that open up so many of the mountaineering, climbing, backpacking, snowboarding, and camping adventures that we love."
"The gear room is also a great place for us to keep the not-so-pretty systems, like the on-demand water heater and breaker box," she says. "It also means we have room for a washer-dryer combo, should we decide to add one in the future."
In total, the home took the couple around 14 months to complete. Today, they still reside in it, along with their first child, Aubrin.
"For the first few months, I was haunted by the imperfections," Robert explains. "After two years passed and I became a father, I started to cherish the imperfections as proof that there is always room to do better and to learn more," he says.
Robert and Samantha agree that the most difficult part of tiny home living comes before the planning and construction.
"Mentally preparing to live in a tiny house requires a pretty radical shift in perspective from the way many of us were raised. As a designer, it made me realize what's possible, and how much truly isn't necessary."
To learn more about this mobile tiny home, check out their website here.
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