Creating Sustainable Mobile Homes

The front of the soon to be bus home, pre editing

So yesterday I posted an article regarding the nature of the bus idea, my bold approach to a self sustainable lifestyle, today I want to discuss how I plan to create this self sustaining machine on the go. So here I want to go through the basic design, the essentials and the necessities and also some of the big roadblocks. Because creating a self sustaining machine is a fairly large task and well since all of it is currently in the theory stage this could not all be 100% spot on.

The bus is somewhere around 30 to 34 feet in the back, which is the living space, the dimensions are roughly 7 feet by 30 feet creating a space that is 210 square feet of home. This of course will be filled with all the things a house needs and will certainly restrict the available floor space. However there is still plenty of useable space, since what is added still is useable. Let’s start right in the back of the bus, we will start with the bathroom and move forward through the kitchen, living room and finally bedroom. Keep in mind this is a bus, everything is designed to keep as much of the windows available for a 360 degree panoramic view of the world, plus all the additional natural light. The centre of the aisle is kept clear of anything to allow one straight line of sight throughout the vehicle, there is little privacy but in the end privacy isn’t really needed.

The washroom consists of two rooms at the back of the bus, I figured it would be best to keep the undesirable near the back and allow for the front portion to be communal and open. I hate the number of places that create a wet bathroom, where everything is in one, the sink and toilet get wet and so on. So I made the decision to split the bathroom and create two rooms in the back. One room is completely designated to the shower, a full room encased in metal to create a waterproof shower stall. On the other side there will be a room with dedicated vanity counter and storage as well as the toilet. I chose to put in a composting toilet out of pure frugality, a composting toilet is the simplest of toilets and costs virtually nothing, browse around and you’ll find an article about them on my blog. So the two rooms allow for two separate bathroom spaces that are private enough and could both be used at the same time if needed. Behind the washrooms there will be two closet spaces on either side, these will store the water needed and also they will store any overflow storage and items that need to be hung up in a closet space. I want to keep a spare tent in here for extra people to camp with us, however to is hard to evaluate what can go in there until it is built.

Next section we have is the kitchen, it breaks the clean line of the bus and I am not sure how bad this will look but it narrows the counters down creating almost an extra foot of aisle space, which in my mind is needed when there are two counter surfaces and potentially multiple people to work with. The main utility will be the sink, most likely powered by a high pressure foot pump. This way the water isn’t wasted because you will pump exactly as you need, there will be a water tank and I would hate to be wasteful. Next up I plan to have two regular power induction burners that can be stowed away as to not waste counter space. These will plug into a regular socket and will run off the solar power, I would recommend these are only used during the day as they would probably drain the batteries really quickly. Other than these two things the kitchen contains no real utilities, nothing is grid tied and there is nothing like that. I am looking at hand powered espresso makers and blenders, we will see how that plays out. Otherwise the kitchen is comprised of plenty of open counter space and a system of drawers that allow for extended counter space, as well as space to store all food and utensils needed.

The most versatile area of the bus will be the seating area, this is a general living room that also becomes the dining room, work space, and a spare bedroom if needed. The idea is to ensure all the furniture serves a double purpose, which is important in any tiny home lifestyle, of course this is suited to my needs. There are two rows of seats, each one with 4 seat sections, these serve as the living room, a communal seating area. One of the sections on both sides will lift to become a table, that each can seat 2 people meaning that this will allow for a dining room area without obstruction. Next there is one seat on either side that is simply dedicated to storage inside of the seat, that idea is still in the works and I am debating maybe adding the potential for an extra bed. Finally the two seats that are covering the wheel well in the bus fold out and join together to form one large queen size bed, measuring 5 feet by 7 feet. The cushions are all made of a high density foam and will be custom made with slip covers to provide a finished look.

Finally we reach the bedroom, which is actually the front of the bus, this section opens up to the driver’s cabin and serves as seats when driving so the driver doesn’t feel alone. So this section comprises of two beds, each one is fairly high up because inside the bed is flat storage and underneath there is drawers for additional storage. In total we figure there is enough for two or three wardrobe’s worth of clothing inside the bed. One of the beds slide over to create a queen size bed and at the same time they reveal a second single mattress hidden below, meaning you are never sacrificing a bed space.

The driver’s cabin remains as is there isn’t much too it, I plan to re panel the front to create the same natural wooden look. Just use thin plywood to finish off the cabin and create a nice friendly look the whole way through. This may also help the appearance as you enter the bus as I am keeping the main access to the front, this will allow for more room and a cleaner look all the way through, also I plan to include the driver’s cabin in the bus instead of completely walling it off.

When it comes to some of the huge roadblocks that I will cover in other articles there are things such as the power demand, creating energy, drainage, and keeping enough water on board. The space is fine it is mainly the utilities that worry me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s bit on the bus, if you like this keep checking back I plan to keep a very detailed log of this journey and how it all works out.
Have an amazing day!


Downsizing and Tiny Homes

I have previously discussed the ideas of life editing and downsizing, today we will specifically touch on downsizing. The main idea of downsizing is to take a space and bring it down to a sustainable and manageable footprint. So through the statistics business we have determined that the average person needs 150 square foot per person. That’s fairly small but that is the space needed to feel comfortable, and yet the standard in most cities is a home cannot be smaller than 1000 square feet even if it is a one or two person home. So why has the standard becoming 6 and a half times what we need? Where did the standard suddenly rise so dramatically and when did our society get so greedy about space.

Many people look at the tiny homes, living spaces and hotels in Japan and think it is madness, yes its crowded but it is a good system. In under 400 square feet you can sometimes find up to 6 or more people, it is crowded but it is livable. Then we shift back to North America and we see average of 1000 square feet and upwards for a home. Most cities won’t even allow a tiny space to exist. Many building codes prohibit the existence of spaces under a certain square footage and there are very few codes that allow it. Most of the tiny house movement would be considered illegal if they weren’t built and classified as trailers. It’s unfortunate for those who want to downsize to such a good level but can’t due to their cities limitations. See our current society is actually working against the potential for small spaces and small space development.

So why is our society so against small spaces and tiny houses? What happened that our society can’t deal with the thought of downsizing? Well it turns out that generally there are two mentalities associated with tiny homes. Either these are poor people, or hippies, most people assume living in a tiny home is a choice made through poor life choices or homelessness or being a “hippy” when the reality is quite the opposite. The people moving into and building these usually are well off or doing okay, these people are conscious of their footprint or like me fed up with using so much space. Often these people are forward thinking and understand the movement and that it can save us lots of money to do something like this.

The real problem is that tiny homes aren’t profitable, to take up space and set up a tiny house community wouldn’t be a lot of space but for the same space someone could build a more profitable “resort” or even an apartment structure. Both of which are far more profitable than a tiny house community. It’s an unfortunate reality in the business world and anyone who has the space will want to create something that makes them the most money, since it is an investment.

But back to downsizing, downsizing isn’t expensive, anyone can do it and anyone can begin to simplify their life like this. It starts with need vs want. People who live in tiny spaces and people who have already simplified their lives still have stuff, but this stuff has some use. They have learned to bring it down to the necessities, not bare necessities but the things that are most needed. Just because you live in a large home doesn’t mean you need to fill it with stuff, take a look at minimalist decor and you’ll see that less is really more. This is part of the excess mentality where we are convinced that more stuff is better, the more you have the better you are. But it isn’t that, long time saying of quality over quantity, let’s learn to keep quality and useful items instead of junk and random pieces to fill space.

Start downsizing, you’ll learn how free your home feels and how relaxing the process can be. If you haven’t used something in many months chances are you won’t be using it much down the road so why keep it? What purpose does that hold. If there is something that sits around and collects dust don’t you think it is time to get rid of it? Maybe one person’s trash is another’s treasure, so why not offer someone a treasure today? There is no value or purpose in keeping junk and it is a mentality that needs to change, we can’t continue to amass more without getting rid of something. One of the best rules once you’ve downsized is for something new to be purchased and brought home something old needs to be removed. It makes sense because the more you buy the less of the old things you will still use, they lose their lustre. So why do you still need them around, well you don’t.

Downsizing is very freeing, you can look around at your open space and know the things you have are of value and are useful. You can breathe easily if you ever have to move because you have less to worry about moving. You know that everything has a purpose and a value and it makes for a better home. Plus you can come home and relax knowing there is less to clean and less to organize. Let’s be real who doesn’t want more relaxing time?

I feel the benefits to downsizing really outweigh having junk around, so really what’s stopping you? One or two days of sorting and hard work, some donations to a local thrift store or selling some old stuff and wow look now you have a more open and relaxing space!

Thanks for reading and as always I hope have an amazing day!
Next I want to dive more into the subject of tiny space living and also the idea of flatpack!
Stay tuned!

Minimalism in more Intimate Spaces

Tonight I want to tackle a bit of a tough aspect of minimalism, yes that’s right, intimate spaces. The spots that are close to you, the things you love, the things that define you. For the most part this concerns our bedrooms, however I want it to apply to any spaces like this.

As stated in the series we want to bring things down to the essentials and so everything has purpose. This is where an important life skill that not many hold comes in. The ability to Let Go. We need to accept that not everything needs to stay with us forever. You may have a favourite piece of clothing or a favourite collectable or something but you need to question it’s uses and whether it is of value. If it doesn’t have any use and it isn’t of value then why are you keeping it. You have memories, and I know it sounds a little insensitive to just tell you to throw a way things like that however it is true. When we talk about minimalism you must accept that letting go is going to become a common theme.

So what if an item has value or will have value. Old comics, antiques, and such can all gain value one day. Well we need to evaluate these things, if the value will climb or it is extremely rare then find a way to incorporate it and make it a showpiece in your room. If it won’t climb in value and you don’t want to integrate it, get rid of it and see what you can get. Remember we want to get down to the essentials and things with purpose. If it doesn’t fit in those things then it may have to go.

Once we are down to the essentials let’s take a look at some key elements of the bedroom. Starting with the bed, alright it is the main reason you have a bedroom, so let’s make it a nice focal point. Try to keep a simple bed spread, a simple amount of everything, keep your bed balanced with equal parts of everything. Keep a simple bed frame, something with clean lines, easy but soft colours, and nothing extravagant or out there. You want the bed to blend with the room, but still be something to admire. This is also a balance that needs to be achieved. If you choose to have a head board it also needs to be simple, clean lines and nothing elegant or curvy or odd shaped. Minimalists try to keep things to the bare essentials including furniture, there is no need for the ornate details when simple can be beautiful.

Next key element is a closet, or dresser or however you store your clothes. Everyone chooses to do it differently. I choose a rack to hang clothes and a shelf to fold clothes. I personally have an industrial edge to my rooms so my closet is an old department store rotating rack, my shelf is a leaning ladder design and it holds plenty. If you have a closet keep it clean, use organizers or insert shelves. Add more storage to the small space, some even opt to turn their closet into a workspace by adding a form of desk that folds or pulls out. Anyways this is where we get the option to hide a lot into a space to keep the room looking clean. If your closet can close then you are golden, you can create whatever you want within and allow the rest of the room to shine in all it’s minimal glory. Remember we will tackle wardrobe and what clothes to have in an upcoming article so for now just remember to maximize your storage.

Finally the option for a desk or workspace in your room, some people have home offices or large tables to work at so it isn’t a big deal. However even though I have a workspace I still have a nice simple folding grey table that allows some workspace, I bring it down to a low heigh and work from a seated position on my bed to avoid an extra chair sitting around. The desk is it’s own space and you must be careful that it fits with the rest of your design and it fits with everything you have. If it has drawers great, keep them organized and keep as much off the desk as possible. Keep statement pieces such as colourful decor or your own personal style on the desk to compliment the room but the rest goes inside.

Just remember that even in such a special space as your room it is still possible to achieve the minimal look. You can create the space you need and make everything work. Some of the big things to remember is clean lines, purposeful furniture and nice simple looks. Nice simple patterns, and simple colours will help create a comfortable but functional space.

As always keep reading and check back for more on the series!
Thanks for reading and well from when I wrote this have a great night!

Minimalism in the Common Spaces

The first part in my series about minimalism will be in the house, specifically in the common areas. Thankfully when it comes to minimalism this is the best area to start. The problem many encounter with this process is that we all have many possessions of sentimental value or of importance. However in common spaces we have an easier time, because items of such value aren’t often kept there. However if there are while you follow this post, try and find a way to turn these items into a centrepiece or show piece.

So the first place I decided to work with was my living room, I did this when I first moved so it was a little easier. We tried to fill the place with a couch and entertainment unit, it just didn’t work. So instead I decided to re think the entire house, and we started there. I got rid of the large entertainment stand, got rid of the couch. Replaced it with stackable chairs and a table that can be taken apart really easily. Everything in the room is now functional. The table serves as a desk, workspace and table for any other uses. It is still in great shape and could be be used for a large dining table. The chairs serve as seating, for both work and entertainment, they can be stacked out of the way and they can easily be removed, as can the table. The small little flat screen and Apple TV, provide all my music and all the entertainment needed in the house.

Essentially you need to work out what the room’s main purpose will be, then once you have that think of it’s location and what other things you could easily use the room for. For example our living room was to be a workspace, social space, art space, conversation space and extra room for company. So after many ideas thrown around, from a bed/ couch to other ideas. I decided a simple polished white tabletop with black sawhorse legs and black chairs would be great. It is a beautiful space and can be easily changed depending on the needs.

The next choice you need to make is whether you want minimalist decor and design or just to fulfill minimalism in your life. One is taking on the glossy white and simple look where the other is making your life simple and easy. For example I prefer to mix style and most of my house is industrial minimal. It is open, uncluttered and with purpose but not all white and standard.

Finally decide on the kind of furniture that can be multifunctional. Things like stackable chairs, folding or expanding tables, transforming furniture and things with hidden storage. Most minimal designs actually hide so much. You may see a wall with some cupboards but inside is piled with stuff and everything is just cleverly hidden. Organization is key. I personally just chose not to own a lot, so that helps, but on top of that we have all the multi functioning pieces that help achieve this.

Keep checking back in for the next steps where I go into wardrobe, bedroom, kitchen and other areas of our lives!
I hope this post helps you find some inspiration and reason to try minimalism! If you have any feedback feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts. I am not an authority on this but I know what works for me so I’m so open to feedback!
Have a wonderful day!