One of the best perks of tiny house living (for me), is the idea that the lack of space inside, invites extra time spent outside. I knew from the very beginning that I would want some sort of living space available that would allow me to enjoy the best part of my house's location. Of course I'm talking about the view!
I'll share a little secret with you: Until I pulled my trailer into the yard, I didn't realize that the best of my windows were going to be facing away from the water. (uggghhhh...stupid). In fact, only a tiny bathroom window and a rather small loft window were facing the lake. Originally this wasn't the case with my design, but if you read my previous articles you might remember that I changed my orientation around while I was waiting for my trailer to arrive. Apparently in doing so I failed to take this key component into consideration. At this point it was a tad too late to be changing the floor plan again. So...what to do?
By this time it was mid July of 2017 and the weather was gorgeous. I figured What the hell? If I'm still nowhere close to moving inside, I at least want to be able to hang out outside! And maybe a nice outdoor space would help me feel less bad about my crappy window placement. So it was time to build a deck. My Uncle Bill volunteered to come over and help me get started.
Then I had a moment of genius. Remember that platform that I put in the yard as a temporary workspace? (There it is right there if you need a refresh ^^) Well guess what? It was perfect deck size! I took off the plywood, swung it into place, screwed in some reinforcements and BOOM! - insta-deck frame.
*This might be a good time to reiterate that I am not a licensed carpenter or professional be any means. I'm not following any specific plans or codes here, and I'm not suggesting that you copy what I have done. I'm simply sharing my experiences as they happened and describing the solutions that worked out well for me!
The process went pretty smoothly. The hardest part was leveling up the platform. Once that was done, we fastened it to the supports with heavy duty construction screws. Finally I laid the top end to end with pressure treated deck boards screwed into the joists of the platform with deck screws and that was that! A quick snap of a chalk line and trim down the side with a circular saw and my deck was complete! I will say, it is very heavy, and in the case that I ever decide to move, the deck will be hard to transport and will probably just have to be rebuilt (It's not attached to the house in any way). With that being said, it's been a great solution for my purposes!
This presented me with an obvious next priority. I just HAD to get rid of that god awful brown tarp in the doorway.
Like I said, from the very beginning I knew I wanted a large doorway. I hadn't quite nailed down a design, but I knew I wanted to try to come up with a two piece system that could open up fully during nice weather. The tricky thing about a tiny house that's designed by an amateur (that's me), is that nothing normal or prefabricated fits in any space that you're trying to work with. So of course, we built the dang thing ourselves.
How do you build a door you ask? Obviously I had no idea. So once again, enter my father, who of course has all of the black walnut and random tools one might need to accomplish such a task. (Dad for the win...again).
I started with a simple mortise and tenon design that would be almost all window, therefore solving my lake viewing problems and allowing for a ton of extra natural light. I decided to go with one almost regular size door, and another smaller wing that I could open up when I wanted a little extra fresh air. The doorway in total is 4 feet wide and just over 6 feet tall. The main door works normally and is about 3 feet wide. Keep in mind that I designed these doors to open out rather than in. It's hard enough to function in a tiny space let alone navigating around a door that swings inside. That may seem obvious to some but I think it's worth noting. Anyways, the secondary door/sidelite, is about one foot wide and is held closed with sliding surface bolts at both the top and the bottom. This might sound like a tricky undertaking, but my dad had already "built a door one time" so he had mortise and tenon cutters and fittings for the table saw ready to go. We had to mill down the rough cut walnut but I was able to find some pieces in my dad's collection that worked nicely.
Next came the assembly. I wish I could explain here exactly what we did, but to be perfectly honest, I'd have to look this up in order to do it again, so I'll just share the photos.
After the frame was glued up and finished, we sent it off to a local company to have the window put in for a couple hundred bucks. Then we cut some trim on the table saw with molding cutters and framed both the glass and the thin wood panels that we set in on the bottom.
Now, if you've been reading along with these articles, you already know that nothing I do is simple. So of course I had to come up with an interesting paint job. The final product ended up looking pretty damn fresh if you ask me! Catch-ya later ugly brown tarp!
This story should stop there right? Wrong. Once again, amateur status strikes at the last minute. It didn't occur to me while putting together this frame, that I'd need to account for the space required to accommodate a door knob. When I made the measurements for the modern doorknob I had purchased, I quickly realized that the hole I needed to drill would overlap the glass (uuggghhh...stupid stupid) Luckily for me, you guessed it, my dad also has a collection of vintage door hardware laying around! I found a beautiful brown porcelain doorknob for the exterior, and it just so happened that we had an old black surface mount rim lock that fit PERFECTLY on the interior of the door with no major holes required. As you can see in the photos below, I left the black walnut to do it's thing on the interior and just coated it in a few layers of poly.
The final result ended up being just what I expected and hoped for. On beautiful days I can open my living room right up to my deck to let in the sun and lake breeze. During the warmer months I use my deck table more than my table inside. I also added a post in the corner to hold a hammock (that can be removed when not in use). I cannot express enough how much I enjoy this space and how glad I am to have it. If you're thinking about going tiny, I urge you to not overlook this opportunity to give yourself more room. Not to mention it's the perfect solution to entertaining friends!