My dad has coined this term "liberation", and it has since become sort of a family...how should I say this?... technique. We're talking about the liberation of materials or items that other people aren't using, that are perfectly good for our purposes (or could be someday). Luckily for me, my dad has been liberating things his whole life, and stashing them away on our property. Everything from beautiful unique wood, to old house parts and hardware. What's even luckier, was that he was willing to let his best kid (no offense to my sister) use a lot of the things that have been piling up over the years, to add special touches to my build and save me some money.
Even when we didn't have exactly the right materials, he sometimes knew when and where to get them! In this article I'll talk specifically about the siding on the exterior of my house.
I started with some yellow pine siding that was "liberated" from the basement of a building in Rochester where my dad used to work. There wasn't much of it so I had some choices to make. I knew for sure that I wanted to do something unique. I was worried that my house would look more like a trailer home than a tiny house. You may be asking "Come on Erika. Aren't they the same thing?". Aesthetically speaking, I really don't think so! After all, that's the charm of tiny houses. They're typically more aesthetically pleasing than your average RV or mobile home. Anywho, I decided to do an asymmetrical diagonal that would accent the roof line and round window/door. The same small Hawaiian house in that book Surf Shacks that I mentioned in a previous article (that inspired the round window in the first place) had a similar shape. I thought it would be a cool way to make the outside look interesting and less rectangular, without losing space inside.
I originally thought that I might want to feature the salvaged nature of the wood and leave the backside exposed. It was all covered in years of random glue and paint and the artist in me loves that. But in the long run, I figured the simpler the better. I decided the irregular color of the wood itself was interesting enough without overdoing it.
Once again I made a difficult design choice, and was kicking myself because the execution of the diagonal was painstaking, but the end result was definitely worth it! The first section was completed by the end of October 2016.
By this time it was getting cold, and the holidays set in, and a few months went by enjoying family and parties and being warm inside. Could I have kept working out in the bitter cold? Yes. Did I want to? Honestly, No. This was my first encounter with a lack of interest in my own dang project and it was a bit of a low point, but Christmas is Christmas and that needs attention right?
So, we all know how it goes. The holidays end and the anxiety of starting the year off on the right foot sets in. I had run out of yellow pine, but luckily we had a lead. Another friend of my dad in the city had a storefront that he said we could strip. So we headed out on a chilly morning to spend a couple of hours pulling some old cedar siding off of a building that was set to be rehabbed.
This cedar was nice and light and weathered in a cool way. I used the light pieces to create good contrast to the pine on the front of the house, and the grey pieces on each of the short sides. We were in the midst of an Upstate New York January. I remember being bundled up against the 11 degree wind, hoping I wouldn't smack my fingers with the hammer. The exterior siding was the first big job that I accomplished all by myself, and though I was a complete popsicle when it was done, I felt so good standing back to see the finished product!
At this point I was out of yellow pine AND cedar. Ok so now what? The front and sides were done, and I took a little hiatus on the exterior to think about my next move and work on the interior. Let's face it, I was still damn cold, and at least if I worked inside, I could run a space heater.
When Spring arrived we got back to it with the exterior. I had been thinking all winter about how to finish my siding without adding a third color of mismatched siding. So I decided to switch gears from the salvaged materials and buy some metal for the back. It ended up looking great! It was easy to work with, went up fast, and paired well with the dark yellow pine that I used to frame out the windows. By April of 2017, the exterior of the house was more or less done!
This was such a satisfying day for me. The weather was warming up, the sun was shining, and aside from the roof and the door to my utility cabinet, this thing was really shaping up. Once again, I had to step back and marvel at this little place. My house. I was friggin doing it, and that was one HECK of a feeling.
In my next article, I learn how to build a beautiful front door!