Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dear Google Sketchup, I am in love with you.

“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.” -HDT
A tiny interior
So true, Henry, so true. My how my ideas of a dream home have changed throughout the years!

For as long as I can remember, I have been building things- for kicks. And, when I say building, I mean that in a very broad sense. My creativity was not relegated to structures like my old tree-house. I lived in a very rural area, without a Michael's or Joann's just around the corner, and a set of parents more likely to fly me to the moon than spend money at such a place. So I got resourceful. I gave crafty a whole new definition. I constructed little masterpieces unrecognizable from their material make up. I went through phase after phase, whatever captured my interest, I sought to create on my own. Did you know you can make little Eskimos out of printer paper, cotton balls, markers, tape, and a glue gun? Well, you can, and I won first prize at my middle school's winter carnival cake contest with those little guys! (Plus an igloo made of marshmallows.) I remember making decorative masks out of natural clay I dug from the ground, little sail boats from hallow bamboo and broad leaves, dream catchers woven from grass and feathers I had found, and many sewing projects that ranged from stuffed animals, to quilts, to clothing.
Once for a school project on electricity, I created a small scale house, with intense detail, and multiple working lights in the various rooms. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed creating that itty-bitty home. (Holy cow, foreshadowing!) I also made tiny furniture. I remember being so proud of how well my little upholstered chair came out, using just a glue gun, Popsicle sticks, and some carefully cut felt. Someone stole that little chair the first day we left the projects on display in the classroom. I was angry, but have since learned to take it as a compliment. ;)
My years of MacGyver-style art creations taught me that there are always ways to achieve what you want. You just have to examine the box of limitations you sit in, and decide how to kick the walls down. I was always in need of materials, and as soon as I learned to look at the objects in my life differently, I found that materials abounded all around me. Then, technology entered my life. I still remember the very first computer my family owned. It was top notch for it's day, and the program, Paint, opened up my world. The first time I sat down and began to play, the realization sunk in and I remember thinking, “You mean....I can just....keep making one thing after another?! This requires no actual materials?! I CAN CREATE FOREVERRR!!” Needless to say I was hooked.
Fast forward fifteen years- obviously, Paint doesn't thrill me the way it used to. I have grown more sophisticated, ipso facto, so have my tastes. Intense photo editing programs are where I like to linger when I'm on the computer for fun, but even those have begun to lose their luster. As I was reading through the blog I mentioned in my last post, 2cycle2gether, I admired the mock-up designs that Kai had posted for their tiny house. I have always wanted to get my hands on software that allows you to build 3D structures to scale. Then I read a small tagline under his image that said, “Created using Google Sketchup”. I immediately went and searched for it on the web. The wonderful people of Google have created this program, and a standard version is available for FREE! After watching a couple of tutorial videos, I was off and running, creating several draft versions of our tiny house design.
Thanks to Google Sketchup, I have become increasingly obsessed with the interior design of our tiny house. I find myself rethinking the placement of many items, each time further fine-tuning the efficiency of our space. Here's a glance at some of the drafts I have created.
Note the word “draft”. This idea, I'm sure- if I know myself at all, will change many more times before we begin building. I love Google Sketchup for it's ease of use, and the ability to actually look at a 3D rendition of the simplistic pencil sketches we started with. Looking at a flat floor plan simply doesn't convey the same kind of spatial awareness as a 3D design. Not to mention, I can cook-up one funky interior design idea after another and know immediately if it would be sensible and efficient. I much prefer that idea to the costly process of trial and error as you build.

What you are looking at above is just one side of the interior. From left to right, you can see the composte toilet, a storage cabinet that also serves as a separating wall, a low counter with a small propane oven and stove top, some counter space with a fridge underneath, and then a funky storage cabinet that also serves as the ladder to the loft.

Here (above) is another version of the funky storage/mode of ascension, and also some of the structures on the opposite side of the tiny house. To the far right, (I haven't built it into this sketchup) we plan to put a custom built couch along the end wall. The first step on the funky cabinet will be the same height as the couch. That way we can easily put a table in between and it serves as a dining area. Or, we can fold out the couch, to rest on the first step and it becomes an additional sleeping area. So if Dan pisses me off, he has somewhere to sleep. JUST KIDDING!
On the side closest to you, from left to right is: the shower, a separating wall, a longish counter with the sink, and a tall storage space that also provides some privacy to the loft- okay maybe it just blocks the view of the water tank- either way we like it. For now.
I encourage everyone to go get Google Sketchup and start playing! If you think you want to give this tiny house idea a shot, I highly recommend exploring your ideas in Sketchup. Not only is it easy and fun, it is rewarding and encouraging. The interior was something that I avoided in the beginning because I was intimidated and had no decent way to lay out a plan, but now tiny house interiors have become my latest obsession. I peruse photos of interiors on a daily basis, gathering inspiration and ideas for our dream home. Check out some of these tiny interiors! Tiny can still be absolutely beautiful!

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