On July 21, 2015 at 10:10 in the evening my Grandfather passed away peacefully. His name was Ron, and he was a great man. The best Grandfather anyone could hope for. He never forgot any of his grandchildren’s birthdays and always made the holidays extra special with his child-like enthusiasm. He’d end every conversation letting me know how special I was and that he was proud of me. And now that he is gone it has occurred to me that I’m not sure if I ever let him know just how much he inspired me.
My earliest memories are explorations around my Granddad’s river house. It is one of, if not the oldest, original house built in Brevard county. Built in 1786 along the Indian River in Sharpes, Florida, it is a two-story river house with wrap-around balconies, rope swings hanging from huge magnolia trees and a long dock out into the river. My two younger brothers and I spent our early childhood growing up in this old house. That grand river house had character, but it needed repairs. My granddad restored the house with help from others including my Dad. It was truly a sight when completed.
Ron also built an A-frame in Port St. John, Florida with the aid of a government grant based on his environmental design. I was still too young to help with the construction at this time, but my Dad and a couple of his brothers were put to work.
I remember going with my Mom and brothers to the site and bringing lunches. The stages of building a house looked so much like a life-sized version of the same forts my brothers and I spent our days building out in the woods.
My family moved from the river house into a house that my Dad built almost entirely by himself. I remember helping alongside my Mom and brothers as we swung hammers, soaked bricks, and played under a hand pump in the backyard. My granddad helped with this design as well. Passive solar winter heating, and convection currents were employed to make our house more energy efficient.
Memories of Granddad
It’s been two years since I’ve said goodbye to Grandfather Ron. He continues to inspire me to this day. His memory lives on.
I enjoy trying to organize each of these posts into logic pieces that show an entire step of the tiny house build. In the case of the kitchen cabinets I chose to post them all together rather than brake it up into individual components. This covers about three months of weekend working and many times we were working on multiple cabinets and shelves at once.
It all starts with the face frames constructed from the bi-pass door tracks.
Dad cutting tracks for the bi-pass doors
The upper kitchen cabinet is assembled and clamped ready for the face frame.
Upper kitchen cabinet clamped up
The completed upper cabinet features a built in knife rack.
Upper kitchen cabinet completed
The lower pantry cabinet is assembled and awaiting bi pass doors and finishing.
The lower kitchen cabinet assembly. This will have a trash chute on the left side and sink in the middle.
Lower kitchen cabinet assembly
Lower kitchen cabinet process
We were able to construct this spice rack in a single day.
Spice rack single day build
Spice rack mounted
Kitchen cabinets in place.
Kitchen cabinets in position
Much has happened since my last post. We have been busy finalizing designs and building the cabinets for Arborion. The first of these cabinets were ‘foot lockers’ for loft storage. I call them foot lockers because they are one foot high by one foot deep and used for storage. They also create a nice shelf just below the gable windows.
Foot locker frame and pieces
They are constructed from solid maple stock for the face frames and cleats, along with 1/2″ maple plywood. There is also a 1/2″ walnut plywood top on each.
Assembled and clamped up
There is a center partition for reinforcement which compliment a pair of bi-pass sliding doors.
Ready to transport and install
Storage loft locker
Sleeping loft locker
There are only two doors in Arborion. The front door and a sliding bathroom door. Stepping through the front door and looking to the other end of the tiny house past the kitchen, sits the shoji-style sliding door. This separates the bathroom from the kitchen and one of the first things seen upon entry.
Making halflap mullins
Pulls and catches
Wooden clamps on walnut panels
Dad came up with a unique way to affix the paneling to the pocket wall in place using wooden clamps and wedges.
Wooden clamps on maple panels
Pocket wall and shoji door
Each step completed brings us a bit closer to a livable space. Arborion is taking on the shape and feel of a home as the finish details are revealed.
Dad with enormous walnut board
Gluing up the table
Walnut window casings adorn each of the eight aluminum windows.
Walnut window casings
The largest of these windows is joined to a folding table and surrounding cabinet.
Shaping the table support arm
Table support arm with template
Support arm in action
Construction of cabinet
Surrounding cabinet ready for transport
Compact folding table
I was so certain I was going to use bamboo flooring in the tiny house. That was until I researched the color and texture options in conjunction with the weight of the better brands. Of the bamboo choices I had access to, the better constructed ones were too heavy to use throughout Arborion. It was going to be over 800 pounds to cover the subfloor and the lofts. Plus the colors and textures were not exactly what Carrie and I were envisioning.
Flooring ready to install
We did however, find the perfect flooring at Lumber Liquidators. It was the right dark color to tie in the bronze window frames and outlets. It was the right hand-scraped texture to feel worn in. It also was constructed from red oak and poplar plywood which gives a hard surface with a light weight and very stable. And finally this beautiful flooring was on sale.
First couple of courses to set us straight
Flooring is looking good
Lofts get fancy flooring as well.
Sleeping loft decked out with flooring
It took about 2-1/2 days to install. Much of that time was dialing in the finish nailer to give of the best results. The process went smoothly and was a lot of fun picking out which floor boards go where.
As Hurricane Matthew moved northward up the eastern coast of Florida, we prepared for the storm. Forecasts predicted a category 4 with sustained winds in excess of 100 mph. After securing the main house with storm shutters my Dad helped me to strap down Arborion.
As tough as this tiny house is built I did not want to take any chances. We removed the AC unit from the dormer window so it could be shut up tight.
AC unit removed form dormer window
Next we used earth anchors at each corner of the trailer and attached them to the trailer frame with steel cord and saddle clamps.
Securely attached to the trailer frame
Steel cord and double saddle clamps
And finally I let out some of the air from the tires to keep the trailer from “bouncing” in the wind. This placed more of the weight on the jack stands.
Arborion withstood the hurricane force winds without damage and for that I am very grateful.
The ridge of the 10′ ceiling is complete all the way into both lofts.
Sleeping loft decking
Back of Arborion
The lofts now have the bottom side covered with the 1/2″ maple plywood. This makes up the ceiling in the kitchen and bathroom as well as the reading nook (otherwise known as Carrie’s Corner) under the storage loft. The tops have been decked over with 5/8″ plywood on the sleeping loft and 1/2″ in the storage loft. The same bronze can lights are installed in the kitchen and bathroom ceilings as I used for the porch landing.
Storage loft decking
Front of Arborion
For the finish on the maple I used three coats of water-based matte polyurethane. The walnut was coated with a mixture of paraffin and linseed oil to match the door.
For several weekends my Dad and I have been installing lightweight 1/2″ plywood as the finished walls inside the tiny house Arborion. Other than a few trim pieces, the walls are complete. Many of the pieces were fairly complex. They required careful measuring and several trips back to the work area under my carport to fine tune the shaping of each section. Like the ceiling, each section was installed one piece at a time with super construction adhesive and finish nails.
My Dad applying construction adhesive before attaching the maple plywood panel
My brother, Daniel, was able to to help out during the first weekend of wall installation which was awesome. Having an extra set of hands and eyes on some of these large intricate sections was very helpful.
Daniel and Dad working together on a complicated panel section
The walnut portion of the walls make up the lower 30 inches in a wainscot sort of appearance, while the maple fills the rest of the walls and ceiling. I am currently in the time consuming process of filling the small nail holes in preparation for the finishes I will be applying soon.
Walnut panels in the bathroom
Back of Arborion and bathroom
Front of Arborion and reading nook
Wall sections complete
I have been really excited to share this latest step in the tiny house build. Arborion has really taken on a beautiful look with its ceiling clad in light maple.
First two panel pieces glued and finish nailed
I’m using half inch maple plywood with a garnica core that makes it very flat and light weight. The quality of the maple is such that the wood grain is very subtle, which is good since it covers such a large area. There is a warmth to the light that bounces down from the dormer windows off the angles of the maple ceiling.
Sleeping loft complete except for a thin ridge panel
Fitting the panels to the angles and shapes of the ceiling and gables is a slow and painstaking task. By making cardboard templates of the trickier areas we saved making mistakes with our more expensive materials. We used construction adhesive and small finish nails in order to make a strong and permanent bond and keep a cleaner finished appearance.
Main ceiling is coming along
On a separate note I must add that shaving down the closed-cell foam insulation is messy and time consuming work. The installers did wonderful work, but there are always areas that need more attention and trimming in order for the paneling to be installed properly.
Storage loft looking good