As most of you who have been following me for a while know, I did not build my own house. In fact, the idea of wielding power tools made me a little nervous. So this week I am delighted to share with you my first tiny house renovation project!
I love my tiny house, but I have been frustrated by my lack of space for overnight guests (check out tiny house limits). I have been in search of a solution since about three months after I moved into my house, but had struggled to find a workable solution. It turns out that my nook with my IKEA chair (pictured below), is about an inch too narrow to hold a standard pull-out twin sleeper chair.
After a lot of soul searching and Pinterest searching I decided that my only option was to ditch my chair (don’t worry it went to a good home!) and try a built in, but in good tiny house fashion, I wanted a multi-functional piece of furniture.
My requirements were something that could serve as a couch, bookcase, bed and storage closet for the air mattress I intended to use. No small feat for a relatively small space. I started drawing out designs and came up with a plan. The only problem was I had no idea how to actually construct what I envisioned and I was paralyzed by the “what if I can’t pull this off” fear. I also owned no power tools (turns out Lowes has a great selection 😉 )
Luckily for me, one of my co-workers is an avid woodworker. I had been talking about what I wanted to do off and on in my office for weeks, but I always had an “excuse” for why I couldn’t build what I wanted. Finally, my co-worker said, “why don’t you just try. If you don’t like it, rip it out and put your chair back in.” And with that I was determined to start my project.
I showed him my draft idea and explained how I envisioned my space. I wanted rolling carts that could serve as bookcases underneath my bench seat, but that could also roll out to serve as extra seating when I had company over. I wanted storage compartments under the couch in the “dead space” and I wanted the couch to convert to platform for a twin size air mattress.
He helped me refine the design and then was kind enough to help me engineer a more structurally sound plan. He even went so far as to draft plans in Sketch-Up, which if you have never seen, is an amazing drafting tool that provides 3D renderings and in my case a cut sheet to help you decided what you need to buy to complete the project. This is what my idea looked like before I started.
Once I had the plan, I still had to gather enough courage to get started. It took a few more weeks of pep talks from my co-worker and then I decided what the heck. I went to Lowes, bought my tools and got started.
I sorta splurged and bought one big set of tools that includes two rechargeable batteries. It was a perfect set for this project.
The following pictures are what took shape in my house over the next week. Here is your warning, I am like a little kid who just learned to ride a bike, what follows is me “showing-off” my new skills.):
I started out with lots of 2×4’s and a square. This was certainly a learning process, but I was able to ask friends for tips and watch a lot of YouTube videos to keep me on track.
The tricky part was making the cubes so they were structurally sound enough to hold a person’s body weight, but also capable of holding all my books! As most of you know, books are a really big part of what makes my tiny house feels like a home!
I wanted to to have extra storage underneath my couch, so utilizing an L-shape design not only gave me a more functional sitting area, but it also opened up some space for storage.
This is is what it looked like framed up, and part way done.
And this is the final result!
I have two black rolling carts full of books, and room for my cookie jar! I couldn’t be happier with my project. I was even able to find relatively inexpensive outdoor cushions on sale at Target that worked perfectly for my space.
And this is what it looks like when I turn it into a twin bed for a guest. (Please ignore the bad lighting! It was late and my niece and I were ready for bed!)
Phase 2 of my design will include me sewing new slipcovers and coordinating throw pillow covers, but for now this is great.
Total construction time: 7 days
Total cost (including outdoor cushions on sale at Target): ~$375
Satisfaction/happiness: through the roof!
I am thrilled with my project and I actually find that I use my couch more than my chair, despite my initial dread of uncomfortable built-ins. I have even had my first overnight guest. According to my niece, it was perfect!
What I learned from this project, is that no matter how much you plan, you may have things you want to change in your house. The good news is you can make renovations that will meet your changing needs. It may require some creativity, the help of friends and possibly learning some new skills, but it will be worth it!
But be warned, once you make one renovation and master power tools, your house will become one big opportunity for change! Tiny office/storeroom, you may be next!
Until next time, Dream Big!