Tiny Home Tuesday: The Expo

I promise I won’t post about the tiny home thing very often, since this is a horse blog after all. It’s kind of a big deal for me though, preparing to have a tiny home built, and then subsequently moving into it and living in it. Plus technically it’s going on a horse farm, so… it’s relevant. Either way, when I do post anything about the house, I’ll limit it to Tuesdays only and clearly title it so that you don’t have to read about it if you don’t want to. Sound fair?

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The Tumbleweed – that’s our model!

On Sunday the SO and I went to the Tiny Home Expo here in Austin. Not for any real specific reason, I was mostly just curious and wanted to take a look at what was there to see if there were things I hadn’t though of, or cool gadgets/gizmos on display. The expo was, overall, pretty underwhelming. It did have a fair number of tiny home models on display, which was good, but nothing much else worth looking at. Some of the booths didn’t even make any damn sense, like all the douchey overly perfumed people trying to sell me “instant face lift”. WTF? Clearly they are NOT understanding the type of people that tend to want tiny houses, because, well… we ain’t that. People that are looking to live tiny or rustic or minimalist prooooobably aren’t gonna buy your 10-product face care package from Mr. Walking-Axe-Body-Spray-Commercial. We came here to see creative storage solutions and compost toilets and collapsible fire pits. Just saying.

Anyway, having all the tiny home models there in the convention center was the saving grace of the expo, and made it worth the trip. We got to look inside everything from a hunting cabin to a shipping container home (by far the most godawful thing I’ve ever seen in my life) to a plastic dome yurt thing to a converted school bus to a “bohemian bungalow” to a gypsy wagon. It was not lacking in variety.

I’ll be honest, I kind of loved all the kooky details in the gypsy wagon. The colors and patterns aren’t my style but you cant deny it had A LOT of character.

The builder that we’re using was also there with two models, one a towable tiny home and then one park model RV, which happened to be the same model that we picked out – The Tumbleweed. It was finished out quite differently from what we’ve picked, but it was really good to see it again and stand in it again and confirm, without a doubt, that this was for sure our favorite. It really wasn’t even a contest, we still both love the layout and the space. It’s definitely bigger and lot more open than your usual tiny house.

We also took the opportunity to do some things we hadn’t thought to do when we saw the model a few months ago, like take measurements for the area where the couch goes. I wasn’t sure what would fit, but we’ve got 84+” to work with so I think we’ll be able to find a smaller sectional without a problem. We also got to see some of the upgrades that we had picked out but weren’t in the model we saw at the showroom, like the stainless steel farm sink and appliances, and the front load stacked washer and dryer. This one had all of those upgrades, and I loved them.

I also like how they did this kitchen island, which is different from standard. The front half is cabinet space and the back half is recessed so you can fit stools or a bench under it.

This is the video tour of the one they had at the expo. We won’t be doing a back deck, since it means sacrificing a closet and a dresser in the bedroom, but otherwise the layout is the same and it’s got the same size front porch that ours will.

What stuck out to me most, though, in walking through all these models, is that what I really seemed to be drawn to were the little pops of character. For the most part I’m boring, I don’t like big walls of color or tons of bright accents or anything that looks busy. For those who don’t remember from the first tiny house post, we picked out a quite GRAY interior. Which I like, but now I’m second guessing a few parts of what we picked out, like the cabinets and the backsplash.

I do still want the place to have character. Seeing the unique tile accents, or the stained glass panels, or the little pops of color, or even the super fun and unique drawer pulls… I loved those touches. It gave the spaces a little bit of personality and made them feel less cookie cutter, less bland.

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was a wee bit obsessed with these handpainted knobs
Stained Glass - Vintage Retreat by Hill Country Tiny Houses
LOVE the little stained glass bathroom window

This is perhaps the first time in my life that I’ve wished I was a little more girly. I have  no eye for design, no concept of what will work or what won’t. I don’t really know how to go about adding these little things that will give the space some charm without making it look like… well, a gypsy wagon.

I went a little bonkers googling things on Sunday night, and just flipping through Wayfair to try to understand what I even like. I’ve never paid that much attention, to tell you the truth. I found some really cool handpainted knobs that I’m wondering if maybe we could incorporate into the bathroom or something…

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I love how all of these are different but similar

I’ve always loved stained glass but never even thought about putting it in the house until I saw the accents in a few of these tiny houses. Then I was like OMG WE COULD DO STAINED GLASS DOORS. OR A TRANSOM WINDOW. But… thinking that might be a bit much and/or awfully permanent, so maybe I could hang a nice panel on the kitchen window or bathroom window or something and get the same effect?

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Image result for stained glass panel blue

Then I realized we’d also have to pick out rugs, a couple counter height chairs for the island, porch furniture, a coffee table, and a couch… at which point I pretty much just curled up in fetal position and gave up. Thank god this place is only 399 square feet and requires very few items of decor or furniture.

Basically, I came away from the expo feeling like my mind had been opened up a lot, but that quickly morphed into feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed. I’m astonishingly bad at being able to imagine what things will actually look like in the space, and whether or not I’ll even like it. Looking at all this stuff just made me think that I should hire a decorator to help us, but I’m 150% sure there’s not room in the budget for that. And I’m scared they’d just put knick-knacks and shit all over the place anyway, which makes me cringe. I mostly just need guidance. Someone with a good eye and some creativity that can tell me what to buy, or like… present me with just a couple options to pick from. That would be so much easier.

Advice? Ideas? Words of wisdom? I’m all ears.

44 thoughts on “Tiny Home Tuesday: The Expo

  1. Laughing, bc those handpainted grey knobs are in my kitchen. And yes, theyre great.

    I tell my clients all the time – leave your “base” aka walls, cabinet colors, backsplash, flooring etc neutral. Stick to your light greys, whites, and taupes.

    THEN do all the color you want on accessories – knobs, artwork, pots, throw pillows, dishes, countertop storage, towels, and so on. If you get bored with it in 2 years, change it.

    What you dont want to do is pick very trendy or heavy color that is permanent. Youll tire of it or it will go out of style – redoing countertops, backsplash, tile, etc isnt easy or cheap. Paint isnt too hard to redo, esp since its a small space.

    Hope that helps.

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    1. I love those knobs!

      And yeah, we’re doing a very gray/white base, the problem with the accessories is that I just… have no idea what to pick, because I have no idea what will look good.

      The space is small enough to where there isn’t really any artwork, and only a few dishes, no extra counter space, etc. So there’s not a lot to pick, really. Still.. I have not a damn clue.

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  2. Make the internet your expo. Literally just start rapid fire googling tiny homes with key words like “modern” and “rustic” and “grey rustic” and “farmhouse” and “decor”, and then save pictures of the stuff you like and basically try to make your brain copy and paste them into your own home. Hell, even if you have pictures of your new place you can google certain decor and photoshop them into the picture.

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  3. Last year hubby and I could not agree on a color to repaint our house. It has an open floor plan and we couldn’t come to a decision that made both of us happy. Plus the layout was giving us trouble. I finally caved and hired a designer. She helped us pick a paint scheme (that we love) and not only gave us multiple layout options using our own mismatched furniture, she offered us suggestions if we want to replace items in the future. Best few hundred I’ve ever spent. I did shop around and specifically went with someone whose business tag basically said she did anything from massive remodels to picking a room color. She never made me feel inferior due to the small scale of our job or that we weren’t interested in buying all new furniture. So they are out there if you decide you want a bit of help! As exciting as it can be, it’s also overwhelming – even in a tiny house!

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      1. One of my best friends is a designer and she did my entire house renovation design, from California! If you want her info I’d be happy to share! Plus, she gets the “active” lifestyle and she made a ton of amazing suggestions that make our house more livable with 11 dogs, a cat and a filthy mechanic husband.

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  4. Love the tiny house updates and I feel your pain with not being given the gift of decorating. I have lived in my current house for 8 years and all I have done is paint the kitchen. I really just need to hire someone.

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  5. I’m sooooo much like you. I’m hesitant to add any color and I LOATH knickknacks. The only things I love on my counters or table are fresh flowers. Makes me feel fancy and I’ll allow those bright colors. Otherwise, all neutrals, mostly white and gray. If I want to be bold (which is rare) I can add bright pillows on couch, throw blanket, curtains, etc…. I’m more into texture and pretty wood grain. All of this being said…. I ain’t got no design sense. Soooooo maybe don’t listen to any of this 😂

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  6. You crack me up! Your writing style is so refreshing, and I am actually interested in the tiny house topic. Thanks for making my morning.

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  7. Pinterest is your friend. Find tiny home interiors that you like, pin a whole collection, go back after a couple of weeks and pick out the common colors and themes. You might even get lucky and find an interior you want to copy pretty closely. You can’t go wrong with neutral wall, floors, cabinets, and then accent with rugs, curtains, drawer pulls, and decorative items. Again, Pinterest is your friend because you can save stuff easily and Pinterest will also show you things like what you have searched for. Good luck and looking forward to updates!

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  8. By all means , post away about the tiny house … you can always include a few pictures of the boys pulling faces 🙂
    As for rugs/floor coverings, one thing to consider, a busy design is less likely to show dirt/stains etc. I live on the east coast and oriental designs are popular. You should be able to find some neat Southwest designs without going hole-hog on the handwoven Native rugs.

    I like stain glass too. Not a girly-girl either and my mother always said we would make good ‘inferior designers’ (ha!).
    So if you see something you like, see if you can get a print in a poster size and hang it on the wall to stare at a bit, or just go for it.

    M in NC
    … long-time-lurker

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  9. Probably more than you want to spend, but a lovesac sectional might be a great solution in that space! I love the idea of pops of color. I tend to add them in places that are easy to swap out (kitchen towels, throw pillows, rugs) versus more permanent fixtures where they might start to look too trendy or worn over time.

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  10. I would think you could use the same “smile” rule used for purging – if you look at something and it makes your heart smile, then it stays – if not, it goes. So if you look at something for the house – like the cool gray knobs – and it makes your heart smile, then add them! Who cares if it fits some designer scheme or not? You’re going to be limited to the number of “things” anyway, so make the ones you choose count to make you happy when you see them.

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  11. Be sure to check out http://www.ruggable.com. I’m hooked! Washable beautiful rugs that are reasonably priced and you can swap out the covers, leaving the Velcro base down and stick a new ruggable on top. Genius. We have 3 now and they’re great with the dogs and detritus that come home from the barn.

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  12. Still in the “decorating” phase almost a year after building my small house. (partly because after doing the entire paint job, I am loathe to punch any holes in the beautiful pristine walls lol) Time can be your friend – living in a space for a while makes those decisions easier.

    I found looking through sites like Overstock was good for ideas and also occasional bargains. (hours away from any real shopping experiences here) They will definitely throw you the bigger coupon codes pretty quick if you leave things in your cart…

    Love the gypsy van model. Didn’t they used to pull those around with horses? ;D

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  13. I tend to do more pops of color in non-permanent things like towels and bedding in case I want to switch things out or occasionally have a different design – i.e. the dachshund quilts and duvets and then my turquoise accented quilts and duvets. I’m not the best on interior design, but I know the type of style I like (rustic wood) so all of my photo frames are different colors of rustic wood with or without peeling paint and then all of my photos generally have that pop of color. I love turquoise so most of my stuff is wood-looking with turquoise accents. Nothing overpowering. Personally I like the look of accent walls buuuuuuut I don’t think I’d end up doing it for myself. But I agree with others and just browse around the internet or Pinterest, and then save the photos that have stuff you like. Sometimes I like to find those websites that let you customize your cabinets or whatnot, and use that to get an idea of what something might look like, even if it isn’t quite the right colors. Amazon is perfect for this too (as I’m sure you know). I bet they even have stained glass you could hang in the window, so that it’s removable in case you want to put it away for a while. Hopefully that helps!

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  14. I agree, its far easier to decorate once you have unpacked and settled in, Looking at an empty house is overwhelming, wait until your stuff is in there and see what pallettes are naturally coming together with the stuff you already own. Then go to a physical store and get some easily-changeable pieces (vases, pillows, throws, hand towels) and see what works in the space. You might find that once you move in you need far less decor than you think.

    Don’t be afraid to return something that just doesn’t work. I bought 4 colors of the same model of towels at target just to find the right taupe. Didn’t even have to unfold the 3 shades that I didn’t like, once I saw them in the bathroom light, the 3 I didn’t like went right in the bag and got returned. Sometimes your house has to ‘try stuff on’.

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  15. No such thing as too much tiny house content! I’m obsessed with them and we were seriously considering building one on our property.

    On color – I suck at it too. I have no real theme, I just pick things that I like. I’m neck-deep in bathroom renovations right now to do a navy/gray theme and agonizing over tile.

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  16. I have hung stained glass in front of a window to give the effect without the cost/permanence, and I am happy with the result. I can send a pic if you want. 😁

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  17. You can definitely throw some pops of navy in there with the gray you’ve chosen. I keep my walls boring white in my house, and add color with the decor. Like an area rug and pillows on the couch. Those are things you can find affordably and change easily if you decide you don’t like them anymore. I did get a little crazy with my green countertops, but I still love them, so no regrets there.
    I really enjoy these posts so feel free to keep writing them! I’m clearly not the minority.

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  18. Yes, Pinterest is where I go to look for ideas, or even just to narrow things down, Also like the Paint it Beautiful fb group when considering updating old furniture/cabinets and Emily Henderson’s design blog. You got this, girl!

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  19. Build boards on Pinterest or Houzz and share them with people that either have an eye for decor, or have done something you like. Ask them to share ideas to your board as well.

    I adore interior design and boards (pinterest/Houzz) are super helpful for me when I am helping a friend. We can collaborate and I can get a better feel for what they like/don’t.

    The friend I’m helping right now gets overwhelmed really easily with all the ideas/options, etc…so we just remember that it doesn’t all have to be done at once and that decor is an ever-evolving thing that you can do one piece at a time. (I actually start getting antsy when it feels like there is nothing left to do…time to move to the next place and start over. 🙂 )

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  20. Look up colour wheels and colour theory. I have a colour theme for my bedroom so I can easily pick out linen that won’t clash with my headboard (it’s a very particular shade of cream). Usually you pick your background colours (for walls, furnishings) then accessorise with accent colours. Grey + navy + mustard is a nice combination, or grey + navy + jade, or even grey + navy + hot pink 😀
    You can even take a fabric swatch or paint sample shopping so that you can check that things match with your background colours.

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  21. I love stained glass art…and there are tons of smaller pieces that you van hang in the window. So you get some of the effect of sun shining through a stained glass window, but you can change it up or get rid of it if you don’t like it anymore.
    I am all for very neutral colours. I live in light grey/white and light wood furniture with white walls and a wooden floor. Nearly every accent colour goes with this. A splash of turquoise, bright blues or reds, especially deeper tones…
    Your wardrobe is mostly blues, so you obviously like the colour and I think your SO liked red? Throw some pillows on the couch, maybe a carpet with some colour, those knobs in different blues on one cabinet, red on another…brightly coloured dish towels, some small posters on the walls..do you know junique or artbox? Lots of great posters.
    I also recommend looking up Maisons du Monde, https://www.us.maisonsdumonde.com. I like them better than Wayfair for accessoires and lamps, etc.
    You could also display your ribbons…there are quite a few people who turn these into art.
    As for ideas-interior design blogs, magazines…Maybe a few episodes of Tiny House Nation on Netflix? Just browsing can give you great ideas or make you realize what you like and what’s a no-go.

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  22. My advice is to just relax about it and give it time. I’ve left entire rooms of my house functional but “undecorated” for months and years until something inspires me. Sometimes it’s a painting and sometimes it’s something I see on Pinterest, but every time it happens it’s like a bolt of lightning hits me and suddenly I can see the way I want the room to look in my head, and it all goes quickly from there. I also won’t bring anything into my house that I don’t absolutely love (say what you will about the Konmari thing, but that whole “only bring it into your house if it sparks joy” thing really works for me), so interior designer knick knacks that look good for the sake of looking good are not my jam.

    Also – I’ve interviewed multiple interior designers and haven’t found one I jived with enough to pay yet. IMO, probably more trouble than it’s worth.

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    1. I do the same thing….although I can’t leave something completely undecorated…I just start with ‘something that works’ and then wait for that inspiration moment for it to finally be finished. I know a room or area is “done” when I stop looking for things for it.

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    2. Right now I’m mostly concerned about the stuff I have to decide on in advance – tile, floor, cabinets, tile. The little accents I don’t care too much about, but I do want to think them through well enough that I set myself up with the right “base” to work from.

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      1. I think you have a good base, if I remember correctly. Should be neutral enough that you can make changes in the color pops to whatever you want. That’s the flexibility you will appreciate in a tiny space: changing the whole feel by just changing a few things.

        To make it feel warm and lived in, be sure to put some things on walls…otherwise you will just draw the eye down to the furniture, cabinets, etc and it will feel bottom heavy. You don’t have a lot of wall space, just be strategic with what you have.

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  23. Pick a color. An accent color. Blue. Green. Raspberry. Navy. A little pop of a bold color really goes a long way, like the under part of the island. And then as you see things you like (knobs, rugs, stained glass, chairs) if that have that color (a little or a lot) they will pretty much work together. Be careful with lots of busy prints, but I feel that won’t really be an issue for you. Nothing is permanent. You can paint over walls, replace rugs, put a throw blanket on your couch. Don’t be scared. 🙂

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    1. Lolz I’ve been thinking about an accent color for months and haven’t settled on one. The bigger concern at this point is picking the exterior and interior colors and tile/floor/cabinets.

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  24. Lots of good advice I won’t bother repeating here, but for knobs specifically – don’t forget how damn easy they are to swap out. I swap knobs out on my furniture all the time when I get bored. Check out Etsy for cute ones too. Ditto for throw pillows.

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  25. You might learn to love color, because grey can get boring pretty fast. Our entire house is grey -greyish flooring, grey walls, greyish carpet, greyish cabinets. Minus our quartz counters (hellow purple accents in there!). SO MUCH GREY.

    I also have no idea what shit will look like in the space, so Pinterest is my friend. There is still like hardly any color in our house though hah.

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  26. I love tiny houses. Maybe coming from generations of pack rats it just seems so minimalist and refreshing. What didn’t you like about the container house? I’ve seen some cool ones with wood slats between the metal that looked cool.
    I agree just keep googling til you found what you like. Our last house didn’t look nice til we staged to sell. There are people who are just better at organizing and styling stuff. I’m too all over the place in what I like, it kills my ability to make decisions.

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  27. Ahh tiny houses! So great. I’m hoping to get one someday.

    My dad actually does stained glass, and they’ve got a couple of pieces hanging in windows. It adds a lovely touch without anything Big and Permanent. Other than that everyone in my family tends to go really low key/neutral. Between my oil painter grandmother and my quilter/crocheter mom, we’ve got plenty of decorative things to go on walls or furniture in our various houses.

    I think your gray base will be perfect! Easy to dress up with softgoods, art, pictures, decorative flourishes, knick knacks, etc but gray in that small a space that won’t feel sterile or eerie while you settle in.

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