Former police officer and rock wall gym owner – and current tiny house enthusiast – Art Cormier says he had a very pragmatic reason for choosing to live in a tiny home. He was living, he says on his Tiny SIP House website, in a standard-sized living space, but he was only using a small portion of that. Being practical and a would-be builder, he simply decided to construct a home that was suited to his needs. Voilà – a tiny house!
After an online search, he started, he said, with the basic layout of a Jay Shafer tiny house known as Walden, found at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. From there, he made two fundamental decisions that define his tiny house project. First, he chose to use as much recycled material as he could find, which is in evidence in the antique cypress and pine boards that he used for the exterior siding, the flooring, the trim and other structural components.
Secondly, Cormier decided to go with SIP wall construction, which is a type of pre-made structure that is, essentially, a plywood and polystyrene sandwich. SIP stands for Structural Insulated Panels, which provides for insulation and wall support.
Let's take a look at Cormier's tiny house.
What you see above is all "antique cypress" siding, says Cormier, who lives in Louisiana, where cypress is commonly used for its resistance to insects and rot. On the other hand, it evidently holds up very well, given the cypress Cormier used is over 100 years old.
Inside, he says, the flooring is all "antique pine," while the tongue-and-grove walls and ceiling are new cypress.
Like many items in a tiny house, this couch serves various functions. First, it's a couch. Second, it folds out flat as a guest bed. Third, it has storage space underneath.
Above is a view from the bedroom loft. Cormier says he moved from a standard-sized house to this tiny house, because he was only using a small portion of his former dwelling space. It looks like this one isn't too crowded, either. Maybe he over-built this one.
Above is a view of the kitchen from the bathroom. Cormier said he is waiting to see what shelves he might need before building them -- a pragmatic approach.
But the highlight of this kitchen is the one-piece steel counter that runs the length of the kitchen -- a six-foot-long, easy to clean counter top.
Every tiny house seems to have a moment of unabashed ingenuity. This one has this ultra light weight ladder that folds by lifting one side of it, forcing it to collapse. This allows Cormier to set it aside when he doesn't need it.
This photo shows the steel counter and bright idea No. 2, the Japanese-styled paper door for the bathroom.
The benefits are a very light door that's easy to slide open and a surface that allows light through, keeping the bathroom lit well enough for most purposes.
That's a full 30-inch shower, says Cormier, who, like many tiny house owners, has become such an enthusiast that he has taken to writing a blog. His columns cover everything from bathroom vents to doing laundry in a tiny house.
Having built his own home and spending time in Louisiana, he knows a lot about construction, living small "and moisture," he says, alluding to the state's all but permanent humidity problem.
Cormier is also quick to explain the reasons he went with SIP construction boards for his house. If pressed, he can also vouch for the material's strength, as the house was once visited by Hurricane Isaac, which whipped through the state in August 2012. "Isaac is not proving to be a major storm, thankfully," he wrote, while praising the insulated walls that kept the house quiet while fury was having a field day outside.