We're certainly not tiny home experts, but we have been doing it for a while now and we've noticed there are a few things we wouldn't want to be without. This isn't to say that we couldn't do without them, I'd just rather not!
Here's the list:
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I swear I talk about this toilet more than I talk about my kids! We love our compost toilet, it's simple and easy to use and effective. When we made our tiny home plan, we knew we'd want to get a compost toilet to make it easier to find a place to park. Not to mention, RV toilets aren't all that glamorous anyway. I'd rather deal with the trials of a compost toilet than a black tank!
When we started our renovations, we found that the hot water tank in the RV was original. Meaning it was 26 years old and rusted through. It was a 6 gallon tank, which means it was enough water for a 3 minute shower. And then we'd have to wait for the tank to fill up and heat again. It was taking up precious cupboard space and we couldn't guarantee it was safe. We pulled it out and began looking for a replacement. We had tossed around the idea of a tankless (also known as on-demand) water heater, but figured it was out of our budget. When we realized we'd need to replace the tank anyway, we reevaluated and found our tank for around $325, less than a traditional tank would cost. The one that we got can be installed on the outside of the bus, uses no electricity (2 D batteries to ignite and propane to run). We have as much hot water as we have propane and it's worked wonderfully for us! In the 6 months we've been using it, we've gone through 2 barbecue sized propane tanks.
When we first bought the bus, we weren't sure if we would keep the washer/dryer that it came with. It takes up a large cupboard in the kitchen and we wondered if we would use the space more than the machine. Now, I can't imagine being without it! I know we could do laundry at the laundromat or family or friends' houses, but I'm so glad we don't have to! The machine is smaller than a regular machine and does take longer, but we're usually able to keep up on laundry if we're consistent about doing a couple loads every day. If we fall behind, we'll do a load at my parent's house.
4. Kid's Bedroom
This is something that both Austin and I felt very strongly about when we started tossing around ideas, we saw lots of RVs where the kids slept on the pull out couch or on a bunk in the living area and we knew that wouldn't work for us. It's important for me that the kids have their own space for sleeping and playing, so that we aren't always tripping over their toys or tiptoeing around when they're asleep. It's worked great for us! We honestly rarely miss having a "bedroom". Once the kids are in bed, we have the house to ourselves.
5. Tiny Furniture
We found the tiniest couch ever from Wayfair. It's not the most comfortable, but it's perfect for our living room! The dining room table that we have is great because it folds up to take up very little space, or the leaf folds out and there's room for all of us. Our IKEA stool can be used in several different ways (step stool, chair, desk, kids' table) and both kids sleep in toddler sized beds to conserve space. We did our best to pick out the smallest of each item we have to make everything useable for us!
It gets pretty stuffy in here with all of us breathing and moving around. If we do any cooking, wash dishes or pull out a load of warm laundry - the windows quickly fog up. We bought our dehumidifier just a couple months ago and it's made a huge difference. Mold is a big concern because of Abram's allergies and respiratory difficulties. He's quite allergic to dust mites, and keeping the humidity low is the best way to fight them. We have our dehumidifier on during the night and when we notice the windows fogging up. We got a pretty heavy duty model for our square footage, but we felt like we'd rather go big right away. We're glad we did! The humidity in the bus is often over 70% when we turn it on, and it keeps it right around 45% very comfortably.
Since we took out the propane furnace and heating system that was in our RV when we bought it, we had to figure out a good heating solution. I did lots of research to try to figure out what kind of heater would be safest, give off the most heat and use the smallest amount of space and energy. In the end we settled on two difference heaters, one for the kids' room and one in the living area. A friend of ours brought a couple space heaters over when we were first moving, to sell in our garage sale. Turns out, space heaters don't sell very well on a hot spring day. This ended up working out well for us because when I pulled them out to list them on Craigslist this fall, I realized they were very similar to the ones were planning to buy! We've been able to stay very warm and cozy with the two space heaters and if they're both running on low, they don't pull very much energy either.
8. Outdoor Space
We have a really wonderful place that we're parked at. Our landlords worked quickly to fence in our entire space and it's been so nice to let the kids have free reign of it. Even in the rain and chilly weather, they often spend time playing outside every day. In the summer we spent more time outside than in, we ate most meals outside and the kids spent hours playing in the yard while I worked at the picnic table. Living in our tiny space would be much, much more difficult if we didn't have such a nice outdoor space to complement it.