This Farmer’s Home Consists of a Tiny House, Small Trailer, and Gorgeous Garden

This Farmer’s Home Consists of a Tiny House, Small Trailer, and Gorgeous Garden

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Bedrooms
Square feet
120
Sq ft
120

Name: Christiana Paoletti, head farmer at The Backyard Farm Company, and Kodiak Drewry, freelance videographer and drone operator
Location: San Geronimo, California
Size: 120 square feet, plus a 16-foot trailer
Years Lived In: 1.5 years, owned

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Our tiny home is twofold, consisting of a 120-square-foot cabin and a 16-foot Shasta trailer situated on two acres of redwood ridge-top in Marin County, California. The trailer is a 2015 remake of a retro model, and we lived in it together full time during our first year together as a couple while building the cabin. It took one long summer (spring through October) to complete the tiny house, chipping away at it over weekends and after work. My partner has some background in construction, but it was a big learning curve for me to keep up with him and get more involved each step of the way, from framing to roofing to furnishing. I learned a lot, and the days of teamwork that ended covered in sawdust and paint really brought us closer together. Now the cabin serves as our bedroom, living room, and Kodiak’s office, and the trailer can be just the kitchen, bathroom (we added an outdoor shower, can’t recommend it enough), and my office. We both spend some days working from home, so it’s nice to have separate spaces to be productive.

I’m very minimalist with my possessions, while my partner wants to have all of the latest gadgets, but somehow it works out and we’ve created a home that feels cozy and tidy for both of us. The loft is a sleepy sanctuary, with its soothing color palette and leafy view; it is satisfying to feel closer to the unimaginably tall redwood trees and hear the rustling of their branches as the only sound at night. We love how quiet and peaceful it is at our mini forest retreat, and no matter where we travel, we always come back with a deep sense of gratitude for home. We go hiking, biking, and running along the public trails behind our house every week, enjoying coastal fog some mornings and baking afternoons all summer. Occasionally we go foraging for mushrooms and edible flowers or walk down to the small town saloon in the valley below.

We’re outdoorsy, self-reliant people, and we’re having fun using this opportunity to live close to the land while saving up money to build a bigger house on the property. We try to maximize our outdoor space as much as possible, with hillside decks, a roomy fire-pit circle, rope swings, and sunset benches that make it possible to have family and friends over often. As a farmer for The Backyard Farm Co., growing and sharing food is an essential part of my life that I bring home with me. I love to have people over for big al fresco dinners under our patio string lights to prove you don’t need a full kitchen to create abundant meals! We built a bigger garden this year in the sunniest spot we could find, milling the Douglas fir planter beds ourselves to keep it super low cost, so that now I can grow most of our greens from home, and bask at the sunny picnic table while I plan out where to plant terraced flowers, raspberries, and other perennials for future years.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Earthy, simple, and inviting with neutral colors with lots of natural light.

Inspiration: Modern rustic

Favorite Element: The ceiling is hands down our favorite. It’s finished with cedar boards that we stained white, which does a wonderful job of lightening up the space and making it feel taller than it is, while still showing off the beautiful swirling wood grain. I even have a favorite board!

Biggest Challenge: Our door is one of the largest elements and biggest challenges in the tiny house. We decided to add a larger door late in the building process and had to cut a larger rough opening for it in the wall. Sealing the wood door with epoxy to protect against the weather was a project, and I wish we had stained it a darker color to match the rest of the house. But we don’t regret the added light and indoor/outdoor feel it provides, and we installed a special cast iron hook on the deck so that we can prop it open on nice days!

Proudest DIY: The beam supporting the loft is one of our proudest features. We milled it ourselves from a Douglas fir tree, leaving it a little rough around the edges for a rustic textured look, and there are still sap stains on it. It’s set at a rather strange angle, giving just enough room for stairs on one wall and the window on the opposite wall. We had originally planned for it to go straight across, but the angle is what makes it possible to have anything more than a bed in the loft. It feels rewarding to have created such a structural element from the very beginning.

Biggest Indulgence: Kodiak’s desk set up is probably the most indulgent corner of the house, with its oversized sound system and LED wall lights to match. His big rolling desk chair sometimes feels a little out of proportion, but hey, when you work long editing hours it’s important to be comfortable and have as much of a proper studio workspace as possible! Plus, it makes for good movie nights.

Best Advice: Keep costs down by using recycled building materials and hand-me-down furniture. We chose to really go with the flow on this and build the house with reused elements, which I see as the origins of its uniqueness. The burnt cedar paneling (which we did by hand using a blowtorch and a wire brush) on the front of the house and the dark bamboo flooring are leftover from one of my partner’s previous construction jobs, and we’re very happy with the way they blend into the dark redwood forest around us. All the windows are recycled, which is an easy way to save.

Most of the furniture is hand-me-down, the pull-out couch already had several patches in the fabric, but it’s the perfect small size with storage underneath and we keep it cozy with plenty of woven blankets. The dresser was Kodiak’s from childhood, and my closet storage bins are the same ones I took with me to college. We’ll keep these things for now until we are ready to upgrade, and it’s kept our initial costs down.

What’s your best home secret? It’s definitely not a secret, lighting is everything! Small, dim spaces can be unbearable, but so can overly florescent rooms, and we were very conscious of avoiding harsh blue light in favor of warmer tones (the same strategy we used for choosing an interior white paint). While big windows and natural sunlight are our daytime strategy, remote controlled fairy lights, dimmable LEDs, and Edison bulbs provide ample backup options. They make it possible to create moods for every situation, and keep us cheerful when working long nights or relaxing before bed.

Resources

PAINT & COLORS

  • Interior — Benjamin Moore – Regal Select Flat Finish 547, a subtle warm white

LIVING ROOM

  • Dimmable Adhesive LED Strip Lights — Home Depot
  • LED music synced wall lights — Nano Leaf
  • Desk, corner shelf, and bookcase/staircase are homemade
  • Magnetic Wall Shelf — Artifox
  • Pull-out couch with storage — World Market

BEDROOM

  • Mattress — Puffy (we tried nectar first and switched to this one because it’s softer). Also, don’t put your mattress directly on the floor; we use a string of wooden bed slats from IKEA to keep it off the ground and increase air circulation to avoid mold.
  • Sheepskin — Full Belly Farm, they sell them at farmers markets around the Bay Area
  • Fabric Organizing Bins — Target
  • Tasseled Hamper Basket — Forever 21
  • Mirror and Easel Stand — World Market
  • Remote Control Copper Fairy Lights — Toatronics

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