These are the very first steps to making my eco mecca, tiny cabin, chemical free, healthy home a place where I can not only grow my own food, have animals and be in the woods - but also have a functioning earth friendly home to sleep, cook, bathe and blog in. The little 432 sq foot cabin I am moving to doesn't have a bathroom, so yesterday I spent some time pretending to be a architecturally savvy woman and drew the totally 80's art deco looking floor plan above! I am sooo proud of it.
I am changing the open kitchen area (pictured above where the oval rug is) around to be more efficient in a small space while including a bathroom. Now anyone with even slight chemical sensativities or allergies knows renovations are about the yuckiest thing to have to do, and planning these to be utterly chemical free & healthy to breathe can baffle the best of us - but I have finally gotten to a point where I have found there is a way to do nearly everything without causing off gas problems into your home.
Caulk is a big yuck-o no no for many sensitive people, so I went ahead and eliminated the need for caulk in the bathroom by choosing a clawfoot tub, stand up pedestal sink, and a composting toilet which only needs to be bolted into the floor. (I found the tub for cheap in the local classifieds and the composting toilet is from Nature's Head.)
Flooring can be a huge challenge too, but for me I try to uncomplicate it by always choosing hardwood floors for every room. No matter what, even the bathroom. I decided against tile because the grout in the past out gassed hardcore and would make me dizzy. For this cabin I am putting in (super on sale cheap as sin) locally milled hickory wide plank floors that have no finish on them, and are nailed in (no gluing required!) The finish I will be putting on myself will be a mixutre of mostly walnut oil and beeswax. Heavy on the walnut oil more then the wax, which will be melted in a small quantity.
Size matters, when it comes to a house - the smaller your house the less of any kind of material you'll have to buy. This would help people avoid the toxic cheap stuff and purchase the better eco friendly stuff for renovations... although I have found that nearly everything you need can be found through craigslist or on sale locally. I also found an eco friendly fire retardant free insulation that is SUPER cheap and easy to install... check out Innovative Insulation Inc. here! My first choice would be sheeps wool insulation, but the expense is really intense... so radiant barrier insulation is a good chemical free alternative.
Plumbing can be a big challenge too, many people still believe they have to use PVC and plumbing glue - both of which are toxic. PVC stays carcinogenic for the entire life span of the pipe, so like who wants to drink that water??? Ways to avoid plumbing glue and PVC plastic are to use copper pipe and/or the piping called PEX. Pex uses clamps to connect pipes and doesnt crack during winter freezes like PVC does... no glue, less repair = better health and more money saved long term.
My drinking and bathing water is spring water that is gravity fed, down into the house. Since the poop will be composted by the composting toilet, there is only a need for a grey water system to catch the sink & tub water. I don't use soaps of any kind, so my system will be very pure.
Leftovers can be used to make other things around the house. For instance, there is always left over wood flooring, which can be used to make shelves, repair walls, make a kitchen counter top, or bathroom shelf for holding my toothbrush.
The space in the kitchen will basically be divided in such a way that instead of spreading out across the whole area, the back 6 feet will become a tiny bathroom, then the new wall (made only of wood) for the bathroom will allow for the kitchen to be made into a smaller 'V' or 'L' shape fitting into the corner of the wall, and storage space can sprawl upward instead of outward.
Anyone have any other ideas, suggestions, or links to pictures of tiny spaces made more efficient? I need all the visual help I can get.
PS- if ya' eva' want to get paint for your home, make sure it's 100% chemical free Milk Paint!