Thursday, December 10, 2015

Inside Uncle Lesters Looney Bin, Part 1. The Downstairs

 
 As school winds down, I have 2 more written finals, one oral final in Italian, (Mama Mia!) a large multimedia project and an essay, I find myself aching to get busy with the completion of the inside of our grain bin house. Which, by the way...has a new name. A couple of weeks ago Keith was at a family reunion trying to explain to his elderly Uncle Lester, what we were living in and why. Uncle Lester's response? "You're living in a Looney Bin?" Actually, it's a grain bin, but Looney Bin has more charm don't you think?
 
. As a refresher, our inside living space is a 21 foot diameter repurposed grain bin which we bought for $1500 and had moved to our farm. It provides us with a bit less than 700 square feet of living space divided into one open kitchen/dining/living area downstairs, a small bedroom, very small office and library space upstairs. We heat entirely by wood, do not own a dryer, microwave or dishwasher.
 
So, join me for a walk about inside
 
The downstairs is 50% complete. Walls are painted, the concrete floor has been sealed, most of the lighting and plumbing is complete and we have furniture. The dining area looks like this:
 
 
Soon the stairs will have risers and the pantry under the stairs will be closed in. This will be a very good thing because right now any little bit of dirt on the stairs gets dumped on pantry items underneath. Yes, I am aware that if I swept the stairs more often there would be less debris to fall. Please refer to the first sentence of this blog.
 
Our small 20 gallon water heater and short water softener are tucked under the front part of the stairs and have been serving us well. After showering outside all summer with very little water, the 20 gallons of HOT water is a luxury. You'll note the washing machine is blanketed with a coffee maker, and toaster because...
 
 
the actual kitchen part of the kitchen, sink, counters, shelves has been on hold while we wait for saw repair parts to arrive. The two by fours on the walls is the begging of our counter top frame which will support the concrete counter top we will pour ourselves. In the meantime I am washing dishes in the bathroom which is a bit of a pain but nothing like washing them outside after heating up water on an open fire. The cooking magic all happens here now...
 
on my $100 gas stove bought on Facebook (Livingston County For Sale.) It works fantastically and when coupled with the rocket mass stove barrel, I can easily make a large meal on the gas stove while keeping other parts of it warm on the barrel. The large pieces of cement board on the right will be the base for our concrete counter top and when it's moved we'll have enough room to the right of the barrel for a small chair to sit in while we feed the rocket mass heater. We've used the RMH for over a month now and generally only have to fire it up for about 3 hours every 48 hours. It keeps our beloved Looney Bin at 67-71 degrees depending on how cold it is outside. One burn equals approximately the wood in the metal  basket in the photo and you can see that the biggest sticks we use are no more than 3 inches in diameter. It's all junk wood on our property, dead, fallen tree limbs mostly, so nothing we have to buy. Moving around the stove towards the living area we have this scene:
 
 
 a small loveseat and one chair plus a very poor excuse for a Christmas tree. I worried about having enough room for visitors but last Sunday all three of our sons and wives and one baby did quite well in here. The steps can also seat visitors. The front door (also the only door) is located right next to the bathroom.
 
 
 
This view makes it all look bigger than it is. Please note the strategically placed wreath over the not so strategically placed breaker box. That placement decision (of the box, I take full responsibility for the wreath) was made while I was in Ireland last summer, need I say more? To the right of the door is our bathroom which I like to call...
 
 
 
the best Texaco gas station bathroom this side of...uh...Texas. Geez, I need some new towels! Due to cost and time restraints we covered the walls and ceiling with Kemlite wall board, the same stuff we used to cover our milk room walls at our old farm. I wanted tile but it wasn't in the budge so for now I have clean, white and waterproof. Because of the round walls and the stairs that curve above the bathroom the walls are oddly shaped, coming to a point in the back of the shower; but still plenty of room. The sink we took from the old crumbling house on the property, the medicine cabinet was a $15 flea market find with original pink paint on the sides circa 1940. It's super sturdy, a real workhorse piece, I can still smell Noxema and Brylcream in there.  The toilet was new when we realized our large compost toilet was too large for the space, so it remains in the outhouse where it will still get lots of use.
 
The towel racks are simple galvanized pipe, much cheaper and sturdier than conventional towel racks. The floor is just concrete like the rest of the downstairs but sealed with several coats of viscous concrete sealing stuff. I used some powdered charcoal for variety the floor. Not at all sure I like it but at least when we drag in mud after chores it's hardly noticeable.  Oh yeah, that's our dish drying rack in the back of the shower in the middle picture. For privacy...
 
 
a salvaged door from the same guy we bought all our floor joists, posts and beams from. It required digging through a few piles but we were thrilled to find this one as we needed a narrow one, only 28 inches wide. It has some water damage but it's straight and solid and for $15, a keeper. I'll take it down and refinish it over my Christmas vacation time. Obviously there is still more to do, I of course have a list to keep us on track.
 

14 comments:

  1. Looking very cosy! The heating stats are impressive. And ¨Loony Bin¨ is hilarious. It´s like he knows you.

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    1. Tara, Looney Bin, It's all the same, right? A couple of mansions that both need to burn the furniture to stay warm :)

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  2. Donna,

    I love it! You have really made it a home. Looks like a very exciting adventure!!

    Ashley Crowe

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    1. Hey thanks Ashley. It is slowly starting to feel like "home." Once I get a real sink, THEN I'll feel like I've arrived.

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  3. Replies
    1. Progress. Such a relative word. Some days all I see is what needs to be completed while other days all I see is what needs to be completed :)

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  4. Contact Tiny House Nation immediately!

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  5. O. M. G. !! Lookit what you have done! Not only have you created a cozy and functional place in which to live, but with the curved walls, you give new definition to 'going around in circles'. You've been very good at doing that in the past, but now you can excel! *heh* Can't wait to see the upstairs.

    P.S. Glad that we're having a mild December allowing you to get more done than just hunkering down inside from the weather.

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    1. About that weather...it's good in that we are now only using the RMH every third day to keep it 66-70 degrees in here BUT dang it is so muddy outside, a big pain walking about doing outside chores. Whine whine whine. Oh, and "going around in circles" is funny, very funny. Will you be my publicist?

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  6. Hi, Donna:

    I am so impressed I feel faint! You all have done a remarkable job! I see some great ideas that may be applicable to my situation, especially the wreath placement . . . I, too, live in a looney bin, though not an actual bin like you. Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your home with all of us!

    Pam

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    1. Well you're welcome Pam. I plan to replace the wreath with a picture of a wall safe.

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  7. If the electric box placement bothers you, do what we did: find a canvas painting (or make your own) and put it over the box, using a hinge to fasten it to the wall. Cheap, easy, and it looks great. You can swing it open anytime to access the box.

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    1. Great idea Thrifty Crafty Girl!
      --The Cheap Easy Girl (Wait, I should rephrase that)

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