The internet is full of Bauwagen toys. (And by full I mean “contains about five different kinds upon being googled.”) I found this one here. Steep price for a play house that you could easily, and perhaps more charmingly, build yourself for under 100 euro. Still, I like the idea. Peter Lustig is probably to blame.
It is never easy to move a tiny house, but this particular move was easier than most. We spent the day before Day Zero (Moving Day) in Mainz getting her ready. She had been our neighbor for something like four years. We had hung out in her and slept in her when we’d stopped by. There was a lot of shit to get out of the way, but our old Platz-mates cleared our path (ten trazillion high fives for everyone who helped with that). Still, it took a hand or two full of hours to get her ready and moved and parked out on the street, ready to click onto the truck that would pull her home early the next morning.
The Beard got up at 4 am (there’s been a lot of 4 am going around, huh?) to ride out with the driver, a friend, to pick her up. They were back by 9 am, barely an hour after Pickles and I had gotten up. Go to sleep with a house one size, wake up with a new addition.
You’d think that that was when the hard part was over. We parked her on the grass and waited for another friend to come by to drive the tractor that we would use to put her in her place. But it turned out that the tractor was broken. Surprise!
After quite a bit of tinkering around, we decided to do it the old-fashioned way. We called some friends and rounded up a handful of Platz-mates, and we pushed the damn thing by hand. It’s hard to push a trailer with only one axel by hand: you have to hold the thing upright and push at the same time. There were ten of us. It was enough.
Now she’s in place, ready to be turned into a kitchen. My head is full of plans and ideas and paint and cabinets But instead I’m getting ready for a two-month trip to the United States. (We leave on Wednesday.) I guess the kitchen will have to wait. But, still, isn’t she purdy??? Swoon. So much to look forward to.
Oh my cod. Thank you thank you thank you to Mama Anders for pointing out another too-fucking-cute Bauwagen toy for the toddler in your small-housed life. I know what Pickles is getting for her birthday next year. Though of course the one we’re going to build her is going to be at least 13 times cooler. I love that there are people out there designing, making, and selling this shit. Huzzah.
We have been meaning to build this damn thing for over a year. Strike that. I have been meaning to build it (promising to build it) for over a year. And the Beard has been patiently waiting. But then he got tired of waiting, I accepted some help, and we built our firewood’s new house in a few days time. Almost entirely scavenged materials! For the win!
And, yes, those are candles hanging on the front. Because chopping wood by candlelight is pretty awesome, not to mention romantic (ummm, or something) and doesn’t involve running pesky power lines or remembering to put the solar lamp’s cell out in the sun during the day.
Some of those boards I scavenged in Mainz, with the intention of building a sweet shed out of them one day. (Frankenshed was nice, but this is a lot easier on the eye.) They’ve been sitting outside sort of under a tarp ever since. It’s a wonder that they weren’t all rotten. Other boards came from our red trailer’s ceiling, which we redid because the person who had put it in was apparently drunk—I can’t think of any other reason to just screw tongue and groove boards on top of each other like that without fitting them together. It certainly made the boards look like they were drunk. And now they are a shed wall.
We found the bigger beams we needed laying on the bonfire pile at the front of the property. There were a lot of nails in them, nails that I tried to rip out with a crowbar. When that barely worked, we hammered them all flat and got on with it. I put it together, and the Beard did all the sawing. At the time we only had a hand circle saw, which I—for no actual reason whatsoever—don’t like to use. (I’ve since bought myself a jigsaw. Love those things. Also love my “Japan” saws, as they are called in German. Fucking best saws ever.)
The roof is made of someone’s old terrace (we saved it from the bonfire pile as well) as well as some old flooring we found. We covered the roof boards with tarps made to create faux ponds in people’s backyards, which I got from freecycle. We did buy the paint, a second bit of tarp (my free bit wasn’t quite big enouhg), and a few three-meter boards to finish off the back wall when the firewood came before the scavenger gods had offered up any other solutions.
Having built this, I feel pretty confident that I could build a little house. I would do a number of things differently, more exactly, and with better materials, but it isn’t as hard as it looks. It never is.
Hey, look! There’s my Wagen!
Since the shed, our yard just makes me happy. (Of course, the weather has turned for the worse, which means things are getting rather straggley, but before that.) I wish I had done this months ago so that I could have spent all summer sitting outside and admiring our work, and our neat, tidey yard. Maybe then I would have been inspired to finally plant the herb garden or the forsythia that I’ve had planted in my head for months. But there’s always next year. Winter is coming, but so is spring.
Why didn’t we think of that?!?! We had even talked about getting Pickles a dollhouse. (Well, someone had offered to give us one, and we said yes.) But a house? Why the hell would we get her a dollhouse? Pickles’ dolls would obviously live in a Bauwagen. Just like us.
The Beard was on tour for five days last week. In Freiberg this dollhouse was at the venue where they played. When he told me about it on the phone I begged for photos. Next summer we are so building one of these. Miniature things have always excited me. I can’t explain why. Just…little things!…squeal! That is basically how it happens in my head. If you see an explanation in there somewhere, let me know.
There is so much to do. Don’t people usually start cleaning in spring? That’s all wrong. As soon as fall’s chilly little tendrils start to work their way into the air I start rearranging things, decluttering, nesting. Bunkering down for winter. When spring arrives I’m too busy sitting in the sun to care about what it looks like inside.
I have a list. We are leaving on an epic journey in one month. The things on the list are supposed to happen before we leave. It is a short list, but involved. Item one: build Pickles’ bed. Which, once I got started ripping out the bench that used to dominate that side of the trailer, turned into “finish Pickles’ room.” Once our kitchen trailer arrives our red trailer will be half our bedroom, half Pickles’ bedroom. (Putting her in a separate trailer would just mean maintaining another wood stove, being paranoid about the wood stove with her alone at night, and, even more likely, her refusing to sleep off alone in a separate trailer anyway.)
I have been planning this space in my head for months. Longer maybe. Had the colors picked out. Made sure all the little bits and bobs that are always rolling around on the floor would all have a place. It took four days to make it happen. Though to be fair, the bed isn’t quite finished.
Consider these pictures a preview of the finished product. The bed is lofted, and still needs all the “don’t fall out and die” fixtures.” Maybe this weekend. But so far Pickles loves it. I love it. The Beard loves it. The trailer suddenly feels bigger, more practical, more homey. It is almost magical, the way a little change can completely renew the feel of a space.
And the space isn’t the only thing that is changing. We are on day seven of operation no more breastfeeding. It is going well. The nights are hard, but all in all, not any harder than they always have been. They are harder for the Beard though because now instead of her waking me up and me quieting her with some boob, she wakes up and makes noise and wakes everybody up and only goes back to sleep if you play First Aid Kit really loud on my telephone right next to her head.
And we built a shed.
And the firewood came.
And I stopped drinking coffee.
And Pickles slept through the night. (Once.)
I’ll be back with more pictures and words tomorrow then, huh?
Remember how we needed a third Wagen, and found one? (Pictures here.) How I had all these building plans that you never heard about again? Yeah. Cough cough. Wolf! Wolf wolf wolf!
Turns out that organizing all the banal daily shit—eating and keeping Baby Pickles happy and cared for, getting to work on time, shit just remembering to brush my teeth and trying to get enough sleep to remain functional—is about all I can handle. When assigned the task of getting a third Wagen to our land, which would have involved coordinating at least four people, I failed. It was too much. The folks where the new Wagen was sitting wanted it out. We wanted it here. I couldn’t get it organized. It was stressful. The new Wagen began to feel like a curse. It started to really bother me that we had maybe paid a little too much. It started to really bother me that we were still going to have to do a bunch of work on it once we got it home.
So we sold it.
To the guy who wanted to buy it when we bought it in the first place, in fucking January.
He’s very happy about it.
We got our money back to the penny.
I’m sure a ton of people think we’re total idiots.
The whole situation was draining me of so much energy, making me feel so shitty on a regular basis. I thought, well, I’ll get rid of this fucking thing that is taking up so much space in my head, and then maybe there will be space for something else. Something better for us, more fitting. And that is exactly what happened.
We have this friend. She lived in a Wagen. But she kind of moved away. It wasn’t really concrete for a long time. We sold the Cursed Wagen. Several days later she wrote me and was like “do you guys need a Wagen? I have one I need to get rid of.” Holy fuck! I love her Wagen. It is fucking awesome, and just the right size, and doesn’t need any work, and is small enough that a friend could pull it with his little truck (thus eliminating the need to coordinate so many people to get it here). Holy holy fuck! We’re still talking about it, and I won’t believe it until it is parked here, but guys! Maybe a new absolutely perfect Wagen that exactly fits our needs and will always remind me of my awesome friend! Yes yes yes!
Oo la la! A video that we filmed almost three years ago about my Wagen and renovating it and how I dumpster dived the hell out of the building supply store. Deek of the blog relaxshacks and the book Humble Homes, Simple Shacks turned that footage (with help from some other excellent folks whose names you will find in the credits) into another lovely segment of Tiny Yellow House TV. Ever wondered what my voice sounds like after reading so many silent words on a screen? Well, now you know. Enjoy…
The very first tiny house I ever inhabited. All thanks to encouragement from a friend at just the right moment. Here you can read about how I decided to move into this adorable blue shoe. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the hell a Wagenplatz is, I explain it in detail here and here. (Hint: It is an autonomous community of people living in various small houses, “common” to Germany.)
My second tiny Wagen was in a different community in a different city. I shared it with my partner. (Still do, as a matter of fact, though now there are three of us living between these red walls):
Some black cats are good luck. Though be wary if you catch them drinking vodka.
After a while, I was offered this Wagen for free (the one with the black door in the picture below). I took it and spent about a year renovating it (and learning everything about building from scratch while doing it).
It looked quite different when I started. For one it was green. But you can read about the entire refab process here. (Pictures too.)
Then we moved to another city, they very same where my tiny house adventures had begun, but to a different community. And we bought a third Wagen that I am planning on Frankensteining onto the red Wagen, our main living Wagen, this summer.
And now, I can barely even fathom even living in a house again. Although I sometimes do dream about little cabins in the woods. Sweet, sweet, summer tiny house life.
Oh, and if you’re coming over after having watched Deek’s Tiny Yellow House feature on my little house, then by all means, subscribe to the rss feed. Come back soon now.