Tiny Cabin Update

Tiny cabin with new roof
Tiny cabin with new roof

The tiny cabin project inches toward completion.

I had some hesitation last week when we were planning our first overnight stay. Having been promised the toilet would be operational – note: not currently operational but “should be working by the time you get here” level of operation – I was a little sceptical… and anxious. Now, for the record, I’m not a complete diva. I’ve spent many days hiking and tenting and doing my ‘business’ in the great outdoors. But, having cleared the lot for construction, the great outdoor option wasn’t really an option.

I was greatly relieved to discover firstly, that there was a porta-potty on site, and secondly the toilet really was installed. We were left with strict instructions not to flush it before 5:30 PM. Some wonder-calking that holds the whole system together needed time to cure. I’m not ashamed to admit that successfully flushing the toilet was one of the highlights of our first stay in the cabin.

My dreams of using the European sink-toilet combo were swiftly dashed by the plumbing supply company when they informed me that it doesn’t meet CSA standards and therefor cannot be used in Canada. A toilet that re-uses the drain water from the sink to fill the tank doesn’t meet the standards… go figure, and here we are touting how ‘green’ we want to be as a country. (Shakes head in despair and goes back to the drawing board.)

Once we relocated the old bathroom door to its new position, we found the door swing didn’t clear the toilet we had spec’d. Thank goodness for wall-hung units. The Toto DuoFit In-wall tank system fit perfectly.


The bathroom is now functional except for the shower. The plumber is hooking up the hot water tank today. As always, finding space is challenging. Originally we wanted an on-demand system using a small heating unit mounted to the bathroom wall above the toilet. However, with the lack of natural gas on the island, heating is all electric and the power requirements for the on-demand exceeded the available juice. So, after much debate, we settled on a small 12-gallon tank that will be mounted above the kitchenette and plumbed into the wall behind separating the main room and the bathroom.

We managed to just squeak in a Maax Neo-angle shower unit with super-slick doors (if you’re into that) which slide open on a track around from the front closed-position to the inner sides of the shower. (It came with an eleven-page installation manual!)


Maax Neo-angle shower (except our bathroom is 1/4 the size shown in the photo)
Maax Neo-angle shower
(except our bathroom is 1/4 the size shown in the photo)

We chose the Moen Voss single-handle control and rain-head fixture for the shower.

This left only 14” for a sink. If you think that sounds reasonable… think again. After an extensive Google search we came up with the Nameeks 8502 sink. It’s beautiful, it fits – just don’t ask me how much it costs, I’m still reeling. Luckily there are very few building problems that money can’t solve. Sadly, there are a few problems that only money can solve. The four-foot by five-foot bathroom being one of the later.

Nameeks 8502 sink
Nameeks 8502 sink


We found this mirror made from an old jerry-can at The Antique Market on Franklin Street in East Vancouver
We found this mirror made from an old jerry-can at The Antique Market on Franklin Street in East Vancouver

We encountered a couple small complications with the installation of the custom kitchenette cabinet. One crucial measurement wasn’t taken into account for the microwave/convection oven shelf. It fits… however it sticks out about six inches too far and the cabinet door will not shut. Unfortunately, the only solution to that involves a reciprocating saw and some re-wiring. We are also waiting on installing the under counter refrigerator panel-front until the cabinet has been re-plumbed, moving the water lines to behind the back panel, allowing the fridge to fit into the cabinet.

Kitchenette installed
Kitchenette installed

The bed-storage unit we designed turned out great. The queen-sized mattress fit perfectly, lots of storage room below and just enough clearance above so you don’t hit your head. Because there is so little wiggle-room, instead of going with horizontal storage options around the bed, I went vertical – building in a slot to fit an i-pod or my much-loved MacBook with a power outlet just beside.

All but one light fixture is installed. We put a temporary one in the main room as my DIY chandelier project is not on schedule.

Retro-style light fixture (until my DIY masterpiece is ready)
Retro-style light fixture
(until my DIY masterpiece is ready)

And the best part of all, sitting back and enjoying the view.

View from the back door
View from the back door

And drinking whisky.

The new cabin whisky glasses.
The new cabin whisky glasses.

Small Solutions With Big Impact

The tiny cabin issues require compact solutions. The first challenge is fitting a functional bathroom into the tight 5’11” x 5’ 5” space. We want to shoehorn in a shower (big enough that that I don’t bang my elbows on the sides when I shampoo #petpeevemine), toilet and sink. Removing the existing window buys us a bit of space, as does replacing the old-school hot-water tank with a tank-less on-demand unit.


This is the “before” floorplan of the cabin as is –

before floorplan

Here is my initial “after” –

bacon floorplan

Browsing Pinterest has been a boon for ideas to outfit tiny spaces. It led me to Roca website where I found this sink/toilet combo – saves space and water!

Roca W+W WC and basin (photo via Roca.com)
Roca W+W WC and basin
(photo via Roca.com)


Another idea I love comes from Culshaw Bell in the UK who do bespoke kitchenettes.

I really love the traditional styling and size of this one. This is what it looks like with the top storage doors open.

Bespoke kitchenette (photo via www.culshawbell.co.uk)
Bespoke kitchenette
(photo via http://www.culshawbell.co.uk)

Here another view all closed up and a detail of the tiny fridge.

(photo via www.culshawbell.co.uk)
(photo via http://www.culshawbell.co.uk)

We’re going to do a version with an integrated, pull-out table in ours as there is no floor space available for a free-standing table to eat or work at.

Next I need to figure out the shower. Here is where being practical measures make sense i.e.. reusing the existing shower enclosure… however, it’s hideous and its very existence gnaws at my design-obsessed heart. So my challenge is to come up with a reasonably-priced alternative before my practical husband makes an executive decision.

Stay tuned…

Cabin Fever

I threw caution to the wind and bought a little cabin. And in doing so, took a tumble down the tiny-house rabbit hole.

It started out innocently enough. I needed practical kitchen ideas for my tiny kitchen. This led, naturally enough, to perusing sites on vintage Airstream trailers re-habs and a pleasant Sunday afternoon reading all about “glamping”. From there is was just a few short clicks to tiny house Nirvanna.

And now it’s like a drug. The tiny house monkey on my back. Each day I need my fix. It’s a cautionary tale. I used to laugh at the tiny house obsessed. Now I have to tetris in sleeping (comfortably, of course) for three people, a bathroom with shower, a functioning kitchen and only 250 square feet to fit it all.

2015-09-17 11.51.49