My Tiny Really Old House


Since we moved in to our house a little over two years ago, I have been on a quest to figure out how to live well in our tiny old house. The house is from the 1880’s or 1890’s as best I can tell, and was added on to in the 1920’s or 30’s. It is around 890 sqft but 170 of that is in an out building. Just imagine, the original house didn’t have either that out building or our kitchen room, nor basement. It must have been 500 sqft and I am sure a family lived here. If they lived OK in this house over 100 years ago, we surely must be able to right?

Since we moved in, Ive dug around into just about every nook and cranny, trying to figure it out, so I can update what we need to, stabilize what is unsure, and otherwise just understand our abode. The original part of the house is made of old growth redwood, and it was constructed way before it seems they had building standards. Joists and studs have no common center, nor is it anywhere near what we consider a safely built structure, but here it is 120+ years later and still sound (for the most part.)

The first bunch of work was up in the attic rewiring and insulating. That is why I know as much as I do about the place. I found old sales tags for the nob and tube system, hand cut nails, exterior painted walls inside, along with a whole bunch of other stuff I will post about later. Below the house a lot of the wood has been replaced with modern 3rd growth over harvested wood (more on that later too.) Strangely the original parts underneath are much more coherent. It’s the same old growth redwood, but the structure looks to have been made by a professional. I found some neat stuff down there, too. the most interesting being a foot long femur bone. Hopefully it was from a large animal and not great uncle Frank, but in any case, I left it there in peace.

To say that our house has been a DIY project for 120 years is probably accurate from what I have found. There are parts that make sense and look like time was put into doing things well, but there are other parts that have just left me scratching my head. I intend to post about these various discoveries in the future as I slowly replace, upgrade, repair and marvel at the character of our house.

Beyond the structure of our little house, though, what has been the biggest challenge has been the limited space. Moving here we halved our living space and lost a lot of storage. It has been a challenge to say the least, but we are slowly coming to terms with it, making important decisions; green, and sustainable decision in many cases. We have learned a lot in the last two years, about ourselves, our habits, and our lifestyle. We have learned what a footprint really means in a direct sense, and also in the global symbolic sense.

Now that I have finished my MFA I have slowly wound down into the next phase of my life; family man, father, artist, entrepreneur,  and mini house adventurer. I hope you will visit this site and share my efforts to move forward, editing my life and becoming better for it. I intend to make this a media blog too, so look forward to videos audio and pictures of my house projects, garden, creative work and more.

Leave a Reply