Thursday, 16 October 2008

small spaces

I realise that the concepts of living in a small space have been with me for years - as a child at one point my 'room' was a 6x6 area partitioned off - long story, but it worked. A couple of things recently have set my mind off down this road - one of which was reading about homes made out of shipping containers, which at 20x8x8 the interior of which would only be a little larger than the inside of Tortoise.

I am all too aware that it's easy for me to get whimsical about small cosy spaces, what with having (an albeit small) house and all. So bear that in mind... ;-)

A few weekends ago, whilst at Battlebridge Basin having helped crew Granny Buttons there (things I learned - plastic flowers float, Christine is lovely and however hard I tried to avoid politics, I failed), I got to see inside Arrow's (I may have the name wrong) boatman's cabin, courtesy of Sandra, the owner. I realised I hadn't really experienced being inside one for a while, and it's quiet an ingenious setup. Curiously there's no diagrams with dimensions out there on the web, even rough ones, although there are plans to buy. I could do my own measurements if I ever needed too, although it more or less sizes itself.

Chris & I in the pub in Sunbury had been discussing small cabin layouts with regard to working boats (or at least having a large open bow section), and in some ways the rear 10' of Tortoise's cabin in a modern version of the boatman's cabin - on one side rear door & dinette (could be replaced by bunks), on other side toilet, kitchen & stove - all the basics. The remaining cabin in my case is more beds/seats & bookshelves, but that could easily be outside, with lockers that can form beds needed, clothed over at night. A 30' boat with a cruiser stern, 10' cabin and 12' deck might look a bit strange, and I won't be rushing to do it, but would be interesting...

Meanwhile, Bones brings to my attention that Leviathan is still for sale - I'd seen the same interior pictures two years ago, and very inspiring they are too - that woodwork is amazing. Curves aren't necessarily as space efficient as I need for Tortoise, but there's plenty of time & opportunity for aesthetic improvements to the interior, and even the odd curve, who knows?

(images copyright nb Leviathan/

Meanwhile I quite like this bender-as-cabin arrangement, nice doors, too (esp the rearwards one), even if the photographer (of NB Epiphany) wasn't entirely convinced. One 'one day' job for me is a folding front cratch type thing, inspired by this yurt door:

Addendum - a couple of notes for my own benefit, really:

a few days after writing this post, I found a book in a local charity shop - Living Large in Small Spaces - a photographic study of various flats in New York, from 100 sq ft to 1000 (1000 sq ft is small to some, but not others - my house is 770 sq ft, for example, and canal boats will go from 108 - mine - to around 300). It's all very arty, of course, and the ephasis is on design rather than pure practicality - not that those are necessarily diametrically opposed.

I'm also reminded of Erja's flat in Helsinki; the bed was in a bed-sized alcove on the wall opposite the windows, the 3rd side of the alcove being a tiny bathroom. It was a nice place, and it worked, and I also remember even the bed was flexible - the deep single bed folded out to a thinner - but comfortable - double. Since on boats storing 'spare' seating/sleeping cusions is a pain, that's worth bearing in mind.

Appropriately enough elsewehere in the same book acquisitions was 'No More Clutter' by Sue Kay - which promises the key to the small space stuff. I'm not convinced - I'm currently buying more storage drawers for screws and the like, and it does seem I have to buy more to see less... it's working, though.

Edit II; a couple of interesting links:

The art of living in small spaces

Tumbleweed Houses


kristina said...

Sorry about posting to the wrong place; you did mention before that it's best to comment directly here. It was late, I was tired...

Anyway, I found that paragraph from Roger Deakin's Wildwood book:

There's more truth about a camp than a house. Planning laws need not worry the improvising builder because temporary structures are more beautiful anyway, and you don't need permission for them. There's more truth about a camp because that is the position we are in. The house represents what we ourselves would like to be on earth: permanent, rooted, here for eternity. But a camp represents the true reality of things: we're just passing through.

Actually children love the idea of making and living in camps and dens - my youngest has spent all weekend with her friends covering furniture with sheets and blankets and huddling up inside.

Carrie said...

(I LOVE that book 'Wildwood!)
Hwy Simon - have you see a book called 'Small Strawbale' (Steen, Steen and Bingham) about small places to build from stawbales of course! I like drooling over it even if I have no land and no straw.

Simon said...

where's my other comment gone? oh well...

both books ordered; I'm a dreadful consumer.

Also of note: