small space living: the tumbleweed tiny house company


Living in a city full of small spaces for big price tags has at times led me to scorn small-space living (remember my tiny bedroom, anyone?) but recently I’ve learned to value the unique challenges that frugal floor plans present. With the right furniture, some reseplace and an inventive, enterprising attitude, anyone can make even the most miniscule space into a cozy, uncluttered haven. No one knows that better, perhaps, than Jay Shafer, owner of an 89 square foot home, and founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Purveyor of adorable box bungalows, portable homes and cottages ranging in size from 65-837 square feet, the company specializes in small space living without skimping on style, detail or functionality. Perfect as (very) tiny weekend homes, the units also boast footprints small enough for use as guest houses on an existing property, or, my personal favorite, as free-standing office or studio spaces like the ones we’ve been dreaming about. How cute are these? — Sarah C.

From our partners

steal this idea: walls covered with trim mouldings


We spent a lovely day in Charleston, SC last week, admiring its historic churchyards, cobble stoned streets and shuttered row houses. Little did we expect to find such a mod decor idea there. At Kaminsky‘s downtown, the smell of wafting french roast mixed with baking cupcakes, while our eyes soaked in the these clever wall coverings. From across the dining room, they had a undulating texture that cast soft shadows in the morning sun glow. On closer inspection, we realized that this expensive looking treatment was really just rows of wall trim. The moulding that most homes use around the base or in decorative accents was glued onto the walls row after row, in creating a texture that was both organic and organized. Replicating the same effect in your home would not be too difficult; the hard part might be deciding your level of commitment. If you glued them on, it would be impossible to remove without destroying the wall. Another option would be to drill them on, and then spackle over the holes before painting. We’re thinking it’d be fun in a small room (like a half bath) or perhaps on just an accent wall. The white color used in Kaminsky’s allowed the shadows to take center stage, but it also might be interesting in a pale clay or grey. If you’re ever in Charleston, but sure to stop by 78 N. Market Street for a piece of red velvet cake and a look around. – Angela M.

From our partners

first look: our new gravel backyard

gravel backyard

The back yard at my house has always been a bit of a problem. Well, a disaster, really. It’s cloaked in full shade, and I have two dogs, which means that when the rainy season hits, we’re dealing with a (probably) malaria-ridden swamp pit for most of the winter. It also means I spent much, much, much too much time with my Swiffer, cleaning up all those muddy paw prints.

Finally, I’d had enough – and this summer, we decided to pave over it. Except that paving over a yard is expensive, and tricky. So, we went cheap and opted to install landscaping gravel instead. I was actually really nervous about how this would turn out, but after spotting these photos in Sunset Magazine, I had to give it a try. I had visions of an awful urban jungle, devoid of color and personality, but the end result is so fantastic, I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner. The whole project took one day, and was under $500 to complete (including labor!). The new yard is so incredibly liberating – no more mowing, seeding, digging around in piles of mud. And it’s much prettier than I imagined, even calming. The borders are edged with soil, so we can plant a few shade-friendly plants around the perimeter, and the rest is totally, 100% maintenance-free. I can hardly wait to throw an outdoor rug underneath my patio table (which can finally come out of storage), and have a little end-of-summer barbecue to celebrate! The only down side I can think of is that one of my dogs isn’t so crazy about walking on the gravel (you can see her scoping out the situation in that photo). But she’s coping, and my other dog loves being able to lay on the warm gravel in the sun…so I’m calling it a trade-off.

Have you ever considered eliminating the grass from your yard? –Becki S.

From our partners

rethink everyday: a new twist on cooking pasta


I love to eat pasta and vegetable salads in the summer, but I hate to steam up my kitchen to make them. It seems so counter-productive (when the AC has been working hard to keep things cool) to leave a boiling pot on the stove. But then a friend of mine told me a little secret to making pasta in the summer that saves a little heat – turn the heat off once the water has come to a boil! This sounded pretty silly to me, but I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s what I did: brought 2 quarts of room-temperature water and a teaspoon of salt to a boil, added a box of medium-sized pasta shells, waited for the water to return to a boil then covered and turned off the heat. Ten minutes later I had perfect al dente pasta, with much-less-steamy kitchen! I would imagine this would work with most dried pastas (just add one minute of cooking time), but perhaps not fresh pasta where the rolling boil helps keep the noodles separated. Regardless, there’s a rotini and grilled vegetable pasta in my future. Give it a try! — Rebecca F.

Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik.

From our partners

everything is cooler in japan


I don’t know about you guys, but this summer is kicking my butt. It’s hot in Chicago and, as the season marches on, the mercury continues to rise. Sure, I could spend all day in the air conditioned bliss of the movie theaters, but, eventually, I’ll have to venture out to the hot, steamy streets. I only wish I had some of this futuristic cooling foam from Japan. Hokkyoku Monogatari translates to “Tales of the North Pole” (hence the cartoon polar bear on the can) and is a foam that turns pliable and mold-able when sprayed. It acts as an ice pack and provides a five minute cool down- perfect for quick jaunts in between precious air conditioning. –- Katie D.

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