Woman Converts Van Into a Cozy Full Time Home

Atli, a transit bus driver from Vancouver, Canada has converted a van into a comfortable full-time home. Her main reason for the decision to ditch a regular home for a van home were the rising rents.

The home Atli lives in now is a converted 2016 Ford which she nicknamed T-Rex. For insulation they used fiberglass and rigid foam insulation, which aren’t especially sustainable but they are inexpensive.  They also installed a vapour barrier to help prevent condensation from forming, while most of the interior is panelled in wood, which helps keep the interior temperature more comfortable, while also giving the home a more homey feel.

The home part of the van is dominated by a large open space which is used as the main living area. There is also a small kitchen, with a two-burner propane stove and a small sink with a water pump. The home also features plenty of storage space.  The kitchen will be complete as soon as Atli installs a bamboo counter and some additional cabinetry.  There is also a closet in this space.

The bed rests atop a raised platform, which offers even more storage space. This space also has an extra door, which hides Atli’s sitar. They also place a Hypervent mat under the bed, which can be purchased in a marine supply store, and which prevents condensation from forming under the mattress. The table can be rolled out when needed and stored away when not needed.

The van has three skylights, which let in plenty of light. Two can be opened and one is fitted with a mechanical fan to aid ventilation. The van has no other windows, which is something that suited Atli very well since she likes her privacy.

The home also features a combination carbon monoxide and propane gas alarm, and there is also an extra wall and door between the home and the driver’s seat part of the van.  The van has no bathroom, but Atli uses the one at her gym, as well as public bathrooms.

At the back, there’s additional storage space for Atli’s bike, inflatable kayak and other gear. The home is powered by a sola panel that is connected to a Goal Zero inverter, a 100-AmH AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery. The latter is also charged using a solenoid connected to the van’s AGM truck battery.

Downsizing to a van home has allowed Atli to go from being a full time to a part time employee, which has freed up her winters for travel to warmer climates.  There is no word on how much she spent for the conversion, but there is no doubt that she is saving a lot of money by not having to pay rent.

Micro apartment turned into a family home with transformer furniture

Using transformer units to make the most of the available space in small and micro apartments is not a new idea, but it’s always nice to see new approaches to it. One such is certainly this renovation by Spanish architect Angel Rico who turned a micro, 215 sq ft (20 sq m) apartment into a family home for three. He installed transformable, multi-functional elements and furniture, which makes this apartment much more spacious and comfortable.

The apartment is located right by the ocean, so one of the key considerations was maximizing the view. To achieve this, all the storage spaces, such as the closet, pantry and even the child’s bed have been placed on one side of the tiny space, and hidden inside a wall transformer unit. This wall has more than one layer. A part of it hinges out and reveals many smaller compartments, which are used to store various items to keep them out of the way. The child’s bed can also be hinged down then moved out of the way during the day.

The top of another part of this transformer wall can be unfolded to open up the kitchen, which can also be hidden away when not needed. The fridge is also stored inside this wall. The bathroom is separated from the rest of the space by another hinged wall, which is also a closet. This set up allows the occupants to shower and dress in the same space. Above the bathroom is a loft, which the mother uses to take naps in, since she works late shifts at the local hospital, though they might turn it into a kid’s bedroom eventually.

The living room features a sofa-bed, which is where the parents sleep. They also use this space for entertaining, since it can fit up to 11 guests. This is where they place the extendable table and chairs, which are otherwise hidden in a hatch in the ceiling. The apartment also has a balcony, which works to extend the living space of this micro apartment and makes it appear more spacious.

All in all, these renovations and clever uses of transformer furniture make this apartment appear much more spacious than it is.

Innovative Revolve House Wins This Year’s SMUD Competition

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The so-called SMUD Tiny House Competition is very new, and this year it took place in Sacramento, California. Its main aim is to promote sustainable living and eco-construction of tiny homes. This year, the winning entry was the so-called Revolve House, which was entered into the competition by Santa Clara University. It competed against 9 other California-based college teams and their creations.

Revolve House is powered by a solar power array, which is comprised of eight 330 W panels. The array is hooked up to saltwater batteries and this system provides all the needed power for the home. Revolve House gets it’s name from the fact that it is designed in a way that allows it to automatically rotate to follow the sun, thereby maximizing the solar array’s energy harvesting potential. This is possible because Revolve House sits on a trailer, which is placed atop a Colossun sun tracking ring that rotates the home and ensures the array gets hit with as much sunlight as possible. Apparently this entire system improves the home’s solar efficiency by a 30 percent over a regular home fitted with solar panels.

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Revolve House was constructed out of SIPs (structural insulated panels) and measures 238 sq ft (22 sq m). The interior features a dining and kitchen area that has a clever pull down table. There is also a wet-room type bathroom, while the living area also doubles as a bedroom, which was achieved by installing a murphy-style bed. The house also features a deck on the roof, which has space enough for six people and can be accessed via an exterior staircase.

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The home is equipped with an efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) unit. This unit, as well as the lighting and skylight are controlled by a touchscreen system. The home also has a greywater recycling system in place.

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The home was actually designed to be used by disabled veterans, so all the doorways, as well as the shower and appliances are wheelchair-accessible. Not sure how they will be able to access the roof deck though, and there is also a step leading to the lounge, while someone in a wheelchair would also have trouble pulling down the Murphy bed, though maybe they will still solve these things in some way. The home will be donated to Operation Freedom Paws, an organization that teaches veterans and other people with disabilities to train their own service dogs.

Gorgeous Lamps Made of Reclaimed Wood

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Wood has many uses, from providing heat, furniture and raw building materials, but now it has another one, namely providing illumination. Californian designer Paul Foeckler of Split Grain came up with a beautiful wooden lamp, which would look great in any home.

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The lamps he creates are made of reclaimed wood, so each is a unique creation just like no two pieces of wood are exactly the same. The process of creating a lamp begins with Paul foraging for the wood in the area where he lives. He collects branches and other larger pieces of wood from fallen or damaged trees, such as California Coastal Monterey Cypress and Ash.

The idea for the lamps came to Paul when he began considering that pieces of wood are actually too beautiful to just burn. The original exterior texture and shape of each piece of wood is already beautiful. But further experimentation led him to discover that different splitting techniques and sawing the pieces afterwards, created even more interesting grain patterns and formations. Through the repetition of slices, these qualities were revealed even further, and by illuminating them from within, the grain intricacies come into gorgeous prominence.

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After collecting the wood, he first cross-sections them until he gets pieces he’s satisfied with. To add the light bulb he first hollows out the piece of wood. He then adds aluminum, which acts as a heat sink. Next, the lamp is sanded down, followed by applying a layer of clear urethane for protection. Some of the lamps are then attached to metal posts, which act as supports for the lamps while enhancing their natural beauty. The process is finished by inserting a low-voltage, energy-efficient LED light bulb.

The creation process is quite labor intensive, and according to Paul it can take him up to 100 hours to create a single lamp. But the end result is certainly worth it!

The Sensible Approach to Sustainable Housing

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Green technology is amazing. You have heard it all. Green houses, sustainable homes, solar panels, eco-friendly fuel, and so on. All that new green technology (or greentech) is growing in popularity and providing all the necessary tools for us to “save the world”. Green ways of waste disposal, green ways of handling your rubbish, and proper recycling will apparently be enough to do this extreme feat and relieve you of the responsibility of feeling guilty about the planet’s state.

But it’s not all rainbows and lollipops when it comes to that. And since every coin has two sides, here is some food for thought: Have you ever thought that you are actually doing too much? Maybe building a sustainable house is a good idea, but then adding all the rest of the greentech might just be overdoing it. We keep forgetting that being green is a collective effort and you can transform everything in your home to green all you want, but at one point you need to focus on your own life and not the planet’s. After all, you are sharing it with about 6-7 billion other people, let them have a go at being green as well.

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Problem #1: The Price
Everybody tells you that being green is a cheap activity. That is hardly the case, however, as most of what you do to be green requires greentech. And greentech is definitely not cheap. Not in the short term, anyway. Yes, all the technology is becoming more popular and solar energy is 100% free, but first you need the solar panels to consume said energy, and those solar panels are definitely not free. While it does pay off in the long term, you do require a starting point, so when you call the company for a solar panel installation, make sure you get the right amount – one that will help you and won’t get you bankrupt.

Problem #2: The Geographical Issues
Picture a sustainable house. Where do you see it? That’s right – in an open field, often times the only house in sight. This is because pollution is just as a collective activity as recycling, and that is why sustainable houses are positioned in an eco-friendly manner – somewhere near green resources. And the more houses there are, the less green resources you get. This is why living in a sustainable housing is a very solitary job. And while it does provide a great relief to nature, you actually do spend a lot of fuel just to get into a social environment, do your rubbish disposal, or even visit a store. If you are planning on getting or making a detached sustainable house, always consider the social environment you are going to, or indeed, running away from.

Problem #3: Being You
You have your own life. You have a hobby. You have a job, a family, and so on. When getting a sustainable house, some people go overboard and focus all their attention on being green. Then days become a string of walks to the nearest lake to conserve water, building solar panels and waiting without energy till the panels get charged, doing DIY projects to avoid buying furniture or décor, doing rubbish clearance and driving to the waste recycling centre to do the green waste disposal, and then finding some use for your organic waste after eating. And among all that, where do you get time to be yourself? Sure, the planet is required to “be” at all, but if you spend all your time figuring out ways to protecting it, what is the actual payoff? Always find time for yourself, no matter how green you want to be.

So when you get that green sustainable house, don’t sacrifice anything for it. Your job is to merely be responsible with what you do and not dump it all for rubbish removal for the good of the planet. If you want to serve only the planet, you might as well move to a cave and hunt for dinner. After all, greentech is meant for enhancing the way of life and not reverting back to prehistoric times.

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Bio: Ella Andrews is a content writer and blogger. Her passion are all sorts of home maintenance, parenting and healthy living projects. She is presently focused on writing the best possible and is enjoying every opportunity to share tips and advice with her readers. Read more at: HouseClearance.co