Pigeon loft to Tiny house

We’ve visited this shed here before.

outdoor shed: my dream office

This weekend we had some major progress. Thanks to our neighbors we found someone who was willing to help us complete this project in their spare time. It’s a bigger deal than we thought – thank goodness we didn’t try to tackle all of this ourselves. So in the matter of 2 years this shed, formerlly a Pigeon Loft, has become a pretty fantastic Tiny house.

A little light at the end of the tunnel. Ran out of paint. #studio #tinyhouse

And from this
outdoor shed: my dream office

to this.

The porthole window is something I found 11 years ago when we bought our very first house on Perry St on the northside of Holland. It’s one of the only things that has made every move with us and not somehow been sold at a garage sale or on craigslist in the mean time. I think I had it hung in our first house but the rest of the time it’s been in storage or up in a garage waiting for a home.

The french doors I found at an architectural salvage store in Kalamazoo.

We had to retrofit the doors to fit the opening and we have another door for the side to install yet (hoping to make it a dutch door).

When we started the project, we took the entire roof off to add windows around the perimeter of the whole building. New siding and a corrugated metal roof later – the outside is mostly finished. I painted this weekend but ran out of paint – so that’s on my list of things to finish this week.

Let’s talk about the inside – this is where it started.

outdoor shed: my dream office

Pink and poop. And, little did we know, a working honey bee hive. Unfortunately we had the bees removed before we knew what to do with them (or transfer them to a hive for us to keep) and then Aaron spent a weekend gutting the interior. This pigeon loft had become the home to many little creatures.

And the interior of the building now is just a blank slate. I’m getting so excited to see it come together.

#studio #tinyhouse

From the inside #studio #tinyhouse

So here’s what I’m thinking – for the wall that you look at when you open the french doors – what about the entire wall in this tile?

The remaining three walls in a plywood – clean, simple, raw – like this:

We’re keeping the floor cement and have the chandelier for the interior …

Chandelier for #studio - was going to paint but glad I waited. Love the original look of it. #tinyhouse

For the exterior lights – we’ll either have one or three and are trying to decide between this one or this one.


We’ll keep you updated on the progress and plans for this space and how we hope to unleash it and share it.

Twinkly lights included 😉

Honey Buzz

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

— Winnie the Pooh

I went looking for a quote about honey and found all these wise words about love and life instead. And I think it applies to the bees, so let’s just go with it. Because …

Shake it like a Polaroid picture. #bees #urbanfarming #honey

You guys have a lot of great questions about bees. It’s adorable, though, because I do not know. I’m reading books and listening and paying attention but I just don’t know what you should do if you’re allergic to bees but want to keep them.

I can say that we field that question above any other when friends or neighbors ask us about our bees. “What do you do if you’re allergic” “Aren’t you worried about getting stung?” “You have kids! And Bees???”

It’s simple really – we fear what we don’t know. And for some reason we fear bees. Because they sting.

It’s a barbed wire sting and it hurts. A whole lot. We haven’t been stung yet from our hive. When the bees are out collecting nectar they don’t sting – when they perceive a threat to their hive, they do.

Oliver's holding a colony of honey bees. Like a boss.

Oliver doesn’t know what it’s like to be stung by a bee, he sees each and every bug as his personal friend.

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”

— Winnie the Pooh

Sugar water for the bees. Oliver has no fear: he has 10,000 new friends. All named "Bud". #urbanfarming #bees #localbees #honey #OllieFarms

I’m pretty excited about the honey. But I’ve been completely surprised by how taken Oliver is by this hive. We were told that each hive has a personality … I haven’t been around a lot of bees, but I like ours. There’s a mutual respect, it seems. We love them. Oliver checks on them every day – like he’s one of them, he makes sure they’re happy, active, and have enough room in their hive. He gets in their business like a mad scientist trying to solve his thesis. He just wants to know about them, he’s curious.

But more than the honey, I wanted bees because I garden. Because the flowers and trees and air quality are very important to me. We have an extra lot so we have the space and there’s a charm to it that I couldn’t resist. Urban bee farming. I wanted to be a part of that.

If you’re local to Holland, Mi; here’s the link to the forms and information on permits.

A great resource (and where we ordered our bees this year) is Don Lam. Also our neighbors from a previous house … they came to help us set up our hive and let us borrow their suit and gloves. (Thanks Andy!) One more great link is the Holland Bee Association. (Which I haven’t been to yet, but hope to catch a meeting soon.)

Now … fun facts about bees:

They do dance! – I watched a documentary on it once and went to a demonstration at the DeGraaf Nature center years ago – it’s one of the ways they communicate … their dance points out where the good pollen spots are and how to get to the flowers or fields. They warn each other, give each other updates, and pass along routes and tips through dancing. WILD!

I’m not sure of the actual process of how they turn pollen into honey – but summarizing it … it’s like a mama bird feeding her babies – they regurgitate it into the cones of the hive to store it away.

Honey is the only natural food that never goes bad.

Honey can be used in place of face wash and is good for moisturizing and cleansing all in one. (I use honey as my face wash … it’s amazing!)

We started with 10,000 bees and the queen … by the end of the summer we’ll have about 60,000 bees and the same queen. She goes on one mating trip and mates with 10 to 12 drones then comes back to the hive and never has to mate again.

Bees are very particular about their space and centimeters matter in their hives.

Nature is cool.

Bee’s cannot see the color red and you shouldn’t eat a banana before working with a hive (something about the smell alerts them to a threat or enemy).

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

— Winnie the Pooh

They sound like a wave in the ocean, all those wings humming. A quiet thunder of complete wonder.

This is why we have bees.


I keep thinking the flowers on the trees will disappear over night. For the past 9 nine days I’ve been mentally making plans to go down town with my camera JUST to capture this time. The essence of spring, of something new. Like the ribbon on a well wrapped gift … once it’s taken off, you can never really get it back. Not the way it was.

But I drive past our main road every day and those trees with their white flowers are still bursting with surprise.

Frederik Meijer Gardens

It catches me off guard, every single time I see it.

I drive the roads flanked with tulips, still on display. And I notice the flowering trees in full bloom. I see the carpet of green on every lawn, not yet have I seen spotty brown grass. Everything is lush. It’s just full. Everything is reeling in the aftermath of this really harsh winter and maybe I never really paid attention before, but this year it just gets me.

Spring Break 2012

Like a beauty that I had forgotten. Something I wondered if I’d ever experience again is finally here. It’s renewal, but it’s lasting.

That’s what keeps surprising me. It hasn’t gone away yet. It hasn’t melted into the melody of greens and garden boxes. It’s holding on, as if to tell me …

Volksparade 2014

… she was worth the wait.

How I plan to fill a space

Living Room-page-001

So I’ve been doing this since I can remember. I first look around, gather inspiration (before Pinterest, I would clip magazines) and sort my way through my favorite thrift and antique stores. When something catches my eye, I make a mental note and take a photo of the price tag and item and sleep on it. For months.

I’m not quick to buy things, usually. I like to build a plan and a budget, look for sales or creative ways to save, scour craigslist for similar items for a cheaper price and mentally get ready to pull a room together. I’m not a designer by trade, I didn’t go to school for this but this is the method that works for us and it ends up creating a space for our family that we love and feel comfortable in.

One of the things that seems to be helpful for me, from what I’m hearing from you, is that I can see a space in the AFTER while I’m looking at the BEFORE. I can envision a space with the walls out and the how the new layout will work. Although space planning is another animal entirely (That’s Aaron’s ace in the hole) so we work pretty well together.

Since the remodel of our own home completed we’ve been living with less than finished spaces.

Family room/living space

Bare bones design. No art on the walls AT ALL. Kitchen cabinets that are still from before, miniature appliances, and rooms with very little furniture.

It’s been just fine, actually. We needed to recover from living through the remodel, we very much enjoyed the open space and little-to-no furniture. We had dance parties and dinner parties and Sunday brunches and hosted a holiday and it has been just fantastic.

All this while saving our pennies to be able to buy a couch and a rug and here’s where we enter the Planning Zone:

I take to Pinterest and magazines to hoard away inspiration, layouts that could work for our space, colors I love, and pattern mixing options.

Those shelves!! YES! We’ve been through so many options for how we’re going to get our library outfitted with shelves. We were planning on spending upwards of $350 for each shelf.

Our front runner was this lovely piece from Sams Club and we even bought them (but since they didn’t have them in stock our only option was the floor model at a reduced price, SWEET right? Nope. Our Jetta with 2 kids wasn’t gonna make it work and it felt impulsey so we waited …) and had a few other ideas as well.

We LOVED this library shelving from World Market but when we went to see them in person it was less than impressive. And at the same price as the Sams Club option, we liked what Sam’s was offering better. But, still at World Market, we saw this piece, cheaper – sturdier … it was on the list.

But then I saw this on Pinterest and clicked through to see that these shelves? They were on sale and we could get 3 of them for the price of one from Sam’s club, and from the photo on the blog post … they looked awesome. Just like what we were hoping for (minus a ladder) and I was sold. Done.

So I started my list with links and prices. I do this with every space. A punch list? A source list? I build one so I can easily remember where and what and how much. Then I build a budget.

Library space-page-001

Since the above photo is a PDF converted to a JPG the links (words in blue) won’t work. But that’s ok … here they are for you.

3 BOOKCASES – $264 (we have 100 inches to fill so only 3 shelves at 30 inches wide will fit)
RUG – $96 (an 8X10 rug for under $100? OMG. Truth be told, I’ve been looking at this rug for MONTHS. It’s jute so I don’t love it for a living space but the colors, I can’t get over it. It grabbed me, I want it. But jute in a house? It’s not soft and so much of our space after the remodel is raw already, I didn’t want to keep that theme through the furnishings. I was hoping to soften up the space with fabrics and chairs. But for the library space? We need a bit of color in there.) Below is the library space as it sits this morning. Muted.

Front room/library

I bought the current rug (along with the one in our bedroom) before the remodel was completely finished. I knew I wanted the bedroom rug (saw it first on Young House Love) but the library rug was a bit of an impulse. It works, the colors flow – it’s fine, but it’s not quite right and it doesn’t offer any color.

The library space is going to be masculine but welcoming, inviting. It’s an extension of our bedroom since the Master is so small – we planned to “design” the spaces to flow well together.

But I feel like the shelves and possibly the rug is the start of something great.

Now for the Living Room Space …

Living Room-page-001

RUG – $210
TAN SOFA – $700

This is my inspiration for the layout you just have to pretend that the fireplace in the inspiration pin is actually french doors to our deck 🙂

And the space we plan to furnish:

French doors lead to a deck (used to be a fireplace)

The french doors used to be a fireplace – below is the same space BEFORE the remodel:

Main floor living room

And with the new furniture we plan to do a similar layout as the photo shows above, but the chairs will be a love seat and a smaller coffee table in the middle. Also? We can get the couches for 20% off which will make the overall budget for the Living Room Space $274 cheaper. WOOT!

Which brings us to the Dining Space:

Dining space-page-001

CHAIRS – $165

Current space we’re working with is:

Dining space

We switched out our round table for this Craigslist find ($50) and now I have a plan for the chairs.

The creamy/yellowish sette will sit along the accent (brown) wall and the new scoop chairs will float opposite. Our family eats at this table every evening together so 4 chairs is all we need to display, but I love that the scoop chairs could easily be turned around when we have company over to add seating to the conversation area with the couches.

PHEW. We made it! Now to throw a birthday party for my boy. Food fight included. (Shhhhhh!)

We’re having a massive multi-family garage sale July 19… so much of our “stand in” furniture or “wait a little longer/hold us over” seating etc will be there. Mark your calendars!

A studio

One of the things I kept dreaming about before we found this house was an extra space, not attached to the house, for a studio. A shed? An old barn? A chicken coop?

I couldn’t even really tell you why other than my entire being yearned for external space to create. Write, paint, hang out and drink tea, listen to loud music, meet with friends, read poetry, write poetry etc etc etc. A space, just something small, to call my own – but not my own at all. Ours, because I believe that small voices with big hope are more powerful than loud voices who just make a lot of noise.

From the upstairs bedrooms of this house – I could see this in the backyard:

first showing

The neighbors tell me they used to keep pigeons. This shed was a pigeon loft.

we have a home

outdoor shed: my dream office

outdoor shed: my dream office

this is my house

outdoor shed: my dream office

I was enchanted immediately. It smelled and was incredibly gross on the inside. It was a heap of forgotten wood with cages and clapboard cottage shingles. Mice were living in it, as well as an entire colony of honey bees. For all intents and purposes, this shed was a place to keep the lawn mower to the untrained eye.

But I have dreams and I was stuck in them for a while, wanting to learn but afraid I’d fail … until I couldn’t take it any more and I just started.

See ya later pigeon cage. #homeimprovement

I tore one of the fly cages out … and one weekend while I was away Aaron and the kids completely gutted the insides of the shed – getting rid of all the gross paneling …

My first studio. It begins.

Then we started work on our pea gravel patio.

And I planted the beginnings of my mini orchard, apple trees!

Planted my apple trees in front of my studio. Anyone know of a guy who does side jobs for extra cash? Need some rotted wood replaced and a few other things on the studio.

Which left us with this as our shed last summer:

You can take me as far away from here as you want: I'll go. But you have to bring me back, always. #home

I hope this summer we can finally finish it and make it that space I’ve been dreaming of, but I’m stuck again.

We tore the roof with the help of my brother and dad last summer but then it got cold and stayed cold for way.too.long and now my shed looks like this:

Literally, we tore the roof off. #studio #girlsinthegarage

Total progress from yesterday. Got so much done. I can see the finished studio :)

Home stretch and at least cover-able for the elements. #studio

I spy with my little eye: something peeking at me.

We took the roof off to add height and windows to the entire perimeter of the building. I got inspiration from this pin.

I want to create a welcoming, cozy space to work, but also relax. I love the look of this pin – an industrial/primitive work space. I like the plywood (or planking wood) on the top half of the walls and I’d do tile on the bottom. I imagine I’ll be doing some painting in this space, so white that can get painted and messy appeals to me.

What do you think about a tin roof?? Currently obsessed.

I love this and this too.

Some wild light fixture, a few new outlets and some weather proofing. Ideally I’d like to leave my supplies out there year round, so a small electric furnace might be in order as well.

So there you have it, our outdoor space is forever changing and growing. I love our house but I don’t think I could move because of our yard. We have all kinds of plans for it.

What are you guys currently working on? Now that the snow is finally melted and the weather is trying to warm up, I feel like I want to live outside for June, July, and August and I’m trying to plan every weekend as a back yard party of sorts. I got my starter plants for the garden this weekend and some perennials to plant in my “pick garden” and we’re planning a tree house for the kids this year or next.

But first … FIRST, I have to finish my studio. Resourcefulness over resources, how am I going to get this done?

Pssssst: Also! Two years ago today we bought the house; Happy Birthday, House!