Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 7)

Since this is my favorite one, of course it would be the most expensive. Only one car will be parked in front, so it would be in position 2. I don’t want a car blocking the steps. And if there is a second car, it can park in front of or in the garage.

My landscape architect’s accompanying letter:
Attached are three sketches for the driveway, parking, and porch steps.
 
There are two major problems that we are trying to solve. The first is the elevation change from the finish floor height (FF) of the house (assumed to be 100.0′) and the garage and parking area. The difference is about 10 feet. The second is the tight maneuvering space for cars between the garage and the house.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 6)

If you’re wondering how to climb up to the front porch, stay tuned for my next post, Tumble Moon (Update 7).

Last week we all met at Tumble Moon to go over wood floor options, exterior colors, and interior paint, tile, and countertop colors. And most importantly to work out the site’s grading and how to develop the approach to the front of the house, which I will cover in a future post.

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Tumble Moon (Update 5)

The bed alcove on the second floor.

The house is now a structural reality. Charley McKenney and I met the general contractor Pat Fuhrmann today along with his subs to go over the custom cabinetry and the electrical needs for my tiny house. It was perfect spring weather with an incredible cross breeze blowing through the window and door openings. And the views from the windows are even more spectacular than I had imagined. Again, I should have taken my fancy camera with a zoom lens, but instead shot the following photos with my iPhone.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 4)

Just a hint of what views can be seen from the finished house. I will have to take my fancy camera out there on the next visit, so I can zoom in on this view and capture all the lush landscape details of the Red River valley. This photo was taken with my iPhone which doesn’t have much zoom ability.

With the foundation complete, I and my architect, Charley McKenney, took Eco Friends Pest Control out to Tumble Moon to do the first phase of the termite treatment. The second and final treatment will have to wait until after all construction and exterior grading have been completed.

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Tumble Moon (Update 3)

Please don’t laugh. I know it’s just the garage, but it’s physical proof of progress. And this makes me happy.

Tumble Moon now has a well, pump house, and garage. Things are really beginning to pick up steam, and if I’m not careful, I could easily become overwhelmed. Even though I experienced the renovation of my home here in Dallas, building something from scratch is a whole ‘nother ball game. And then there’s the driving back and forth to Saint Jo in a single day (two hours there and three frustrating hours back) that will have to be done more frequently.

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Tumble Moon (Small Solution #1)

nightstands-02

The top photo is an elevation done to scale to show how the wall-hung shelf would fit in on either side of the bed, and it couldn’t be a more perfect fit. The bottom photo is a fuzzy jpeg of the wall-hung shelf from the vendor’s website.
The top photo is an elevation done to scale to show how the wall-hung shelf would fit in on either side of the bed, and it couldn’t be a more perfect fit. The bottom photo is a fuzzy jpeg of the wall-hung shelf from the vendor’s website.

When a traditional nightstand won’t fit, a wall-hung option can be a perfect solution. My bed will be located within the gable alcove, and with only an eighteen inch clearance on either side, a traditional nightstand was going to be too much mass and clutter. After an extensive online search, I found a very affordable option that also had interesting character at El Paso Import Company. I’ve ordered one to make sure it will work for me. If it doesn’t, I would have only spent $29 and can easily use it somewhere else at Tumble Moon. There is one concern, and that is the depth of the shelf, which is listed as being seven inches. That’s not deep enough. Perhaps it can be replaced. We’ll see when it arrives, and I’ll post photos of it.

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Tumble Moon (Update 2)

Paint colors have not been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. The back elevation has changed. The back door has been moved around to the side, and there are now two windows.
Paint colors have not been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. The back elevation has changed. The back door has been moved around to the side, and there are now two windows.

Design Development. We (Charley McKenney and I) have now moved from the schematic phase to the design development phase. Actually we’re further along and are now way into the construction document phase, but this post is about the design development and includes all the interior elevations. You know… the fun stuff. Once you have clicked over to the entire post, please remember that by clicking on an image, you will see a much larger version. While you’re in the large version mode you can click the right arrow which will take you to the next drawing. This way you don’t have to exit this mode in order to get to the next image, but you will need to exit in order to read the captions.

Country Retreat

Tumble Moon (Update 1)

No paint colors have been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. I do know what color it won’t be, white. The color pallet will come from the natural elements on the property, twigs, bark, leaves, and stone.
No paint colors have been picked for the house, but I felt these drawings could use some pizzazz. I do know what color it won’t be, white. The color pallet will come from the natural elements on the property, twigs, bark, leaves, and stone.

I finally decided on a name for my new piece of heaven, Tumble Moon. It’s the name of a Texas Dude ranch in an old campy film called Lightning Strikes Twice (1951). It seems that all the other name combinations that might describe my property’s uniqueness were already spoken for by multiple apartment complexes.

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The Tiny House Concept

This exterior design from Max House Plans is ideal for my country retreat.
This exterior design from Max House Plans is ideal for my country retreat.

For my new piece of heaven, I envision a traditional southern vernacular. What I don’t envision is an open floor plan where the ground floor is one room with the kitchen lining one to two walls and all the furniture grouped in the middle. This trend seems to be prevalent for just about all new builds of small houses. In my opinion, an open concept is a cop-out for traditional vernaculars. It’s a lazy approach to space planning and has no appeal or charm, and it certainly isn’t what one would expect to find when viewing the house from the outside. On the other hand, having a lot of walls and interior doors can be claustrophobic in a small house. I believe a compromise is in order.

Since the chosen building site within the 8.5 acreage is a small open meadow, a compact footprint (600 to 800 square feet total) is required with the living and kitchen spaces on the ground level and the bedroom(s) on the second floor. In the last five years, the tiny house movement has really caught on, and there are now numerous online sources where you can download free tiny house plans. I found one particular plan at The small House Catalog that is a great example of how a small home’s interiors can be divided without a lot interior walls and still be open. Click on the link below to see this floor plan.

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The Lay of the Land

Click this image for a larger version. The pink-lined shape indicates the topographical placement of my acreage outside of Saint Jo, Texas.
Click this image for a larger version. The pink-lined shape indicates the topographical placement of my acreage outside of Saint Jo, Texas.

Topography maps are fascinating and incredibly beautiful. To get a better understanding of the terrain on my soon-to-be-purchased piece of paradise, I turned to my old friend Google to hunt out topography maps. The map I chose for this post, which includes my acreage, is especially beautiful because of the etched valleys spreading south from the Red River creating what looks like green crazy fingers or maybe upside down Christmas trees.

With this topography map and using InDesign, I then layered it with two other image files, the site survey and Google’s aerial view, in order to know exactly where my property lies and verify what I already suspected, the entire 8.36 acres lies on the north slope of a large bluff. Sometimes this hill and the larger one to the east are referred to as Tyler Bluff, but more often, the larger east hill is the only one labeled as such. At least one edge of my acreage lies at the base of the hill where an access road has been created.

Click the link below for the entire topography map of this area.