We can finally share the big news! Jenna, from the immensely popular YouTube channel, Tiny House Giant Journey, reached out to us a few months ago. She found this site and wanted to feature us in a video on her channel. We were thrilled and honored, especially - as I mention in my previous blog post - her channel was instrumental in our own "giant journey'".
Her videographer, Mark and his girlfriend Marina came out one day a few months ago and visited with us for nearly 6 hours, filming and interviewing, chatting and listening to my way-too-long stories...they are wonderful.
And here we are! The day has arrived and you can view the video HERE - on Jenna's channel. She has a subscriber base of around 1.5 MILLION viewers and no, we're not mildly freaked out in any way....yikes?
We look forward to your comments and conversations. Please feel free to comment here or even reach out to us using the Contact page above. And of course please like the video and subscribe to Jenna's channel. There are so many Tiny House journeys and there's no better place to get informed and plan your own Tiny House Giant Journey.
Hello everyone. That big news I've been hinting about is almost here. But first, I want to share a little history.
When we were first starting to design our Tiny Mouse House, actually even before that, we were watching shows and videos about Tiny Houses. And at the time, we really had three main sources.
The first was perhaps the original Tiny House television show called Tiny House Nation. It started on the FYI network in July of 2014, then moved to A&E for it's 5th and final season in 2019. Hosted by John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, they would travel the country helping people downsize and move into this crazy new trend called Tiny Homes. You can watch the first 2 seasons on Netflix. We did and found it interesting how it focused not just on the innovations and creativity of the builders (led by Zack), but also on the human element of taking these couples and families and going from large homes down to tiny houses under 300 square feet.
It was a wake up call initially. How could we possibly go from a 1900 square foot two-story four-bedroom home into a tiny house? My wife wasn't daunted at all. I was though. It took her a LOT of convincing. But she had help...and not from the source you might have thought.
No, it was two YouTube channels that actually convinced me. Through the amazing talent of each channel's host, I eventually came around to see her vision and myself got really excited and well, the rest is history.
One channel - and the host my wife has a crush on, I don't care what she says - is Living Big In A Tiny House. The host, Bryce Langston, is based in New Zealand, but he travels around the world filming and interviewing tiny home owners. We watched dozens of episodes, fascinated at what people were doing with their houses. Whether in a forested glade in New Zealand, the outback of Australia, the French countryside or a seaside view here in the United States, Bryce found the unique and the beautiful, always detailing size and cost, but focusing on what was possible.
The other channel was one that really helped us with not just what could happen, but how to make it happen. Featuring more tips and hints and facts and things-you-may-not-think-about, Jenna's channel Tiny House Giant Journey was a huge inspiration and, quite frankly, a reality check of what we could accomplish and what we needed to look at - not only amazing tours of some phenomenal tiny homes, but also things like insurance, zoning laws, what type of restroom facilities - and how to do so with a smile and enthusiasm and dedication to the Tiny House community that truly makes Jenna so special and her videos both informative and entertaining.
I wish I could point to which one had the "turning point" video for me. I suppose I could spend the time some day and track it down, as I still remember it. Funny thing is, what it showed isn't something we did in our design. Rather is triggered a feeling of "well, if they can do that, then what could we do?" The video is a tour of a tiny home overlooking, I believe, the pacific ocean. The most notable feature is how both side walls completely lift up, like huge hinged doors, allowing the entire center living area to be open to their deck or out the back to...um, whatever was back there. And so much time has passed, don't quote me on the back side opening up. Funny how memory does that. Regardless, it was that tilt-off-center moment, that outside-the-box design choice that made me realize we could take whatever we wanted and make it into our dream house.
And we did. You can read through some of my earlier blog posts here to get a sense of the rest of that journey, but I wanted to touch a bit specifically on our main sources of inspiration for a reason.
Yeah, it comes back around to that big surprise, which I won't spoil yet. I will say again that if anyone reading this would like to talk to us more about our journey, please post a comment or use the contact page to reach out. What we learned was sometimes hard to find or we learned trial-by-fire. But if it hadn't been for what Jenna, Bryce, John & Zack created - and with Jenna and Bryce continue to create today - we would most likely still be living in a not-so-tiny-house. And our dream would have stayed just a dream. Please give their channels a look and subscribe if you find them as wonderful as we do.
Hi all. First, expect a special announcement on Thursday or Friday of this week. Not about a "new addition" but something we've been working on and it's finally happening! So excited.
And as for the "new addition"? Well, more to come on that as well. But for now...I'll just leave this here.
Hi all! It's been a minute, But I have a few updates for you and some very exciting news...which I can sorta, almost tell you about. Heh. You'll see.
First, we just had our two year anniversary in our Tiny Mouse House! It's really hard to believe it has been two years, but on August 15th, 2020, Dom and Arlin from Forever Homes delivered our tiny house and our dream of living in a Disney tiny house came true.
Those two years have gone by so quickly. We're still in the same location but a few things have changed:
- We had to say goodbye to both of our little Yorkies, Toby and Ty. Brothers til the end, they passed within a week of each other. We had over 16 wonderful years with them and know they're in a wonderful place, with no health issues, playing tug of war and zooming around the yard... we miss them.
- We've been to Disneyland a few times and were lucky enough to visit Disney Springs late last year. While the trip didn't allow time to visit the parks, it was still wonderful to visit our "third home" and buy some cool Christmas presents for the family.
- We had our first major maintenance issue. One of our mini-split header units failed. But Senville, the manufacturer, replaced the entire head unit under warranty. And thanks to Chris and John from The Little Guys HVAC, it was replaced right before that 116-degree heat smashed into use several weeks ago. The labor and refrigerant costs will take a while to pay off, but Chris was really great about it and I wouldn't hesitate to contact them again. And Senville really did a great job with the warranty replacement. And the forward thinking of Forever Homes in how they built in a hollow, removable shelf and invisible access panel to get to those connections? That was awesome in action. Thank you to all involved.
I wanted to touch on two more updates before that exciting news I promised. First is a question that I may need to come back to with a separate post, but let's give it a shot: what has it been like to live in a tiny house for the past two years?
To be honest, we have loved it. This is our sanctuary. It embodies all we love about Disney and we smile every time we come home. It doesn't feel small, except when we have more than two people visit. Our son stays over nearly every weekend and it feels fine. We've had guests come by and two more people can fit comfortably for a visit. More than that, yeah, that's pushing it unless I'm up in my loft at the same time. The house is cozy and comfortable and well, home. I love every design element we included and are thankful for all the special touches Forever Homes included.
With that said, are there things I wish we would have done differently? Of course - hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. I wish we would have come up with a better ventilation/cooling system for the lofts, especially The Adventurer's Loft. Heat rises and it can get rather toasty with 116-degree heat. However, once we had that mini-split head unit fixed, the units in the living room and bedroom kept the ambient temps down and I only needed the box fan - which I always have running up there for circulation - and another smaller fan only really needed in the afternoons of hot days. I think some sort of fan to vent the heat outside, pulling the cooler air from below, would have made a huge difference without losing valuable wall space or roof area we hope to someday utilize for solar.
I think we also would have chosen a couch-style theater recliners. While the center console offers a nice storage area.....well, dangit, we can't cuddle while watching a movie. :( That change may still happen...
And that leads to the second question which I could probably spend an entire post on (and might): what's next?
For us personally, we have not taken a significant vacation since our trip to Europe in September 2019. We have spent a week in LA last year with the family, but haven't cruised since 2015 or taken any long getaway in quite a while. So next year, if plans hold, we'll be doing something. Not sure what. Might be a trip to Hawaii and Aulani, since we've never been to the state, possibly combined with a cruise. Or we might do our "big one" to Tokyo Disneyland since they just announced this week that individual tourist can once again visit Japan starting October 11th, 2022. But whatever it is I've let my work know, since I already have a huge number of vacation hours in the bank and have to use them before they expire, expect me to be gone for at least three weeks in 2023.
As for the Tiny Mouse House? Well, that sort of leads into the exciting news I keep referring to...and how I'm going to try to sort-of tell you what it is without telling you what it is? Um, okay. So a lot of this story will need to be told when we can fully tell you what's going on. I CAN confirm we will still be in the Tiny Mouse House, so no worries there. We're not moving (yet) and that's not part of this news, that's a for-the-future-if-it-happens post.
No, this has happened/will happen due to us being contacted by someone who we respect greatly and offering us a chance to....well, I can't say more. Let's simply say we hope you will all enjoy what comes from this.
We also hope this might lead to bigger and better things for us and the Tiny Mouse House. It's already resulted in an awesome new friendship we can't wait to share with you and some hopefully future connections and opportunities such a "thing as this" may bring.
And with that, I will end here. Oh, the surprise is due hopefully in November or December. When I know more, I'll post it here and out to all of our friends.
Thank you all for sticking with us and being patient through our long pauses in posts. But this journey truly is just getting started. I hope all our friends - old and new - stick with us on it. It's going to be a magical one! Hugs!
-Mark & Mona
So...umm....we're still here. :)
Hi all. Yes, we're still here. Still in our amazing Tiny Mouse House and still enjoying the Tiny House life. As I mentioned, at some point I think, we would only post if we had content to add that's worth your and our time.
My "hope" is to get some new blog posts up soon (no promises though), specifically about how things are, changes we've made (minor decorative), maintenance issues (hardly any), and a new lighting project for the house that will be, we hope, spectacular.
More soon, hopefully. Hugs until then!
One Year Anniversary
Back in June of 2019, I began a conversation with Arlin at Forever Tiny Homes. At the time, everything was just “an idea”…”a thought”…”a dream”…
Fast-forward a little over a year later. The world flipped on itself. Nothing made sense and dreams seemed the least important over just surviving. Yet for us, the dream had become the reality. On August 15th, 2020, Arlin and Dominic delivered our Tiny Mouse House.
And now we’re here, August 15th, 2021 – a year living full-time in our tiny house. I’d like to relate a few highs and lows from the past year, and perhaps share some insights into what such a dramatic change moving from 1800 square feet into less than 300 can be…and how it really wasn’t that dramatic after all.
A large part of the lack of drama or rather the ease of adapting was due to living in a smaller trailer during the build time. As a reminder to those who haven’t read all of our blog posts, when our house sold in January ’20, we had found a location to live, but the tiny house was just beginning to be constructed, design decisions still being made and the early impact of the pandemic being felt by our wonderful builders as they furiously sourced material and manpower. So where do we live? We didn’t want to lose our spot, but fortunately a good friend came to our rescue and let us live in his 26’ trailer for 8 months while our house was completed. From the end of January until August 15th, Mona and I moved from a two story 4 bedroom 2-1/2 bathroom house into this little trailer.
It was a shock to the system to say the least. Just us and two little yorkies and a whole lotta understanding, patience and routine to get us through. I no longer had my den to retreat to at the end of the day. Mona didn’t have her huge living room, kitchen and dining room to run her business. The trailer was awesome for what it was, but we had to deal with grey and black tanks, a tiny 5 gallon hot water heater, and honestly a trailer that was made for weekend getaways. Not full time living. We have the greatest respect and understanding for those we’ve met who do this year after year. Wow.
But time passes and as slow as it did – again, the world was busy FORCING us to remain inside this little lack-of-elbow-room abode – it was soon time for delivery. The trailer was cleaned and returned to our friend who I still can’t thank enough. And suddenly Mona and I – after one of the hottest days in August spent working with Arlin and Dominic and our son to get the house situated and hooked up – were standing in our home.
Our Tiny Mouse House. Oh, we still had a TON of interior decorating to do. Through a gazillion back-and-forth emails with Arlin (she has the patience and enthusiasm of a saint – good lord, go buy a house from her already people! 😊), they had created our dream home….with all the actual DREAMS realized. The infrastructure was all there. The skeleton ready for us to fill out, to dress up, to make the dream even more vibrant and wonderful and Disney.
We spent that evening with my mom and dad at the house. My mom…I can’t ever thank her enough for sewing all of our curtains. Not just any curtains, no. There are different colors and patterns for each room, each “land” in our home. Red and polka-dot-black-&-white for the kitchen and living room, purple and green for “Dopey’s Mine”, Yellow and Orange for “Pooh Corner” and so much more. Curtains and valances, lovingly sewn and never a penny asked. I love my parents. Indulging the Disney fandom they had fostered and supported among myself, Mona and our kids. My brothers have not followed that specific infatuation, but that’s alright. More for us.
Later that year, we braved this strange new world and ventured south to Downtown Disney in September after it had reopened for shopping. We spent WAY too much money but came home with a car-full of this and that, all perfectly matching our vision. Etsy became my second home as we either found perfect pieces or engaged some amazing artisans who brought our ideas to life.
By the end of 2020, as the holidays approached and we found how easy it was to decorate a much tinier house, we truly felt our visions had been realized. All the pieces were in place, even pieces we hadn’t thought about. I encourage you to watch the second video I have posted on our website, which takes you on a tour of the interior of our home.
There HAVE been changes, of course. Some heart-breaking – we lost our two little puppies at the age of 16 just a few weeks ago. Like the close brothers they were, when we had to put one down the other followed two days later. They were inseparable and chose not to be apart for long. They now live in memoriam in our home and our memories are slowly moving to happy ones of the unconditional love and friendship they blessed us with for over 16 years.
Overall, though, the changes have been happy. We are SO thankful for the results of original design decisions, such as direct sewer hook ups – no tanks to clean or flush, no clogs or smells. And a stackable washer and dryer, though they will shake the house better than those old coin-operated hotel massage beds – we have learned to mount things very carefully so they are shake-proof. And oh man the on-demand tankless hot water heater? Halle-frickin’-lujah. No 5 minute turn-off-the-water-to-save-it showers. And that shower is of the rainfall variety. And it’s in a jacuzzi tub with its own heater. Need I say more? And being a tech-head, I continually enjoy our smart house and 55” 4K TVs with Dolby Atmos and my consoles and my Hue Sync lighting in my loft and and and….
You get the idea.
What we have found is that there really was ZERO adapting when we moved in. Living in that 26’ trailer for 8 months made this house a mansion. And it has remained so to this day. But with the added bonus of, generally (not always), limiting our collection habits. Oh, we collected a LOT of stuff back in our home days. My collection of Funko Pops and BluRays and die-cast Disney models and containers of this and that…don’t get me started on my Harry Potter wand collection (though to be honest I still have that in storage and it’s not going anywhere don’t ask…) We have learned to really THINK about what we’re about to buy, to caution anyone who wants to buy us a gift, to reign in the impulse buying that ran rampant for many a-year.
Now, I won’t lie and say that has completely disappeared. No, it still happens. But we try to stay “on brand” and make sure it fits. For example, take a look at this latest resident of our “Happiest House on Earth”.
Yeah…you know, he was a lot bigger than I expected… 😉
So here we are. One year in the Tiny Mouse House. It has been overall an amazing, wonderful experience. And every day we try to remind ourselves of what it took to get here, appreciate the conveniences – thank GOD we over-planned-at-the-time and included TWO mini-split Air Conditioning units! – and be mindful of the limitations it presents…of which there are very few.
Living in our Tiny Mouse House continues to be a joy and we are so very thankful of everyone who has helped us get to where we are today. But remember: this house has wheels. We will move someday on to more exciting adventures. No idea what those might be, but we can’t wait to find out.
Return to normal...
It seems strange to say, but our tiny mouse house has never known a non-pandemic world. It was built in early 2020 and we moved in that August. It also seems crazy that we've been living in our house for almost a year now. Crazy times indeed.
But things are a-changin'. I have already been back to The Happiest Place on Earth, with two more trips with the family coming later this year. And with the lifting of restrictions and - most importantly - our full vaccination status, we are looking at opening up the Tiny Mouse House to friends for in-person tours soon.
We can't share the exact location, per request of our hosts, but upon request we may consider in-person tours. There is no charge of course - this is our home, and it's just an opportunity to share our love for Disney with other like-minded individuals. But beyond that, it's also our experience designing and having a tiny house custom built and talking with others who may want to take the same journey.
If you're interested in chatting more about it and would perhaps like to visit, please reach out using the Contact option on the top menu. We of course have to be very selective, primarily for our safety and privacy, but we also are very much wanting to share our beloved home and the magic it offers with others. Hope to hear from some of you soon!
Stay safe, GET VACCINATED (a requirement to visit us) and see you real soon!
Spring Update: Living Tiny
As we enter May, not much has changed in the Tiny Mouse House. That's something new for us, as when we were in our large house, we would often have a new wave of items received or purchased during the holidays. Decorative elements would change, replacement of older furniture or appliances, just those usual things one assumes happens when owning a home.
When you live tiny, that really doesn't happen as often. Oh sure, there are seasonal items that might be put away in storage, replaced by something else. But really, even that hasn't happened for us. The biggest change was our tree in the front of our house blowing down during one particularly nasty windy day. Missed the hood of my car by a foot. Maintenance dragged it away the next day and there are no plans I aware of the replace it. It wasn't big enough to provide much shade, but it was a nice addition to an otherwise barren landscape. Just grass now, and that fights with the kudzu for dominance.
Interior and exterior design for our house was carefully planned. We were fortunate in that we found (or had built) everything we wanted. We did not ask for house items for Christmas, because we wouldn't have anywhere to put them. We don't purchase "knick-knacks" or collectibles anymore, because there is no where to display them. Oh sure, we'll find the occasional item that we know has to fit, but it comes with a much longer decision process. Where is this going to go in the house? Would it replace something we really like, or is there a space for it without adding clutter (something we really try hard to avoid, and which I believe we've succeeded at.) And above all else, does it fit each "land" - the theme of each of the 5 distinct interior areas or the general external aesthetic?
And this extends to all purchases. A new book? Does it fit on the shelves (they have themes per shelf, and some are near their limits). A new shirt? Will it fit in the closet, and if so, what will it replace that has to go back into storage and thus not warn in "regular rotation"? Even grocery shopping requires consideration of where will that be stored? I wanted to cook a recipe I found last night, for example, but realized that some of the backup items I used to keep in the pantry at the old house were either over in the storage unit or simply had to be purchased because keeping it for no immediate reason is a waste of valuable space.
I want to stress here that this is in no way us complaining. Sure, there are things that have taken getting used to. And there are things that, really, I wish we had designed for better. But that is no different than the house before, regardless of space. Examples?
One is I wish we would have placed the bedroom mini-split up in my loft. The heat, especially with the electronics I have up there, gets nasty during the summer. I have a box fan running on a schedule every day to circulate the air from the living area (which stays really cool thanks to the mini-split there, with the awning and solar shades in the windows two of the best purchases we made - and they look great!) But yeah - knowing what I know now, I would eliminate the entire window up there and have a mini-split in it's place. Maybe someday that might be a change I have made. And as for the bedroom, we run it mostly in winter to combat the cold. But honestly, a floor heater would work as well.
And there are other, smaller things - a shelf in a different spot, wishing we had taken our builders' advice and gone with a light weight ladder for the other loft instead of the heavy maple one (which is BEAUTIFUL but unwieldly.) Things like that. Many of which we can still correct ourselves in the years to come.
Overall, though, after 8 months living in it, we still love it. The build quality Arlin and Dominic at Forever Homes put into this home for us has so far proven true to the name "Forever". It feels high quality and solid, built to last. We are working with them on resolving some grout issues in our shower, with the only other issue being a "swelling" front door that sticks when opening and closing due to change in temperatures - something I think I just need to attack again with a sanding block so I can get it repainted before the summer heat sets in.
Spring brings "honey do" lists in a tiny house just like any other place. And there are some maintenance tasks I need to get done soon. Like checking the tire pressures, changing out the water filter next month, starting up the backup generator to make sure it's running well and not having issues for sitting too long - we've been lucky this past year with practically no power outages, but that may change with PG&E this summer, so better to be prepared. I need to climb up and at least visually inspect the roof. And we need to plan for a professional cleaning of the house and awning soon - fortunately we have a company that does a great job for a reasonable price.
I guess the real point of this blog post, if there is one - heh - is that living in a tiny home brings the same tasks and considerations and maintenance as a larger house. It's all relative, and tiny doesn't mean small and uncomfortable. It means compact and smartly planned. It means cozy and inviting. It means home is still home, regardless of size.
We are so very proud of where we live. I personally still get goose bumps when I see it when I get home at night, rounding the corner as the Mickey Mouse icons come into view, the gorgeous black-and-white Sunsetter awning framing the front. I feel so much pride when I see people stop and double-take when they see the house for the first time, and the look on a child's face when they point and smile and laugh and the glowing Mickeys and the color show from underneath the house at night. I get giddy when I visit each "land" as I walk through the house, so proud that we have achieved what we imagined. That it WAS possible, that we found the perfect partners to make this happen and that we did not - and still will not - settle for anything less than the culmination of our dreams. When I see our shower, I still search for the hidden Mickeys. When I sit in my recliner, I still look around and gaze at all of the decorations - not too many, not too few - and feel that warmth of Disney magic wash over me. And when I sit in my chair, up in my Adventurer's Loft, I let myself disappear into a magical environment of immersive Dolby Atmos sound, 4K HDR visuals and Hue lighting, flashing to the visuals and illuminating the decorations and environment that make me feel more relaxed and enveloped in the magic that we designed and brought to life and....well, I love it more and more every day....
....And yet there is still more to come. Spring is just one season. This is still just the first year. Oh, the things we have planned. The world is coming back online. The magic is returning at the parks. And we're just getting started. :)
How we made our home 'smart'
Being in IT for most of my life (and loving technology in general), I knew I wanted our tiny home as "smart" as possible. That started at the design phase. We highly encourage anyone considering building a tiny home or having one built for you to "get into the weeds" with the design. Don't pick a ready-made plan. You want to look at all aspects of the design. With making a home smart in particular, you want to look at things like number of electrical outlets, types of outlets, how to get your connectivity into the house, even the materials of the walls vs placement of wireless equipment. It all needs to be considered to avoid unexpected challenges that may have expensive solutions later on.
POWER: We worked with Forever Homes to make sure that we had electrical plugs (3-prong of course) in every room and almost on every wall, depending on our design. We even had them placed strategically in our bookcases, since that is where our "data center" would be, as well as upstairs in my Adventurer's Loft. Most of the outlets are two plug with two USB ports. We also added multiple plugs outside with weather-proof covers, a couple of which are mounted at near-roof height for alarm cameras, retractable awning, etc. Keep high cords high and out of view, low cords low, etc. Nothing worse than extension cords running up and down the side of your house. We also added two Universal Power Supplies (APC - one 425va downstairs and one 600va in the loft) to cover any power outages vs the electronics they support. They give us enough time to start up our gas/propane/lpg Firman generator, which is ready to go outside and just requires moving a power cord. It provides enough power to handle out refrigerator and our mini-split (one-unit), while still keeping the electronics powered up to avoid reboots and allow the "smart" part of the house to remain operational. Power for the house, by the way, is a 50amp cord into our parking spot's utility box, with a high-end surge protector sitting in between.
CONNECTIVITY: We did NOT have the house wired for ethernet. Instead, with the house being mainly open-concept and no real significant walls to speak of internally, we went with a new Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming 6-Stream WiFi 6 Router. Mainly because of the WiFi 6 capability, the sheer power of it's signal and past experience with in-house coverage, and personally for the gaming aspects, which translate directly to better throughput AND better security. It is dual-band, which is important as some smart devices still rely on the 2.4ghz wireless vs 5ghz. This router support both reliably. But what about the internet itself? We are lucky to have an ISP with wireless service providing terrific speeds (30mbps on average), which isn't earth-shattering but does what we need it to do. We have no problem streaming on both TVs while using our mobile devices and even having downloads going, though the intelligent routing of the Nighthawk helps keep things moving well.
But of course you have to get that internet INTO the house. Our wireless antenna is outside with great line of sight to our provider's nearest antenna. The antenna is small and mounted high and out of sight on the back of the house. From there a cable runs down and under the house to the front side. Here is where early planning at the design phase comes in again. We had our builder place conduit in the wall feeding from under the house (a pvc pipe just in front of the frame rail and painted the same color so it is practically invisible and given the location very weather resistant). The internet line feeds into the conduit and up into the bookcase where it comes out a brush plate, also painted the same black as the bookcase. From there it feeds into their small power box and then directly to our router.
We also had a connecting conduit run from that same brush plate in the wall to where are main TV's wall mount is (with a specifically placed 2-plug outlet as well). Meaning that our main TV and sound bar are all connected to the internet and our Xbox One X in the bookcase via the conduit, with no wires showing on the wall!. The Xbox provides us a gaming center and a media hub for our YouTube TV (no cable needed), while our TV's are also Roku-enabled.
SMART DEVICES: The devices in our house that are "smart" are many, and we went with Amazon Alexa as the main ecosystem. Again, back to the design phase, we carefully designed specific lighting zones and provided our builder with smart light switches, some on/off, some dimmers, depending on the capability of what would be plugged in. The switches provide LED ceiling lights in all of the main rooms, as well as our main ceiling fan and the outside lighting (both the porch light and the Mickey LED power). Each light switch connects via 2.4ghz wireless to a mobile app for setup, and then via skill directly to Alexa for control.
Speaking briefly about the Mickey icons outside. Not only do they have general power through a smart switch, but the multi-color lighting behind each is provided via two strip lights which themselves have color controls via an app that is also Alexa connected. That allows us to run different lightning programs set to go off at different times or different days, all via Alexa routines.
We have Amazon echo devices in every room, including one main Echo Plus (2nd gen) which provides an internal smart home hub, necessary for some of these devices, one Echo Show in the kitchen for an info center as well as Ring Doorbell visuals (more on that later). and 4 additional Echo Dots in the other rooms. No matter where you are - bathroom included - Alexa is available and all of the commands and capabilities that come with it. Plus they are all connected into a single optional speaker group. When we want, we can play music in just one room, multiple rooms, or for an amazing sounding house-wide concert! The only downside is "cross-talk" where sometimes two devices hear the same voice command and try to act on it. But this has happened less and less as Amazon releases updates and the AI learns from us.
Our general appliances are not smart enabled, mainly for cost reasons and size requirements. Though our mini-splits do have the capability coming soon, according to the manufacturer. Fingers crossed. BUT our entertainment components certainly are. From our TVs to our Dolby Atmos soundbars to our gaming consoles (Xbox One X and Xbox Series X), they are all connected and available via Alexa, though of course the PS4 and PS5 are not directly connected to Alexa, they are still part of the setup, as is the Switch. Combined with our Hue Lighting, we are able to create multiple-device routines that via voice commands can turn on devices, set the lighting and even start a movie or gaming session.
Speaking of Hue Lighting, we plan to have a separate post on this since the majority of these lights are in the Adventurer's Loft, but briefly, we do not have Hue Lighting throughout the entire house. Most of our lights, as we mentioned previously, are low-power LED ceiling lights, controlled via smart dimmer switches (each with 10 stops of light intensity - so bright, we leave them all at just "10 percent" as a default). However, we have been Hue users for many, many years. We have multi-color outdoor lights under the house which combine with the Mickey's for a colorful nighttime ambience. We also have Hue lighting behind our main TV downstairs, which lets us set a colored backlight for movies or TV. Also downstairs in the "data center" shelf is the Hue Hub (2nd gen) which makes all of the Hue Lights work together and connect to Alexa. As we said, we won't go into much detail, but all the rest of the Hue lighting is in the Adventurer's Loft and consists or an additional SIX more lights plus a Hue Sync Box. It's very illuminating! :)
SECURITY: Finally, we had to make sure that all of our cool things were protected. We won't go into specifics for obvious reasons, but we have a complete Ring Alarm system protecting our home. Multiple cameras, both inside and out, combined with the signature video doorbell, motion sensors, window and door sensors, flood lights, siren alarms and cellular backup for the hub, all communicating 24/7 to Ring's monitoring center, we feel fairly safe in our tiny mouse house.
Whew! That's a lot of stuff! But it all works together and there's plenty of room for even more additions as time goes on. And the best part is none of it is taking up any unplanned space. All of it was planned out from day one and integrated into the design. It has become second nature to speak out a command and have Alexa launch exactly what we need, answer questions, etc.
If anyone has any questions about any of the above, or any aspect of the tiny house design, please post a comment below and we'll get you an answer as quick as we can. More info soon!
Disney fans, gaming addicts (well, one of us is) and devoted parents. And Disney fans.....did we mention Disney fans?