Tiny House Diaries – New Carpet For The Bedroom!

Hello all!

Its been a while since I posted, and I’ve had to make an effort to structure my life such that regular blogging becomes viable. But I think I have just about achieved that, so here we are!
Rather than going on about what I’ve been up to, I’ll instead give you some CONTENT on one of two major changes to the tiny house in the past few months…

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All About Carpet 

Most folks who move into a static home, especially if they are renting like me, will probably find any carpet already installed is a rather poor, cheap variety.

This may not be the first thing they notice or in fact they may not ever notice it, but I am now attuned to such things – you see, at time of writing, I work for a carpet company.

This will be the first and last time I ‘talk shop’ on my blog, but I thought I might impart a little of my knowledge and a few suggestions.

1. Go For Quality

A good carpet is a good investment – if you (like me) are planning on being in your tiny home for a good long time, and wish to have any portion of it carpeted, then you have to go for quality.
I have an idea of what makes a good product (see below), as my company deals almost exclusively in high-end designer carpets, the sort of stuff you would never find at CarpetRite.
To be more precise, my company deals with high-end carpet remnants.
This leads me to my second piece of advice…

2. See If You Can Find A Remnant

Remnants are pieces left over on the ends of huge 30-metre rolls of carpet; Say you have four meters of your once vast roll left, and someone asks for five – you can’t do it with the end, you have to make a whole new roll. And this happens many times until you are left with usable, most often perfect quality, but ultimately fixed-sized carpet. These are bundled together and sold on at an enormous discount to specialist retails (like my company) and therefore hugely discounted to customers. You can get insane bargains buying remnants – anyone frugal or thrifty should always check for remnants first!

3. Get A Decent Underlay

Underlay will extended the life of a carpet and give it an extra spring, pleasant under the feet.
It also helps with insulation, both heat and sound, which can be a major issue in small houses – or any house for that matter! My recommendation is polyurethane underlay. It is regarded across the board to be superior to rubber or felt underlays, with the added bonus that it’s almost 100% recycled so pretty green too. If you’re in the UK, I’d suggest buying from Ball & Young.

4. Hire A Professional Carpet Fitter

Carpet fitting is one of those jobs that may seem simple but requires finesse and skill. It also requires knowledge of how a carpet will behave – you don’t want to fit your carpet and then have it ruck up and crease a week later thanks to an issue with temperature!
For this reason I would say always hire a profession – in their hands it’s a quick and relatively painless job, and comparatively cheap too!

I knew for a long time what I wanted for my carpet, primarily because of the colour…I can’t help it, I’m shallow!
I had decided that, as I went on, I wanted a color scheme based around teal (aka aquamarine, turquoise etc), purple and grey. Early on I even made some bunting which reflected this:

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So, I wanted a teal carpet – and into the hands of my company fell a carpet not only the perfect colour, but from a brand I trusted. The brand is Westex, and the Carpet is Ultima Twist Kingfisher. I knew my waiting was at an end.

But why is this particular carpet such a boon?

Well, Westex have been a favourite of mine since my first weeks in my current job, and I will tell you why as well as giving some general points about high quality carpet

How To Spot A High Quality Carpet

1. High Wool Content

The cheapest carpets available are made from polypropylene or viscose, manmade fibres feel good and look good but are very prone to flattening and shedding. They are also victims of static electricity, are highly flammable and, as  the fibres themselves are translucent, not good at hiding dirt. In addition, viscose (aka faux silk) does not react well to water, as it is partially cellulose which absorbs moisture.

Wool, on the other hand, is a naturally springy, opaque and long-lasting fibre which stays looking and feel great for ages. Its main issues? It can be difficult to clean, as alkaline products like bleach will damage it (alkalies are not even used in the dying process) and it can encourage moths and other beasties.

Its natural advantages can be enhanced and its problems diminished by mixing it with a man-made fibre, such as nylon. Almost all Westex carpets are 80% Wool and 20%, although they do have one or two pure wool ranges.

2. High Tuft Rating/Stitch Gauge/Pile Count/Pile Density

These are all essentially measures of the same thing – literally how closely the fibres of the carpet are packed together. In a cheap carpet, you’ll more or less be able to see the backing through the carpet. This is a bad sign.
Westex use stitch gauge measurement to determine density – they use 1/8th and 1/10th guages in their ‘Ultima Twist’ range (infuriatingly there are eight – yes EIGHT – different qualities of Ultima Twist, each with differing specs, but they will be either 1/8th or 1/10th.
Mine is Talisman quality, which is 1/10th gauge – this essentially means that there are 10 ‘tufts’ every linear inch – in metric, that’s one roughly every 2.5mm.

3. Two (or Three) Ply

Ply is a count of how many strands of fibre are twisted together to make each tuft of carpet – if there are two or three this helps prevent flattening over time. Most of Westex carpets are two or three ply, and they have their own particular process for twisting them to ensure maximum lifespan.

4. Check The Backing

jute or hessian backing to a carpet is general a good marker of quality – strong, long lasting and flexible, proof against the rigours of transit, plus sustainable and eco-friendly – all Westex carpets have this.
Many decent carpets will have a synthetic backing – you may see ‘Actionbac®’ mentioned, which is a manmade polypropylene backing produced by US company Propex, this is standard for many carpets.
The lowest-grade carpets tend to have felt backing – these are reserved for cheap rental properties, and I would say steer clear of them.

5. Pre-Treatments

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Many top carpet manufacturers ensure their products – especially wool or natural fibres – are protected from stains and other issues (moths, dust-mites, moisture) before they leave the factory – Westex does this for every carpet (as far as I know), making them hydrophobic and proof against creepy crawlies!

I’d like to assure everyone that, once again, just like I’m not getting any money from Berghoff or Wilkos, that I am not profiting in any way shape or form from Westex. I just like the brand, that’s all…though their website could do with some work.

Now after singing their praises I have some bad news for those outside the UK – you are unlikely to be able to get hold of a Westex carpet. In a country which has largely given up on making its own goods, carpet is peculiarly domestic, with a great deal of stuff being made on our sceptred isle.

So, after much deliberation, I went ahead and bought my Ultima Twist Talisman Kingfisher Carpet.

I emptied the bedroom, bed and all, into the front room and pulled out the old carpet, which had been infuriating me since around day one.

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Pictured: YUK.


The best way to get up old carpet is to cut around the side with a craft knife, like so, 
and cutting it into small strips or squares, allowing it to be put in the bin, avoiding a time-consuming trip to the dump.

Mine was easy to shift, it was basically glued and stapled to the floor, and there was no underlay – but WATCH OUT – whether yours is stabled down like mine or secured with ‘gripper rods’ (long wooden poles covered in sharp tacks) there will probably be pointy things which need to be treated carefully.

IMAG4013Pictured: Some things you wouldn’t want to step on.

Also, on ripping it up I allowed myself a moment of sneering gratification – it was felt backed!

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On side note – my bedroom is always the coldest of the four in my tiny house, and on taking up the carpet I discovered one of several ventilation slots on the floor only partially covered the hole which had been made for it – so through most of the Winter the only thing protecting me from this draft was a skinny little carpet!

I decided I would have no more of this and covered it over with a small piece of plywood – there are four other vents in my room (for safety) which I think is quite enough.

My new Makita Cordless Drill (the subject of an upcoming blog) had not arrived so I used my regular corded drill for possibly the last time to drill and screw the thing in.

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The carpet was fitted in a twinkling by my friendly fitter (a gentleman who often works alongside my company) with the aforementioned polyurethane underlay, (I chose Cloud 9 ContactCloud 9 Contact from Ball & Young) and I was delighted. My bedroom feels far more my own now than when I arrived – I also took the opportunity to move things around, including the bed, as I put things back in. I haven’t got pics of that yet, but will soon!

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I may also have the leftover bit made into a rug!

Well, there we go kids – that’s my boring carpet story! If you have any carpet-related comments or questions, let me know and I’ll try to answer them.

Spekti out!

Tiny House Investments – Airer and Vacuum Cleaner

Awww yeah!

Hey kids, I’m back after another break to bring you some TINY HOUSE INVESTMENTS.

So let’s get right down to it..

1. Indoor Airer

Winter is now definitely here in the UK and one can no longer rely on outside weather to get things dry. Drying is the bottleneck of laundry – and since I gave up my beloved tumble dryer (it was the most environmentally friendly one I could find DON’T JUDGE ME!) to someone far more worthy and with space to put it in, it seemed it was time for an indoor airer.

 

This is a relatively simple purchase made ridiculously complicated by the number of choices – but ultimately it came down to these basic needs…

  1. Small enough to put away neatly, but big enough (and sturdy enough) to carry a full load of laundry
  2. Light enough to move easily
  3. Affordable (naturally)

This last one was not just to save the coffers – there is a good chance that I would be replacing the airer fairly soon depending on its performance so I didn’t want to go crazy.

And whereas there are some products – ovens, TVs, lawn-movers – that can be researched in terms of how well they perform, that’s not really the case with an airer. You’ve got to use it to prove it.

Continue reading “Tiny House Investments – Airer and Vacuum Cleaner”

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Tiny House Investments – Russell Hobbs 17L Microwave

Ahoy all!
Okay- can we just take a moment to appreciate what an amazing piece of technology the microwave oven is?


It was commercialised for home use just 60 years ago by the firm Tappan, whose adverts were gloriously ‘atomic age’ – observe:

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In 10 years, we’ll have an oven like this on the moon!

And it was only in 1967 that the ‘counter-top’ model we know and love appeared.
After thousands of years of cooking with combustion of one type or another, suddenly we have this amazing new method of heating food, one only made possible by modern science.

It was, like so many inventions, the result of a chance and accidental observation backed up with graft and cleverness. Oh, and some military funding!

Percy Spencer, it’s inventor, designed radar systems for the defence company Raytheon during World War Two, and noticed that food left near said systems (which used, surprise surprise, microwaves as their primary method of tracking) began to heat and even cook.

A few ingenious experiments later, and he had microwaved popcorn.

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Tiny House Investments (PreMove Edition) – My Beautiful Berghoffs

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it:
‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’”

The above is quote appears at first to be one of those awful pre-packaged one-size-fits-all faux-inspirational sayings, ripe for being plastered all over shabby-chic knick-knacks and hung around the house to show how terribly deep and full of joie de vivre you are.

However, despite its trivialisation by the household tat trade, the concise genius of the phrase still holds. It is taken from the fascinating and multi-talented William Morris, a designer, craftsman, fantasy author and general renaissance man, and when you actually find the context  you discover that it is anything but a light and fluffy aphorism. It is in fact a central theme of a 60,000 word epic called ‘Hopes and Fears For Art’ which was he delivered as several lectures in 1880 – you can find the full text here.

381px-William_Morris_age_53Also, he had an impressive beard and eyes you could get lost in.

I have my own slightly truncated version of this philosophy, which sums up my attitude about purchasing for my new house. I’ve paired it down to three words, and it goes like this:

“Only nice things.”

For many years I bought stuff which was not only cheap (my thrift drive is still well and truly in place here – nice doesn’t JUST mean expensive!) but also nasty. And it wasn’t as if, had I been sensible about it, that I couldn’t have got nice things. I just decided to spend money now on rubbish rather than save up for something worthwhile.

So in 2016 I am trying to turn over a new leaf, and get Only Nice Things – which brings us to the subject of this blog!

Continue reading “Tiny House Investments (PreMove Edition) – My Beautiful Berghoffs”