Blog

GOODBYE CA

Our 2 Weeks in CA were an amazing time with friends and family, and in what seems like a couple days were back in the car driving back to our tent! We took once last breath of 70 degree air before we head back to the 45 degree highs ahead of us.

Here’s some highlights from the trip. Enjoy!

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

BEACH DAYS: SEAL BEACH & CDM

BEARIZONA(Flagstaff, AZ)

FAMILY TIME

Advertisements

WE LIVE IN A TENT

So, for those of you that don’t know us, We’re the Ruiz’s, and we live in a tent. You can stay up to date on recent events by following us on IG:https://www.instagram.com/denforourcubs/

=ZAC – KATIE – FOX – GRIZZLY=

Yes, everyone’s first reaction to hearing the word tent is a slight tilt of the head. You can almost feel the wave of thoughts about the four of us all shoved into a small camping tent, backed by a wall of questions about how we do accomplish our everyday tasks. It’s not until they actually see photos that they realize, “Ohhhhhhhh I see! Like a BIG tent! I’ve recently stopped saying “Tent” and just say “Square Yurt” since most people understand the yurt concept.

Why a canvas tent? This journey has a lot of back story which starts with us leaving OC for a better quality life. You can read about the start of our journey here https://denforourcubs.wordpress.com/about/ But this will pick up mostly where that post leaves off.

Our main goal was to build a livable space, while spending as little money as possible. Yes, there are other many other living options we could have chosen, but something about the challenge of living in a tent sucked us in. I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, and I haven’t been able to find anyone living in a modernized canvas tent full time with kids. So, then it became a “Can it be done” scenario for us.

When we found out that we had an opportunity to move onto some river front property in NM, the offer was too good to pass up! The only problem was now, how do we get ONTO the property as quickly and as inexpensively as possible? With a Camper outlet not too far from where we’d setup camp, the first choice was to buy an old camper (which we did), and renovate it. That would get us onto the property the quickest, but the thought of spending a NM winter in tiny a 19ft camper was NOT an appealing idea!

Building a yurt has been something Katie and I have talked about for years, but the circular design and price point was just not what we were looking for. If only they made Square Yurts…

After a few weeks of research, I came across Canvas tents. The solution to our problem! A Square Yurt! I started pricing everything out, and figured we could do the full 20×16′ build for $5,000 (or less), which ended up being on point for us! We ended up coming across an old canvas tent at a local shop that we snagged for a great price! A new one in the size we wanted would have ended up costing about $1600+, so that helped the budget a lot!

Our plan was to live in the camper while we built the tent so we could be onsite and not have to rush. So we moved into our camper and setup camp. We lived in it for a total of 4 months

Now, I’m no builder. I do some minor wood working, but I 100% didn’t trust myself to build something structural with the possibility of heavy snow load and the pretty high winds that can come through the area. Lucky for me, I know a local Crocodile Dundee-like man, who also happens to be a carpenter!

We started by building the deck, which was the most tedious part, especially trying to getting it all leveled. (took about 2 full days of work!)

Then we built all the wall studs and trusses as 1 piece

We set and leveled each one individually.

Once they were up, we just needed to slide the tent over! (easier said than done!)

I paneled the lower half of the structure with pro panel. Eventually, if we decide we can live in it through another winter, we’ll get a custom tent made that will cover the full frame which would make a huge difference for keeping the tent warm.

Because the tent has no windows, we decided to panel the front of the tent with clear polycarbonate sheets to let the largest amount of light in, and to make the small space seem much more roomy. We also went with French doors so we can open them up to our 10×20′ deck in the summer time.

I built out the interior by myself, and built all of the furniture, countertops and shelving that I was capable of building with a bunch of barn wood I have. We do have limited electricity, so I used Led bulbs for most of the lights I made for the tent. LED bulbs take up very little wattage, so they were essential for the the tent. (My full time job is making creative lighting for our shop- MOONSTONEFOX So this was one of my favorite parts of designing the interior of our home!).

The whole tent took about 2 weeks of Building hours and cost about $4500. Building a livable home doesn’t get much cheaper than that!

So that just about sums up the build! We’re still working on details and getting things built inside, but here are some current photos of where we’re at right now!

If you guys have any questions let me know in the comments! I’ll also be doing future posts, so if you have any “specific areas of life, and how we manage” questions you’d like the answers to, let me know!

5 MONTH UPDATE:

So we’ve almost made it through winter living in the tent. We’ve had nights that have been well in the single digits and it honestly hasn’t been a problem staying warm. We’ve been using a indoor propane heater and that’s worked great! It’s snowed, we’ve had high winds, but the tent is holding strong! We’ve also done a lot of decorating and painting which have really made this place feel so much more like our home!

Recent photos:

Barn Wood Countertop

We looked into so many options for our new countertop!  And let me tell you, there were A LOT of options! But with a large reserve of beautiful barn wood at our disposal, we would be CRAY. ZEE. not to use it for this project!


I really love using old wood, since anything you make out of it can never be exactly replicated, and is 100% unique. With all the different patinas and paint patterns, the countertop is gauranteed to be one of a kind!

I picked out the boards I liked most and set them aside. I did a light sand on them to remove any loose paint, and help the grain to pop a little.  I kept the old countertop so I could use it as a guide for all the holes and edges in the new counter.  I just laid it right on top of the boards and traced it out!


Once I had it traced, I just followed the lines with my skill saw,  and made sure the sink fit properly into it’s newly cut hole.


A few screws later, and I had it securely mounted to the base!


I coated it with a spar urethane, and thats when I knew that choosing the Barn wood route was a good idea! Now, there were just a few other small things I needed to do to make this area look bomb!  First, I had to drill new faucet holes, of course.  Then I added the white backboard, which made it look much cleaner! And lastly, I repainted the sink, stovetop and hood all black to REALLY make the countertop pop and add a fun contrast!  Looove how this area turned out!  I still may add a back splash behind the stove in the future, but this will do for the time being!



Definitely a one of a kind countertop!  It’s not perfect, and the craftsmanship is less than impeccable (because i’m not ACTUALLY a trained wood worker!), but it’s ours, and we are loving it!

 

I still have some minor things to do to the countertop, and we still haven’t decided what to do for the faucet yet, but it’s all coming along great!

Camper Wood Wall

Measure. Cut. Drill. Repeat.

That was basically what my life consisted of for two entire days, but it was well worth it! Here’s the shot of the wall before I tore out all the old paneling.

Not exactly our dream wall.

We really wanted to do something impactful for the main wall, rather than just put plywood up and paint it white.  As it just so happened, I had about 40 feet worth of old weathered fence that would work perfectly for the job!

The boards are thicker than I would have liked, but the other option would have been to buy wood paneling.  As you may remember, we are doing this project on a tight budget so, obviously, we went with the free option!  Plus, real weathered wood just looks THAT much better!

I started off by selecting the boards that were the most straight, and I ran the first line of wood from front to back to make sure I had a nice straight line.  From there, I just kept adding each new layer until I made it to the floor, cutting out the door and windows holes as I went along.


The great part was, the wall equaled 20 boards high exactly so i didn’t have to worry about filling any weird gaps! That saved me a lot of potential work!

Such a better look than the 70’s wood paneling that was up before!

Once I had all the boards up, I realized just how dark they were!  (Not the best look for a small space! Darkness always makes a space look smaller!)  I did a little bit of test sanding on some smaller pieces, and thought the sanded boards looked much better in the small space!

So, I went through and did a little bit of sanding to lighten each board up a bit,  and to add a bit more contrast and warmth to the wood itself.  I may still go back and do a bit more sanding later, but I’m much happier with the over all look now!


Everything’s still pretty torn up, but I can already see it coming together. I also started working on our new counter top and I’m super excited to show you guys how that comes out on our next post!


 

RECLAIMED BARN WOOD CAMPER DOOR

One of the first projects that needed to be tackled on our 1973 Komfort Camper was the front door.  It was leaking somethin terrible, and once I took it apart, I immediately discovered the reason why! It was completely rotted from the inside out!


When thinking about the design for this particular project, I wanted to create something eye catching and one of a kind, but spend as little money as possible. Remember- our goal is to try and remain as debt free as possible while renovating this lovely Striped Stallion! I really want to salvage and reuse as many of the original parts as possible, and try to use mostly materials I already have on hand. Because I often create items from wood for our Etsy shop, I already have a large amount of barn wood that ended up being just what I needed for the job!


I started off by cutting the barn wood to the length needed for the width of the door.

I then framed the cut barn wood with a few 2x1s (obviously with Fox’s help!).


The next step was to cut out a space for the window. I contemplated the idea of actually doing a few small windows on the new door for a new look, but that would’ve involved buying new glass, (which may not have cost too much) but with all the other little expenses ahead, I decided to just re-use the old glass panel.

The next step was to coat the wood with an exterior sealant to protect it from the elements. I ended up doing three coats, and I’m glad I did, because it really made the wood grain pop!

At this point, I just had a bit of accessory work to complete! I had to fit the old outer aluminum trim back on the new door, put the old glass panel back in it’s new window frame, and drill a hole for our new knob. Creating the hole for the knob was very simple. I used the sheet metal from the old door as a guide to ensure that I drilled the new hole in the correct spot. Then I just popped the new handle in!

I was very gracious with the amount on silicone I used on the door.  I made sure it was not going to have ANY leaks! It still needs to be cleaned up a bit, but I’m saving the finishing glamorizing touches until I get closer to being done with the whole project!

snapseed-16.jpg


I’m very happy with the way that it came out! Yes, it is heavier than a standard camper door, but the overall weight of the camper is not much of a concern for us, since we are not planning on moving it around too much, but using it as more of a tiny home situation for a limited amount of time! The Striped Stallion is looking better already!

-Zac

Our First Project Home

So here’s our first project home, in all its 21′ of orange striped, 70’s wood paneled glory(the curtains came at no cost, Score!)

Our plan is not to have a nice camper to travel in, but to renovate this to be a fully functional living space for a short period.


We have an acre of land and plan to build on it, but need a temporary home while we plan and build something slightly more permanent.


We don’t necessarily plan on building a permanent home on the land so we have some semi-permanent home ideas, but that’s for another post!