Sometimes things don’t turn out as expected.
One morning on the way to our now second home, Lowes, I asked, “Can we brainstorm some ideas for a tiny house name?” (Here in the South we name everything—RVs, cars, property, and tiny houses. It gives us the opportunity to feel all warm and fuzzy about things that are anything but.) It didn’t take long for Brian to blurt out “Lil’ Red Writing House.” Immediately, I began scanning the Internet to see if the name was available. I wanted to claim it as my own because that’s what only children do. It’s our love language.
The Lil’ Red Writing House was perfect, except for the fact my tiny house would not be red, or even close. I had envisioned a white Folk Victorian with all the fancy trimmings, reminiscent of my great-grandmother’s home. Hers sat on the corner of a Mayberry look-alike street with the town’s country store next door, which worked to my advantage on Thanksgiving afternoons when my cousin and I traded coins for candy.
The name Lil’ Red Writing House could work if I incorporated a red item—sometimes obvious, sometimes not—in every Instagram post. Red plastic tape outlined the dimensions of the house, a red clipboard clamped down design drawings, and a red arrow pointed to the mantle stored in our barn.
In addition to the red snippets of color in the tiny house images, I considered painting the front door red. Surely that would nip the my-tiny-house-will-never-be-red issue in the bud.
But there’s something about a front door. It’s the first thing the eye is drawn to when looking at a house, especially a tiny one.
And this front door wasn’t just any door. For the sake of energy efficiency, it was one of only three vintage exterior pieces that Brian agreed to install.
Vintage doors sell locally, but during a prior visit to my favorite salvage store in Brevard, NC, we discovered a covered outdoors section full of old doors and windows. We took note of our find. A few months later, we returned to select and fetch our door.
Along one long wall, doors lined up stiff and straight like soldiers. I knew what I wanted in a door, and Brian knew what we needed. Glass and character topped my list. Door width and price topped his. Details, details. Because the space along the front of the tiny house is tight, the chosen door needed to play nice with its only neighbor, a black-paned antique window. From the window’s size, unique design, and well-worn texture, it was obvious that she was accustomed to attention, leaving little room for the practicality of a common door.
The wall offered up a nice assortment—ornate doors, ordinary doors, and even 1960’s doors with the three tiny rectangular peek-out windows arranged like stairsteps. After flipping through dozens of common-colored doors, a barn-red “soldier” stood to attention. Her size was spot-on, the price was better than expected, and the top-half, divided into four glass panes, paid homage to the past.
We loaded our find in the van and headed home down the windy mountain roads. Oblivious of the amount of time it takes to build a tiny house, I assumed the door might spend a month or two in the barn—not the time required to bring life into the world.
In the weeks that followed our trip to Brevard, one truth became apparent. The door felt like home, but the color choice felt forced. Though a catchy name, Lil’ Red Writing House never captured my heart. It’s not that I have anything against the color red. I love the color red in ripe cherries, rubies, and red velvet cake, but not so much on the vintage door I planned to enter every morning.
When I walk up the hill, unlatch the iron gate, and step onto the front porch, I want to see a color that not only catches my heart but also makes it downright giddy.
From past experience, I knew this color to be chartreuse. I’d chosen it for the back door of our former century-old home. Without fail, this whimsical color made me smile, even on the grayest of days. If I still wore my mood ring from the 70s, it would morph into pink at the sight.
Months after our trip to Brevard, the day finally came to rescue the red-door-no-more from the barn. A forecast predicting several inches of snow encouraged us to build the frame indoors. New doors come with their own frame, but the oldies don’t. In this moment, Brian second-guessed our decision to go vintage.
A kit from our local building supply store helped, but like most vintage finds, the door was quirky. Both the locking mechanism and hinges were topsy-turvy. Brian removed and adjusted the hardware so the door would swing inward from the left, opening up to the main space of the tiny house.
The following weekend, we took the red-door-no-more off the hinges and hauled her down the hill. She had an appointment with Sherwin William’s Frolic SW 6703. With one dip, the paintbrush took on the appearance of a lemon-lime Popsicle. Slow and steady, every crack and crevice filled until she became what she was meant to be—a vintage-chartreuse-half-glass-chock-full-of-character front door for the Tiny House on the Hill.
Have I told you lately how much I love having you along on this journey?