Designing for small places has its own special challenges. Who better to talk me through approaching the design of your tiny house than an experienced designer who specializes in small spaces? Sarah Bronstein, who both designs for small spaces and lives in an Avion LaGrande travel trailer, talks to me about her own transition to living tiny, her favorite interior design products for small spaces, and helpful tips for you as you plan out your tiny house.
In This Episode:
- Renovating a 1973 Avion LaGrande
- To move or not to move?
- Understanding how the house will be used
- Lightweight design considerations
Links and Resources:
- Sarah’s Free Desk Refresh Guide
- The Container Store
- Episode 212 with Kate Oliver
- Sydney Ferbrache (@divineontheroad)
Sarah is an experienced interior designer specializing in small spaces.
Through her business, Sukkha Interior Design, she helps people create ‘happy homes’ that are not only beautiful but will bring positive change in their daily existence and overall well-being.
After 10 years in the interior design industry, while living in tiny studios in cities like NYC and San Francisco, she found herself most drawn to the unique challenges of small spaces + tiny homes which allow her to combine her love of design with her passion for sustainable living.
In 2020 she finally achieved her years-long dream of designing and living in her own tiny home when she purchased and renovated a 1973 Avion LaGrande travel trailer. She has been living in her tiny dream home with her dog Albus for a year now and loving every second.
Sarah lives in a 1973 Avion LaGrande travel trailer
She completely renovated the interior
Sarah built her cabinetsby herself
Sarah tows her trailer with an F150
She compromised by tiling only the floor in her bathroom
A nice work from home space where Sarah consults with interior design clients
Sarah Bronstein 0:00
From all I can tell they were really built for serious winters which my original plan, quote unquote plan, when I bought it was like, "Oh, I'll go to Southern California or you know somewhere warm."
Ethan Waldman 0:14
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 244 with Sarah Bronstein. My guest, Sarah, is an experienced interior designer who specializes in small spaces. In this conversation, we'll talk about her own transition to living tiny, she actually lives in an Airstream-style Tiny House, which looks really cool. And then we also talk about the challenges of interior design in small spaces, and how you can approach the design for your tiny house. Sarah also shares her favorite interior design products for small spaces. I hope you stick around.
I hope you enjoy our conversation. And if you do, I hope you'll leave us a five star review on Apple podcasts or Spotify, and share it with any friends, family or colleagues via social media - or however you want to share it - if you think that they could learn from this conversation as well. Also, if you're listening and you don't follow the show, make sure to hit that follow button in Spotify and Apple podcasts or wherever you listen so you get a fresh episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast delivered to you every single Friday. I publish episodes on Friday mornings usually, so you wake up and the new episode is there for you. And if you want to hear from me even more, head over to thetinyhouse.net/newsletter where you can sign up for the weekly tiny Tuesday's newsletter. This is a roundup of Tiny House news, summaries of the new podcast episode, and more written by me every Tuesday. All right. Let's get on with the show.
All right, I am here with Sarah Bronstein. Sarah is an experienced interior designer specializing in small spaces. Through her business, Sukkha Interior Design, she helps people create 'happy homes' that are not only beautiful but will bring positive change in their daily existence and overall wellbeing. After 10 years in the interior design industry, while living in tiny studios in cities like NYC and San Francisco, she found herself most drawn to the unique challenges of small spaces and tiny homes, which allow her to combine her love of design with her passion for sustainable living. In 2020 she finally achieved her years-long dream of designing and living in her own tiny home when she purchased and renovated a 1973 Avion LaGrande travel trailer. She has been living in her tiny dream home with her dog Albus for a year now and loving every second. Sarah Bronstein, welcome to the show.
Sarah Bronstein 3:24
Thank you so much for having me.
Ethan Waldman 3:26
Yeah, you're welcome. Thanks so much for being here. Your your tiny house looks amazing. I love it. Can you tell me a little bit about what the process was like of you know, finding it and then and then renovating it?
Sarah Bronstein 3:40
Yeah, so finding it was its own challenge and took a really long time of kind of constantly perusing Craigslist and Marketplace and I was pretty, pretty sure I wanted you know, a silver bullet, whether that be an Airstream or Spartan or Avion.
Ethan Waldman 4:00
Sarah Bronstein 4:01
But at the time I was looking, which was kind of right in the midst of the pandemic. I guess this was the winter of 2021. Everyone was kind of into travel trailers, and certainly the vintage ones I had kind of come to a point where I was like, Okay, your first one might not you might not get that because they're just so expensive. And I think it was a lot of just kind of luck I had lined up somewhere. I was currently at that time in Portland, Oregon, getting ready to come back to North Carolina where I grew up and how to friend with land and had kind of figured out where I was going to do this project and had assumed I would just look for something when I got to the east coast. But with a UHaul screw over situation at the last minute I started looking again and the stars just sort of aligned. I found my current home on Craigslist and had it inspected and didn't know a whole lot about what to look for so definitely got my money's worth getting a professional to just like make sure it wasn't, you know, more than I thought it was going to be. And it was in mostly original 1973 condition.
Ethan Waldman 5:23
Sarah Bronstein 5:24
Working condition. But yeah, it had only had one previous owner and yeah, it just, I could see the vision as soon as I went inside, even though it wasn't, you know what it is now. And I think I just felt that kind of like, gut check, like, Yep, okay, this is that.
Ethan Waldman 5:42
Sarah Bronstein 5:42
And then I figured out how to yeah, tow a 28 foot trailer having never done that in my life and towed across the country, and then got to work on it soon after.
Ethan Waldman 5:53
Wow, good for you.
Sarah Bronstein 5:54
Ethan Waldman 5:56
Yeah, so a 1973. That's, that's coming up on 50 years old. You know, what, what kinds of things did you have to do? You know, was there anything structurally that you had to do to it? I, before we start talking about like, the actual renovations, but like,
Sarah Bronstein 6:12
Yeah, I got pretty lucky. And part of what I was looking for was like, Is there structural damage? How, how much am I going to have to undo before I can kind of rebuild? And yeah, everything structurally, was in really good shape. So you know, there were things that I guess we'll get to that needed upgrading for sure. But yeah, all in all, for the shell of that was in really good shape, but still had like, an intact belly pan, which, if you know, you know. But yeah, just for the for it's age was in really good shape, which I'm, I'm learning more and more as I talk to more and more people living in newer RVs and trailers that they don't build them like this anymore.
Ethan Waldman 7:01
Sarah Bronstein 7:02
So yeah, I got lucky in that. that regard.
Ethan Waldman 7:06
Nice. Nice. Yeah. And so what, in terms of the inside? Did you keep the general layout of of the trailer? Or did you like rip it down to the, to the studs and kind of redo it?
Sarah Bronstein 7:19
Yeah, so I didn't rip it down to the studs. Largely, the layout was what I wanted. Lots of have lots of storage. So I pretty much took everything, you know, cabinet fronts off, took out the flooring, there were places of the sub floor that we redid where there had been like, you know, water damage over the years and whatnot. The bathroom was probably the biggest gut job. You know, we ripped out countertops and all of that all the appliances were original. So those all came out. But the bathroom had, I call it a bathtub, but you know, a mini size kind of trough looking thing. But it was a real fiberglass like tub material. That was probably the hardest thing to get out because we had to end up cutting it into pieces because it wouldn't come out as one piece. It was really in there. So I had envisioned this wet room kind of bathroom with tile everywhere, which I had to tone down as I started balancing learning about being mobile with life. You know, having been in design for a long time. It's like, Yeah, let's tile the walls and everything. Having to start thinking about wait and yeah, how things will move. So a good friend who helped me with some of the electrical and plumbing talked me into just doing the floor, which I think was a really wise decision for the tile.
Ethan Waldman 8:53
Sarah Bronstein 8:54
But it still has that kind of wet room feel. We removed the whole tub and dropped the pipes. So there's just a little step in kind of over that pipe into the shower area. But the floor is all tiled so continuous into the tub. I cut the cabinet and toilet configuration in there.
Ethan Waldman 9:14
Sarah Bronstein 9:16
Again, largely it was just well laid out when they built it. So there wasn't a whole lot of reason to do that. But, you know, went in and refinished the insides of all the cabinets and then of course, built new cabinet fronts. There were some things that weighed a whole lot that didn't make sense, like the bathroom door feels like on par with my parents front door to their house. Like it just weighed a ton - really interesting.
Ethan Waldman 9:44
Sarah Bronstein 9:45
Since it was just me here. You know, a couple might feel differently about needing that intensive barrier for the bathroom. But you know, I was like, okay, I'd rather have the weight go to something else.
Ethan Waldman 9:56
Sarah Bronstein 9:56
So I took that out. But yeah, largely had most of the layout. And yeah, it just redid appliances or its countertops, and all of that. Cool. And how
Ethan Waldman 10:11
how much insulation? Did you add insulation? Or was it already fairly insulated?
Sarah Bronstein 10:15
So from what I've read, this is one of the original Avions. I think at some point in the early 80s, it was sold to Fleetwood and they did keep making them under that name. They kept the Avion name, but this was an original Avion, which was built in Lansing, Michigan, and from all I can tell they were really built for serious winters.
Ethan Waldman 10:38
Sarah Bronstein 10:39
Which my original plan which I you know, quote unquote, plan. When I bought it was like, Oh, I'll go to Southern California or, you know, somewhere warm, which has yet to happen. But this is the first and I will also say I have not yet the original furnace is in there and has like some serious ductwork that runs, you know, to the front room underneath the refrigerator, it has a little opening underneath the bed to kind of heat that area and one that goes into the bathroom.
Ethan Waldman 11:14
Sarah Bronstein 11:15
And they ran it right near the freshwater tank under the bed. So in theory, if that worked, it would heat everything. I've been getting away with just - I'm in North Carolina, so typically winters have been mild. This last week has been a challenge, but it's held up pretty well. Um, guys, I've just been using, you know, space heaters as needed. Haven't gotten to the furnace. I'm still like, working through some emotional fears of propane and all that. So um, yeah, I think at some point, if that works, I feel like you could really be in a serious winter and probably be pretty okay. That I haven't seen a whole lot of condensation, which I've read on a lot of the forums is like is a huge issue for people in the winters with space heaters.
Ethan Waldman 12:11
Sarah Bronstein 12:11
So I feel like it was pretty well insulated. I haven't, you know, gotten into the walls and checked. But just judging by how it's kept the heat it was it went down to about seven degrees here in the last week, when it's been, you know, the heater's kept it within the 50s and 60s the whole time. So...
Ethan Waldman 12:33
Sarah Bronstein 12:34
Yeah, I think I got lucky. And it was well insulated when they built it.
Ethan Waldman 12:40
So you mentioned like, when you were, you know, thinking about doing this, you know, you thought you might go to Southern California and kind of chase the sunshine. How nomadic have you been and is it less or more than you were expecting?
Sarah Bronstein 12:55
So I would say maybe a little less. Part of that being I've really liked the places I've kind of ended up. And also I think just realizing how laborious the packing and unpacking and hooking up process is.
Ethan Waldman 13:14
Yeah, it really is.
Sarah Bronstein 13:15
Yeah, especially like on your own. It's a lot so I'm not I've definitely kudos to the people that move around like every couple of days because go you but I'm like no, like if I'm gonna pack and unpack, it's gonna, I'm gonna get a little bit out of it.
Ethan Waldman 13:31
Sarah Bronstein 13:32
So I spent the summer in the mountains of North Carolina which was incredible and had planned to kind of move around into the winter but I ended up just staying in the mountains at a couple of different places all of which had hookups. I have not really Boondocked, although it is set up to do that. And I did keep that in mind as I made decisions renovating it. Thinking about if I want if I decide to sell it like is the next person gonna want that capability. So you know, I upgraded the water heater and got one that is a propane electric duel. So like you could Yeah, you could run it off a propane if you wanted to boondock, but I've always so far just stayed at sites or friends places that have you know, the 30 amp hookup. Maybe not sewer hookups so much, but we've made that work too.
Ethan Waldman 14:31
Sarah Bronstein 14:32
Yeah, I'd still every time I move it's like, oh my god, I'm telling this giant thing like still get the butterflies and all that and then once I'm on the route, I'm like, you've got this you've done this, but especially the first time since I renovated it. I think moving moving, across the country as scary as that was I hadn't put any anything money or time into it yet. So it was also kind of like nope, Hey, if stuff moves around or whatever, less attached, whereas once I renovated it, we took it soon after the work was done, took about eight months in total. We just took it for a quick weekend trip just to like, test everything out and enjoy it. And I was like, oh my god, what have stuff moves? That's a lot scarier. But I think that's just part of part of the life.
Ethan Waldman 15:28
Totally, yeah. Did, did your did doing this kind of correspond with any changes, like professionally?
Sarah Bronstein 15:38
Absolutely. I think I had already. At that point, over the pandemic, I started my own company, you know, doing what I had been doing before, but just to have a outlet to do it on my own. And I wanted, I knew kind of from the get go, this was what I was interested in. And what I wanted to do, but I think because I hadn't actually wasn't technically living in a mobile, tiny home, and I hadn't actually gotten my hands on one. I'd advise on a few just from, you know, my design background, but I think I had a lot of impostor syndrome and was kind of like, okay, I can't niche into that yet. So it felt like a very aligned decision in where I was the reasons I personally wanted to pursue this. And it worked out timing wise that it supported kind of my confidence on a professional level to like, Okay, now I've done one, now, I know a lot about how to think about weight distribution, and all these things you don't have to think about. If it's not, if it's a stationary, even in a tiny space, if it's not moving. That's a whole different, different thought process.
Ethan Waldman 16:54
Sarah Bronstein 16:55
So yeah, it definitely aligned with what I wanted to do professionally. You know, thr timing, I think just all kind of came together when it was meant to happen.
Ethan Waldman 17:07
Sarah Bronstein 17:08
Ethan Waldman 17:09
Yeah. Well, let's, let's talk into your interior design for small spaces. I love that you've kind of specialized a bit in that. You know, what kind of what kind of projects have you worked on? And, you know, what are some of the unique challenges of, of small spaces from an interior design perspective?
Sarah Bronstein 17:27
Yeah. So I worked for a corporate company for a long time that manage short term rentals. So a lot of Airbnbs, and I actually think that's a really exciting overlap into the tiny house.
Ethan Waldman 17:41
Sarah Bronstein 17:42
world where a lot of people are either looking at ADUs for long term rentals or a family and, or as income properties.
Ethan Waldman 17:53
Sarah Bronstein 17:54
And I think, you know, I think this is true for all size homes. I think that the issues just tend to be more exacerbated and smaller spaces, because the solutions are a lot more limited.
Ethan Waldman 18:11
Sarah Bronstein 18:12
when you're limited on space, but I think really understanding what the space is going to be used for and for whom is super important. So knowing it's going to be a short term rental, you know, you may not need as much storage, say, because people aren't living in it full time, knowing whether it's going to move or not as the big one. One, I would say is worth figuring out before building on the inside, I'm sure you know if it's a stationary unit that you're kind of looking to rent out, or like an Airb&b. I really like open shelving. As a guest and a home it's really easy to you don't have to kind of go rifling through all the cabinets to find the water glass or whatever.
Ethan Waldman 18:55
Sarah Bronstein 18:56
Whereas as much as I love that, and I see it in some Airstream, renos, but if you're moving around, it's not a, in my opinion, the best use of this space, it's just more for you to have to pack up when you move. Probably going to have more things fall off and stuff like that to deal with. And I think you know, it's just a lot about spaces being multifunctional. So understanding going back to like, who's who's using that space and for what understanding who's going to be there, you know, even in my space, I work full time out of the trailer. So a good way to break it down a good 20% of the interior is my desk in the front. For someone who doesn't do that, I would 100% say there's a much better use for that. That square footage that probably makes more sense for for how you work or don't work. And I think understanding that is really a big key and definitely in tiny houses the people I've I've worked with, that's usually a lot of what the beginning of the process looks like is like, Hey, what are your needs? What are your wants, and even within those needs, what are like the deal breakers? Because you may not get everything or at least, exactly how you're envisioning it.
So I think, you know, especially if it's more than one person living in this space, understanding the function of both people. I worked with a couple of people that are doing it with kids. And that's a whole different ballgame. Especially with like storage and stuff like that, I think it brings brings up a lot of different issues. Certainly, as a single gal, I think designing for myself, I can see that even without being pretty in tune with what you know how to convert my needs into a design that works to support that. My needs and kind of storage needs, and all of that are a whole lot less than when you start looking at families or even couples. So I think being really clear on that, and getting a real grasp on that is kind of the first step. And really, ultimately, I think that's what makes it successful experience for someone to live in a space like this. As it is, it's challenging. I think storage is probably the biggest, one of the biggest things that comes up for people, like how to downsize how to fit things where I was pretty shocked when I moved into my I still have a couple of shelves that are empty, surprisingly, because I didn't feel like I did not get a job of downsizing. But um, I should also say I had been living in, as you'd mentioned in the intro like and in pretty small studio apartments already. So I didn't have I wasn't coming from a few 1000 square feet by any means.
Ethan Waldman 21:59
Sarah Bronstein 22:00
But that's definitely something I work with people on to as kind of like how to go through that. Some people start with storage units.
Ethan Waldman 22:09
Sarah Bronstein 22:10
I, I like to do like a little game where you like you can put some stuff away. And like, I'll put it in the trunk to take it to Goodwill. But I'll wait, you know, a few months. And if I don't take anything out of there, I clearly am not missing it. So just like don't open it, just get rid of it. And if you do take something out., you useed that or you thought of it. So that's okay. You should keep it.
Ethan Waldman 22:30
Sarah Bronstein 22:32
But yeah, I think that's probably the biggest talent. I think throughout that I see that, you know, just have to get more creative and smaller spaces. You know, whether that's under bed? How how things are actually stored? Can we roll clothes instead of folding them? So they're not taking up so much space?
Ethan Waldman 22:55
Sarah Bronstein 22:55
All of those kinds of things. Yeah.
Ethan Waldman 22:59
Are there any, are there any companies or specific products that you kind of return to in your design work or that you recommend to clients like kind of over and over again for small spaces?
Sarah Bronstein 23:12
Yeah. So I, if you can find them elsewhere, do it because it's a costly store, but the Container Store. I was actually living in an apartment when I bought these. They're just like clear, stackable drawers. And they come in different sizes. I to this day, I used it because I had a pretty big, like sliding door a closet and then didn't want to have a dresser or something. So I just got those. And I have them in my closet here. And they've just kind of moved from closet to closet.
Ethan Waldman 23:50
Sarah Bronstein 23:50
I really like them. So I definitely recommend those. They're stackable, I think you could probably, they'd be easy enough to secure.
Ethan Waldman 24:00
Sarah Bronstein 24:01
I just have a hook at the bottom and top of a closet. And so I just take stretchy cord,
Ethan Waldman 24:10
A bungee cord?
Sarah Bronstein 24:11
Yeah, thank you. I just take one of those and it hooks in front. So it catches the, if it were to tip it would just kind of bounce that back in place. That's worked fine. Moving it through the mountains. And I actually did the same thing when I moved it across the country. So that's
Ethan Waldman 24:29
Sarah Bronstein 24:30
pretty affordable. Yeah, if you don't have woodworking skills, and you know, a lot of folks do want to kind of put the time into kind of putting an actual closet space together, which is totally cool. I was trying to balance you know, my budget where I wanted to kind of go luxe and I didn't want to put it into the closet.
Ethan Waldman 24:53
Sarah Bronstein 24:55
At that point and so far it's worked out so yeah, I think that's a really good really good product and they have all different sizes and yeah, nice easy and kind of small enough that they can fit in most places.
Ethan Waldman 25:08
I like, I like all your your cabinet doors. Can you talk about how how you built those?
Sarah Bronstein 25:14
Yeah, so it's very trendy right now, but I had already been pretty heart set on the cane webbing inlay.
Ethan Waldman 25:22
Sarah Bronstein 25:23
And they are definitely not perfect. I don't personally haven't done woodworking before this, but I did build these by hand. And if I were to do this project again, I'm probably I would probably pay someone to do them. At least initially, because they're, they're not perfect. I thought a rectangle would be like super easy, but not so much.
Ethan Waldman 25:46
Sometimes it's the hardest.
Sarah Bronstein 25:47
No! So hard.
Ethan Waldman 25:48
Sarah Bronstein 25:49
You know, they're good enough. And they they work.
Ethan Waldman 25:51
Sarah Bronstein 25:52
So yeah, I really liked the look of the cane webbing. It brings a lot of texture and warmth. So I liked that. But moreover, they also allow air into all of the cabinet so it doesn't get musty. Then as I've realized in the last few weeks having my first like serious winter, you don't have to worry so much about like leaving the cabinet doors open for heat to get to the pipes. That just allows a lot of airflow to get through so it's an it's also lightweight. When I purchased this all the cabinet fronts were hardwood. So just having building out frames and having the inlay the cane webbing on the inlay, put down some some weight as well.
Ethan Waldman 26:39
To what do you know what your total weight is? For the Tiny House at this point?
Sarah Bronstein 26:44
I don't. I'm guessing I kind of kept track of what was coming out and in. And I know my trailer, I my truck's tow capacity I think is like seven or 8000. And I've never had issues so I think I'm somewhere I would guess between six and seven.
Ethan Waldman 27:05
Sarah Bronstein 27:05
Which I think is probably what somewhere close to what we started with.
Ethan Waldman 27:11
Yeah, that's that's awesome for for a 20 foot tiny house to be that that lightweight.
Sarah Bronstein 27:18
Yeah, I could be on the higher end of that now. But I feel I've you know, once I put all my stuff in, I definitely was like, Okay, let's see how the truck how it feels now pulling it and if it didn't feel different. So I think I think in that regard, it's come out pretty pretty even to what it was. But yeah, I you know, that's also something I definitely put a lot of thought into, as I chose things and yeah, you know, toned down my tile vision. And all of that. I'm just trying to be pretty conscious of, of the way to where where in the trailer that we was going.
Ethan Waldman 28:00
What do you what do you tend to tow it with? Or what have you towed it with?
Sarah Bronstein 28:04
Yeah, so I've only towed it with a truck. I bought also like two weeks before I moved. All this came together really, really last minute, but I got it's a 2018 Ford f150 nice that it does have the like it was I bought it used but it does have the tow package on it. So there's some fancy things that I haven't used yet. Like it has a little knob that so you don't have to move the wheel. It like actually turns what you're towing.
Which I haven't because I was so counterintuitive to learn how to do it with the wheel. Now I'm like, wait, no, I just know how to do it that way. Sort of. Ah, but yeah, it was need for for towing that I knew at that point. Even though I hadn't bought the trailer yet. I knew that. That was kind of what I was looking at something in the 25 to 30 feet ish realm. So when I went to the dealership, I was like it needs to have a pretty serious tow capacity.
Ethan Waldman 29:10
Sarah Bronstein 29:11
And yeah, I've been really happy with with the truck so far.
Ethan Waldman 29:16
Sarah Bronstein 29:17
Ethan Waldman 29:18
And it's great to own. You know, not a lot of people end up owning a tow vehicle for their especially like traditional tiny houses on wheels. Because they're so heavy, you know, a 28 foot you'd need it, it would be over 10,000 pounds and you need like a really, really, really giant truck. So what a what an awesome thing to be able to buy, you know, an F 150 which is like a common and be able to tell your home.
Sarah Bronstein 29:43
Totally, that's actually I was I've thought about living tiny pretty seriously for about four or five years before actually did it and the first few years I definitely was like I loved tiny houses and there was a lot of appeal in that. And you know, I love the vintage character of like old Airstreams and Avions. And hadn't like quite decided, but ultimately it was the ability of like, okay, if I want to just move it myself, how easy would that be? And even some of the bridges even with the trailer, which isn't that high, not much taller than the truck.
Ethan Waldman 30:31
Sarah Bronstein 30:31
But I yeah, just the anxiety of like, going under bridges, and well, I hit things. And now I'm like, okay, maybe I could do a tiny house. But yeah, I guess baby steps because yeah, it is. It is really its own experience moving the thing.
Ethan Waldman 30:54
Yeah, I'll bet. I mean, yeah, I've had my tiny house for 10 years now. And I've, I towed it once, but I tend to hire somebody to tell it because it's 10,000 pounds. And I just appreciate, because I don't own the truck. I can just spend the money on hiring a professional with insurance and the right equipment and the skills and all that. So...
Sarah Bronstein 31:18
Totally, the peace of mind is like, yeah, I've definitely I think living this life you learn like, there is a price for peace of mind and it's worth it.
Ethan Waldman 31:33
So, I would imagine and correct me if I'm wrong, but like in the corporate world and your you know, your your past life as a kind of corporate interior designer, sustainability was probably not forefront, there's probably like, all new materials, always. How do you incorporate sustainability in your, in your practice now?
Sarah Bronstein 31:53
Yeah, a lot of times, well, it depends on kind of my involvement in the project. A lot of times I'm doing more remote work and consulting or putting design plans together for people to implement. So a lot of times is trying to find resources for them wherever they may be.
Ethan Waldman 32:14
Sarah Bronstein 32:15
Habitat, you know, I always say like, if you can start early enough, and especially, you know, when you're starting from, from scratch, or you're just starting out, you can also kind of we can modify the design, if you find a really cool sink or you know, something like that, that maybe is a standard size, we can modify the design to work, work with that kind of thing.
Ethan Waldman 32:39
Sarah Bronstein 32:41
There are some sites, you know, I'd say the hard thing. For tiny houses that I find, to find things to reuse, they often involve some kind of tweaking, just because there is usually some multifunctional elements to a lot of the pieces like, whereas then, yeah, you know, shopping vintage or thrift stores, that kind of thing. That's one of my favorite ways to shop. But I did find it's easier for homes that have more traditional space. You know, it's hard to find a sofa that has the right, you know, I would almost always advise in a space like this, especially when the has curves, which is a whole other thing to deal with when it's not all right angles. I designed the sofa, you know, to have storage underneath and have it pull out. So I think in some ways, it's harder in these spaces, but certainly materials, saving wood pallets, and finding pieces that can be broken down and reused or refinished, or flooring or for even you know the cabinets, I painted a lot of the wood that I used in here. And we did my friend who's who kindly let me park my trailer here while I did the project builds guitars. So he had a lot of wood pieces that if he wasn't using them, I would just add them to my pile for cabinet frames. And yeah, so usually it's finding local places specific to the type of project and where they're at to, you know, my advice is always just start collecting those pieces early. Because again, once you've already built out things, then you're kind of trapped within some kind of parameters. Whereas if we know the thing is going to be a little larger than we originally anticipated. We can add those few inches maybe in
Ethan Waldman 34:47
Sarah Bronstein 34:48
and use that, so, yeah.
Ethan Waldman 34:52
What's, what's the meaning behind your business name?
Sarah Bronstein 34:55
Yeah, so I kind of combined two words. Both are gonna sound exactly the same, but sukha, s u k h a, is a Sanskrit word. And I don't believe that English has a translation because the translation would be happiness. But it's a very specific, like long lasting deep state. As opposed to like I feel happy this afternoon. It's it's more like a long term comfort of bliss. And then I combine that with, you'll probably recognize Sukka of being a tribe member. And that's su KK a h, which is a hut-like structure that is involved in the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which growing up I didn't really, I thought it was really cool that there was this like, cool thing with leaves on the roof. And you know, and all of that. But as I've gotten older, I actually think this holiday of all of them, I connect to the most and it represents the fragility of our existence. And Sukkot is like a celebration, or a time to appreciate our physical homes and our bodies.
Ethan Waldman 36:16
Sarah Bronstein 36:17
So I kind of combined the spelling of those two words, because I love them both into my spelling, which is Sukkha. And that's how I kind of came about the name.
Ethan Waldman 36:31
Awesome. I love it. It's a good, it's a good backstory.
Sarah Bronstein 36:35
Yeah, totally. I just, you know, when I was thinking about values for how I design and also for what I wanted my business to be, when I started it, those words felt very, like alliances. And so I just kind of rolled with it.
Ethan Waldman 36:54
What are some ways that you know, speaking of your business, and for anyone listening? What are what are some ways that people can work with you?
Sarah Bronstein 37:01
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I do a lot of work remotely with people.
Ethan Waldman 37:07
Sarah Bronstein 37:08
All of my projects, I start with something I call it design project jumpstart, which is basically I realized what I the first steps of any project anyway. And so I started just doing it this way. So that folks who felt good about kind of implementing on their own or didn't have the, you know, the resources to hire someone to be involved throughout the whole process, could still have a really organized professional start to the project. The biggest mistake I see in any size home is like people just going into things without a real plan and without really have having thought through.
Ethan Waldman 37:49
Sarah Bronstein 37:49
the game plan. And so I don't think I try, I don't think people are aware of how much money you can blow doing it that way. But I think having that, that start is again, whether you know, you're someone who's going to do it on your own or doing things over time, it's a really nice kind of organizational start to understand what your needs actually are.
Ethan Waldman 38:16
Sarah Bronstein 38:17
And kind of the next steps to implement them. And then from there, I do travel, and do full service projects, which is always a joy. And you know, at the end of that, that call is kind of when we can discuss next steps. But I also definitely, after gathering kind of the information about the project, setting up kind of the next steps for folks, it gives me a good understanding of like, how much assistance they might actually need. And yeah, and then I can kind of offer them services that makes sense for their specific project, timeline and all of that.
Ethan Waldman 38:59
Sarah Bronstein 38:59
Ethan Waldman 39:02
And I wrote down, that you have a desk refresh guide.
Sarah Bronstein 39:07
I do. Yes. I think I sent you the link. And I'm really excited about especially people are, you know, getting into the New Years, like cleanse, like do a diet and all of that and like do a purge. Refresh your space. So the desk refresh. I think I wanted to have something just to kind of get people started. And I think a lot of people, especially if you don't already live in a tiny house, and even if you do, like get really overwhelmed pretty quickly at stuff or just what they're doing or oh, I'll never look like that I'd give up. Yeah, so the desk felt like a good manageable space that a lot of people use. And I use the exact same process that I break down in the desk refresh to like a closet or anywhere else. So my hope is that people can, you know, take off a little bite sized chew of what it feels like to have a well designed space and be able to kind of carry that out in other spaces.
Ethan Waldman 40:15
Nice, nice. Well, you know, links to that and photos of of your home and links to your business will all be on the show notes episode for this page, which will be episode 244. So thetinyhouse.net/ 244 will get will get people all the goods.
Sarah Bronstein 40:33
Awesome. Well, this has been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for chatting with me.
Ethan Waldman 40:38
Yeah. Thanks so much for being on the show. I actually I have one last question. What I like to ask all my guests is just one or two or three resources that have inspired you that you'd like to share. And these could be about tiny homes about interior design about really anything?
Sarah Bronstein 40:55
Yeah, um, let me grab I just got this book. The Modern Caravan.
Ethan Waldman 41:02
Sarah Bronstein 41:03
Are you familiar with them?
Ethan Waldman 41:04
I am actually.
Sarah Bronstein 41:06
Were they on?
Ethan Waldman 41:06
I had them on the show.
Sarah Bronstein 41:07
Yeah! I'm gonna have to dig out that episode. Um, yeah, they're fantastic. And they're. So for those who don't know, they're they started out renovating Airstreams with clients, and now they have a business just, yeah. Flipping Airstreams and reselling them, I believe.
Ethan Waldman 41:27
Sarah Bronstein 41:28
And I also I found that really interesting about that transition. That's something I've struggled with with a client where it can be taxing.
Ethan Waldman 41:35
Sarah Bronstein 41:37
So I loved learning about that, which they talk about in the book, but their aesthetic is just so beautiful. That I think was one of the first accounts I saw with a renovated Airstream and was just like, Oh my God, I want that. Like, I want to live there.
Ethan Waldman 41:54
Sarah Bronstein 41:56
And they still have an Instagram account. I believe at the modern caravan. If anyone's interested. Their work is just stunning. Let's see what else? Podcasts like this. I'm a big podcaster.
Ethan Waldman 42:08
Sarah Bronstein 42:09
Ethan Waldman 42:11
Are there any other tiny house related podcasts that you listen? Yeah, um,
Sarah Bronstein 42:15
divine on the road. Okay, is an Instagram account. She's a van life girl. Okay. But I, as a fellow, she just got engaged. But she was a single gal living the van life. I was really connected to her podcast.
Ethan Waldman 42:31
Sarah Bronstein 42:32
Yeah, and then followed her on Instagram and yeah, she's her name's Sydney and she's just like, very real talk. It will show you the not you know, I think Instagram does a really good job. I'm guilty of it too of like, glamorizing and everything's clean and tidy.
Ethan Waldman 42:51
Sarah Bronstein 42:52
But that's just not like the everyday she'll, she'll show a lot of like, look at my van right now. And it's a disaster.
Ethan Waldman 42:59
Sarah Bronstein 43:00
So I appreciate her, her realness on platform. So yeah, she's really inspiring, as well.
Ethan Waldman 43:11
Awesome. Well, you can check out my interview with Kate Oliver from The Modern Caravan. That's episode 212. thetinyhouse.net/212.
Sarah Bronstein 43:19
I'm going to have to go back and listen to it.
Ethan Waldman 43:21
Yeah, it's a good one. Sarah Bronstein, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. This was really fun.
Sarah Bronstein 43:27
Thank you. This was great. Thanks again for having me.
Ethan Waldman 43:31
Thank you so much to Sarah Bronstein for being a guest on the show today. You can find the shownotes, including a complete transcript and photos of Sarah's really awesome tiny house over at thetinyhouse.net/244. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/244.
Don't forget to rate and review this podcast on Apple podcasts and Spotify. Hit that follow button if you're not already following us and share this episode with someone you think will benefit from it. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.