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Guest Post: Celina Dill Pickle, 16 year-old Tiny House builder, talks about keeping your eyes open and finding what you need

Today is our first guest post here at The COMET Camper blog, and I am really excited about introducing Celina Dill to you all. I mentioned her and her blog in an earlier post here, and we immediately started talking about guest posts and sharing ideas. She’s got an incredible eye for finding amazing second-hand building materials and interiors. Her frugality and style is impeccable! Also, Celina is 16 years old, and left traditional schooling to start building her own tiny house, something I strongly endorse and think is downright awesome.

So here it is, our first guest post. Thanks Celina for sharing!

Eyes Wide Open

by Celina Dill

Who am I?  “South Whidbey teen builds tiny transportable house” This just appeared in our local paper – check it out – http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/139133434.html

In our culture everyone seems to want the newest shiniest things. This attitude tends to create a lot of waste, because every time a new product comes out on the market the older one’s worth decreases. The trick is using this fact to your advantage. For example – If you use your computer to check email and listen to music, you don’t need the newest mac book air, with the speediest operating system. I am writing this on my trusty five year old mac book that I got off of craigslist for under $400. I do high level photoshop and image editing, and it does everything I need and more.The question to ask is what do you need (but never forget the wants). Then keep your eyes open wide. Question. Look at things for their possibilities. It is amazing what a coat of paint and a little effort can do!

My dad is working in a friend’s barn refurbishing/customizing a 1956 Airfloat trailer (EveryoneCanDance.com) but that is another story. One day we pull up to work on the trailer and saw a pile of large Douglas Fir logs. We questioned the owner, who said they were going to be fire wood. After talking to a few knowledgeable people in the wood world, I worked out a trade to get four of the logs. With the help of a good friend, they along with another log given to me by a student of ours (we teach dance – EveryoneCanDance.com) are now milled up in to beautiful flooring, siding and trim. My cost $0. Yes it took a lot of work, but what I got out of it is much more.

When you are searching for something specific, it is rare to find it at a low price. Unless you are willing to live with a few dents or scratches. I had been scouring craigslist for the perfect sink for months, when I found it. A beautiful 30′ cast iron enameled farmhouse sink, plus it happened to be just down the road. The only reason they were selling this sink is because they were getting a bigger one, plus it had a few little scratches. So $175 for a $1000 sink is ok with me!

Or how about my new Kohler Memoirs toilet? My dad and I were in Restore is Seattle just looking around when I spotted it. The beautiful lines of this decorative toilet, caught my eye and the price tag said $45. I couldn’t believe it, it looked perfect – so we went inside and asked. The catch? The toilet bowl is 3/4 of an inch tilted sideways. It was a manufacturing defect. But I figure my house will be a little off skew, so it will fit right in.

I found my Carrara marble counter top for $100 in a wooden crate behind a granite and marble place in the industrial area of Seattle. The key word is found. I was out there looking and asking and digging and measuring.

Another good strategy is to find people who collect things. Because at some point they will likely get rid of some of it. I got over half the wood for the studs of my house from a guy who had had it for 20 years. It was time for it to go, so I stepped in and did him a favor.

I can go on and on about what I have acquired for cheap, and thats because my eyes are open. I am constantly questioning, asking and searching. If you are doing something unique and interesting, people want to be a part of it and are willing to pitch in. But first and foremost effort is required.

Keep your eyes open,





Thanks so much Celina, your advice is so relevant today for DIYers and tiny house builders. Definitely check out Celina’s blog to see pictures of what she’s already found and what she’s still looking for. Celina and I have the same 1950’s Dixie stove (out of a camper), which is just a wonderful coincidence! Not to mention her father is restoring my favorite type of camper EVER – the Airfloat. And read the article about her that she links to…it has great pictures and talks more about her “unschooling” which I whole-heartedly agree with!

More later, so stay tuned! It’s good to be BACK!



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