30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion

December 16, 2019 by  
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Dubai-based design studio MEAN Design has unveiled an eye-catching pavilion in the front esplanade of the Dubai International Financial Center. Not only is the bulbous structure with multicolored “teeth” visibly stunning, but the unique pavilion, called Deciduous, was constructed entirely with 3D printing technology that turned 30,000 discarded water bottles into a plastic polymer to use as the base material. The Deciduous pavilion is a stunning example of how 3D printing is not only a viable and affordable construction method of the future but also a revolutionary system that can help reduce plastic waste . According to MEAN Design, the structure was printed using a polymer filament that was made from 30,000 recycled water bottles. The bottles were recycled into the filament and then used to print interlocking parts. The base is also made from 3D-printed concrete, hybridized with the polymer parts. Related: Croatia Pavilion’s Cloud Pergola is one of the world’s largest 3D-printed structures Unveiled at this year’s ‘Art Nights’ event at the Dubai International Financial Center, the pavilion ‘s concept was inspired by autumn. Its name, Deciduous, refers to trees that seasonally shed leaves in the autumn months. The innovative, 3D printing system, which was conceived using computer modeling, allowed the parts to be easily prefabricated off-site and then assembled onsite with little construction materials. In fact, all of the parts of the pavilion were mechanically joined without the need for heavy machinery. As for the design itself, the unique pavilion is a labyrinth-like, white volume with multicolored spokes rising out of the base, resulting in a bulbous, organic figure. The designers invite visitors to enter into the pavilion’s “abstracted botanical form” to explore their relationship with nature . + MEAN Design Photography by NAARO via MEAN Design

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30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion

Easy ways to make your home and garden more sustainable this fall

November 7, 2019 by  
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As the final leaves drop from the trees and the temperatures continue to plummet, you’ve likely already prepped the woodpile and dug out your winter wear. But before you head inside to hunker down with movies and hot cocoa, also prep your home and yard to act sustainably throughout the months ahead. Preserve foods Before the first dusting of snow or below-freezing temperatures settle in, be sure to gather every ounce of goodness from your garden . Hang herbs to dry, can fruit from the trees and rely on that new Instant Pot to pressure cook foods for long-term storage. Related: Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities Maintain the car When vehicles have to work harder, they are less efficient and consume more gas. Before winter hits, give your car a maintenance check. Test the air pressure in the tires, or swing by the local tire shop for some help. Change the oil and other fluids that are due, change filters, check spark plugs and estimate how much life your battery has left (look for the date of purchase and life expectancy). Clean and repair the furnace and water heater Fall is the perfect time to ensure your heating and water systems are working efficiently. Perform cleaning and maintenance by changing filters and cleaning out air ducts. Prepare for water runoff Head outside while the weather is still above freezing temperatures to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home. This will help avoid flooding. Clean out the French drains that feed water away from your house and into the storm drains, where it will eventually be filtered for reuse. While you’re at it, make sure your rain barrels are set up and working properly, installing a downspout diverter if necessary. Skip the yard chemicals Although the growing season is coming to an end, be aware of any chemicals you are using inside and outside the home. For example, spiders and ants like to transplant themselves this time of year, but if you want to deter them, rely on natural remedies instead of insecticide sprays . Work the compost  While you are busy cleaning up the yard in preparation of winter and the first buds of spring, use a composter to your advantage. Add grass clippings and leaves in thin layers combined with organic food waste and brown products, such as ink-free brown paper bags, toilet paper rolls and thin branches. You can also add the ashes from the burn pile, as long as they are the result of chemical-free wood products. If you have too many grass clippings or leaves for your compost pile, use them as mulch for plants and trees instead. Clean furniture and decking Prevention is key to maintaining your patio furniture and decking. Not only will proper maintenance help them last longer and avoid replacement purchases and landfill waste , but deterring mold and mildew curbs the need for nasty chemicals to treat these problems later on. Clean up your furniture, including lounge sets and dining sets. Cover them and place them on blocks if left on the deck. Sweep the deck’s surface to remove grime, and make sure the wood is sealed to protect against winter moisture. In the spring, your wood surfaces will thank you with easy clean-up and reduced damage. Limit electricity When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we tend to rely on electricity for heat and light. Be conscious of your consumption by turning off lights when they are not in use, or set them on a timer for automatic savings . Replace your back-porch light with a motion sensor-activated option, and use energy-saving plugs and lightbulbs. Layer up with sweaters, socks and blankets before cranking up the heat, too. Avoid plastic As the season progresses, you’ll be busy performing home improvements, baking and gift-giving. Like other times of the year, try to avoid plastic as much as possible. Look for companies that promote sustainable packaging when ordering online. Skip the bulk warehouse plastic packaging and beware of foam plastic, also known as Styrofoam. Avoid plastic in your dinnerware during holiday celebrations by using washable plates, utensils and glassware. Decorate naturally The late months of fall through early winter are full of fun holidays to celebrate. Decorate your home inside and out using sustainable materials such as wood or metal rather than plastic. Incorporate fruit, nuts, pinecones, leaves, grapevine, hemp and burlap into your crafts. Skip the lawn ornaments that require a power source in favor of live plants and trees, decorated wood cutouts and luminaries made with paper bags and beeswax candles. Another way to limit the amount of energy you need is to insulate your home against heat loss. Have a local energy provider complete an energy assessment on your home. Many even offer free materials for energy savings, like blanket insulation for your water heater or outlet insulation inserts. You can also conserve water by installing water restricting heads on your shower and faucets. Buy local and organic Your garden and the local farmers market might be shut down for the season, but you can still buy produce and even meats from eco-friendly sources. Focus on organic produce , which avoids the use of pesticides and herbicides. If you don’t have any garden stands open in your area, hunt down the best organic options in your local grocery stores. For meat, cut back on consumption in favor of plant-based products . Not only are they healthy for you and the planet, but fresh fruits and vegetables often come package-free (again, watch for plastic and bring your own produce bags to the store). Meat production is blamed for high methane emissions as well as other types of pollution and resource consumption. When you do purchase meat, find a provider who raises livestock sustainably, and purchase it as close to home as possible to avoid the travel footprint. Take your own cups Cold weather and warm drinks go hand-in-hand. Avoid waste and save money by making your own coffee or tea. If the drive-through is your lifeline, at least take your own refillable travel mug instead of relying on single-use options. Speaking of coffee and tea, do the planet a favor by purchasing fair-trade and organic options. To stay hydrated, keep your refillable water bottle handy rather than relying on the single-use bottles at the office (and talk to someone about eliminating those in favor of a refill station). Images via Shutterstock

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Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween

October 10, 2019 by  
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With spooky season upon us, consider illuminating your jack-o’-lanterns in an eco-friendly way. But what are some good light sources to place within or even near pumpkins? You, of course, want to avoid toxins from certain sources, so here are some of Inhabitat’s sustainable suggestions this autumn. Soy or beeswax candles Steer clear of paraffin, because it is a petroleum-based product that produces soot. Paraffin candles have also been known to release acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and toluene — all of which are toxins . Instead, choose “cleaner” candles made either of soy or beeswax. These options are all-natural, burn at lower temperatures, and last longer — ensuring a healthier light to place within your carved pumpkins. Related: Time to put the flame out — scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality Flameless LED artificial lights LED lights can be in the form of tea lights, string lights, even bike lights — making them wonderful choices for your jack-o’-lanterns. They are, after all, more energy-efficient and have longer lifespans than other types of artificial lighting. They are also a safer choice for inside a pumpkin because they don’t emit much heat, thereby lowering the risk of fire. They can operate at a wide range of temperatures — whether hot or cold — without significant degradation. For these reasons, LED lights are safer and more budget-friendly for a sustainable Halloween. Solar lights Go green this year by utilizing your garden decor to fashion a solar-powered jack-o’-lantern. How does one solarize pumpkins? First, you’ll have to allow your solar garden lights to collect energy from the sun throughout the day. While your yard’s solar lights are soaking up the sun, that is when you can cut out the bottom of your carved pumpkins. Then, at night, you can place those jack-o-lanterns atop the now-glowing solar garden lights. Voila! Your yard will come alive with solarized jack-o’-lanterns to ghoulishly light up your Halloween night . So this Halloween, if the kids are asking why your pumpkins have bigger smiles, goofier faces or even epic expressions, you can explain that it is all because they are all lit up in EEK-o-friendlier ways. Via Chester Energy and Policy Image via David Menidrey

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Cooking for Compost: Autumn Salads

October 4, 2019 by  
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Integrating fruits into your diet can be a challenge, especially … The post Cooking for Compost: Autumn Salads appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 tips for beautiful, sustainable Thanksgiving decor

November 16, 2018 by  
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November marks the season of Thanksgiving . With Halloween decor packed up and Christmas trimmings still in totes, it’s time to focus on unveiling the essence of Thanksgiving in your home. Shelves of decor line the store aisles, but many of those options contribute to the destruction of our environment. By making some small, conscientious decisions, you can reduce transport emissions, eliminate plastic consumption and give used items new life while giving your home the holiday flair you envision. While pulling together the look for your Thanksgiving decor, keep sustainability in mind with these tips. Emphasize natural elements The truly wonderful thing about the fall months is the abundance of natural materials you can find and use in your autumn decor. Skip the retail purchases and head outside for organic finds nearby. Curve those grapevines into a circle, and use this as a base for a fall wreath. Adorn it with the colorful red berries that dot the landscape this time of year, and embellish the wreath further with dried leaves or flowers, pine cones or nuts. You could even glue on small apples or pumpkins. Related: How to host Thanksgiving dinner in a tiny home or small apartment Similarly, the same materials can be used to create centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table or as seasonal decorations for your coffee table. Lay out pine boughs and top them with colorful gourds. Grab those still-firm pumpkins, carve them into a bowl and stuff them with fresh greenery. Use clear glassware, jars, vases or water pitchers to hold pine cones, leaves, berries, nuts or colorful rocks. Fresh citrus or apples make a gorgeous centerpiece when placed in simple clear or white bowls. Make a statement by placing a votive candle inside a carved-out mini pumpkin or apple. Set bottles around the house, and fill them with fresh-cut lavender, rosemary or mint. Surround that centerpiece with a eucalyptus ring. Your mantle is another perfect place to add some visual appeal. Thread together orange and red leaves to make a swag, and add small pumpkins painted different colors. Also, remember that Thanksgiving is represented by the colors and products of fall, so take advantage of hay bales, corn stalks and gourds to decorate your front porch. Avoid plastic Anyone who’s spent more than a few minutes considering steps toward sustainability knows that plastic is petroleum-based, which causes problems for the environment — and plastic never goes away. If you decide to purchase decor for your home, look for materials that are eco-friendly and will give you the gift of longevity, resulting in less waste. Find a wrought-iron turkey or hunt down ceramic pumpkins. Buy glass platters and real fabric tablecloths instead of the single-use versions. Upcycle With very little effort, you can find decor that allows you to reuse something that’s already been produced rather than buying new. For example, take those mounting canning jars and etch them with festive designs. Alternately, you could decoupage them with leaves. Fill with orange candles and display them on your mantle or table. Look around your house for a bucket or rusted watering can, and dress it up with bundles of wheat or corn stalks. Hit up the local thrift shop for table runners, used decor and themed dishware. While upcycling might involve plastic items and is not always a zero-waste initiative, the more life we can give to existing products, the less production pollution and post-consumer waste we will have — a win-win for the environment. Get crafty The long, dark evenings of fall are the perfect time to get crafty. Take the kids for a nature walk and collect acorns, leaves, twigs and other natural elements. Once you return home, glue the materials onto fall-colored paper, forming letters on each sheet to spell out, “Give Thanks,” or something similar. Punch holes in the top corners of each paper and thread yarn or rope through them to create a banner for your wall. Crafting can also overlap with upcycling. For example, paint a wine bottle, add a twist of twine to the top and embellish with words. Make a few and group them together. The kids can use toilet paper or paper towel rolls to make hanging turkey decor, place markers or napkin rings. Related: Six yummy, organic pumpkin recipes you can make for Thanksgiving! Turn food into edible art Most people associate Thanksgiving with food, and many would agree that food can be art. Why not give your edibles dual purpose by designing munchable masterpieces? Start with that cornucopia you’re dying to put out and fill it with candy, grapes, apples, pears, satsumas, chocolate, pretzels, bread or nuts. You can carve a watermelon into a boat or basket and fill it with fruit. Head over to Pinterest, and look for ideas that will transform your veggie tray into a turkey pattern. Don’t forget about dessert — make some cookie turkeys or cut out a leaf pattern from your upper pie crust. Remember that the goal is to express the spirit of the season, which is gratitude. Nothing shows gratitude for your home and yard more than using natural elements. Hosting a sustainable Thanksgiving also shows gratitude for the planet and those you love that live on it. Images via Shutterstock

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Japanese cherry blossoms spring into unusual fall blooms

October 22, 2018 by  
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The springtime cherry blossom festival in Japan is an annual celebration that draws in spectators from all around the world. For the Japanese, the ‘hanami,’ or flower viewing, is a moment shared among family and friends who gather to celebrate nature’s beautiful and awe-inspiring rebirth. This week, however, cherry blossoms have been blooming two seasons ahead of schedule following two recent typhoons in the area. The premature fall blooms are extremely uncharacteristic of the sakura trees, which seemed to have been tricked by the extreme weather events to spring before … well, spring. “I have never seen anything like this,” tree surgeon Hiroyuki Wada said to local broadcasters. “This year’s storms affected wide regions, and the strong winds may have caused the blooming.” The strength of the September and October typhoons stripped many cherry blossom trees of their leaves, which experts are saying caused early indications for the trees to bloom. Furthermore, warm temperatures following the typhoons misled the trees by inviting the early flowering. Related: Climate change is causing spring to come earlier in national parks Normally, the earliest blooms are witnessed in the northern parts of Japan , where cherry blossom festivals begin as early as February in Naha. For the rest of the nation, the viewing season is concentrated around the first week in April, and the latest viewings in Hakodate and Sapporo occur in early May. While the current blooms are not expected to affect this year’s spring hanami, the unusual events are drawing attention to the issue of earlier bloom patterns. Last year, a report in The Washington Post shed light on the work of Yasuyuki Aono, an environmental sciences professor at Osaka Prefecture University, who assembled a data set of Kyoto’s blossom-flowering dates . The research chronicles blooms as far back as A.D. 850 and, when graphed, shows an undeniable and worrisome change in bloom periods over the past 200 years. Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann said, “Kyoto is just one location on the planet. But the large-scale warming of the past century is so distinct and widespread that it is increasingly evident from diverse records all around the globe.” Mann isn’t wrong. In 1912, Japan gifted Washington D.C. 3,000 sakura trees as a sign of friendship between the two nations. The National Park Service’s records, dating back to 1921, show a similar pattern of earlier and earlier blooming each year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow explained, “In both Kyoto and Washington, the warming trends and earlier blooms are most likely due to a growing urban heat island effect and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” Beautiful though they may be, the second blooming of the cherry blossom trees are not a welcome sight for the Japanese nor for scientists. While there is hope that this is a once in lifetime event, there is still much work to be done in ensuring this anomaly doesn’t become commonplace. Via NPR , The Washington Post  and Japan Specialist Image via Don Kawahigashi

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How to throw a fun, zero waste Halloween party

October 22, 2018 by  
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October is flying by, and Halloween will be here before you know it. To celebrate the holiday, many of us like to throw a party at home, work or school full of pumpkins, candy, costumes, food and decorations. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween every year, and many of the things that we buy (plus the packaging) end up in the trash on November 1. But if you love celebrating Halloween with a fun party, it doesn’t mean you have to generate piles of garbage. There are plenty of ways to have a festive holiday without leaving behind a trail of trash. While you put together ideas for your ghoulish celebration, keep the environment in mind — throw an eco-friendly party with zero waste. Invite your guests to bring food and containers Instead of purchasing dozens of baked goods and treats from the store, ask each of your guests to bring a home-baked item like cookies, cupcakes, pies or brownies. They can bring them in containers that can easily be washed instead of thrown away, and this will keep the trash at your party to a minimum while also saving you money. Another bonus of guests bringing baked goods is that it reduces the number of leftovers you will have at your house, since everyone will take home the dish they brought. Speaking of leftovers… also ask guests to bring their own containers if they’d like to take home any food that is left at the end of the night. This way, everyone can enjoy the party even after it ends, and you can keep food waste to a minimum! Use natural decorations Decorating for Halloween is one of the most fun parts of the holiday, but you don’t need to head to your local Halloween mega-store to buy a bunch of plastic decorations that you might never use again. This can get expensive, and the waste from the packaging and the poorly made plastic products with toxic paints and chemicals just aren’t good for the environment. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Instead, use pumpkins and other gourds to decorate. You can keep them plain, paint them or decorate them with ribbons and bows. Also, get creative with fall outdoor items like pine cones, branches and leaves. Going natural with your decor and centerpieces keeps with the spirit of the fall season without requiring a ton of money or leaving behind waste. Make recycling bins easily accessible For items at the party that can be recycled, place recycling bins in the room and near the front door, so that people will remember to use them before they leave. Adding recycling bins to the party instead of using just trash cans will help minimize your party waste. This is especially important if you choose to use disposable, recyclable items. If you want to skip doing a lot of dishes and decide to use paper plates or recyclable plastic cups and utensils, having recycling bins in a convenient spot will prevent them from going into the garbage and reduce your carbon footprint . Provide finger foods Try serving finger foods so you don’t need as many plates and utensils, if you need them at all. Deviled eggs, chicken (or soy ‘chicken’) wings, chips with dip, bread, cupcakes, brownies and sandwiches are all great party foods that you can easily eat with your hands. Light your space with natural candles Lighting for an indoor Halloween party can be far from environmentally friendly. Instead of using a ton of electricity, try creating some ambiance with natural candles. Not only do candles nicely illuminate any space, but they can also create a spooky, mysterious vibe. If you want to get really creative, use  pumpkins as candle holders . Compost perishables Instead of throwing away food and perishables, compost them! You can even compost your pumpkin decorations. You don’t want to throw them out and take up all of that space in the garbage (and later, a landfill). Instead, compost everything you can to help next year’s garden. Related: Composting for beginners Offer eco-friendly party favors If you enjoy giving out goody bags to your guests, think about what you are putting inside as well as the type of bag you are using. Instead of buying items at the store, you can make things like cupcakes or cookies that your guests can take home. Use small, reusable gift bags or paper bags that can be recycled. Even tiny glass jars filled with candy make a cute, zero waste gift that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s never too late to make your Halloween party a big green bash. These simple tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint, and some items could initiate good, thought-provoking conversation topics during your zero waste celebration. Via Recycle Nation and Joy of Zero Waste Images via  Raw Pixel , Helena Yankovska , Imordaf , Damien Creatz ,  Element5 Digital ,  Ben Kerck , Clem Onojeghuo and Shutterstock

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Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities

September 28, 2018 by  
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As the leaves and sunsets transition to an autumnal palette of yellows, oranges and reds and a chill fills the air, you’re probably dragging the boots and sweaters from the back of the closet. But the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of outdoor fun. In the midst of temperatures dropping and the smell of pumpkin floating around, fall is the ideal time to plan nature-based activities. When considering your options, think about the potential impact on the environment , and create an earth-friendly itinerary for the coming months. Here’s a list of sustainable fall activities to help you savor the best season of the year. Celebrate fall harvest Fall is an amazing time for produce , and the season brings plenty of sustainable opportunities to preserve and enjoy the delicious food that nature provides. Head to a local farm to pick apples or pumpkins, then bake pies for friends and family or host a cider press party to use up the abundance of crisp apples. Harvest the last of the summer squash and zucchini, and get ready to enjoy fall veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Collect juicy plums and pears for your kitchen fruit basket. To preserve summer and autumn produce for the colder months, can and pickle fruits and veggies or toss them in the freezer. Now is also an excellent time to bake fresh breads to store in the freezer. Remember to enjoy garden fresh food, too. Related: 5 mouthwatering plant-based fall recipes Create DIY gifts and decor It’s not too early to be thinking about the holidays, and fall is the perfect time to make sustainable presents with gifts from nature herself. Concoct herb-infused cooking and massage oils, vinegars and liquors, and be sure to dry any leftover herbs for fragrant satchels or to use in winter recipes. The vibrant hues of the season also make excellent decor for your home. Make fall wreaths with autumn foliage, or create festive tablescapes with homemade pumpkin, pinecone or gourd centerpieces. Related: DIY fall decor using upcycled items from thrift stores Immerse yourself in nature The falling leaves of autumn beckon for company, so lace up your boots and grab a jacket. Go for a hike while the weather is still pleasant, or head out for some final bike rides before it is too cold and snowy to tolerate such activities. Take the kids (or yourself!) out to hunt leaves, and embrace the opportunity to learn and teach about different types of trees and plants. Enjoy a weekend camping trip or an afternoon picnic. Challenge yourself with a visit to a corn maze, or enjoy a breezy day flying kites. Visit a local farmers market, and take time to learn about the food you are eating. Tour a nearby winery. Get active by playing catch with a football or baseball, or throw a Frisbee around the backyard. After a day at the pumpkin patch, enjoy the chill evening air by carving pumpkins on the porch — just be sure to use the guts and seeds, rather than tossing them into the trash! Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) Prepare your yard and garden for winter If temperatures in your area allow it, plant fall and winter crops in the garden, or plant bulbs for spring. Remember to feed your compost bin during the fall months with scrapped fruit and vegetable peels, cores and rotting pumpkins — compost will help your garden soil and any planted bulbs stay healthy through the colder months. Make a pinecone and peanut butter bird feeder and bird houses to hang on the porch or in the trees for winter. The fall season is full of opportunities to get into nature , so grab a basket, pull on your boots and wrap up in a scarf. The great outdoors await! Images via Ricardo Gomez Angel , Dei R. , Christopher Jolly , Patrick Fore and Lukas Langrock

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What To Do With Autumn Leaves

September 21, 2018 by  
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Ah, fall. Back to school, sweater weather, and warm drinks. … The post What To Do With Autumn Leaves appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Couple turns old toy hauler into a gorgeous tiny home for their family of four

May 28, 2018 by  
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Rusty and Autumn Bailey travel a lot for Rusty’s job, so in order to travel comfortably on the road, they purchased a Keystone Fuzion 416 toy hauler to transform into their dream home on wheels. Surprisingly, it only took about 12 weeks to convert the 300-square-foot camper into a homey, light-filled tiny home with plenty of custom-made features designed to provide optimal space efficiency for a family of four. The couple began to reform the interior of the 42-foot-long camper by incorporating as many  colorful and bright accents as possible. The original interior was very dark and drab, so the ambitious couple painted all of the walls white. Beautiful Persian rugs bought on eBay for less than $100 adorn the interior. Related: 7 beautifully designed tiny homes that fit big families The next major upgrade to the space was the flooring. With a large family, the couple knew that they had to have durable flooring, so they went with a waterproof vinyl plank tongue-in-groove flooring with a cork base for easy installation. The kitchen was also in desperate need of a makeover. The couple updated the space with a butcher block countertop made out of 8? slabs of builder-grade honey maple, then repainted the cupboards a dark slate grey, which contrasts nicely with the home’s contemporary all-white interior. For the bathroom renovation, they used a little bit of the leftover butcher block slab to create a nice vanity space. A beautiful hammered copper sink, found on eBay, completes the sophisticated look. The family also completely renovated the sleeping quarters in order to create the maximum amount of space. They gutted the former  main bedroom and converted it into their oldest child’s bedroom, adding a closet with a sliding door and a tiny play area. Autumn says that they focused on opening up the space as much as possible for the couple’s first child: “We tried to keep it open so he had all the space he needed to romp around in and play with toys.” Finally, the couple gutted the master room to make space for a large bed, instead of the existing bunk beds. With just a coat of new paint on the walls and new flooring , the master bedroom became a calming oasis with natural light flooding in through the windows. According to Autumn, the entire camper renovation , which she and Rusty did themselves, took about 12 weeks and cost approximately $6,000. The family posts updates on tiny home living on their Instagram page, @AutumnABailey. + Asphalt Gypsy Via Dwell Images via Autumn Bailey

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