THE LEMON TREE

A beach vacation was long overdue for me and my man this year. I also had a strong desire to try out Airbnb (not to mention I jumped on and was now driving the tiny bandwagon). Much to my delight, Airbnb had plenty of tiny house choices! Although I had never been to Alabama’s Gulf Shores I wasn’t interested once I found out how close we are to Florida! Pensacola was the target city, and I found an amazing deal on the very first tiny home we would ever stay in – The Lemon Tree Tiny House.

This particular tiny home was permanently parked in a lovely RV park less than ½ mile from a boat ramp and dock by the Gulf Breeze. The house didn’t have water views but we didn’t care because the plan was to spend the days on the beach. The planning and reserving was easy, but I would end up having to go solo (work happens). My orders were to report back on the tiny house life and do some relaxing (well, and snorkeling). For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus solely on the tiny house and not the trip itself (stay tuned for that!).

The directions on AirBnb were perfect (plus I learned long ago not to trust my Garmin and use Google Maps). The RV park itself did seem a touch out of place in such a residential area, until I took a closer look at the set-up in the park. Most of these RVs were pretty large (almost as big as a tiny house), and had semi-permanent set-ups. One had a carport, outside grill and firepit! There were even two other tiny houses in the park (one was definitely “lived in”). I liked the tiny park itself, many times I’ve visited RV parks and had to drive around and around to find the right number. This parking spot was set-up lovely with a picnic table, umbrella, rocking chairs and patio lights. As soon as I saw the tiny house, I gleed with excitement – it was so cute! Ready for the most cheesy statement ever – it looked just like a tiny house.

The door had a key combo lock (love these) and the wonderful owners had the AC on full blast for when I opened the door. I smiled immediately and said out loud, “Yep, we are going to do this, this is it.” I knew immediately that going tiny was the right decision for us. I had never set foot in this house before but I have never been on a vacation where I felt like I was coming home to my own house. I don’t mean a vacation house either – I mean home. I could easily imagine me, my guy and his daughter going off-grid and living in one of these – but maybe not this particular one.

To state the obvious – it was tiny. After being there awhile I discovered the layout had a lot to do with the flow, some things in this particular design wouldn’t work for us. It was narrow with the living room area and kitchen counters lined along the right, the entertainment center/desk and some storage and steps along the left. Straight ahead was the bathroom and a sleeping area with a twin sized mattress. The master bedroom was in the loft. At this point I have watched hundreds of hours of tiny house programs, but still hit my damn head when I climbed up the ladder. I was able to sit on the mattress in the loft, but not without a slight neck bend. This was super dangerous to me – what if I sat up quick in the middle of the night and forgot where I was? Not to mention there was no way we were having any kind of sex up there without hurting ourselves – let me just make that clear for couples immediately – even without attempting I can tell you, don’t do it.

I was able to get a great view of the bottom floor from up there though, so that was something. Since it was just me, I ended up sleeping on the downstairs twin bed and it was so comfortable it is what inspired me to buy us a new mattress as soon as I got home. The bathroom did have a tub, and of course I tried it. It was hysterically tiny, it wouldn’t even work for a teenager really, so sticking to a large walk-in shower in a tiny house makes the most sense. The water pressure and temperature were comparable with an actual house (not an RV or even a hotel). It was actually about the size of the bathroom in our rental house. It did sound like an airplane toilet when draining the water though, but I expect that might just have something to do with the RV park set-up.

There was a downsized retro fridge, stove and microwave – more than what was needed for a 4-day vacation. I had to remind myself I was only there for a visit, I wasn’t going to be living there. It was a great experience to see how it would actually feel to be inside a tiny house for a longer period of time. As much fun as I had exploring, snorkeling and being on the beach – hanging out in the tiny house at night, talking to the “neighbors” and just living simply was the best part of the vacation.

After taking some notes, measurements and pictures, I realized our tiny house doesn’t have to be much bigger, we just need a more custom design for our specific needs (a common tiny house approach). Adding the man, two cats and the occasionally visiting daughter could completely change my perspective on this size being “plenty big”, but as long as everyone is not attempting the exact same task at the same time – I think tiny can work. I love the idea of never having to pack to move again, to be able to stay wherever we want for long periods of time, or travel as much as we want, and tiny living gives us that option.

The Lemon Tree Tiny House in Gulf Breeze, Florida, will always have a special place in my heart for showing me how wonderful and fulfilling an intentional lifestyle can be. Next stop – The Tiny House Festival in Avondale, GA.

LULL-a-BUY

Although the big dream to live tiny is still in the very early stages, I realize the importance of thinking and planning ahead – especially with (physically) big purchases. It’s been clear for a while now that the mattress I purchased in Boston, circa 2014, was long overdue for replacement. It seemed an easy enough purchase but knowing me and mine will be living tiny in the not-too-distant future, I was a little hesitant to get anything until I did the research. 

Yes, I know I want the bedroom of the tiny house  to be on the main floor, but other than that, how was I going to purchase a mattress that would work just laying on a floor or a platform? My guy has a lot of back, spine and shoulder issues so a soft, supportive bed is essential. I myself am the world’s oddest troubled sleeper (that’s a whole other article trust me), and I like something more firm. I was also hesitant to invest what I knew would be needed for something of quality without being able to test it first. With COVID and it being a mattress, I didn’t think this would be possible.

After reading several blogs and articles about tiny house mattresses, I was quickly discovering that a mattress for a tiny house is the exact same thing as a mattress for a regular bed. Of course height – something to consider for a loft bed –  wasn’t really going to be an issue for our setup, so I was back to square one with basically the entire world of mattresses at my disposal for the choosing. Crap.

I came across Lull via some random article (I really wish I could credit where I first saw the mention). I had heard of several of the other big ticket companies: Stearns & Foster, the “Purple” mattress to name a few – should I take a chance on a brand name I didn’t “know”? I loved the simplistic, yet sophisticated products at Lull. There are only two types of mattresses and they don’t mess around with sleep numbers, different firmness grades or any of that other  confusion other companies try to pass off as significant. 

In addition to their non-frills approach their customer service representatives were super nice (I had texted them about old mattress removal), and had several options for me. The best part of their process is they give you an entire year (365 days) to try a mattress and if you don’t like it, they will refund you 100% and not ask you any questions. That checked off my box about trying something before I buy it – I could always send it back at no cost to me (and they come and pick it up).  The only choice to make then was – which mattress to try?

I went with their Original Lull Mattress, at the time they were offering $250 off what was already a great price for a memory foam mattress. Of course as soon as I bought it, I was emailed an offer for $300 off, but I digress. The company is very vocal about having to raise their prices and makes every attempt to save their customers money with special promotions (which seem to be offered all the time). I ordered the queen size (and two standard sized pillows), and it was delivered in less than a week.

The real fun began when it was delivered. The box for the pillows was pretty standard, but the mattress box was fun – great marketing/artistic branding, with fancy exotic cat cartoons. The packaging is pretty ingenious and space saving – they essentially shrink wrap the mattress down to a small (but heavy) bed roll. Although I was home alone when it was delivered, I didn’t have much trouble unwrapping the plastic once the roll was on the bed platform. Watching the mattress “rise” after breaking the air-tight seal is quite satisfying and it didn’t take long for it to finish and the plastic smell doesn’t linger for long.

First I will say – I am in love with the pillows, they were a great additional purchase and I highly recommend including them in any order you might place. I myself, never liked memory foam (yes, I said it) and  yet, I just purchased a memory foam mattress. At first it was a strange difference when sitting because you do feel like you’re “sinking” a little bit . That feeling is still odd on Day 2, but I am realizing it’s just the difference between a really good mattress and the piece of crap I was sleeping on for the past six years. 

I can’t honestly say it was the best sleep of my life, but that has nothing to do with the mattress. I will say I woke up without back pain, hip pain (I’m a side/stomach sleeper) and pretty darn refreshed for someone with insomnia. I really love the mattress and feel good about the company that made it! They had a fun social media contest right on the box (totally my thing),  and their instructional packet was fun and simple (these things matter to me as a writer and home goods enthusiast).  The company’s honest and focused approach was one that I appreciated and the products themselves are worth every penny spent. They lull-ed me in for quite a buy – I’m a happy customer. 

For more info visit Lull’s website:  https://lull.com/