Dreamy Double Wide

Mobile Home Living’s newest featured home is a newer double wide with beautiful and creative handiwork inside and out . It is owned by Molly and her late husband Christen (Chris) Howell.

Dreamy Double Wide

Molly Howell is a 24 year veteran of the Air Force originally from Iowa and she loves architecture and design. Her home is a mix of eclectic decor with many historical touches all around. She is highly educated and her life has been filled with great adventure; living in other countries and even surviving a hijacking attempt! Her and Chris moved to his hometown in Florida and set up a beautiful homestead on the land he was raised on, complete with a gorgeous double wide. She lost her husband to cancer less than a year ago but her home is a beautiful reminder of him with all the ingenious uses of recycled materials and beautifully designed objects he created out of basic materials.
Chris Howell was an adventurer and a man of many talents. A world traveler as well and a follower of dreams, he had an endless yearning for knowledge. He loved working with his hands, creating beauty through art and photography, restoring classic cars and refurbishing anything he could get his hands on. He traveled extensively and knew how to make a house a home with dramatic touches of handiwork.
The front of the home after the addition of the porch. Notice the antique tin skirting.

 Looking for Their Forever Home 

When they first got to Florida they were living under a barn, which Chris built, in a teeny-tiny 1978 Winnebago motor home. They were pretty desperate to have a house, especially since it was costing almost $200 a month just to store household goods. They wanted a house that wouldn’t cost a fortune and one that wouldn’t force then to jump through ridiculous hoops to obtain.

Initially wanting to build a home out of salvaged materials, Chris had dismantled a house in a nearby community which had been built in 1907. In 2005 once the had completed the move and were ready to build they hoped to be able to use most of the salvaged materials. However, the state of Florida has laws that hinder the reduce, reuse and recycle movement. Ironically, in 2005 Florida changed their building code as a result of the devastating hurricanes that hit that year. They were told they could only use salvaged materials if every piece of lumber was certified and stamped by a structural engineer, which would have been cost prohibitive to say the least!  So much for reuse, recycle, re-purpose huh?!

Around the same time some friends of theirs purchased a Homes of Merit manufactured home. They really liked what they saw. Their friends had done a lot of research and discovered how well-constructed the Homes of Merit were, and how they were able to upgrade many of the features to make it exactly what they wanted.
Beginning construction on the porch.
After much discussion, around January or February of 2006 Chris and Molly went to look at some models, and felt that the Forest Manor best met their needs. They placed an order but made several changes; upgrading the kitchen, adding a GE Profile package of a stainless fridge, cook top, wall oven, microwave, dishwasher, as well as a Broan stainless range hood, all for an extra $2500.

They also upgraded the insulation and the windows. Changed the layout of the master bath, eliminating the garden tub and adding a large shower enclosure in its place. Where the standard shower would have been, they had them put in a large linen closet. They also changed the location of some of the windows to better accommodate furniture placement and changed the window in the dining room to a sliding glass door. Which is exactly why mobile homes are so great, you can easily change the things that you want when you order new!

The rear of the home during construction of the porches. Notice the sliding door and the different skirting.
Painting the front porch.
Painting the rear porch.
The rear of the home after the all construction and painting was completed.
Chris made several very creative things in and around their home. The use of the antique tin from the old barns as skirting, the wrap around porch that lends a farmhouse look to the home and even a pot rack and a towel holder made out of copper piping! He also built a gorgeous guest house from reclaimed and salvaged materials.
Pot rack made out of copper piping.
Towel holder made of copper piping.
The pump house with 70+ year old tin siding that Chris built.

The driveway of this homestead is a county road that was originally the old road that went to Chris’ father’s and grandfather’s tobacco barns. When they had the opportunity to name it, they chose ‘Tobacco Barn Road.’ During a bad storm a few years ago, the old barns fell down and Chris salvaged all of the tin from them, eventually deciding that it would be great as skirting around the house. They also used it as siding on their pump house so it looks as if it’s always been there.

Home before the porch and before the skirting was changed.
The home after the porch and after the skirting was changed out.
The beginnings of the guest house they built.
The guest house during construction.
The gorgeous guest house after the exterior was completed.
In 2011 Chris lost his battle to cancer. During his final years, he developed a wonderful sense of peace from the land that held so many fond memories for him. A wonderfully talented man was lost but he certainly left Molly with a gorgeous home to live in and great memories.
Thank you, Molly, for sharing your home and your story with us!

Molly has a blog that she will be sharing her creativity and wonderful writing talents on called Down On Tobacco Road. With only a couple posts up her writing style is perfectly entertaining and is a joy to read.

The wrap around porch and the guest house is dreamy and the salvaged tin makes the home seem as if it’s been sitting in that spot for decades. You are a very lucky woman and although I know you miss your husband immensely, I assure you he is looking down on you and smiling every minute.

Thanks for reading Mobile Home Living.Tomorrow we will post Molly’s interview and a few more photos. She shares her advice freely so be sure to come back and read it. As always, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and tell your friends and family about us.

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  1. Crista says

    So after typing up my questions I read more comments. I was going to put mine up against my home as well but I do not think it is allowed to be attached. Would this be considered attached or not since you did not do supports along the house and the home is acting as them. Is it going to shift separately from the home? Are you in a cold area? I am just trying to think of ways to make this work.

    1. Molly Howell says

      Hi Crista! Sorry for the delay, but just saw your comments. If you send me an email at dutchmolly@hotmail.com I can provide photos and more detailed information about how this was attached. Molly

  2. Crista says

    I am thinking of something like this and came upon yours while doing my research. I have a couple of questions. It looks like you joined the two roofs… that is what I want to do. Did you attach this to the house, It looks like you had to, how did you attach the roof? I thought I would have to have supports along the house and the outer part of the porch… is this working out ok and not too much weight for the roof of the home? How is your home anchored?

  3. karen challender says

    Once again, I am getting the best ideas from your website! We are thinking of adding a wrap around porch to our manufactured home, and what Chris and Molly did is exactly what we are thinking about.. We already have the deck and porch on one end of the house so just need to tie a front porch into it. This article, and the pictures, are very helpful, and give me hope that this is a possibility! Thank you again for your great website. New year blessings to you, and all your readers.

  4. James Howard says

    Hey there. This is a beautiful home the have made…… You wouldn’t by chance have the dimensions for the house and porch. would you?

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi James,

      Molly checks in on occasion so she should see your question and be able to answer you. Thanks so much!

  5. Alicia says

    Middle aged family of four with expenses poured into our two preteens extracurricular activities, I needed to let you know how inspired I am by this little slice of online hope! I want a cozy home but I also needed inspiration to be my kind of cozy and absolute necessity was for it to be in my reachable budget! I live in the south and this material is a blessing that may be attainable! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      So glad you’re getting inspiration Alicia! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  6. Kim says

    Hi, love your porch!! Could u tell me what your pitch on your roof? Also measurement from house out ? Thanks!!!!!

  7. Danielle says

    How did they attach the porch to the home?

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Hi Danielle!

      It really depends on your local building codes. Most areas require that all additions, decks, and porches be a separate entity from the home (so that it can move separately from the home in case of settling, wind, etc) so it’s just butted up against the home and sealed at needed connection points.

      Basic deck and porch construction (where allowed) for both the flooring and roofing usually consists of a ledger bolted onto the home’s framing (siding must be removed) that acts as a framing beam. From there, the footers are poured, joists are attached to the ledger, posts are installed and then the beams are joined to the posts. Once the framing is all finished, the decking boards are laid and the roof is built.

      Lowe’s has a good instruction guide you can read here: http://www.lowes.com/cd_Build+a+Deck_578806386_
      Here’s an informative video on youtube that discusses adding a new roof over a patio: https://youtu.be/CbXw518CRHU

      Thanks so much for reading MHL!

  8. Claudine says

    We just got a free mobile home to refurbish and this website is wonderful on giving us ideas and help!! Can’t wait to get started knowing I have a great place to start!!

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      That’s great Claudine! Hope you find lots of inspiration for your new home! Be sure to take lots of photos – we’d love to share your transformation!

  9. Jennifer says

    Great page! Glad I found it.

    1. Crystal Adkins says

      Welcome Jennifer! So glad you like it!