Tiny House

Must-Haves, Layout Considerations, and (HELP!) Interior Design

As we continue to research and plan our build, we’re starting to think of what we’d like to see in the floor plan and overall design. This is both exciting and immensely frustrating, because there are so many different styles that we’ve seen and liked for various reasons. We have agreed on a handful of things that we are thinking of as “must-haves”:

  • Shed roof. This will give a greater surface area for solar panels and give us the ability to catch water when/if we live in a place that actually gets rain. Also, more headroom in the loft, at least on one side.
  • Big kitchen. Of course this is a tiny house so we won’t have a full-on restaurant sized kitchen, but counter space is important. We cook a lot at home now and have very little counter space. Given some of the floor plans and layouts we’ve seen, we know it’s possible to upgrade from what we we are currently working with. This includes a 3/4 size or full-size fridge, depending on what works best for the layout.
  • Double lofts. One for sleeping, with stairs. One for lounging, with a ladder. Unless there is some not-totally-ridiculous way to make both lofts with staircases. Either way.
  • Lots of windows. Natural light is awesome. Of course with a lot of windows, we’ll need a lot of curtains or blinds, but I’d rather have “too much” natural light than feel claustrophobic and cramped without it.

There are a lot of layout considerations to be made, and this is where things are getting tricky.

  • Kitchen and bathroom on opposite ends. I don’t think I want to have the bathroom RIGHT BEHIND the kitchen. We’ve read that it’s more expensive to do plumbing on either end of the house as opposed to all of the water-needing-things being on one wall or one end, but if the trailer is only 24 feet long, how much of an extra expense are we talking?
  • Where is the kitchen? I’m in love with the kitchen being at the end of the unit, like in the Minim House. I think there’s less of an opportunity for wasted space in that kind of configuration. Or having it all along one wall, not an L-shaped kitchen.
  • Where is the front door? If it’s on the back end of the trailer, then it makes it a bit more difficult to do the bathroom on one end, kitchen on the other. The hOMe build has it on the side of the tiny house, which allows for different configurations on the inside.
  • Wet bath or regular bathroom? In theory, I like the idea of everything being one, and we’ve seen some that have a really cool design. But then again, I don’t know that I want to be washing my hair over the toilet, especially if it’s a composting toilet. And if it were a wet bath, then I wouldn’t really have an excuse to keep our water buffalo shower curtain. ;)

And finally, when it comes to the overall look and feel, I think we’re going to need professional help on this one. There are so many elements of existing tiny houses that we like, that if we try to take all of it and roll it into one, we’re going to have some issues. Our interior design tastes are questionable at best. Buuuut, there are some things that would be really awesome to see in there:

  • Sliding barn door. Anywhere. Like this:
  • Dark wood and stainless steel, seen in the “Miter Box” model by Shelter Wise.
  • White and pops of color (thinking blue and/or green)

For those of you who are still in the planning stages, where do you draw inspiration from? For those of you who have already built, is there anything you’d incorporate now that you didn’t think of? Anything you have that you don’t need?

How much stuff do we actually need?

When we watched “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” it was clear to us that this was definitely something we wanted to seriously pursue. In that film, there are a series of clips with a woman named Dee Williams. I remember Barry saying “she’s a Williams, she gets it” and noting on how genuine and real she seems on the film. I was digging for more interviews, videos, pictures, anything, as she seemed to embody the same mentality that Barry and I have toward moving to this way of living our lives. Then I found her TEDxConcordiaUPortland talk.

I’m just going to leave this here for you. Dee Williams gets it. And I want to go to a book reading, or run into her somewhere, and buy her coffee and give her a hug. She totally gets it.

Dee, if you’re out there reading this somehow, we want to fill your cooler with creamer and beer and hang out with you long enough to need to use both.

So, tell us. What item would you want to hold in your arms as you die? What favorite room in your house could accommodate that last breath?

Storage: Where Are You Going to Put XYZ?

Storage: Where Are You Going to Put XYZ?

Since we went live with the website yesterday, we’ve gotten a lot of “where are you going to put _____” with regards to storage inside the house, not the house itself (that’s another post for a different day). Most of these questions are in jest, some of them serious. I love these questions, because some of them we have the answer to, and the other ones make us think about the layout of the house.

Where are we going to put the beer? A popular question since we’re both big fans of all things craft beer, especially Barry. At our house now, we currently have a 3/4 size fridge and were previously contemplating getting a dedicated beer fridge. I’m glad we didn’t go that route now that I think about it, because that would be one more thing we need to find room for or give away. I think if we can get a full size fridge in the tiny house and not have it be weird or out of place or whatever, we should be totally fine on beer storage. If not, we can fit plenty of big bottles/growlers of awesome beer in a 3/4 size fridge. Either way, we’ve got this covered.

Where are we going to put our skydiving gear? Fortunately, we have a locker at Skydive Elsinore that is pretty much the perfect size for all of our stuff, and something we could easily integrate into the storage (I’m thinking under the stairs to the loft). The locker at the dropzone is something I’ll need to measure, but it has four rig racks and room to hang our jumpsuits, helmets, and a bunch of other junk we don’t need in it. We could do one with two rig racks and be totally good to go. YOU GUYS, OUR TINY HOUSE WILL HAVE A RIG RACK CLOSET! This is so exciting!

Open Shelving vs. Kitchen Cabinets: I’m a sucker for the look of the open shelving. It makes everything seem so much less narrow, and if you have cool stuff to put on it, even better. One reason I want open shelving in the kitchen is so we can display our growing collection of tiki mugs. At our house now, they’re just chillin in the cabinet. Each one is a memory, and each one is really, really awesome in its own way. Definitely need at least one open shelf thing for the tiki heads. Priorities, people. Functional decoration. I think that’s a thing.

My new obsession with Pinterest. I never thought I’d say this, but holy smokes, Pinterest is AWESOME. I kinda tinkered with the site back when it first launched, but I hadn’t really had a practical use for it since then. I have started a board about Tiny Houses and Permaculture to keep all of the ideas/articles/bookmarks in one place. Everything from mason jar for spice/dry good storage (it’s like freaking ART what you can do with those things, all the colors), to how Barry wants the stairs to have some kind of lighting (good idea), to color schemes. I haven’t crossed over into borderline-dangerous obsession mode on Pinterest, but I have started to utilize it as a tremendous tool to keep track of the things we’re interested in incorporating. Never EVER thought I’d say that. Awesome.

Do any of you guys have tips for small-space living? Websites or magazines or blogs or shows that inspire you? Let us know in the comments!

Why a Tiny House?

Why a Tiny House?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to have a place to call home. As I watched my parents decorate their first house, I had dreams of what I would do with a house of my own someday. However, I’ve never felt so passionate about one particular geographical location to make the commitment to get a mortgage, build a house, and stay there for an extended period of time.

When I met Barry, I remember him telling me that when he “retired” from skydiving, all he wanted was to have a herd of sheep. The man wants to be a shepherd. I didn’t understand this at first. It sounded so simple. Of course, when we first talked about this, I was still rocking my way up the Corporate Ladder to live the American Dream, and I couldn’t possibly fathom just hanging out in a field all day.

I remember him showing me pictures of a Tumbleweed Tiny House years ago. I thought they were absolutely perfect. The concept of living small had finally started to appeal to me. I didn’t realize that I had been living fairly small for quite awhile. When I moved from Tampa to Chicago, I left behind all of my furniture and just packed my clothes and necessities into my car. I found a studio apartment in the city and got a few items from IKEA to fill the place out. When I jumped on a new opportunity in Austin, I did the same thing. It would cost more to rent a truck and my bed and bookcase and belongings down than it would to sell everything and buy a new bedroom from IKEA. So, I sold everything, packed up my car, and bought furniture when I got to Austin.

When I left Austin, same thing: sell all of the furniture, pack up the car, and head back up to Illinois. At that point, Barry, Jezebel, and I moved into a trailer parked at the dropzone. We didn’t have much, and we didn’t need much, either. When we moved to California, we sold the trailer and everything in it to a fellow skydiver, and you guessed it, packed up the car and drove to California with our clothes, skydiving equipment, and a few necessities.

Since we moved to California, we’re still living “tiny” by many standards. Our house now is 800 square feet and is way too much space for us. For a long time, we had a couple lawn chairs in the living room, until we acquired a free couch and chair/ottoman combo. It feels like a home, but it really is more space than we need.

Living "small" by a lot of standards, but it's still too big.

Living “small” by a lot of standards, but it’s still too big.

We watched a documentary on Netflix about tiny houses and it sparked our full-on Research Bender. Our friends Raelynn and Travis are also building a tiny house, and seeing them post about it and plan their build has only fueled our fire. We’re still in the early stages of our project, but we’ve got a few things we know we want/need out of a tiny house.