Designing and Building My Tiny House
Category Archives: dreams
So, I love castles. I went to Ireland with my parents right after I graduated college. It was one of my first traveling with parents as an adult trips. And it was one of the first trips with them without my sisters. Which meant I got to do a lot more planning than usual. And which meant that we basically went from castle to castle, with a boat trip thrown in as well. As a kid, I always dreamed about having a tower on my house (probably to hold the two-story library I had planned which would have needed a book ladder). And I thought that my tiny house dreams would make the tower impossible. But, I stand corrected. You can have a tiny house with a tower. In Sweden.
P.S. I also have to thank RelaxShax for turning me on to a awesome blog, Neatorama. Not only did Neatorama find this tiny castle, but other recent posts include how to make Google beatbox, why drinking whiskey is good for the world (my family did more than our fair share of helping the world this Thanksgiving), and, more relevant to tiny houses, a trailer park gingerbread house competition.
Yes, I realize Thanksgiving was last week. But, in my family, Thanksgiving isn’t a day, but a long weekend spent with extended family. And the reason why it is yay for Thanksgiving is that only in my family do people not only get the tiny house idea, but get excited about it. They want to see plans and talk about plumbing and composting toilets and wood stoves and all that stuff which is perpetually in my head. So, yay for Thanksgiving! Even if it gives me even more to think about (proving that the more you know, the more you know you don’t know).
OK – so in the midst of the details, scary decisions, and overwhelming new info (aka…how in the world are electric systems set up), is the fun of designing. I have to say…this has been awesome. What in the world do I want my dream house to look like? How many people get to think about this and then actually build it? All of my friends have bought houses or rented apartments..which means you have grand ideas about your dream house/apartment, then find something sort of close and make it work. I get to include all of my dream ideas (within budget, size, and weight restrictions…sadly the castle tower I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid is probably out).
The first thing I did was to look at all of the tiny houses online I could find. Tiny Texas Houses are awesome – I love the reclaimed wood and the cool details. So I definitely want to think about including things like that. And I have to say, I love the ladder being built into shelves…looks like it fits in better.
But, then I realized I should probably think of more basic design elements (like the shape of the house) first. Like most people (it seems…based on blogs), I started thinking it would be something like a Tumbleweed House. Something like the Fenci seemed appealing – about the right size, nice interior, pretty siding, a good loft, but an open great room to feel airier. But it definitely isn’t perfect so time to think about all of the tweaks!
1. Porch – While it’s cute, it seems silly to waste valuable trailer space on a porch. Especially the porch on the Fenci which is unusable (other Tumbleweed designs have bigger porches which would be nice to have, but then they use up more trailer space). If I get super-ambitious, I could design a fold-down porch (maybe on steel wires, or with fold-down legs too) with a roll-out awning and screened walls. A less ambitious path could be just to buy a camping screen room (like this one) and put it in front of my house.
2. Roof – the Fenci has the extra fancy front roof, which seems like extra hassle, especially given my construction abilities. A simple pointed roof seems like it would perfectly fine for my needs. I’m not sure which one makes more sense – if I go for the pointed roof, I’m probably going to lower the pitch to give myself more room in the loft (I want to make sure its comfortable even if you are not sleeping exactly in the middle of the bed. A shed roof may also work just fine for me – it makes it easy to add in some high-up windows (without needing to mess with skylights). I would just turn the bed in the loft sideways (maybe more of a hassle if it’s a couple living there, but with just me would be fine). Something like the two pictured below would work for a shed roof. I clearly need to do some research about what roof pitch is needed to know how far I can stress the design.
3. Separate Kitchen – I’ve lived in small and tiny apartments, and I much prefer it when the kitchen is open to the living room, not a separate room, like in the Fenci floor plan. If its part of the living room, then a table can triple as counter space, dining room table, and desk. It also makes everything seem more open and big – better in my mind than multiple tiny rooms.
4. Storage Options – I plan on adding in a couple extra things for storage. I kiteboard and knit, so I have kites (backpack sized), boards (like snowboards), lots of yarn and fiber, a spinning wheel, and other extra crafty things. I don’t need tons and tons of stuff, but it seems silly not to maximize the storage space in a tiny house. So, some things I am thinking about adding include:
- foot-lockers in loft along side of bed for extra storage or shelves along wall in loft if using shed roof design
- storage locker over the trailer hitch for kiting gear and other sports gear
- move the front door to the side of the house (next to the wheels) so that I can put in a window seat at the rear end of the trailer with built-in cabinets and bookcases around the window seat
5. Bay Window – This is not a big modification, but I saw a picture of house with a bay window in the kitchen and I love it. Room for some plants, maybe some herbs. A garden window would also work. I know these are expensive, but it may be worth it.
OK – I’m sure there will be more brainstorms but this is enough to get things going for now.
P.S. Click on any pic to see the website from which it comes.
For the last two or three years, I have found myself drawn to all of the websites of tiny houses and homes. I lived in Boston and New York City, so always had small apartments (especially in New York City). And then I spent 8 months traveling and living out of a backpack. After doing that, you realize how little you actually need in life. I don’t need a million shirts; in reality, I tend to only wear a handful and the rest sit at the bottom of my drawer. The same goes for almost everything. And I have very strong feelings that Americans tend to use way too many resources. Bigger is not always better (at least not in houses and material possessions) and certainly is not sustainable in terms of houses. So, small is what I want and what is good for the world (my own little part).
At the same time, I’m a bit of a homebody. I want to have a space that I can really organize and decorate and make mine. As soon as you know you are only going to be in a space for 6 months, how much do you really want to spend time, energy, and money to get it exactly how you want it to be? I want a space that I know I’ll be in for a while and can take the time to get just right for me.
So, all of this leads to me wanting to build my own small house. Right now its just in the planning stages, but that’s a hell of a lot of fun in it’s own right!