I took some time today to sketch out a new design for my tiny house. Below is what I’ve got. As some of you know I’ve been mulling the options over for a while, and I’ve gone back and forth about what I want to do with my tiny house, and how big I want it to be based on that. The only consistencies have been that A- I want a Tiny House, and B- I don’t want it to be larger than 20′ (the below pushing that at 18′ trailer).
I thought I’d take you on a little tour of my design and talk out some reasons why I made choices that I made. I’ll try to keep a kind of order, or method to my madness.
I chose a somewhat basic design known as the Cypress from Tumbleweed Tiny Homes. I really like the little bump-out nook in the front. But I also liked the porch on models such as the Elm. So I chose to try and combine the two with a 2′ front porch in addition to a slightly recessed door. I am not 100% sure that is do-able architecturally, but I am hoping there wouldn’t be a problem with it.
This gives me the cute little front porch I want, with potentially enough room for one of those cute little front porch swings.
I’m not sure one will fit. I saw one once on a tiny house in one of the tiny house shows, but can’t find any pictures of one. Also with a porch that is only 2′ wide where the swing might go, it would be cutting it pretty darn close.
One of the things I really wanted in my tiny house was to be able to have people over. I’m normally a pretty introverted loner type. But I do like my family, and might even enjoy family get-togethers more in the comfort of my own home. So when I saw one tiny house (A Cypress model to be exact) include the same kind of dinning area set up at me, it sparked the desire that led to this most recent design.
The little bump out made by the recessed door is the perfect size for a two person bench. By myself this will be an amazing place to sit and read, or sit and draw. A second two person bench (though not built in like the one in the nook will be) will make an L-shaped couch. Not being built in it will be able to be like a futon and fold down, alongside the built in bench, to make a pretty good sized guest bed. But it could also be swung around to face the built in bench. From the wall a table (disguised as a painting) will fold down, creating a nice dinning room area for 4 people. A chair could be put at the far end and seat 5 for games of cards or D&D, but might be cramped for dinner.
I would also have a roll down screen that will let me use a small projector to project movies and shows from my ipad to a larger screen for TV/Movie watching. I may also sit it up hooked to the ceiling above the table so I could potentially angle it downward to put D&D maps on the table. It is a small narrow table, so my dreams of hosting D&D at my house may be a bit much. There wont be a lot of room for books, dice, and a map. Regardless…
I loved this design. I loved it because not only did it make a place where I could potentially have family or friends over for dinner, or to spend the night, but it also created a super comfortable nook for me to spend my days. The table can fold down for crafting or drawing or writing on a laptop/ipad, or sculpting, and then fold back up when I’m done with it. Or I could sit on the bench with my back to the wall and look out the window while I draw or read, and open the windows for a nice breeze even.
Add in the small loft above the porch that will fit a twin bed, and I sort of have two guest bedrooms. The loft one be okay for 1 person, but the dinning room/living room bench area might be able to sleep 2. I really liked this idea, because my sister, her fiance and my young niece could come visit and all have a place to sleep.
Moving into the rest of the house, there is a large area between the door and the kitchen area, which could potentially have a small desk, or another folding table, or just be left open to create a sense of space.
The kitchen will be small. I do some cooking but nothing that requires a massive area. It will have a small sink, and a 2-burner cook top flush with the counter. The cooktop will be propane heated to save on electricity. Under the sink/stove could be cabinet storage, or it could be where I put my on demand water heater and my clean water tank. I won’t need more than 4 of any dishes, and only a small and medium sauce pan and a frying pan, and a couple microwave safe dishes. Those can be on open air shelving above the sink and stove, so I don’t need a lot of cabinet space.
I think it is the best idea to have the water tank there. It’s the ideal place as both the sink and shower are on the same wall, so running the plumbing will be a breeze. The RV hookups can be on that side (I think. I don’t know if there is a standard side. But running them to the other side if there is shouldn’t be a huge problem, maybe? If it is, I can always swap the kitchen around without too much trouble).
On the other side will be a small fridge. I have one the perfect size in my office at work. I don’t eat a lot, and much of what I eat doesn’t need to be refrigerated. The fridge on this is large enough to fit enough of the frozen lunches I bring to work for a couple weeks worth, and the fridge part is large enough for some milk, eggs, cheese, butter, and other little essentials, as well as a small produce drawer if I decide to get some fresh fruits and veggies.
Being single, a small thing of eggs and probably a little pint of milk would be more than enough.
Having a fridge this size also allows it to be under the counter, freeing up some space above it for me to have a microwave or toaster oven. Next to the fridge will be a small closet where I can put cleaning supplies, broom or little vacuum, and maybe even hide the cat’s litter box in a compartment built on the bottom of the closet. On the side of the closet will be the ladder to climb into the loft.
Now the thing I did with the loft I also saw on one of the tiny house shows. I don’t need over counter cabinets, which means I have the space to drop the floor of the loft over the fridge and closet. This will actually allow me to stand up in the loft on a small walkway over the fridge and closet. At the end of the walkway will be a closet and drawers built in, allowing me to get dressed up in the loft if I want to. The walkway will let me climb into bed the way a normal person would any other bed, rather than having to crawl on my hand and knees over to it.
This too I will have to check and see if it’s possible. I may have to put some kind of post on the corner of the closet from floor to ceiling to add stability. When it comes time to build my tiny house I’ll need to show these plans to a builder or architect and get their opinion on it. I may even purchase the Cypress plans, since the design is so similar they will give me the information I need on building and framing, especially the roof and dormer areas.
Past the kitchen is the bathroom. It wont be too much smaller than my current bathroom. I kind of want a Japenese soaking tub. It will be a somewhat expensive little luxury, but it will allow for me to have a tub in a space that normally would only allow for a stall shower.
The only question about that is how often I’ll actually be able to use it. If I am off grid, and have a water tank that I need to pay to get filled every couple of weeks, taking a bath will be a huge luxury. Also with an on-demand hot water heater, filling one might also be a problem.
The soaking tub is a luxury, and I may get one with the caveat that I can only use it if I am hooked up to my RV hookups wherever I happen to land. I will also probably need to build some kind of step to get up into it, as I’ll be building the shower up just a bit to fit the grey water tank in beneath it.
I’ve planned out the plumbing for the most part, with the sink and the shower on the same wall and both very close to each other. Which is why I think the water tank and heater should be under the sink/stove. The water would come from the tank, into the heater, and not have far at all to travel to get to the sink or the shower.
I also want a waterfall showerhead, one of the big ones. The image of the soaking tub above is round because it was the nicest picture I could find, but I’d get a square one so I can have one of these beautiful waterfall showerheads.
I will, however, need to be careful about that. As much as I want this little luxuries, a showerhead like that might lead to long showers that use up all my water. I will need to be careful of the water I use.
Some quick and shabby research got me $2.50 a gallon to fill up an RV water tank. The average shower uses 17! gallons. That means a 100 gallon tank will cost me $250 to fill and last me less than a week! Now, that is only going off shower usage, not washing hands, washing dishes, watering the plants. Though I don’t think I use as much water as the average, I take very short showers and don’t tend to luxuriate in them often.
I would also get in the habit of turning on the water to get wet, shutting it off, soaping up and turning it back on to rinse off. I’m betting I can at the very least cut that 17 gallons in half. Some more research showed me that hand washing dishes can take up to 24 gallons for 12 dishes. I obviously wont use that much, partly because I’ll only be washing a couple dishes at a time, maybe a plate and a fork and a pan, and partly because I won’t just sit there with the water running. I’d like to think I could probably wash my dishes with less than 5 gallons, if I fill the sink with a gallon or 2, wash them, then rinse them off. That is still over 10 gallons a day, which means a 100 gallon tank costing $250 to fill would need to be refilled about every 8-10 days.
Compare that to the average single person water bill of $30 a month. No thank you. Though of course I could be waaaay off on the $2.50 a gallon price. There may also be easier ways. I’ll ask Reddit and look more into that.
Moving on from my water tangent…
Above the bathroom and kitchen will be my sleeping loft, as I said already, and will have a good sized bed (I’m fine with full, don’t need a queen) and a small closet/drawers for my clothes. I don’t have, want or need a lot of clothes. I tend to have enough pants to have a clean pair every day, the same with socks, underwear, and bras. For shirts I have a decent collection of print Ts, as well as 5-7 nice tops for work. As I lose weight I’ll be revamping my wardrobed, and finally being able to fit into the kind of clothes I’d rather be wearing I will probably end up potentially doubling my wardrobe size. So this little closet may not do forever.
But I imagine in a 2×3 closet I’d be able to hang a good number of shirts, and then have drawers underneath. 1 drawer for undergarments, and 1 for pants, and 1 for non-hanging shirts. Hopefully that will be enough.
If not, the two benches in the living room area will also have storage. One will be for art/crafting supplies, but one could hold excess clothes. I don’t think I will be hurting for storage here.
Lastly on the outside around the back will be a “shed” built out over the tongue. This will hold the electrical box (which will actually be accessible from inside the bathroom), the propane tanks, and possible if there is room the batteries for a solar system (if I decide to do solar).
I am leaning more towards trying to be completely off grid. I’m beginning to lean towards not bringing my desktop and so only needing to charge iPad and cell phone. Lights don’t draw a lot of energy, and my small fridge hopefully doesn’t use much either. It’s possible that with a average size tiny house solar array I’ll be fine for my fridge, microwave, and even a small AC (that I may need to turn off if I run the microwave or something). I believe the on-demand hot water heater uses propane.
I will also have the standard hookups, so I could run a hose and an extension cord out to my house.
The only question then is internet. I think I could probably survive at home without it. I could download whatever show I want to watch at work to watch at home. I could also look into more robust mobile internet. I know my current plan with AT&T lets me stream the Dish network app for free without using my data. It’s possible I could continue to use access to my parents Dish network for my shows, or I could just do without or just watch what I am able to download. Hulu doesn’t allow you to download episodes, but Amazon does.
I am more and more leaning towards not bringing my large PC. Originally it was because of the power draw, but now I am also considering the internet. Where my tiny eventually ends up might not have access to internet, running water, or electricity. So I can’t be dependent on those things.
I think this design will work well for my needs. Moving forward I have a few questions I will need to get answers to. They are:
- How big of a water tank will I need, and how much does it cost to get it filled (and how do I get it filled?)
- How much energy will I need, and how big of a solar set up will that require? Also I want to look into the small wind turbines. I might be able to have both.
- How much propane will I use, and how often will I need to buy more, and how much does that cost?
- Will the aspects of my tiny house that deviate from the Cypress work, architecturally, the lowered walk in the loft and the extended porch specifically.
- How heavy will this be, and what size/class truck will be required to pull it, and do I want to try pulling it myself?
- And lastly… Do I want to actually make this smaller and go with a 16′ trailer. It would essentially cut out two feet from the living room, and may make the dinning room/living room area too tight of a fit. (Though I don’t think the benches would be a full foot from the table on either side). Tumbleweed doesn’t sell a 16′ trailer, so I’d have to find someone that does.
A 16′ trailer would be smaller, lighter, and easier to move, but may make the place feel more cramped, and may not fit the living room area I want.
I’m very excited and think I’ve finally landed on the design I want.