Laying out the Layout

When planning the layout of our space, I found it very helpful to see other tiny houses.  Thank you, Tiny House Roadshow!  Obviously everyone’s needs are different, but in my case, I need to sleep 2 adults and 3 kids.  After figuring out bed mattress dimensions, I determined that anything less than a 24′ trailer would feel cramped.  Two queen-sized mattresses and an additional convertible sleeping space is what we need.

With all of this in mind, I decided that we would have to have 2 sleeping lofts.  My husband is 6’4″, though.  One of the sleeping lofts would need more head room.  To solve this problem, I decided to go with a traditional gabled roof with a very slight pitch, not a shed roof.  After having seen one, I felt that was too claustrophobic and limited the bedroom space.  I also decided to lower the loft floor to give more space. The result was a less than standard height space underneath, but I made that a seating area.  You don’t need standard head height if you are sitting down anyway.

The kids’ loft is over the bathroom, which has a more normal head height to accomodate my husband but means lesser head height in their loft.  The bathroom has a small RV tub (bought off of Amazon Warehouse) because my young kids do not like taking showers, the smallest sink I could find (bought on ebay), and a Nature’s Head composting toilet (bought at the Tiny House Roadshow, which is about the only place you can get it with a discount).  The composting toilet was expensive, but not knowing where the house will eventually be set up, it was a necessity.  (I asked about the expense, and the dealer told me that because it is such a small market, they cannot be mass produced, thus a higher price point.)

By putting the bathroom on one end under the kids’ loft and the seating area on the other end under the adults’ loft, I was able to leave the middle section open all the way to the ceiling, and I made the front door open into that middle section so that you get the feeling of space as you come in the door.  On the front side of the trailer is a long run of countertop with a full-sized sink.  It would probably have been better to go with a smaller sink, but I got the full-sized one for free.  On the back side of the trailer are the stairs that lead to the kids’ loft.  The frig tucks under the tallest part, and the rest is cupboards and drawers.  Actually the last two steps of the stairs are drawers.  I had to utilize that space-saving technique to be able to fit the gas fireplace in the living area.

Once the plywood was screwed down on the trailer frame, I measured for my bathroom walls based on the tub size, and I marked things out with tape so I could get a visual.  That was very helpful.  I could see how far out the kitchen counters would come as well as the refrigerator.  I could see how much walkway space I would have in the kitchen and how much space I would have for the living area.

In the kitchen, I opted for an apartment-sized frig (bought at Home Depot during the fall when they have all of those appliances on sale for the college students).  Anything smaller than that would have been impractical.  To save space, I bought a refurbished Oster convection oven that is big enough to hold a 9″x13″ pan.  I have actually been using it in my kitchen to see how well it works.  It cooks things great, faster even than a regular oven because you don’t have to wait for it preheat.  I bought a double electric burner for pots and pans.  It can easily be stored in the kitchen cabinets, and with those two appliances, I eliminated my need for a bulky oven range and vent hood.

As for the additional sleeping space, we looked into daybeds, but I really wanted one with storage underneath.  IKEA has some good options, but the sizes were not quite right to fit in the space I had.  They were literally too big by an inch or inch and a half.  That is frustrating!  We wound up with a nice option from World Market.

Browsing around in IKEA gave me some ideas.  One was for an adjustable height table.  Since my living area needs to double as an eating area, I am planning to build a coffee table that can raise and lower as needed.

Heating and cooling was another thing to consider.  Mini splits are popular but super expensive.  The best option I found is to use a window AC unit (just over $100 at Walmart).  I made sure to put in a window just for that.  Another thing that I have done to save money is to shop local online estate auctions.  One day I ran across a fireplace that runs off of natural gas or propane.  Since I already knew I would have to have propane for my on-demand water heater (purchased used off Craigslist), that was a good option for me.

There are sooooo many things to think about when designing a tiny house.  Each person will have different needs, but the way that ours is laid out has been perfect for us.