Step 1: Design Your Tiny House

Let's start talking about the tiny house, shall we? I know that's the reason some of you continue to read this blog. Camper life has been going so well at the moment that we may have forgotten at a time or two that we wanted to get out of it!

But then we remember, oh wait! We live in 140-square-feet, and with a dog, too! We must be crazy, right? We have found ways to make our living situation work right now, but we know that it might not always be what we're looking for in the future.

So with that, it's time to start taking action on the tiny house!

It doesn't get much better than planning out the space you're going to be living in. But for some reason, I thought this would be an afterthought. Like, maybe we'd buy the trailer and the materials and just kinda make something out of it.

Yeah ... wrong!

If you're a planner, you will want to spend lots of time sketching out everything you want in your space.

Here's a few questions you might want to ask yourself before you build your tiny house:

How much space do you need?

Notice how I said "need" and not "want." Tiny house dwellers might "want" more space, but they are living small because they are intentionally using space efficiently.

To get an idea of square footage, stop by your local camper or RV store and walk on different sized trailers. Find an empty parking lot and use a measuring stick to draw the outline of your house. As you walk from room to room, think about whether or not you could live in that space.

Do you want standard living features?

I'm talking about a bedroom, kitchen, living area, etc. And in those areas, do you want the same appliances that you might find in your family's or friends' homes? Do you need a dishwasher or a washer/dryer? Are they necessary? Can you hide features or use space in multifunctional ways?

Design your house in ways to accommodate the features you need, because sometimes these features can take up more space than you thought.

How many people can you fit in your home?

If you're not too keen on guests, you might as well just have a loft or a pull-out couch as your sleeping option.

But if you like to entertain, it's important to know the maximum number of people your house can sleep and how big of a table you can fit in your "living room" ... or should I say your "multifunctional space."

Having a place to lay out an air mattress could come in handy when the other sleeping options are taken.

Can everyone use your space?

We knew we wanted to sleep in a loft, but we had to ask ourselves if our dog, Blaize, was allowed up there too. If so, she might not be coming up on a ladder.

The stairs vs. ladder conversation is a good one to have. If you go the stairs route, make sure you can design them so they aren't too narrow to navigate.

If you have elderly family members, you may want to consider where they will be sleeping when they come to visit as well. Will they be using a ladder or stairs to get to a sleeping loft or can they sleep on the main level?

Will it still be liveable in the future?

Just because you're not ready to have children yet, doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about them. If there's a chance your family is growing in size in the future, you may want to design around their inevitable expectations.

If you're only planning on living in your home for 5-10 years, then you may have to ask yourself deep questions about the purpose of the project. If it's a temporary home, is it worth the time and cost? If it's a long-term home, will a small home still feel comfortable in the future?

Have you done your research?

Unless your degree is in architecture or engineering (or perhaps you have some construction experience), you may be clueless as to how to begin to build a house.

It is better to know how to learn than to know.
— Dr. Seuss

If you know how to learn, you can pretty much learn anything you need to know! The Internet has helped level the playing field and allows everyone to explore areas they never would have before.

Thanks to social media connections, I have read plenty of articles about what NOT to do. Reading "Of mistake making and taking my ceiling apart…" by Ella Harp helped me realize the importance of venting a roof. Boy was she peeved with all the work she was going to have to do to replace it! Don't make other people's mistakes if you can help it.

Where can you find inspiration?

I found a post recently on Living Big in a Tiny House's Facebook page, "12 Beautiful & Creative Tiny House Lofts." It's nice to get an idea of what your options might be by looking at what other people have done already. These kind of images open up questions about flat or sloped roofs, skylights, window designs, etc.

If you're going to invest a lot of time designing your tiny house, make it your own! You can benefit from coming up with your own ways to make it work for you. If you have special hobbies or passions, try to incorporate them into your design elements or add space in the design of your new tiny home so you can continue to explore them.

Now what?

Start sketching! Use a paper and pencil and start to draw out what your home might look like. When you have a sketch that you are somewhat happy with, use a computer program to get an idea of exact spacing and size constraints. Feel free to pass your sketch along to your friends and family for feedback. Better yet, show a tiny house dweller your work and see if they would change anything.

The EPA says the average American spend 93% of their life indoors. I'm going to let you digest that for a second. That's a lot! Even though I'm a proponent of more time outside than inside (if you can), it's still crucial to consider sustainable design. For example, southern facing windows reduces your energy bill, while giving you a healthy living space.

Ask yourself all the tough questions before you get too far along in the process and take your time! Rome wasn't built in a day, right?

This is where we're at so far! Designing the tiny house in our tiny house! How about 'dem apples?

This is where we're at so far! Designing the tiny house in our tiny house! How about 'dem apples?