Some useful small space storage articles:
Previously, we had taken a model and a floor plan from a well-known maker of manufactured housing and converted it into a modern small house. This is another attempt at such a conversion.
The above floor plan shows the dimensions and arrangements of the various spaces in our new home. The size of this plan is 374 sq. ft. and certainly fits within the definition of many people as a small or tiny house. As with the previous conversion, cost and speed will be strongly considered in any redesign. This house costs $19,500 before any changes. Obviously, asking a manufacturer to either use different cabinets or fixtures or not including them and installing personal choices yourself, might be considered in the final price.
The above image displays the front of the mobile home before redesign. This particular home comes with generic siding and standard windows typically seen in manufactured housing.
The house is covered in a beige carpeting except for the kitchen area and the bathroom which have a dark, muddied tile. Unfortunately, my models are such that they look better than the real thing.
The backdoor is to the right, while the front door is to the left. The two doors on the right are access to the air conditioner and the water heater. The furthest away on the left leads to the bedroom. Through this little hall, on the right, is the bathroom door.
I have been pleasantly surprised about the floor plans of many of the manufactured houses that I have seen. Most times they are quite efficient, requiring little in terms of adjustment. This is certainly true of this model. Of course, gutting a place, moving things around including walls, would give one great leeway in the overall design. Yet this hardly seems economical, logical or necessary since one of our concerns is expense. Moving things like plumbing and electricity as well as a water heater and air conditioning would hardly make much sense. However, changing the air conditioning to a different system not taking up floor space or going with a tankless water heater that could be moved outside or occupying much less territory, is not altogether out of the question.
In our case, the floor plan remains the same. Things like cabinetry and fixtures do get updated. Nevertheless, the doors that came with this model surprisingly did not need replacing, just repainting with a glossy finish.
As with the first conversion, landscaping is kept at a minimum. Although landscaping can make a sizeable difference in the look of a house, for our purposes we will keep our focus just on the house. Compare the front here to the front of the original. The most obvious change is the addition of a deck. In this iteration, a deck on the front becomes necessary because of the layout of the bedroom which has a closet built into the back. So without tearing down the closet, the deck is placed onto the front.
The other major components added are the French style sliding doors which replace the windows on the kitchen and bedroom sides. Not only does this open the house up to much greater natural light, but it also provides access to the outdoors all along the front. To break up the long visual expanse that mobile homes have, different materials are applied as siding. Instead of the common external siding found on the original, 2/3 of the house is clad in a light grey English parquet, while the bedroom area is covered in a dark stained cedar planking. This helps distinguish between the unique spaces of the house without major construction and even though the house is only 374 sq. ft. The addition of a pergola does much the same thing.
Notice, also, the mobile home appears to be built on a foundation due to the rough stones placed around the bottom. The outdoor furniture comes from designs in a DIY book that I am currently working on and inspired by my published book: Outdoor Furniture You Can Make Using Simple Tools and Materials.
The doors did not need replacing and French style sliding doors were used to match them.
The inside of the house needs only a little updating. The major changes occur after adding the sliding French doors, which change the flow and nature of the rooms both inside and outside. First to go are the traditional cabinets, replaced by a contemporary design. I say contemporary rather than modern because the term properly fits. In this particular conversion I use contemporary modern finishes rather than those of the modernist. This includes shades of grey, although I avoid the use of beige since I have a distinct aversion to shades of beige.
The beige carpeting has been replaced with a light wood flooring and the dark tiles are gone from the kitchen area. When looking at the bookcase to the right, the doors and any trim, the color has not change but repainted to a glossy finish. New lights and fixtures are added throughout the house.
The window on the left and all the windows along the backside of the house have not been change. The cabinets are Shaker style cabinets painted grey with contemporary handles. The dining chairs are Platner chairs found at places like Knoll or any modern design store like All Modern. The blue chairs in the living room are of my design called Cube Chairs.
Only the vanity, mirrored medicine cabinet were changed in the bathroom. The original vanity and medicine cabinet were much like the dull, ordinary cabinets in the kitchen. A nice, new shower curtain embellishes the bathtub and a new modern overhead fixture brightens the bathroom.
The dark brown tiles become a soothing light blue epoxy.
To the left of the bed, the French style sliding doors bring in a copious amount of light. To the right of the bed, a modern armoires provides plenty of storage space.
The doors to the built-in closet are changed to match the new armoires.
Besides replacing the doors to the closet, a new modern overhead fixture was added along with drapes for the sliding doors.
Amazingly, this inexpensive small mobile home can be converted to a delightful, comfortable, modern home with out spending a lot of money. This is only the first iteration. Without changing the floor plan, I will produce an alternative to this conversion by moving access from the front to the back for the kitchen/living area and orienting a deck to the side of the house off the bedroom. This alternative design will appear very soon.
I call this design Cleopatra’s Tiny House because of the easy recognition of this figure in history as an Egyptian Pharaoh. However, this design is inspired by the design of Egyptian temples such as the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.
Although massive and overbearing, I have always admired the towering vertical lines and the strong horizontals of Egyptian architectural design. Even though the Egyptians knew of the arch as early as the fourth dynasty, they prefered the monumental effect of post and lintel construction when using stone for their religious buildings.
Of course, we are talking about a residence here. The Egyptians, as with any warm or desert climate people, built dwellings to provide a respite from the heat. The strategies used are still used today and can be traced from the Romans to the Arabs to the Spanish and Italians.
With Cleopatra’s Tiny House, we have a covered entrance leading to a house in three sections. The tallest section encloses the living room and kitchen with a wall of folding doors that opens onto a central courtyard. On the other side of the courtyard are two bedrooms with a bathroom in between. Each bedroom has sliding glass doors on the side facing the courtyard. Because of all the glass doors, the courtyard becomes an intimate and private extension of the entire house and with this space centrally located and almost entirely shaded, it provides a cool place to dine or relax.
In this particular design the house maximizes privacy. No exterior walls have windows to look out upon the exterior landscape. Nevertheless, plenty of light comes in from the tall clerestory windows at the front and light pouring in from the courtyard.
The front boasts four large, square columns wrapped in galvanized, corrugated steel. These columns support a shade over the front entrance, but is independent of the house and does not touch the front.
The front porch as well as the rest of the roofs are covered in corrugated steel.
On this side is a barn door like gate that provides another exit as well as a means to move wider objects in and out.
The front door is to the left, while the courtyard is on the right.
The floor plan of this house is relatively simple and organized with three sections. The central courtyard becomes the unifying detail of the other two sections, yet defines the private, sleeping areas from the communal living and kitchen areas. Even with all the glass, this house is insular and private. Though this house has only around 600 sq. ft. interior space, each bedroom provides a secure, restful nest easily closed off from the rest of the house.
If made of cinderblock and stained cement floors, and without many windows, this house also would not demand any great expense. Standard, off-the-shelf materials could be used, with no need whatsoever for expensive or custom finishes.
I post this article as a bystander to an argument between two people I know. Even though this argument might offend one side or the other, I hope to provide an objective side to this division.
Simply stated, this argument is the result of some of the programs on American television concerning tiny houses. An overwhelming number of these houses are, due to the nature of the trailer frames they are built on, of a similar configuration and design. These dwellings fit on wheels and can be moved from place to place. One of my friends says these are tiny houses, while the other, with a little pique I might add, thinks the best description is “trailer”.
I suppose the first question that comes to mind is: What is a tiny house? If one does a search on the Internet, the answer to this question hardly appears consistent. As we know, size is relative. Building codes in many places have a limit of 700 square feet for residential housing. Although arbitrary, maybe this size is useful as a starting point for what is tiny and what is not. Even so, one can easily argue different sizes. Also, no real definition exists for a house. According to Dictionary.com:
a building in which people live; residence for human beings.
house. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/house(accessed: July 25, 2016).
So, without a real definition of “tiny” and “house”, except for the dictionary meaning, a tiny house could be anything depending on a person’s perspective.
Yet, there are individuals who would never, even though they very much prefer the concept of a tiny house, consider living in a trailer, especially one with a bedroom that will not allow for one to stand up or has little difference in width, geometric or interior configuration from one to another.
For some, a tiny house, indeed any house, sits on a permanent foundation and, therefore, exists in a unique environment and location as in any ordinary house. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the concept of a tiny house on wheels predominates due to the overbearance of government, that for false and antithetical reasons, powers that be deem it necessary to quash the production of small houses and maintain the fuddled definitions of real estate. To avoid the heavy hand, the tiny house is placed on wheels and escapes many of the minions, petty functionaries who think that order should supplant the pursuit of happiness.
So to boil it down, some say that a house does not have wheels. A “home” may be anything, but a house is not mobile in a traditional sense. Those things with wheels that are limited in width and have tires are more aptly called trailers, 5th wheels or RVs, rather than “houses”. A house has a street and a number.
Admittedly, the so-called tiny house on wheels does share much of the features of the above recreational vehicles and trailers. One would assume that if one considers the travel trailer, the 5th wheel or RV as a house, then this designation would apply to the tiny house on wheels as well. However, if one doesn’t see these as houses, then obviously the tiny house on wheels comes under question. Nonetheless, perhaps the classification as a “tiny house on wheels” becomes appropriate for a distinct definition outside the term “house”.
Regardless of this little argument between friends, a “home” is what many of us search for and we are quite willing to leave the definition of “house” to someone else.
Dana’s tiny house is one that uses many features from the mid-century and takes in influences from the orient. The use of brick and stone were quite familiar during the time for modern residences. Also, this house promotes a sense of solitude and seclusion with a front courtyard meant for relaxation in a private environment.
Dana’s includes many elements that I use over and over in architectural design such as multiple flat roofs at different elevations, clerestory windows just under the roof, and extensive outdoor space to supplement the interior space. As with the mid-century modern designers, I look to keep a close relationship between the indoors and outdoors.
The red metal screens that reside between the brick walls, not only breaks up the expanse of the wall, but also furnishes to lighten the heft of the barrier with enough openings to provide a look into and out of the courtyard space. Only one screen, which is also the gate, is not red in color, leading one to the front entrance.
One of the most intriguing and pleasurable aspects of mid-century modern houses is the adaptation of materials into modern forms. The inculcation of Chinese patterns into a modern structure lends itself to the international appeal of modernist structures. In fact, a great impulse among the modernists derives from the compulsion to boast at the technological advancement in the production and manipulation of materials, especially in large numbers. Unfortunately, the modernists only succeeding in satisfying this impulse with objects and furnishings in terms of widespread acceptance.
The main living area in this version is entirely open and serves space for the kitchen/dining area and the living room. The smaller version of this house has a pullout sofa for sleeping, with a wardrobe for clothes storage. The bathroom, behind the door that is seen in this picture, also has a wardrobe for more items.
In the above view, we see the alternative configuration of windows. In the first iteration, there are glass blocks above the large glass windows. We will see the alternative version, which is bigger and with a bedroom, after we see the smaller house.
These two versions of a modern tiny house has many features usually reserved for much larger dwellings. With a courtyard in the front and a patio in the back, plenty of outdoor living is provided. The simple, basic design of the floor plans readily fit all sorts of changes in materials and colors. For instance, instead of brick, the front courtyard enclosure could be surrounded by a metal fence with wood screens of abstract patterns in place of the Chinese screens.
Off the Grid in a Tiny House
Modern Tiny House
Before anyone gets all excited about going off the grid and telling the traditional energy companies they are no longer needed, let’s look at a comparison of different energy sources.
Now, before doing that, let’s note that the desire to go off the grid with a renewable energy source like solar does not come down to just cost for many people. Some have ecological and environmental concerns. Others just like the idea of not being reliant on a company or agency which, not only will impose a cost, but also possibly rules or regulations. So for many, cost is not the only determining factor.
Unfortunately, solar, wind or other renewable sources of energy have become a religion to some, so one must take a jaundiced view of information on these sources. In fact, one can find information that actually states that wind and solar provide the same or less expense as conventional sources. This is patently untrue at the moment. However, a realistic view can be made up from rather clear information found from credible authorities. Also, figures can be skewed a bit due the relatively heavy subsidies that solar power might receive depending on the location.
Another recent factor to consider is the dramatic decrease in the cost of fossil fuels and the emergence of natural gas as a strong competitor to coal and other fuels for electricity generation.
Table showing costs as computed by the Department of Energy in 2014:
|Power Plant Type||Cost
(Solar PV stands for Solar Photovoltaic.)
As one can see, over a 100 hour period, the cost of solar amounts to $12.50 while coal spends $9.50 and up and natural gas $7.00 and up. (It should be noted that this article only applies to the United States. Other countries’ energy expenses are generally much greater than the US.) According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the average cost per watt for solar PV installation is $3.60.
Nevertheless, computing the expense of Solar PV is highly individual depending on location, local government and the type of system used. Showing all the various abstruse calculations does not clarify the purpose of this article. Leave it to say that solar is in general between 40 to 60 percent more expensive than the cheapest fossil fuel.
The simplest solar PV setup contains a solar panel, a charge controller and a D.C. device or devices. In order to run A.C. devices, an inverter becomes necessary. A simple setup has limited application and delivers nothing at times of little or no sunshine. Storage batteries deliver electricity at night and during inclement weather. Batteries are by nature direct current devices, supplying usually 12 volts at various amperes depending on the size and cost of the battery. Generally a battery bank will set one back quite a few dollars, but is less expensive when purchased as part of a system.
For the purpose of this article, we will assume that the devices powered include a modest sized refrigerator, a television, a computer and attendant objects like a router, lights for a house around 300 sq. ft. and a small air conditioner with the occasional use of a washer/dryer. Appliances like the stove and heater can utilize propane. So we will need a system that can furnish a number of comforts and entertainments 24/7 during the night as well as during stormy, overcast days. If you are not located in a area like myself, the desert southwest, you would probably want a backup generator for those times when sunshine becomes hard to obtain.
|Refrigerator||1200 watt-hours /day|
|Television||Between 215 and 350 watts|
|Computer and Router||80-270 watts|
|Air Conditioner||1100-1600 watts|
|Lights||80 – 160 watts*|
|Miscellaneous||200 – 600 watts/day#|
*The lights are low voltage CFL bulbs.
#This would consist of things like a toaster or electric shaver.
Obviously, items such as the television or washer/dryer are not used continuously. The trick in computing the amount of electricity needed is to determine the watts consumed per day. If one washed clothes on a Saturday only, dividing the watts used by seven will give one the answer. The above example table shows the variability of computing an overall number.
Besides the load needed for a tiny house, location becomes a very important matter. Living in Palm Springs, California one would expect to collect significantly more solar power than someone living in Portland, Maine. Check out the Solar Energy Map at the Department of Energy which gives the watts per hour per feet squared per day.
For a system that includes the above appliances and electrical devices, the number of a kWh system will be somewhere between 86 to 232 kWh in a location with 5 peak hours for 30 days per month. This is for an off-grid system.
A lot of information is available on the Internet as well as calculators for the size of a system. A simple search for “solar size calculator” will give a tremendous number of results. Many companies include this as a resource on their websites.
Of all the sites that I have reviewed, the expense for a basic off the grid system starts at around $3500 for a very tiny house to up to $8000 for a small cottage sized dwelling in a location of sufficient sunshine. Depending on the factors, the cost can rise several thousand dollars. Now, this whole discussion only suggests solar for an off-grid system. A system can accept some power from other sources such as from the grid or from wind or gas generators. So a mixed system is less expensive. Nevertheless, individual needs as well as installation can lead to greater cost.
The life expectancy of solar panels figures into the equation. Most panels are warranted for 25 years with the expectation that they will produce at least 80 percent efficiency during this time. Other components such as inverters and charge controllers may not last as nearly as long. Batteries require regular replacement. For an interesting article on batteries for solar power systems click this link.
The reason this article is of such a general nature is because of the tremendous number of variables involved with solar energy production and differences in the various cost factors. The competition from solar energy companies leads to the most obvious notion of checking around for the best deals on a solar system. Ask any seller whether you qualify for a tax credit or subsidy or any other advantage.
The feeling of not being beholden to anyone for one’s power is tremendously alluring to many people. Not having to pay a monthly bill leads many to take the plunge and invest in a power source that gives them a greater feeling of freedom.
Peter’s Tiny House is one based on my favorite geometric shape, the square. Although a great part of this square belongs to the outdoors, this tiny house has a substantial feeling of space. The house occupies 469 sq. ft. of enclosed space with 256 sq. ft. of covered patio.
The floor plan consists of 3 distinct architectural areas: the living room and bathroom area, the kitchen and dining area and the bedroom. The living room/bathroom and the bedroom radiate from the central kitchen in rectangles, whereas the kitchen maintains a square mimicking the overall shape of the entire structure.
Each section maintains a different roofline, with the kitchen area the highest at 12 feet. The various areas gather further distinction by the use of different materials. The kitchen square brandishes a natural stone covering, while the rest of the house is sheathed in steel, except for the patio which introduces bleached wood siding. The use of different materials serves to accent different aspects of the architecture. The stone covering around the kitchen continues inside to accentuate the central nature of this room.
Diversion from the square occurs along the roofline of the bedroom and patio. It extends out to accommodate the modern column providing support. On the matter of the column, the pure blue of the column provides a color contrast to the warmer colors in the stone and to enhance the effect of the steel and bleached wood. It also provides a balance with the brighter colors inside, granting the blue part of the primary colors from the yellow on the walls and the red floor in the kitchen.
This design puts forth the strong idea that a modern look at the simplest geometric forms leads to an infinite number of possibilities. As can be seen in the main floor-plan, the foot print of this house forms a perfect square, which is hardly creatively restrictive. By switching sections of this design, by making the patio in the area of the bedroom and visa versa, for instance, one could free up space for a two bedroom house or a much larger bedroom. Even so, this house occupies less than 500 sq. ft., yet is quite spacious.
This is a little video I made of this house design:
The nature of the kitchen in small houses varies as much as the wants and desires of the number of people who have small kitchens. Some people want large appliances for a gourmet experience, some require little space, preferring simplicity and efficiency. The configurations for kitchens in tiny houses are also widely varied with modular kitchenette to custom cabinetry and individually purchased devices.
The complete kitchen unit, as shown in this image, has advantages over custom-built kitchens. Not only does one know the exact dimensions of the unit, but also the entire features as well as cost. Such a unit should generally cost between 1200-1300 and 2200 dollars. Any sort of complicated or time-consuming carpentry is negated. Plus, many companies offer a considerable number of designs and sizes and styles. Gas or electric, installation usually takes little time and the models are not particularly heavy.
Although the modular kitchen is usually complete, it does have the draw back of a lack of customization. The appliances are well set and a larger refrigerator or bigger stove is not always possible. A unique construction allows, of course, for an almost infinite variety of configurations, depending on the space. The materials and finishes on either type will determine cost. However, customization allows for a wide consideration of the materials used. Even used appliances, unique materials, and reclaimed objects reduce prices. Conversely, expensive materials can be used if the budget permits.
Tiny house DIYers have long known that picking things up at thrift stores and garage sales and transforming pieces of furniture or objects into something else, combines the notion of pre-made and customization. For instance, a mid-century modern credenza can be reworked into a sink and counter for the kitchen or bathroom.
The great thing about using free-standing furniture in fitting out a kitchen is that everything is movable. Rearranging or remodeling involves less tearing down and cleaning up. Besides accommodating unique problems in a space, the ability to adjust and reorganize also allows one to change the nature of the space such as in the definition between living and dining rooms. A piece can act as a room divider, for instance. Since many found objects don’t usually garner great expenditures, plowing right into a transformation doesn’t create much anxiety, either. Depending on the creativity of the designer, the results can offer great satisfaction. Using a credenza as a bathroom vanity as in this image, only alludes to the great number of possibilities involved in re-purposing items.
Not only do people redo used furniture, but inexpensive shelving and other pieces from Ikea or other stores indulge the creative impulses of “hackers” who turn these pieces into all sorts of items without spending a lot of money.
Some ideas don’t require elaborate planning and execution. Many times a bit of paint or adding some legs are all that is necessary in creating a one of a kind design. However, with modern ideas, by keeping things simple, one can never go wrong.
A tiny house kitchen needn’t perform inefficiently or not provide enough space. As is mentioned over and over again regarding tiny houses, vertical space affords a great deal of organizing solutions. Pegboards or hooks will handle utensils, pans and spice racks to name a few, for example. Cabinets and shelving that go all the way to the ceiling, with access by step stool, will ease storage shortages. Yet storage should not be limited to the particular area. Nothing is wrong with placing non-kitchen items in excess space, regardless of the traditional notions concerning functions. In a small house, nothing is too far away.
Central to the whole concept of any kitchen the single most important question arises, “What do I actually use a kitchen for?” Many people have more kitchen than they really need simply because they have an image in their mind of occasions that may not actually happen all that often, if at all. Thinking carefully and objectively about how one uses a kitchen is essential for the proper kitchen. Too much kitchen eats up valuable room and upsets the free flow of space, consuming budgets and time. If in anticipation of preparing a meal for a major holiday once a year inflates the size of a kitchen, a good hard look at what one truly wants becomes necessary. Better yet, be creative and include in the design a way to expand the kitchen and dining areas temporarily, while keeping the kitchen an appropriate size for the rest of the time. For those of us lucky enough to live in a balmy climate, of course, the outdoors can furnish plenty of cooking, eating and entertaining space.
One of the greatest things about modern design is that nothing is fixed to tradition or period style. A modern kitchen includes what one wants without regard to what preconceived notions one has about what a kitchen should be. Not all functions of a kitchen need be in one place, for example. The kitchen can fold up or hide or flow outdoors. So many modern designers from the 20th century through the present have created amazing, magical ideas for kitchen design, that with a little research, one can find a solution to any problem or desire.
Using the same inspiring mid-century modern arch from Patricia’s Tiny House, I have separated the form, similar to a pilaster, from surface decoration and surrounded a tiny dwelling ¾ of the way with arches. Charlie’s Tiny House, much like Patricia’s is totally influenced by the modernity of 20th century American design. The introduction of curved shapes while maintaining an overall rectilinear plan is seen over and over again in modern architecture from dinners such as Sambo’s to burger joints such as McDonald’s.
Sambo’s restaurants were an incredible source of mid-century architecture, which included fanciful roofs, rough stone walls and long stretches of windows. Most were original and delightfully playful in their artistic exuberance.
1587 Shawano Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin, McDonald’s Speedee Sign, Built: c1959, Style: Mid-Century Commercial, Singular example of iconic McDonald’s metal and neon sign dating to the late 1950’s in Wisconsin. Features include the company’s trademark mascot, “Speedee,” and golden arch design. This sign remains in its original location, and was recently restored.
The “front entrance” of Charlie’s Tiny House.
I have never understood some preconceived notions about house design such as the aspect facing the street should have a front entrance. Famous mid-century modern architects many times set the entrance back, hid the front facing the street with sculpted block or walls and reserved walls of glass for the unseen areas in the so-called back of the house. Charlie’s does not necessarily have a front, but does have entrances. The two doors at the corner of the house lighten the heavy effect of the red stained, wood covered exterior and balance the two long windows on either side.
A more direct view of the “front”.
The Rietveld chairs, combined with a Platner coffee table, sets a mid-century modern mood, which continues around the rest of the veranda. Mid-century pendant lamps keep the influence going.
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964), Dutch, active 20th century, Red-Blue Chair, designed 1917–18, produced ca. 1950, Painted beech and plywood, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo credit: John Nienhuis
A corner of the house showing the continuation of the yellow arches, the tall, narrow windows of the bedroom and the cement planters.
Direct view of the veranda with the Wassily Chairs by Marcel Breuer, 1925.
Coming around the corner.
Straight on view of the side opposite the “front” entrances showing the boulder garden, Lombardi poplars and the French doors leading to the kitchen/dining room.
An oblique view.
A closer look exposing the cement, elevated planters and the Grand Confort Chairs by Le Corbusier.
Grand Confort Chair by Le Corbusier (1929).
This image displays the side of the house with the sanded, stained and clear coated wood strips reflecting the living area extension. The casement window at the roof line is repeated inside.
Image looking back toward the raised planters and boulder garden.
Direct view of the side with an entrance on the right.
Back around to the “front” entrances with a better look at the Rietveld “de Stijl” chairs.
Coming in through one of the “front” entrances and seeing the living area. The door is to the bathroom. Notice the window above the door.
A less elevated look at the living area with the door to the bathroom ahead.
The television console with the door to the bedroom to the right, the door to the bathroom on the left and the dining area straight ahead.
The bedroom with the two long windows.
The bedroom with desk and wardrobe.
Out of the bedroom and looking at the kitchen/dining area. Notice the windows to the bedroom and to the bathroom.
The kitchen and dining area with the French doors to the veranda on the left.
The dining area and French doors to the veranda.
The bathroom covered on the left with the same material on the exterior of the house.
The bathroom with the door to the living area on the right.
The bathroom windows.
Looking back toward the entrances.
This small house is only around 360 sq. ft. and appears much larger due to the ceiling height at 12 ft. The long windows not only let in considerable light, but also produce a feeling of greater space. One other advantage of tall walls is the ability to hang large artwork which produces a feeling of spaciousness as well.
Charlie’s Tiny House Floor Plan
One of my keen interests in design or architecture is the forms of the mid-century. Modern design lends itself to so many variations that an inexhaustible supply of ideas becomes available. Furthermore, modern design is not only in the realm of commercial and typical residential building, but also in terms of the tiny house movement. In an effort to spur creativity in this realm, I have developed the notion of creating some architectural motifs and patterns whose usefulness brings on new concepts.
These architectural details fall into the American version of modernism with sculpted cement blocks and forms, zigzag roofs and other sorts of applied decorations. Organic architecture will also be considered in formulating designs.
The form I developed for Patricia’s Tiny House is a sculpted modern arch. The arches are mainly applied decoration, except the yellow arches support the roof over the patio and entrance to the house. Also included and in contrast to the arches are rectangular forms on the roof with glass panels on either end. These mimic the frequent zigzag pattern in overhangs, roofs and porches seen in many American mid-century modern buildings, especially small, commercial structures or on schools and hospitals.
Front of Patricia’s Tiny House.
The entrance is to the right, off the patio. Looking through the two large glass panels framed by arches, the living area and kitchen are on the right, while we see a study area in the middle. The bedroom and bathroom are covered by the filled in arch on the left.
View of front from a slight angle.
Another view of the front at a higher sight line.
At this angle we are able to see the patio and entrance.
Showing the patio and entrance head on.
At an angle that, along with the patio, shows the back of building.
The back of the building where we see the multiple arches framing the half-circle, clerestory windows. The rounded forms which push upward are resolved by the triangular shapes on the roof.
A more graphic, drawn image of the arches that surround the tiny house.
The side of the house opposite the patio.
Coming back around to the front.
A closer view of the front.
Peeking through one of the large windows and looking at the living area with the kitchen in the distance.
The kitchen area with large frig, washer/dryer, cook top, and convection oven.
Looking at the living area from the kitchen with the entrance on the left.
The living area, as well as a space for study.
From the kitchen area, we look into the study and bedroom area. The door on the right is to the bathroom.
Inside the bathroom, showing the vanity and toilet.
Toilet, shower in the bathroom. Behind is the door to the rest of the tiny house.
Simple floor plan of the tiny house showing the basic dimensions. Patricia’s Tiny House is 387 interior sq. ft.
As one can see, the introduction of a couple of architectural elements can give a basis for the overall design, in this case, arches and triangular forms. I find the arches extremely pleasing and thought-provoking, which will start many variations for future proposals. Hopefully, since so many things spring to mind, that the use of various mid-century modern motifs and details won’t begin to bore the reader. However, I have already thought of several buildings using the inspiration of the major features of Patricia’s Tiny House.
This is a link to a commercial website called Modern Shed that sells and designs small structures. Some of the configurations are quite nice and have a great deal of potential. They offer three models of 10′ x 12′, 10′ x 14′ and 10′ x 16′, but apparently can customize to a great degree. Check out their photo gallery for some extremely pleasing small structures. A quote from their website:
“Modern-Shed provides solutions for limited living and storage space problems. You might be considering a home addition, converting current space such as a garage, bedroom, attic, basement, bonus room or even enclosing a carport in order to give you the extra space you need. You may not have even considered a detached separate structure in your yard. Modern-Shed provides the ultimate solution, as it provides not only more room, but private space only steps from your main home. If you need more room for a home office, an exercise room, craft space, art or music studio, man cave, diva den, photography studio, hobby room, writers den, meditation room, a play room or just a place to hang out and relax in your garden, Modern-Shed was the first and is the highest quality structure of its kind. Pre-fabricated panels can be carried into or around tight spaces for fast assembly. Instead of converting your garage or transforming your carport or turning your spare bedroom or basement into your new, needed space, consider a new style of shed – from the originator of the Modern-Shed concept, completely separated from your home. Imagine a quiet space for yourself or a space to send the kids to play.”
Here is an article on Small House Bliss about a house up for sale in Vancouver as the result of permitting. I note this particular article because of the revulsion I have in terms of the oppressive codes in so-called “free countries”. I won’t go into that here and will wait for a future article devoted to codes and regulations, but I like to point out that some places are so repressive that it is almost impossible to build a tiny house. This is why when one views TV programs that feature such structures many times the houses are on wheels to skirt central authority.
I know that many might say that codes are necessary to protect the neighborhood due to safety issues. However, that is where the codes should stop! Most go well beyond practical considerations and are meant to assume power over individuals as well as subjugate the populace into conformity. I am not saying this description is appropriate in this case. It is reasonable in a neighborhood to expect inspection for safety pitfalls and such. Nevertheless, the remedy is too punitive and severe as to result in the structure’s sale.
At any rate, this article has several pictures about what can be done to turn a garage/storage shed into an extremely nice dwelling at an affordable cost.
This particular design is entirely open which, along with the tall ceilings, creates a feeling of spaciousness. Also, because of the simple open space inside, the activity areas are easily changed. However, because of the orientation of the entrance, the best layout generally is the one portrayed.
The floor plan is rather simple, but attempts an artistic flare with successive vertical rectilinear forms and a walk-through that brings one to the front door. The bathroom has a different roof line and compliments the recess that forms the entrance.
One of the nicest part of this design is the simplicity, and therefore, the ease at which this house could be constructed. Most likely the cost is low to produce this structure because of the lack of segmentation. The only separate space is the bathroom. Not only would this tiny house work as a main residence, but would work well as a comfy guest house. Another significant cost reduction would occur due to the use of standard items such as windows and doors. This little house maybe simple; yet it is artistically pleasing.
An in depth article in the Washington Post about living tiny. I wish that it would be made more clear that unreasonably restrictive codes many times causes tiny houses to be built on trailers. For me, this is the result of the desire of government to control people, to have power over as many things as possible in order to control people. Living tiny is not the business of government. The whole notion of “pursuit of happiness” is under assault with the present level of interference.