Tiny House Design

Tiny Hospitality, Podcasts, and Tiny House Furniture: a Swiveling Table

hello everyone!

well, it’s been three weeks of living in Santa Fe now, and we are loving it!  it’s great to have the house out on some land that provides some long views from the interior and a lot of exterior spaciousness.

Recent happs:

  • Shane spoke on Tiny r(E)volution’s podcast about Tiny Living yesterday… you can listen to the podcast by clicking this link.
  • My brother and his family visited us over the long weekend so we got to try out “Tiny Hospitality”…
  • And a recent addition to our tiny house was a swiveling table…

Swivel table in the living room.

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , | 11 Comments

Tiny House Interior – Custom Upholstered Couch Cushions

Hello everyone!

I apologize, the blogs have been few and far between because… well, because we’re just living in the house now, and things are going smoothly.

I am excited because I finally made the custom cushions that I had been envisioning for our Tiny House couch.  You may have seen interior photos and noticed the hulking mass of a black futon mattress on our couch and wondered about my taste as a designer, and rightly so.  That was a temporary solution until I could venture to the fabric district in L.A. and procure upholstery materials.

BEFORE: The heeedeous black futon couch….

AFTER: lovely gray upholstered cushions

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Out for a Drive – Part III – Our finished Tiny House

We took video footage of our tiny house out on the road a month ago and we finally got it edited and uploaded for you all to watch:

I mentioned this in past blog posts, but watching the house pull out of the shop was one of the proudest moments of my life!  It was like watching our child perform on the big stage!  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.  We don’t have any children.  Just Rio, our terrier – and he doesn’t do any stage shows as of yet.)  So much work and effort and stress and plans and dreams all finished up and out in the big world.  It was heartwarming.

I was the follow car and it was so funny to see all the rubbernecking as we drove down the road.  Everyone either whipped their head around or flew to the rearview mirror to catch a glimpse of our house going down the road.

I did a longer post about taking the house out for a drive back here

Next up: we’ll do some interior tours and photos.

Hope all is well!

– Carrie   (and Shane – who edited all the video footage and created this really cool movie!)

Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Construction, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

A Pattern Language for Tiny Houses

One of my favorite design books is “A Pattern Language” by Christopher Alexander.

It has so many useful suggestions for what makes design good – for what makes towns / buildings / spaces function well and be spaces that fit people’s needs and desires.  It is set up starting from macro (the distribution of towns) to micro (half inch trim), describing all the elements of towns, buildings, and construction.

I was reading it the other day and realized that a Tiny House is perfectly set up to meet many of the patterns.  Such as:

  • 79.   Your Own Home
  • 105.  South Facing Outdoors
  • 109.  Long Thin House
  • 117.  Sheltering Roof
  • 128.  Indoor Sunlight
  • 159.  Light on Two Sides of Every Room
  • 188.  Bed Alcove
  • 190.  Ceiling Height Variety
  • 222.  Low Sill

79.  Your Own Home.

The book says “People cannot be genuinely comfortable and healthy in a house which is not theirs.  All forms of rental–whether from private landlords or public housing agencies–work against the natural process which allow people to form stable, self-healing communities. … Keep the emphasis in the definition of ownership on control, not on financial ownership. …  give people the physical opportunity to modify and repair their own places.”

This pattern isn’t about the american dream, or commerce, or profit… it’s about responsibility and stewardship, which are healthy and necessary (in my opinion.)  Our tiny house is the first home I have ever owned.  I have been renting for about 14 years… living in about that many different apartments, houses, etc.  Well.  Just apartments and houses.  I never rented anything too unusual…  haha.  And I have been craving a home of my own… a place to nurture and create and carve around me and my family.  Hooray for tiny houses and for my husband, who has the skills and the persistence to build our house.

105.  South Facing Outdoors.

South Facing Outdoors

Because a Tiny House is mobile, it can be re-positioned seasonally.  We have two large windows designed for passive solar heating in the winter, but now, during the summer, we have those facing north, to limit any solar gain.

109.  Long Thin House.

Long Thin House

This pattern is so different from how homes are currently built.  but it makes so much sense.  Gets daylight and natural ventilation into all the rooms.  No dark spaces inside.  And, smaller structural members can be used to build it, saving resources and costs and labor.

117.  Sheltering Roof.

Sheltering Roof sketches

I love the way Tiny Houses accomplish this Pattern.  No wasted attic space.  And a beautiful spacious vault inside.  Which, when you read the pattern, it explains that dwelling in the roof space actually causes the building to envelop the inhabitants, making it personal and cozy.

128.  Indoor Sunlight.

Indoor Sunlight

this Pattern says  “If the right rooms are facing south, a house is bright and sunny and cheerful; if the wrong rooms are facing south, the house is dark and gloomy.”  A tiny house can easily achieve this because every room can face south… and it can be repositioned seasonally to face the largest windows toward the south in the winter.

159.  Light on Two Sides of Every Room.

Light on Two Sides.

This one is obvious and easy for the Tiny House to achieve.  I love all the daylight inside our Tiny House.  I think the white painted finish inside helps amplify the light, but I also think the house’s small size lends toward generous daylight.  We never need to use electric lights during the day.  It is such a happy, bright, sunny space.

188.  Bed Alcove.

Bed Alcove.

I was surprised when I first read this Pattern – “you mean we don’t need entire rooms to sleep in?”  No way!   People feel safer (and thus sleep better) when they’re enclosed on three sides, without a lot of space floating around them in their sleep.  And, if you’ve done any research on curing insomnia, they suggest to reserve your bedroom for sleeping, and this will help preserve it as a place of calm relaxation.  So, if we’re just sleeping in there, why not a bed alcove?  And then another space for clothes and dressing.  Our bed alcove is wonderful!  So cozy.  I love how the bed is slightly elevated and has small windows for views outside, as well as a view into the main part of the house.

190.  Ceiling Height Variety.

Ceiling Height Variety achieved by an elevated floor.

Ceiling Height Variety achieved with a loft.

the Pattern says “A building in which the ceiling heights are all the same is virtually incapable of making people comfortable.”

Ceiling height variety is one of those things that I don’t really notice, except when it’s not there…  I’ve lived in so many rental houses that had 8′-0 ceilings throughout.  They felt so… flat.  And squatty.  And, I don’t know how to describe it.  But the design idea is to allow higher ceilings for those rooms with more occupants and more boisterous activities – like living rooms and kitchens maybe, but spaces that are meant for quiet, seated activities, or for sleeping, should have lower ceilings – providing the intimacy required.  Tiny Houses are perfectly set up to achieve this pattern.  The second photo looks almost exactly like the Tumbleweed style of Tiny House.  The first photo is more like our Tiny House, except we have a closet (and a gooseneck hitch) under our bed platform.


We’re doing well living in our tiny house!  the toilet is still a work in progress.  Incinolet claims it should be odor free.  It’s not – there is a horrible odor outside.  It makes me not want to use the toilet, which isn’t a very homey feeling!  We’re going to try a new heating element.  And in the meantime, I’m reading the Humanure Handbook by Jenkins.  I wish we had a place to start a humanure compost pile, then I would definitely go that route, but we don’t right now, as we’re renting land to park our house on.

Shane has been working on editing video footage that we took the last time we took the house out for a drive and we’ll post that awesome video soon!

hope everyone is well.  we love hearing all your thoughts and comments on tiny living, etc.

– Carrie

Categories: Tiny House Design | Tags: | 9 Comments

Living in the Tiny House: First Week

We’ve been living in our new tiny house for a little over a week now and are really enjoying it!!  The last few days have been great as we’re officially all moved out of our former rental house and our schedules have slowed down a bit, providing time for much needed SLEEP and SITTING AROUND.  🙂

I did a blog post a week ago about what was working and what needed… improvement.  Now I have photos to go with that post!  We have already learned SO much about what works and what needs improvement.  If I could live in all my designs… they would become perfect!  This process is allowing us to learn and refine future designs for Clothesline Tiny Homes, which is great.

Things about our Tiny House that work so wonderfully well:

  1. The Bedroom: our roof designwas based on aerodynamics, but also on creating a spacious and useable interior bedroom space.  And it works SO well.  The ceiling is tall enough to walk up the storage stairs and get into bed, the white vaulted ceiling creates a spacious, yet cozy (it’s less than 8′-0 wide) sleeping nook.

    The Bedroom with vaulted ceiling (with closet under the bed platform)

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Categories: Living In the Tiny House, Tiny House Design | Tags: , | 51 Comments

Tiny House: Settling in

Hello everyone!  we’ve been in our tiny house two nights now and it is so wonderful!  we are also learning a lot and finding areas for improvement.  this whole process from designing to building to moving into it to living in it has been so informative.  All in all we love it!

so many funny things have happened since we’ve moved it in.  first, the neighbors were standing outside when we first parked it.  one neighbor said “and I thought I had the smallest house on the block!  not anymore!”  kids flock to the house like it’s the pied piper.  they seem to think it’s some sort of playhouse….  one little girl literally tried to crawl across the deck and over a storage crate and into the house when we were unpacking.  Shane (kindly) told her she couldn’t come into our house right now and she burst into tears and was still crying (being comforted by her mummy) a half an hour later!  Tragic.  So, we’re just trying to communicate clearly so the house doesn’t turn into the neighborhood playhouse for the kids!

I still don’t have all my stuff moved in, or cleaned up at our big rental house because I have some work deadlines, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far.  I can’t seem to get the pictures off my SD card… so it will be a list for now, but I’ll do a better post with photos soon.

Wonderful things that work so well:

  1. the bedroom: the roof gable over the bedroom is turned perpendicular to the main space and this creates the most wonderful, spacious, yet cozy sleeping area.
  2. storage stairs in the bedroom:  the stairs work great!  they are full of storage drawers and cubbies and work great for walking up onto the bed.  the turned gable roof mentioned above also provides enough head height to use these stairs
  3. the kitchen: it is laid out so well and such a nice small size that it is so easy to cook and wash dishes, pull food from the fridge, etc.
  4. the kitchen dish rack: we bought stainless steel shelving from ikea including a folding dish rack.  it hangs over the sink and works perfectly for drying dishes.  then it folds up and away.
  5. the front porch: so great to have a walk-out porch attached to the house
  6. the lighting: I used 60w CFL’s and they could easily be 40w or even less.  I am thinking of switching to LED bulbs.  the white ceilings and walls really help spread the light.

Room for improvement / lessons we’ve already learned:

  1. the incinerating toilet:  I could write a (humorous) short story about this toilet already and we’ve only been using it for two days.  the first night we had smoke coming from all seams on the toilet and filling our lovely space with the smell of burning urine.  not sure I’ve ever smelled THAT before!  the next morning we went to Starbucks for our toileting needs.  🙂  we bought the toilet second hand off craigslist.  buyer beware.  I wish people were just honest and would say “it’s really shiny and looks good but it needs to be completely re-built” when they’re selling a non-functioning item.  because the toilet needs to be completely re-built.  and Shane, bless his heart, is doing just that.  there are about 5 things listed on Incinolet’s trouble-shooting guide, and we have all of them.  First, it was the fan not working.  hence the acrid smoke coming inside.  He fixed that and now the fan is working but extremely loud, so that needs work.  probably needs a new fan.  there are bad smells on the exterior now (at least not inside) but the toilet is supposed to be odorless, so apparently the liquid catalyst (?) is not working.  that needs to be fixed.  so.  we’re not sure about the incinerating toilet idea.  Incinolet has been very helpful and hopefully we can get it to work.  but I can see why traditional porcelain toilets with gallons of fresh, clean water in them are so popular!  a composting toilet would also have odors, as would an RV toilet with a sewage tank under it.  stay posted for our adventures in re-building a toilet!
  2. the pocket doors: go ahead and take an extra 4″-5″ from your interior living space to use pre-hung pocket doors that work smoothly and silently.
  3. the sink in the shower: we need to re-work the plumbing somehow because the sink is so small and the faucet is directly over it, so it’s almost unusable right now.  (like some people have commented here on our blog.)  in order for a small corner sink to work the plumbing needs to not be directly over it.  which is hard in a 32″ x 32″ shower, because you really want that faucet in a corner so you don’t hit your elbows on it.
  4. the site: it’s beautiful but we’re really close to our neighbors.  and when your house is small, it would be so nice to have some breathing room outdoors.  Of course, I am rather anti-social, so I’d need about 20 acres.  haha.  they’re nice neighbors, it’s just adjusting to a little more proximity than we had at our last house.  once distinct advantage of mobile living, is that this can actually be changed!  it’s not like we just invested our life savings in building next door to … fill in the blank.  🙂
  5. the couch: a comfortable seat height is 18″ to the top of the cushions, which will compress when you sit down.  if you’re smaller, 16″ might even be better.  measure yourself or measure some couches that you find comfortable.  of course, the higher the couch, the more storage underneath.  right now I picked up a futon mattress to use on the couch (due to the high cost of foam and lack of time for upholstering cushions) and it is too thick, making the couch 23″ above finished floor.  too high to be comfortable.  I think with some thinner foam cushions it will work.

I’m sure there are a lot more of these, but so far we’ve found that our design works great, and with a few tweaks it would be even better.  I’m really glad we’re living in it so we can figure out all these kinks.  our experience is really going to inform our future designs and builds for clients who want a tiny home.  they are just so unique that it’s imperative to get some first-hand experience with them to get all the space layout, storage, and MEP systems figured out.  to anyone who is building their own tiny house I would really recommend investing in it at the start by consulting with a designer or builder who has lived in one, or by taking a workshop.  or just by taking a tiny house designer/builder out to lunch.  🙂

okay, hope everyone is well.  thank you so much for all your kind words and thoughtful comments!  it is really helping buoy our spirits in this time of transition and adjustment.

take care,


Categories: Tiny House Design | 12 Comments

Tiny House Progress: Moving Day, News Interview, and Interior Photos

Hello everyone!

Today has been a big day!  this morning we had an interview with the ABC channel 15 morning show from Phoenix.  It was very fun.  I’ll let you know when the segment airs and I’ll post it here too.

Also… we moved the house to our new site!  So exciting.  Feels quite surreal.  All the work, all the time, now it’s done and we can move in.

First, the interview photos: (I was going to film the anchorman filming us… but that seemed awkward.)

Getting interviewed by ABC channel 15 morning show.

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Categories: Publicity, Tiny House Construction, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , | 49 Comments

Tiny House: Out for a Drive – Part II

We took the house out for a spin on Saturday and it was glorious!  Watching it pull out of the shop into the sunlight… I felt so proud!  For those of you new to our journey, we bought our trailer at the end of February, worked out the design at the end of February / beginning of March, and built our own custom designed Tiny House in ten weeks.  We’re moving out of our 2BR-2BA rental house into the new 200sf tiny house this week on Wednesday.  We’re parking it on a residential lot here in Prescott, AZ for $300 per month, including all utilities.  That’s a savings of about $800 a month.

Without further ado, here’s a photo of the house out of the shop:

Taking the house out for a drive.

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Categories: Tiny House Construction, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

Tiny House Interior Progress: Cabinetry / Deck

Hello there everyone. 🙂  We are just busier than a cat in a sandbox here.  (quoting my Dad, in honor of him and his 60th birthday today!!!  Happy birthday Dad.  We love you.  And you really do only seem 50.)

Shane’s been slaving away on the interior cabinets and trim and it looks awesome!  I finally got a break from my pesky job to go out and do some work on our house today.  (I am currently doing construction documents for 4000+ sf homes…ironic?  I’m actually glad to have work)

Without further ado, here are some photos of the cabinetry / millwork / casework / trim / etc…

Living Room – couch and window trim

Just Keep Reading…

Categories: Tiny House Construction, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Tiny House Interior Progress: Painting / Millwork / Deck / Stairs

I am finally getting around to posting our progress!  This week has been busy, as usual, and getting home after 8pm I’ve been too lazy to post anything….  So, this will be a huge conglomerate post on what we’ve been working on lately in finishing up the Tiny House:

  • Painting of the Interior
  • Front Porch / Deck
  • Millwork / Casework / Cabinetry
  • Interior Stairs

First, we have the interior painted.  We started rolling it, but that took forever, so Shane sprayed it out.  We used Sherwin Williams “Alabaster” in an eggshell finish.

White painted interior

White painted interior

keep reading…

Categories: Tiny House Construction, Tiny House Design | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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