My tiny house project: tour the inside!
March 25, 2007, 3:48 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, my tiny house project, tiny houses.

[fall 2013: hello new visitors!  This is an old post with old pictures.  Check out new pictures of the place here, and all posts about this project here.  Thanks!]

The interior to my 400-square foot house is finally complete, and I think the results show that a tiny, environmentally sensitive house can be both complete and pretty darn nice. Please take a look around in this extensive series of pictures. For example, my cozy skylit loft (120 of the 400 square feet). Don’t you just want to read a book here?

loft from back of building

It’s my belief that real green housing for Americans (as opposed to preposterous faux-green McMansions) will inevitably involve downsizing, because downsizing saves energy and resources across the board. But to work, it truly has to be a better place to live than an oversized dwelling — not some unsustainably pious way of “doing without.”

I think my project makes the point pretty well. It was done on the budget (about $75,000 including $7000 for permit and $4000 for architect) and plans I gave in an earlier post. I am very open to comments and questions, but please read that post and in fact all the posts in this series before you quiz me…

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My tiny house project: the necessary loft
December 7, 2006, 10:58 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, my tiny house project, tiny houses.

One of the most common (and appealing) tricks in tiny house construction is removing ceiling joists to expose the attic volume, creating a “cathedral ceiling.” In McMansions such extra space can be cold and regal, but within a small frame it gives the eye some room to travel and permits the addition of a sleeping or storage loft.

Consider this before and after pair from my garage-to-granny-house conversion:

garage interior before ceiling joist removalgarage interior after joist removal and rough framing of loft

Nothing in the dimensions of the building has been changed, but there is clearly much more usable space in the “after” version.

However, in a conversion, you can’t just knock out joists willy-nilly; the place might fall down.

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My tiny house project: an extra foot makes a difference
November 29, 2006, 4:46 pm by bottleman. Filed under: design, my tiny house project, tiny houses.

I’ve often noticed that very small differences in dimensions can make a big difference in personal comfort. For example, any sink will feel uncomfortable to use without that little 10 or 15 centimeter kickspace at the bottom of the sink cabinet. Any obstruction to the eye or body can translate into a claustrophobic feeling, no matter how big the room.

The flip side of this is that if such obstructions can be reduced, even a small space can feel generous. If I may modestly offer my own office setup (not part of my tiny house project, though there is more about that later in this post) as an example:

picture of my office
This photo (taken from the building’s hall through the door) shows nearly the entire place, which is maybe 7 by 11 feet, except for the cot that occasionally occupies the unseen wall to the right.

Sure, to function as an office it could be smaller but my point is this is a relatively small space that feels roomy. I think it is partly because I’ve designed the desk (it’s a piece of birch plywood with a routered edge) in a shape that allows both the eye and the body to move unobstructed into the middle of the room. Once there, the shape encourages the eye to travel out the window.

I was feeling proud of this little design when I saw how a real pro architect had done a similar thing in our garage-to-granny-house conversion. …more