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?
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…
Here’s what you see from the street (landscape and paint job still unfinished):
The double doors open real wide, on to a future patio:
From the front door, here’s looking to the right, into the living area. Kitchen is back to the left.
The living area of a tiny house needs a vista to look out on. The re-angling of our front facade allows that vista to be a nearby park, barely visible beyond the contractor’s porta-potty:
It’s tough to get from this picture, but the vista is very important. It lets the gaze run out into the distance, rather than get stopped in a nearby barrier. It just feels more restful when you’ve got a vista.
Now, looking up from the living area, you see the loft railing and skylights:
Looking up to left, you see the edge of the loft and ornamental woodwork in the cathedral ceiling area:
Looking down to the left, you see the heating system, a direct vent gas stove controlled by a thermostat:
It’s not very big, as you can see from my shoes:
Now you’ll probably want to head back to the kitchen. Pass by the curved eating counter, on the living room side of the kitchen. It’s made of concrete and has some nice antique keys embedded in it:
Around the corner and into the kitchen, where you’re now looking out into the living area:
That is a 2-burner gas cooktop. There is a convection microwave underneath for basic roasting and baking. We skipped the full-size stove to save space.
There’s nice natural light in the kitchen, despite lack of windows, because we are passing light through a piece of plexiglass in the loft floor above… which in turn has a skylight above it. Look… you can see woodwork in the loft above…
Now look at my dishwashing tour de force:
It’s a wall-mounted stainless steel dishrack system (from Ikea) mounted directly ABOVE a drainboard built in to the counter. This will save much more work than having a fancy dishwasher. Why? With a dishwasher, you have to move clean dishes out of the washer and into cabinets. Here there is no such wasted motion. When you wash a dish by hand, you put it in the rack and let it drain and that’s it. No cabinet, no wasted motion.
Now, check out the fridge. It’s a standard 24″ wide apartment model. There’s a nice thin custom cabinet to the side:
Now head left to the bathroom, accessed via a pocket door to save space:
The bathroom has an efficient linear design (see earlier posts for drawings). Here I’m looking from the toilet towards the 3-foot square shower unit:
And here I’m looking from the shower toward the toilet. There’s a skylight above the toilet, making artificial light unnecessary much of the time.
After a shower, the perfect place to relax is the loft. Let’s go up the alternating tread staircase:
Be really careful the first time you go up. Alternating tread staircases make very steep ladder-like rises comfortable to walk up. This one works very well, but you have to get used to it. First timers are in danger of getting their feet mixed up and falling. First timers MUST use the handrail to go up and down.
See how there’s a skylight lined up at the top? Nice.
This steep and special stair saves a lot of space, but is NOT for anyone especially frail.
After you get used to it, it is super-efficient. You can go down frontways. Unlike spiral stairs, you can carry big things up it — like a mattress. Just be careful until you get the hang of it.
One of the first things you see at the top of the stairs is the top side of that skylight-pass-through in the loft floor. It’s a very thick circle of transparent plastic. You can walk on it. It’s cool. The rest of the floor is cork. Notice how you can see the dishracks and the kitchen sink below.
Because the loft is directly over the kitchen, we made a special point of providing a kitchen fan that truly vented to the outside. We didn’t want the smell of burned garlic infusing what should be a cozy, airy retreat.
The loft is not big (about 120 of our 400 square feet), but it doesn’t feel cramped because of the strategically located skylight and circular window. The railings are stained wood and regular 3/4 inch copper pipe.
This is just the right place to take a nap, and to end this post.
Hope this tour has inspired you. I’m open to comments or questions, but please read all the posts in the series before you ask about something I’ve already covered elsewhere.
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