My tiny house project: autumn outside
October 16, 2007, 9:06 am by bottleman. Filed under: design, my tiny house project, tiny houses.

Tiny houses need to rely on the outside for a sense of spaciousness, and for an extra place to be in good weather. In previous posts I’ve talked about the ways our building directs the attention outside. Now here’s the outside itself, complete with kid table:

tiny house with finished front facade and landscaping

In this pic you are looking from the street up the driveway (made of pavers set in sand to let rainwater drain through). On the left you see stairs that curve up to the “big house” (750 sq. ft). Behind that curve we dug out a little sitting area (where you can see a concrete table with bouquet and iron lawn chairs) and made a retaining wall. This is a really comfortable little spot in the heat, because it’s in the shade of the building and dug in low.

This micropatio wasn’t a big focus of our design, but it’s worked very well. The dug-out area and table is a little eddy in the flow from street to house and big house to little house, and it tends to collect people in nicer weather. Some people coming to the “big house” for parties have ended up hanging out at that little table and had to be dragged inside. Similar to a well-designed outdoor cafe or bar, there’s a sense of privacy and containment you feel when you’re inside those little curves, even though you’re still visible from the street.

In the middle you see the driveway, and to the right you see a twisty vine maple, a native species in the area, in a tongue-shaped planting bed that gently interrupts the driveway. The vine maple (and new curtains) will eventually provide some visual filtering from street to house. And behind that you can see the kid table and a tomato the kid planted. Watch out, toy schoolbus, you are about to be devoured in green. :)

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Does the kid table mean that someone with A kid has moved in? Or is it A little old lady with an occasional visiting grandchild?
Does the driveway immediately to the right of the tiny home go with the house, or does it belong to the next door neighbor?
I love the patio/retaining wall/stairs. I’ve always found A little virticality to A space to be very comfortable and interesting.

Comment by coal_burner on 30.10.2007 um 7:20 am

Thanks for checking in, coal_burner. To clarify, my small family lives in the “big house”. The driveway to the right of the tiny house, where the car is parked, is a neighbor’s property. The tiny house is currently occupied by my mother in law! Who, in exchange for a much reduced rent, takes care of my toddler, several days a week.

It’s a good arrangement, and we get along well I think in part because even though our two dwellings are only a few feet apart, they are psychologically distinct. The double walls and insulation in the tiny house make the transmission of noise practically nonexistent. Neither house has a direct view of the other. It is very common to be unaware if the other party is home.

I mention this because when we started this project, so many contractors immediately jumped to the conclusion that the best thing to do was connect the house to the garage and make a single large building. These people were not hired because they just didn’t get it. Fortunately the architect did get it and knew how to make it work.

Now that I’ve been living with the “mother in law” house for six or seven months, I actually still *like* my mother in law. I don’t think I would if we had connected the buildings and it was easier to sense one another and be in each other’s hair.

Comment by bottleman on 30.10.2007 um 11:42 am

Awesome! Thank you for sharing this info. My son is currently contemplating building a tiny house of his own on the farm (probably about the same size as my own cabin on the farm, which is a full time residence still under construction). My cabin is just over 750 square feet, and feels quite spacious.

Tiny houses are a world of their own and I believe that 400 square feet, properly designed like you did here, is perfect for a single.

Congrats on making the most of multi-family tiny house layouts and thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know about your tiny house project!

Comment by Angela Parker on 16.02.2008 um 6:48 am