Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Archive for the Design Category

Multifunctional Furniture

When designing and building a small space, functionality is vital. Each piece of furniture in our tiny house was designed, re-designed and then tweaked again before we installed anything. It took us nearly a year of living in the house to finally figure out what we thought would be the best living space we could have in La Casita. Our style throughout the house is heavily influenced by boat living. Cedric lived on his parents’ sailboat as a young child and as an adult he re-built a small sailboat and lived in the Ashley River in Charleston. His experiences in that particular tiny living community have inspired much of La Casita’s design. Our built-in furniture is a further testament of that fact.

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When drawing out our seating arrangements we knew they needed to be multi-functional, allowing for reading, eating, relaxing, working and sleeping. We were asking our living room to do quadruple duty since space is so limited in the house. Below is our bench seating. To the left we have drawers that pull out and act as a storage space/dirty laundry hamper which helps keep our entire house more orderly. Two little drawers make all the difference in a tiny house!

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Under the seating you’ll notice a small hole in the flooring. That is where a stainless steel tube fits into our floor which allows the transformation from bench to dining table. The boards mounted to the wall stabilize the table and keep it from shifting during use. We had the hardest time figuring out how to attractively stabilize the table so that it was functionally sound but also visually appealing. We also wanted to keep as much room as possible available under the table for our long legs. The pipe was left over from our kitchen counter set-up and all the wood you see in the pictures was reclaimed. It ended up costing us nothing to build which was a plus!

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We are really enjoying the use of a dining/work table!

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Sleeping on the converted bench is a bit like camping. Cedric and I have both tried it out and it’s not quite as comfortable as we would like so we will probably continue to tweak the design. We want a space where a guest could sleep comfortably and not feel quite so cramped. Lengthwise it’s fantastic but it is so narrow it makes sleeping through the night a bit challenging.

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All in all we’re pretty happy with the results of our efforts. It’s truly made our house feel more like a home. The space will continue to evolve and we’ll continue to challenge our design but that’s part of the fun of living in a tiny space. It doesn’t take much time or money to recreate it if you want to change an aspect of your design.

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Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite multi-functional tiny house design idea?

Small Victorian Boat House

Today we have a small house that was remodeled Victorian boathouse overlooking the lake of Virginia Water in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire.  The top floor of The Boathouse, once the Royal Boat Keeper’s lodgings, now serves as a spectacular retreat taking advantage of one of the most outstanding settings of the south east of England.  The ground floor maintains its purpose of housing boats with two large timber doors opening outwards onto the lake.  I don’t have the square footage of the home, but it is certainly on the larger side for the houses we cover, but I really liked the look and the furniture.

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Pocket Neighborhoods Talk – Asheville, NC

So for those of you on the East Coast, Ross Chapin, who designs pocket neighborhoods (some photos here) will be holding a free short workshop in Asheville, NC.  I will be going to the event so those interested let me know in the comments (I will email from there to coordinate) and we can be sure to meet up!

These are gorgeous neighborhoods that are small cozy houses surrounding a small public green.  The What I like about it is that the parking for the houses is in a lot that is set out of sight from the homes.  At the end of the green is a common house, used to hold events, meet with friends, share a meal, etc.

From the press release:

 Author of the book Pocket Neighborhoods, Ross Chapin, will host a workshop in Asheville, North Carolina on November 5, 2012 (from 6:00pm to 7:30pm) at the Lord Auditorium in the Pack Memorial Library located at 67 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville.

Chapin describes pocket neighborhoods as, “clustered groups of neighboring houses or apartments gathered around a shared open space — a garden courtyard, a pedestrian street, a series of joined backyards, or a reclaimed alley — all of which have a clear sense of territory and shared stewardship. They can be in urban, suburban or rural areas.

These are settings where nearby neighbors can easily know one another, where empty nesters and single householders with far-flung families can find friendship or a helping hand nearby, and where children can have shirttail aunties and uncles just beyond their front gate.”

During this workshop, Chapin will offer a presentation on this topic for professionals and the general public, sharing stories of communities from around the world, their historic precedents, and the key design principles that give them vitality.

Event Flyer here

Fitting More People In Cities

Right now the majority of people on this earth live in cities and the number of people is growing.  We have arrived at the point where we must grapple with the fact that people want to live in these areas and that they must be able to house them all.  Many argue that a city is a more sustainable pathway for us, but we still need to balance that with quality of life.  I know for me living in a dense urban area I personally find it difficult because the lack of nature, even with great green spaces, I find a need to connect with the woods.  So how can we balance the demands of humans with the needs of the earth and do it in  small space?  This video I found is really interesting and answers many of these points.

Your Turn!

  • How can we take these ideas and concepts of Tiny House to make awesome cities?

Determining The Need Of A Home

There is a great article over at Inhabitat that sparked some thoughts on what you need in a home.  This is useful to help you develop a overarching philosophy to drive your design, to make sure your needs are met and not get caught up in the glitz of every bell and whistle or trendy thing.

What are your values?

This is an important step because it helps guide your decisions down the road.  For people who feel that sustainability is an issue, this will lead you to things like solar power, responsibly sourced wood/reclaimed wood, higher R value insulation etc.  Determine you list of core values that you hold dear and keep them in mind throughout the process,  this list should be pretty short and concise and you should be willing to pay or expend energy in order to meet these values.

What are your needs?

It is important to consider what your needs are before designing your home, it is from this that your house can begin to take shape.  This is very important to help you to think conceptually about your rooms.  For instance it is common in larger homes to have a guest bedroom that goes largely unused, but if we like to entertain we might think about how we will meet this occasional need without the addition of an entire room.  This realization might lead us to consider only small couches that fold out into a bed.

Many Tiny home designers use what is called subtractive design.  Basically you want to design a space that meets your needs, but then you want to try taking things away from the design.  If the removal doesn’t detract from the design then it should stay out.  If the removal of something actually improves the design, then it should be kept out.

From Inhabitat:

  • Which spaces will be expandable into others?
  • Which spaces will have direct access to the exterior?
  • In which rooms do you prefer sunlight at various times of day?
  • What special storage or leisure activities need to be accommodated?
  • Can any spaces serve multiple functions?
  • Where and when do you expect true privacy?
  • Do you require special accommodations for other generations within the family?
  • Will you work at home? How and where?
  • Where will you eat alone? With family? With many guests, if you entertain?
  • What prized personal possessions need to be showcased?
  • Is energy-efficiency and sustainability important to you?  Will you invest a portion of your budget in green building strategies?

What are you escaping?

If you are considering a new home Tiny, Small or otherwise, these is a reason for this.  What is it about your current living situations and residence that doesn’t meet your needs.  Is it too big, too small, doesn’t meed your needs, poor design, bad location, need for more storage or more efficient use of space?  Think about this and how it should impact your choices and design.

Where are you headed?

An important part of planning your new home is to future proof it.  Traditionally a home builder would add a few rooms, a bonus room, would sell the house to help you envision an office/workout room if you were single or a play room if you had kids.  Children and marriage seem to be the two largest factors here.  Think about what you need now, but what you will need later too.
The article that sparked my inspiration is below in the “via” link
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