Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Posts Tagged Bathroom

Faucets and Ranges and Bathtubs, Oh My: The Tiny Life goes to KBIS

Faucets and Ranges and Bathtubs, Oh My: The Tiny Life goes to KBIS

Last week, I voyaged to the far-off land of Las Vegas to speak at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show 2016. The kind folks at the National Kitchen and Bath Association, who were hosting the event, asked me to discuss luxury elements in small kitchens and baths, using tiny houses as a lens into the downsizing trend. It was a trip of firsts: my first solo trip ever, my first time to Vegas, my first industry conference, and my first big industry speaking engagement. Needless to say, it was very exciting. Follow me, Internet, as I recount my adventure!


I had a layover in Salt Lake City, and it was my first time seeing the snow-capped Rockies. I snapped this photo of a river of clouds right before our landing.


I’ve arrived! The airport was as full of slot machines and liquor stores as one might expect.


The KBIS folks did not skimp on accommodations! This is a picture of me feeling perfectly at home and not awkward at all in a very luxurious hotel room at the Encore. In all seriousness, the hotel was great and I had a lovely stay.


Here’s a panoramic view of the entrance to the Encore, as viewed from the cab line. The weather wasn’t that great that day – 46 degrees and rainy. Right after I landed, the guy next to me on the plane looked out the window and said, “Are we in Las Vegas or Bangor, Maine?”


It’s the big day! I got a beautiful view of the Wynn, the Encore’s sister hotel, from my room. The weather turned out beautifully, too.


KBIS 2016! This event was mind-bogglingly large. My cab driver told me that he heard there were 160,000 people attending the conference. Whether or not that number is exact, it’s clear that KBIS does not mess around.


Here’s a glimpse into the madness. This was only one hall at the convention center, and it was packed to the gills with booths of all kinds.


This is the NKBA Center Stage, where I gave my talk on Wednesday afternoon. I’d guess there were between 75 and 85 people who listened to my session. People came up afterward to tell me they enjoyed it and asked me great questions. It’s always fun to talk shop with industry folks! And no, that is not a photo of me on the stage – I didn’t transform into 5 people. I am in fact only one person.


One of the coolest things about the speaker sessions was an artist who illustrated each talk in real time, as it was happening. Here’s my talk, cartoonified!


Here’s the core of my talk: small is here to stay, and adding beautiful elements is important to making your home feel joyful – no matter its size!


After my talk, I traded my high heels for sneakers and explored the expo. Gorgeous appliances and hardware could be found everywhere. I love the satin brass shower fixtures above.


Corbelbot says hello!


This dapper-looking gentleman was demonstrating an app-responsive refrigerator. Fancy!


I fell hard for this super tiny, retro-styled enameled cast iron stove. Perhaps this will make it into my tiny house someday!


I also came face to face with what might be the cutest bathtub ever.


Drawer pulls for days! If you live in a tiny house, you better make sure that all your hardware choices are easy to use and nice to look at. It’s all in the details!


I wanted to run around in this shower display at the Delta booth, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t have been too happy with me.


Anyone else a fan of the HGTV Dream Home? This was one of the highlights of my year when I was a kid. No, I’m not kidding.


After a crazy day at KBIS, it was time to catch my flights back home. Catch you later, Vegas! I can’t wait to come back and explore more someday.


Here’s a very flattering selfie of me looking unenthused about my impending red-eye flight.


One of the highlights of the whole trip was my 11:15 PM takeoff over Las Vegas all lit up at night. It was honestly one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. I wish this photo could do it justice!

I had a fantastic time attending KBIS 2016 and representing The Tiny Life. I met great folks, saw some very beautiful and innovative kitchen and bath designs, and got to experience Las Vegas for the first time. I want to thank the wonderful folks at the NKBA for this fantastic opportunity. I’m so glad I got to share the tiny house movement with a new audience!

Your Turn!

  • How do you plan to make your tiny house kitchen or bathroom luxurious?
  • What are some of your favorite tourist spots in Las Vegas? (I want to know for my next trip! ;D )

Should Tiny Houses Have Bathrooms?

One area of my tiny house that I have come to think about a lot is the bathroom.  Now of course you need a bathroom, a place to use the restroom, a place to shower, etc.  It can range from in your tiny house flush toilet or composting, to an “outhouse” style with a properly designed system or even a flush toilet;  But I am beginning to wonder if a bathroom should be outside the tiny home.  It might be using the extra bathroom of the house you’re parked in the back yard of or it might be like Drew over at Tiny R(e)volution who build his “shower shack” photos at bottom of post.  I’m not saying you should do this, but I think it warrants discussion.

tiny-midwest-tiny-house-07-600x400The reason I’ve been thinking this is because while a bathroom of some form is a necessity, as it is in a tiny house, it takes up so much space and is used so little.  This is a really important factor when it comes to small spaces.  The amount of square footage should be directly proportional to the amount you use it.  So for example your mattress takes up about 30 square feet if you have a queen size bed, which is a lot of space, but you use it for 8 hours every day.  Compare that to the bathroom, about 22 square feet, I use it for maybe 30 or less minutes a day for showering, shaving, brushing teeth and going to the bathroom.  If you simply look at it like a return on investment a bathroom is not that great use of space.

Now you can reduce your space by building a wet bath (frankly I’m not keen on that idea).  You could also setup bathroom and shower outside, using an outdoor shower and bathroom, but there are a few months a year this wouldn’t work well.  You also could arrange for whoever house you park your tiny house behind that you can use their bathroom.   Obviously nothing will beat the convenience of having a shower and toilet in the actual tiny house, but I still struggle with how much space it uses versus how much I use it.

Building Tiny Bathrooms

When folks ask us what was the most challenging aspect of building a tiny house we will chorus in unison: BATHROOM. Several factors made this the most difficult part of construction.

IMG_7842Firstly, this is the room we spend the least amount of time. For Cedric, this meant that finding inspiration to work on the bathroom was not easy. It was more interesting for us to design and build the kitchen where we spend the majority of our time. Secondly, designing a bathroom on wheels is challenging in and of itself. We love tile but the fact that the motion of moving the house would likely cause cracking and/or breakage threw that option out the window. We tried buying a shower pan but nothing fit our tiny space. We looked to RV and boat design but we wanted as little plastic as possible and much of those use plastic to create a waterproof space.  We considered using a hardwood such as teak since it was available through the warehouse where we constructed, but we feared it would be too heavy. Our bathroom is on the tongue side of the trailer and we didn’t want to weight it down. That was another reason for throwing out the tile idea-too heavy.

Finally, we decided on corrugated tin which was light and attractive. Before DSCN2756installing the outer materials the walls and floor were painted with reclaimed, heavy duty marine paint that’s used on ships to prevent water damage. For the flooring we decided to make a stainless steel shower pan. Cedric found the material at a junkyard. It was previously a kitchen counter but Cedric shaped, cut and welded it to fit our  bathroom space. This is where our community came to our aid because we did not have the equipment to reconstruct the stainless steel counter top.  We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the help of our friend Bill who has a machine shop. It was not a cheap option and it took a lot of work to get right but we don’t regret the time or the money spent. Our bathroom will probably outlast the rest of the house!

Once we had installed the tin and pan we noticed we had issues with standing water. We fixed this by banging the shower pan in around the drain allowing for better drainage. We built in a box on one side with a hinged lid where our bucket composting toilet is located. We heat our water with an on-demand hot water heater that’s propane powered. It works like a charm although we did have trouble keeping the flame lit on a very windy night!

IMG_7841The bathroom, or the wet room as we call it, is still not quite finished with one window left to trim but other than that it has turned out to be a great space.  We created a drainage field based on a gray water system we had used while working on an organic farm. It allows us to water our plants while showering which our banana and pineapple plants love! We are careful with the products we put down our drains using biodegradable soaps and shampoos that won’t harm the soil or plants. If comments on our garden are any measure of success than we hit the nail on the head. Of all the gardens I’ve had in Charleston, this one received the most praise from neighbors. I definitely think the extra watering had something to do with that! Ultimately, we’d like to build an outdoor shower for summer months as well as a possible outdoor kitchen but we still have a few months to consider those options!

Your Turn!

  • What challenges have you faced designing WCs for tiny spaces?

Space Saving Toilet

sink toilet

If you asked me a year ago if I would ever be blogging about toilets, well I most likely would have laughed at you.

I have seen these before, but they are most often conversion kits and a never looked quite as nice.  The Caroma Profile Smart is a Small profile toilet that has an integrated sink that uses the water before it goes into the toilet.  I have told folks about these before and often get this disgusted look, if you have never had to fix one you might not know how they work.  First the water fills a reservoir tank, that tank empties down into the bow through small holes at the top, the water collects in the bowl and well you know the rest.   The water that goes into the reservoir is 100% clean water, same stuff you drink from the tap.

If you are in another country this may not be the case as they sometimes use grey water, which I hope catches on here, but here in the US of A we use the regular water to fill the bowl.  What is more many folks put what are essentially chlorine tablets in the reservoir which creates a barrier if you will.  In fact if you read any disaster preparedness guide they talk about if push comes to shove, you can drink from the reservoir (best to boil).

sink toilet 2

So what’s so great about this toilet first it actually looks somewhat attractive, the second is that it is a very narrow profile, perfect for tiny houses.

  • High efficiency dual flush toilet – 1.28/0.8 gallons (4.8/3 liters) per flush
  • Integrated sink for enhanced water savings
  • After flushing, fresh cold water is directed through the faucet for hand washing and drains into the tank to be used for the next flush
  • Unique water and space saving design
  • Chrome buttons built-in to tapware design
  • Easy installation
  • Large trapway virtually eliminates blockages
  • 12″ rough-in

more here