As more and more people join the tiny house movement we are getting a lot of folks looking to make the leap with families. I get the question a lot: “how do I live in a tiny house with a family?” People want to know how they can enjoy the family life and set up houses for tiny house families.
There are a few approaches to this:
- Choose a small house that has enough room for the family, but the per person square footage is reasonable
- Build a slightly bigger, tiny house; maybe expanding to 10 foot wide and up to 40 feet long.
- Start with a small house when your kids are small, then add on or move to a bigger house later
- Build multiple tiny houses: adult’s/kids houses, sleeping house/living and kitchen house, other arrangements
The point here is to not get tied up in what a tiny house is supposed to be, but what works for you and your family. I have people email me all the time who feel that they have to live in a traditional tiny house that’s 150ish square feet. Nope! Forget that unless it’s right for your situation. Tiny houses have thrived because they are flexible housing solutions, not some rigid definition.
Some of my most popular posts of families who live in small spaces are:
I also have posted some small houses that I think could lend themselves to being used for a family or adapted:
When it comes to designing a tiny house for a family I thing there some important things to think about when it comes to the layout, storage, number of rooms etc.
First step is to create a list of needs. What does your family need to function or put another way, what does a house need to provide you with to live your life? I like to think of this room by room, I’ll go around the person’s current space and look at what function or activity takes place in each space. So on our list we will put for the kitchen: pantry storage (10 cubic feet), food prepping area (sink, 6 square feet counter top, trash can, cutting board, knife), washing dishes (4 square feet for dish drying rack, place to hang towel, soap, sink)
You can see the idea here. We are trying to operationalize everything in our house, making sure to only write down the core functions, our true needs and the minimum that we need to achieve them.
Here is a video of two parents that have designed and lived in their tiny house for a few years now with two young kids:
I think the two biggest challenges when it comes to designing a tiny house for a family is storage, larger food prep/eating area and extra bedrooms. For storage realize that not all your possessions have to be crammed into your tiny house. You can read about my extra storage space which is a cargo trailer here; families could easily do something similar, maybe even have the trailer sub-divided into compartments for each person. Also think about rotating wardrobes, for many people they have a winter set of clothes and a summer set of clothes, try to have another place to put the out of seasons clothes.
For extra cooking space for bigger meals, design the kitchen around what your needs are. If you freeze a lot of things, have a space for a freezer. If you supplement with canned vegetables, build in a can rack. Here is a pinterest board that I’ve made up of great space saving storage ideas for tiny houses:
Follow The Tiny Life’s board Tiny House Storage on Pinterest.
The biggest challenge for tiny houses for families is the extra bedding spaces. I think there are two approaches to this: 1) have bedrooms for every person or parents, boys, girls. Or 2) have spaces that convert to a bedroom.
First here are some small house designs that have multiple bedrooms that might work. Please note, these are just floor plans, there are now building plans for them.
The next major option for beds for you children might be having convertible spaces such as having some of these ideas below in your living room, at night it would become the kid’s bedroom.
A futon that lays flat to become a bed, then a trundle comes out for another bed.
This is a trundle bed, but I liked they made a tent which would be fun for kids, but also allow them to close the flap and afford them some privacy or alone time.
Here is a elevated trundle that has two beds and storage.
A standard trundle bed
A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style
two bedrooms in a small space.
- What did I miss? What else would you need for your family?
- What will your tiny family house look like?