Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Tiny House Plans For Families

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.

Tiny House Families

There are a few approaches to this:

  1. Choose a small house that has enough room for the family, but the per person square footage is reasonable
  2. Build a slightly bigger, tiny house; maybe expanding to 10 foot wide and up to 40 feet long.
  3. Start with a small house when your kids are small, then add on or move to a bigger house later
  4. 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.

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source: http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/books/

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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.

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A futon that lays flat to become a bed, then a trundle comes out for another bed.

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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.

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Here is a elevated trundle that has two beds and storage.

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A standard trundle bed

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A double bed, bunk bed Murphy style

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two bedrooms in a small space.

 

Your Turn!

  • What did I miss?  What else would you need for your family?
  • What will your tiny family house look like?
22 Comments
  1. If you choose two (or more) tiny houses, you could build a covered deck the length of your trailers. Make the awning or roof tall and wide enough to overhang the tiny house roofs so the porch area stays dry…tiny house on either side…gives outdoor living space, plus cooler tiny houses in summer…a makeshift dogtrot-style house…you could protect the open ends in the winter with removeable windows,doors,or tent flaps…depending on your tiny house style and/or budget.

    • I was thinking the same thing, a little bridge between the houses would work well.

      • My daddy was born in a house with a dogtrot…they did not call them tiny houses back then (1918). They called then “home.”

  2. These are really great ideas!!! Thanks!!!

  3. I enjoy this blog a lot ! I am fascinated by tiny houses/flats. I have a small flat myself in a city and I make the most of the little space i have ! This right here might be the future solution fot lacking storage space in tiny houses (since this is the one issue about them… ) http://smart-magazine.com/space/physical-cloud-storage/ let’s see if this will become a standardized system in modern housing ! (that would be awesome, I think ,no ?? )

  4. Ryan,
    That is the most useful blog entry I have seen on the Tiny house, thanks!
    Isn’t it ironic that we would be discussing a tiny house that doubles (plus dogtrot space) to create small family living. How far do we need to go to avoid the intruding building inspector? Your designs help a lot, but I doubt that a family would live comfortably in the three-bedroom design you show, so not-too-tiny becomes an important issue. I think we need to recognize that some needs just don’t get met in true Tinys, if we use the standard 8′ wide trailer base as a start, and I suspect that we would be wise to plan carefully from the outset. Which your post helps us focus on.

    • An 8 foot wide trailer can be used, if worked with, in how its built, if it has a rail on the outside. The gaps between the standards of the rail can used as drawers, you can build them to fit between the rail standards. there are also many ways to widen the trailer to fit the size your looking for without stressing the structure of your tiny house.

  5. I am disabled. I would like to be able to have a tiny house with a bathtub that meets the needs of my physical disables AND the skin conditions. Because of the bone disorder I haven’t been able to live on slab construction. PERHAPS HEATED FLOORING? I don’t know if it would solve this problem but seems most practical solution to lack of basement. Again because of the skin conditions I NEED A Small washer (2.5cubic feet or less)
    Madison WI has a Tiny House community planned-It includes a larger permanent community building for the residents of the community. I think it would be a great idea for tiny house communities to have a community kitchen, garden and the the “community” need only own 1garage of tools for maintaining individual homes and communal area. A craft ( sewing machine and glue guns, ect…area for people to work on improving or up keep. I can envision an artistic village-and homeless veterans who can come in from the streets who HAVE skills to add to the whole. Just thoughts…

  6. We are planning to build a tiny house this summer. We have talked with our local code office and 200 sq ft is the max size that can be built without code restrictions. We are a family of 4 and would love to build a 10 x 28 with lofts, or something similar because this seems like it would meet our needs. What is the scoop with codes? I see you offer some things about this for signing up for your posts but it didn’t go through when I entered my info. Are max sizes different in every town? Every state? Is the code issue just about stairs or is it many things that tiny houses can’t comply with? Plus we’d like to do wire and plumb it ourselves. We don’t plan on moving our tiny house often, but we’d even be willing to get a Class A license if that is needed to drive it at 10 ft wide. Where can we easily get this info? Thanks!

  7. I just read Carrie’s post. I’m curious about radiant heated floors as well because we live in a northern climate- perhaps heated with an outdoor wood boiler, with propane option. any idea if this technology exists?

    Also, Carrie, I love what you are describing as the tiny house community! Wouldn’t it be amazing if these cropped up all over and met so many needs at once- for affordability, community, self-sufficiency, sustainability! I can feel the excitement buidling!!

  8. What about for a family of 5: 2 parents, 1 4 year old and twin 1 year old boys. Trying to research something that would accommodate us now and at least for several more years. I really don’t want to move or add on for awhile.

    Thank you.

    • Hey! We have the same configuration- nearly 6 year old and 2 year old twins. I would love to hear an update on what you have found out!

  9. We are a family of 4 wanting the biggest tiny home on wheels possible. We are also planning on adding another child so total of 5. Alisha how is planning going? We just started so don’t have floor plan but like the one he proposed with 2 lofts.

  10. We are a family of 4 and each of us is planning our own autonomous unit then we plan on uniting all of them with some kind of concourse and living space allowing our kids to take theres with them as they grow

    • that is a really grate idea!! i would love to hear more about this kind of “tiny house”. any follow-up would be grate 🙂

  11. We are a family of seven. We would like to move into a small home so that we can be mortgage free and have our money freed up for travel. We could reasonably live is something the size of a 2 bedroom trailer with the living space converted to sleep in at night. We love the idea of a small home on wheels to make traveling possible. We know families that live full time in RV parks but we would prefer a home over an RV . What are some of the better options for larger families? Also for families full time “on the road” are there communities/ places that are more small home friendly?

    • We are also almost a family of 7 (baby due in November) and think of these same issues. Currently we live in a 3 bedroom, 1200 sqft house with 3 generations but would love something moble that we could park in a community.

    • Hi. We also have family of 7. If you find any plans or images of anything large enough, please let me know! Jessicalynnferrendelli@gmail.com

  12. Hello. I’m a single mom with a 4yr old daughter. I’m in the planning process of our future tiny house. I love the floor plan labeled 2 Bedroom. What is the square footage? Is it possible to see the measurements? Is this a design meant to be on a foundation or can it be on wheels? Thanks for sharing!

  13. TWO tiny houses?? That’s genius!

    My husband, my two children, and I all live in a 700 sq ft house that was built by the original owners of my parents’ house for his bedridden mother in law. So small, but definitely not in the spirit of tiny(I.e., storage galore, efficient use of space, etc.).
    My parents are looking to sell their home soon, and we need a new option. The trouble is, my husband has at least two more years of school for his Bachelor’s, and then he’s going for his PA(Physician’s Assistant) degree. So, for at least the next two-three years, we will be transient until he gets in school. So, we have looked into tiny houses, but always found them either prohibitively small for the four of us(two girls, 6 and 2), or prohibitively expensive to build and ship to our little town. Also, because my husband works nights and sleeps while our active babies are awake, a tiny house would be catastrophic on his rest, and could affect his position.
    But two tiny houses…one with a loft bedroom, a first floor bedroom, and a “den” converted to a bedroom, and a full bath. The other with a kitchen, small bathroom with a toilet and a sink, and a large living area, maybe with a small loft for storage. An awning that can be placed between them when they’re parked, for outdoor living…
    This could be the best idea I’ve ever heard. Thank you so much!!

  14. I love the first layout you listed! I went to the website provided and looked through all of the layouts and could not find that one. Would you mind posting a link to that layout?

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