Posts Tagged Tiny Home

Tiny House Closets To Inspire Your Closet Design

Tiny House Closets To Inspire Your Closet Design

tiny house closets

Tiny House Closets For Your Clothes

I think the biggest piece of advice I have when it comes to your wardrobe is to question everything. You first want to pare down your wardrobe to only pieces that you love to wear and that work well together. I’ve covered how you can embrace a minimalist wardrobe, but I know that isn’t for everyone.

Ryan Mitchell in his tiny house living a simple lifeHi, I’m Ryan

Storage is a huge part of making a tiny house practical.  I’ve been living in a 150 sq/ft for close to a decade now and having a great designed closet for my clothes and organized storage for all my possessions keeps my house tidy despite being such a small space!
Ryan Mitchell - Simple living expert

That said a massive study that interviewed 18,000 families found that 82% of clothes in a closet aren’t worn in a given year. That means that opportunity lies in everyone’s closet to declutter.

wardrobe worn in last year

Ryan’s Tiny House Clothes Closet Video Tour

tiny house clothes closet video tour

The way I dress isn’t for everyone, but I thought I’d show a practical example by giving you a video tour of my own closet in my tiny home that I’ve lived in for close to a decade.


Tiny House Closet Design

tiny house closet design

Once you’ve figured out what you need to store in your closet, it’s time to figure out how to design the actual layout. I find that people either like to hang their clothes or keep things in drawers. While most of us might use both, we tend to prefer one way or the other.

Think about how you like to store your clothes and what kind of wardrobe you have. If you have a lot of nicer blouses or business-casual wear, your closet will be different than someone who wears yoga pants and T-shirts most days. You may also be a person who has two types of clothing: casual wear and a professional wardrobe for when you’re in the office.
When I built my tiny house, I also transitioned away from my corporate job, leaving my business wear behind me. I now only keep one suit and a few polos. The rest is a minimalist wardrobe of just grey shirts for a minimalist uniform.

Tiny House Closet Dimensions

Tiny House Closet Dimensions

There are some key dimensions you should consider when designing your closet. I recommend you first figure out exactly what you want to store, then design around those exact items. I also tell people to figure out what you need to store, then double the volume for things you forget and to future proof your design.

tiny hosue closet shelf depth


Standard Clothing Dimensions
Men’s Suit Coat 1-1/24″ x 38″ long
Men’s Shirt 1″ x 38″ long
Men’s Pants Straight 44″ long
Men’s Pants Folded 44″ long
Women’s Dress 68″ long
Women’s Jacket 36″ long
Women’s Blouse 24″ long
Women’s Skirt 36″ long
Folded Clothing 10″ wide x 12″ deep
Shoes 9″ x12″ per pair

Tiny House Closet Layout

Tiny House Closet Layout

When it comes to the layout of your tiny house closet, you want to build it to suit what you need to store. Keep things that you use often in places that are easily accessible. Items that you don’t wear often or are out of season can be tucked away on higher shelfs or in drawers you need to bend over for.

Storage is something that you’re going to want to take pretty seriously, I usually advise people to gather everything you want, down to the very last item, then design your storage around that.

If you’re a person who hangs a lot of things, you’re going to want more hanging space.  But if you’re like me, I don’t like hanging much, so I’d swap these spaces for shelves, drawers and bins that I can fold and stack thing into.

I don’t have a lot of accessories, I keep my shoes to a minimum, and I have a backpack that I keep my laptop in while I’m on the go. You’re going to want to balance how much space you dedicate to your clothing and other stuff in your tiny home, because we don’t have a lot of space to begin with.

Here is a design I recommend:

tiny house closet layout guide

Items You Might Want To Store In Your Tiny House Closet

Items You Might Want To Store In Your Tiny House Closet

Tiny House Closet Items
Underwear Shorts Winter Coats Dress Shoes
Socks Dresses Rain Coats Sandals
Bras Skirts Hats Belts
Sleepwear Sweaters Gloves Ties
T-shirts Sweatshirts Scarves Jewelry
Dress Shirts Suits Leisure Shoes Purses
Casual Shirts Vests Hiking Boots Workout Clothes
Jeans Swimsuits Sneakers Towels
Pants Cover-ups Snow Boots Bandanas

declutter challenge

Open Shelves Vs. Cabinets In A Tiny House

Open Shelves Vs Cabinets In A Tiny House

Open shelving has been trendy for a while now, but I’d argue that you should set aside whether something is fashionable or not and think about how it suits your needs. I think there is a case for both open and closed storage, but it depends on your needs, the placement, and your behaviors.

Use Open Shelves For Quick Access Of Regularly Used Items

Use Open Shelves For Quick Access Of Regularly Used Items

Open shelves are something that you need to carefully consider, as they are part practical and part decorative. This means you can’t jam a lot on them without looking cluttered. Because of this, the storage density isn’t very high, which should give a tiny house person pause, because you often need to maximize every square inch.

I use open shelving right above my kitchen counter in a small nook I couldn’t otherwise use as cabinet space. Here I put things I use multiple times a day: dishes, bowls, toothpaste, and my little Bluetooth speaker. These are easily grabbed but can be tucked out of sight when not in use.

use open closet shelves for quick access

Use Cabinets For Higher Density Storage And To Hide Disorderly Items

Use Cabinets For Higher Density Storage And To Hide Disorderly Items

The nice thing about cabinets is that you have a door that you can close to hide stuff behind. This isn’t to say it’s messy, but there are things that are disorderly, like your landing pad for your wallet, purse, mail, keys, etc.

have a landing pad for your stuffI think the big realization I had with this is that even if you’re pretty organized, your storage is going to have an irregular pattern to it. There are always some disorderliness to things like jackets hanging, etc. These irregular patterns can cause some subconscious stress at an almost undetectable level because it enters our visual field.

A tiny house is just too small for such things. A cabinet door lets you visually cloak the irregular patterns, making the space feel really comfortable; that’s the brain telling you that the micro stress of irregular patterns is gone.

Everything Has A Place And Everything In Its Place

Everything Has A Place And Everything In Its Place

The reason I emphasize figuring out what you want to store first is because the key to a tidy home (tiny or otherwise) is that every item you own has a designated spot in your home. That means that when you use something, you know exactly where it should go afterwards.

As you live like this, you’ll train your brain to flag items that don’t have a home. That brain pattern will signal to you that either this item needs a designated spot or it’s not important enough to have one in the first place, which tells you that it should be decluttered out of your house entirely.

Learn about this while I talk about my junk drawer here:

Tiny House Closet Ideas

Tiny House Closet Ideas

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Living In A Yurt As An Affordable Way To Live Tiny

Living In A Yurt As An Affordable Way To Live Tiny

living in a yurt

Image Source – The Yurt Life

Before I moved into my tiny house, I was really interested in living in a yurt. I almost closed on some land and moved for grad school. I could have set up a yurt on the land for the same amount I would have spent on just a few months of college housing. Living in a yurt was a very affordable option.

I’ve always found the modern versions of Mongolian yurts interesting. They offer a way to set up a structure quickly on a plot of land that is more than just a tent, but isn’t a permeant as a building. They’re an excellent solution for shelter as you’re building a tiny house or setting up a homestead. Most of the time, when homesteaders buy land, they need to get on it immediately; living in a yurt presents a nice, quick option.

If you’re considering the merits of living in a yurt, here’s why living in a yurt is an excellent choice for a temporary tiny home.


NAVIGATION


What Is A Yurt?

what is a yurt

A yurt or a “Mongolian yurt” sounds exotic and different if you haven’t heard the term. You may be wondering, what is a yurt anyway?

mongolian yurtThe short answer is that a yurt is essentially a round tent. These structures were native to Mongolia and were used by the nomadic groups across Mongolia and Turkey. The translation of the Turkish word “yurt” means “home,” and that’s precisely what a yurt is—a simple home.

Traditional yurts were created out of wood, with a wool outer covering. These are portable homes that nomadic tribes would take with them as they herded sheep, goats, and yaks. The entire structure could be folded down and carried on a camel. It’s similar to the Native American tipi.

Mongolian yurts could be quite large and include different rooms, a cooking space, and more. They were often decorated with beautiful patterns, some of which aligned with Buddhist philosophy.

Today’s yurts aren’t covered in wool anymore. They’re usually made out of strong tent fabric. These yurts will withstand quite a bit of use, and there are many permanent yurt-like structures throughout the United States. Many national and state parks offer permanent yurt dwellings for campers to use when visiting. Yurts are also popular across Europe in many different camp settings.

There are several types of yurts, and when someone refers to living in a yurt, they could be discussing any of the following:

Types Of Yurts

Types Of Yurts

mongolian yurt

Mongolian Yurt

The original type of traditional yurt. If you find an authentic “Mongolian yurt,” it will likely be historical reconstruction (similar to a tipi).


Modern Fabric Yurt

This describes most modern yurts—a lattice structure with a fabric overlay. You can buy yurt home kits online.


wooden yurt

Wooden Yurts

These are made entirely out of wood and are essentially a round, home structure. There’s also the “hexayurt,” which is a hexagonal, six-sided yurt (making it a little easier to construct than a rounded yurt).


No matter the type of yurt you find is best for you, it offers a fun and affordable living option. Some hexayurt kits are available for use as indoor-friendly and backyard yurts as well. These structures are made of lightweight material and could be used as classrooms, meeting spaces, or even a studio.

yurt interiorWhat has always drawn me to the idea of living in a yurt was the affordability. They make great temporary houses that could last years if needed. When I was looking at using a yurt home kit as a housing option, I calculated that for less than $10,000, I could set up a nice place to live. If the land cost around $5,000, a quality yurt home kit would only cost another $3,000, making it cheaper than a few months in most other housing options.

Ultimately, I didn’t end up living in a yurt, but I’ve stayed in them many times, and I find many of the traditional yurts beautiful. With a wide range of yurt home kits available, you can set up a yurt with very little assistance. It only takes two or three people to get it set up and can come together fast.

By and large, yurts are better as temporary structures. Living in a permanent yurt is an option in climates that are very temperate all year long, but a modern fabric yurt (from a yurt home kit) will degrade in 5-10 years. The fabric molds and mildews eventually.

You can think of a yurt as a step up from a tent—a “glamping” option with more space than an RV. It’s more affordable than most RVs too, but living in a yurt forever probably isn’t a realistic option. If you’re looking for a long-term home, a tiny house is a much more viable choice.

The Anatomy of A Yurt

anatomy of a yurt

Yurts are essentially round tent-like structures. They can be enormous, with multiple rooms and spaces just like a typical home. Yurts are circular, which can be challenging from a design and decorating perspective, but they’re also very sturdy and practical as temporary or semi-permanent yurt homes.

If you’re planning to build a yurt, it’s essential to understand the structure so you know exactly what to expect. Even if you’re living in it for a short time, you’ll want a yurt to be well-built and structurally sound.

The Base Of The Yurt

The Base Of The Yurt
Traditional yurts were homes for nomads, who built the base of the house right on the ground. Today’s yurt owners usually set up a pre-made wooden base for their homes. Companies sell pre-made insulated bases consisting of SIPs (structurally insulated panels).

base of a yurtConstructing the base of a yurt is the most challenging part of building. The base must be level, which requires some intense labor. It’s also surprisingly more complex to build a circular base. Some folks opt for a big square and then build up a smaller circular base on top.

The base fabric of the yurt will need to tie into a circular base to ensure that it’s air-tight and free of bugs and pests (like a round peg in a square hole—a square base will leave gaps). Pre-made SIP yurt bases are typically the way to go. They’re insulated, and you can get the right size for what you need.

The Lattice Walls Of The Yurt

The Lattice Walls Of The Yurt
Once you’ve established a solid, insulated base, you’ll need to construct the wooden lattice walls. Some yurt builders prefer to work with bamboo, and either construction works well. It depends on where you live and what you prefer.

yurt lattice wallsMany yurt kits include space for windows that zip closed and have a mesh screen. These are nice for ventilation and a cross-breeze in your yurt. Most yurts feature a traditional wooden front door too. You can use electric in your yurt (see my guide on setting up electric) just like a tiny house, so an air conditioner is also possible.

Should you buy a pre-made lattice for your yurt? Yes! While there are plans out there to show you how to build your own lattice, it’s very time-consuming (even if you’re a capable woodworker). Look at the value of your time. Even if you can do the construction yourself, you could earn quite a bit more by working with that time and buying your lattice walls from a yurt manufacturing company.

The Yurt Rafters And Ceiling

The Yurt Rafters And Ceiling
yurt raftersRafters usually come along with the lattice in a wood yurt kit. Companies like Pacific Yurts sell well-made yurt home kits that help you through the building process. You could go through the build yourself, but unlike a tiny house, it’s usually much less expensive to invest in a wooden yurt kit and save yourself time and effort.

Yurt rafters come in a pair. There’s a wire that weaves between every other top part of the lattice, and then the rafters have a notch, which you place over the wire. The top usually doesn’t come together but hooks into a metal piece that forms an operable skylight (compression ring).

The Top Of The Yurt: The Compression Ring

The Top Of The Yurt The Compression Ring
yurt ceiling compression ringAt the center of the top of the yurt, the compression ring holds the yurt together. Usually, this center ring is covered by a domed skylight. The yurt’s compression ring will also be included in most yurt home kits, and it’s an essential component.

It would take you too long to build the bones of the yurt yourself, not to mention the engineering required and the cost of materials. Lumber is at an all-time high price and buying the lattice, rafters, and compression ring from a manufacturer is the best choice.

The Cover of the Yurt

The Cover of the Yurt
yurt coverUnlike Mongolian yurts of old, most of the covers are made of waterproof vinyl or canvas backed with felt or foil insulation instead of the traditional yurt cover of wool. If you’re having any questions about buying the extra layers of insulation, you should go for it.

Even if you don’t live in the coldest climate, any insulation will help keep the weather out (heat and cool). The cover has some insulation similar to bubble wrap with foil on either side. Most of the time, it’s rated at an R3 or 5, which is about 20% of the code. It’s well worth the price to increase your comfort with extra insulation.
design and build collection

Building A Yurt Platform and Setting Up A Kit

Building A Yurt Platform and Setting Up A Kit

If you’re ready to try living in a yurt, the first step will likely be to select a yurt kit and decide where you’d like to set up your yurt on your property. Look for a flat area of land that’s large enough to accommodate a yurt. There is a range of sizes, up to a 50-foot yurt and beyond. So like a tiny house, select the size that meets your needs (especially if it’s a long-term temporary dwelling).

You can build the platform yourself. It’s very similar to building a deck like you’d set up on the side of a house. Eventually, you could even use this platform as a spot to set up a deck area for your tiny house. If you’d like a semi-permanent structure, it’s worth it to hire a deck company. Most will come to any field and build you one.

Setting Up A Yurt Kit

Setting Up A Yurt Kit
The easy thing about a yurt home kit is that it usually comes with detailed steps and instructions. Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to set up a yurt fully by yourself. It will take around 2-3 days once the base is built and requires several people. It’s more involved than setting up even an elaborate tent.

If you go the DIY route, there are many DIY yurt guides online to help. My advice would be to consider the time and effort you’re going to put into a temporary home. Building a yurt from a kit isn’t terribly expensive and is a much better investment of your time and money.

Even with a kit, you will need to plan out several days and several helping hands. However, you won’t need a whole bunch of tools outside of a drill, screwdrivers, a level, post-hole digger, shovel, and string. Remember that nomadic farmers who built Mongolian yurts needed to set up a dwelling without much effort or many tools.

The Basic Steps Of Setting Up A Yurt Home Kit

The Basic Steps Of Setting Up A Yurt Home Kit

yurt decking icon
Start with the base – The base is one of the biggest challenges of setting up a yurt kit because it must be dead flat. As I explained above, most yurt dwellers prefer to set up a deck-type platform, then a round flooring base on top to ensure the yurt is completely secure. You may want to put down a moisture barrier on the ground to keep the floor extra dry. Skirting and a drip edge are also a good idea for the floor.

lattice
Set up the door and the lattice walls – You will nail the lattice walls into the base to form a sturdy structure. This is one part of the yurt building where you’ll need multiple people—at least one person to hold and one person to nail. The tension cable will go around the top of the lattice walls.

rafters
Set up the rafters – You will secure the rafters to the tension ring in the center. You will need a platform to hold up the tension ring until all the rafters are completely in place. Brace each rafter against the ring as the yurt is constructed.

wall framing
Set up the walls with additional support structures, if preferred – The walls may require additional support beams to ensure that the yurt stays steady and strong. The bones of the yurt can last for many years (beyond the fabric outside), so solid construction is essential, especially if it’s a semi-permanent or permanent yurt.

insulation
Set up the insulation layer – The insulation layer goes on next, which typically starts by covering the roof and then moving down the sidewalls. Again, it depends on your planned use, climate, and the yurt kit you purchase, but you may also insulate the walls.

fabric
Put up the outer fabric walls – The outer fabric walls go around the yurt to form the walls of your new yurt home. The window vents will let in a nice breeze, and your yurt should be fully livable at this point.

interior walls
Frame interior walls as preferred – Depending on how detailed you want to get with your interior construction, you can frame in the walls, include a bathroom, install lighting, countertops, storage, and more. If your yurt is your home for a few years, it may be worth it to go ahead with the framing and interior build-out. If you’re using it as a temporary dwelling, then bare bones may be the way to go.

Here’s a great example of setting up a yurt kit (with an elaborate interior design).


The Challenges Of Living In A Yurt

The Challenges Of Living In A Yurt

Whether you build a yurt yourself or buy a yurt kit, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a yurt. Here are a few challenges of yurt living to consider before you commit.

Code Enforcement

Code Enforcement
cracking the codeI recommend always having the installation manual from your yurt home kit handy to help you navigate code enforcement. If local building code enforcement should question the structure, you’ll be able to show them how you plan to affix the yurt to your platform or how it will perform in high winds or storms. The manual is a great backup. Choose your words carefully; rather than saying, “I want to live in this,” explain that it’s a temporary house.

Buying a kit will allow you to check everything out before you build. If your code enforcement isn’t okay with the yurt structure, you’ll know before you’ve spent hundreds of hours constructing a platform, creating a lattice, and setting up your yurt. Learn more about yurt building codes here.

Yurt Insulation

Yurt Insulation
Another challenge of living in a yurt is insulation. You’ll only be able to get up to an insulation rating of 5, which is basically the same as a sturdy tent. If you live in a climate with a lot of rain or humidity, you’re going to battle dampness and moisture continuously. So living in a yurt in a rainy climate like the pacific northwest could be a challenge.

If you live in a very cold climate, the insulation will not offer much protection from the weather, either. The insulation isn’t nearly as strong as a house, and even with a heater, it will get very cold. Similarly, hot weather can be a challenge too. Although, if you go ahead and wire the yurt for electricity, a fan or small air conditioner can keep you pretty cool. Yurts are well-ventilated, so warmer climates are your best option.

Security

Security
Yurts aren’t secure. Period. It’s a piece of fabric on a wood lattice, so it’s not an extremely sound structure against outside forces. A hexayurt made of wood may offer some additional security, but not much.

If you live in an area where hurricanes or tornados are prevalent, then a yurt is probably not a safe or practical option. While it’s safer than a tent and will keep out some basic natural forces, it’s not going to be as secure as a house.

Kits Are Heavy

Kits Are Heavy
The wood yurt kits are very heavy and impossible to move on your own. It’s not wise to attempt to build a yurt by yourself (even from a kit). When you order the yurt kit, you’ll need to plan on appropriate delivery transportation. You may receive the kit via freight, but you may need to rent a lift gate or mini forklift to move the kit.

If you’re a homesteader, a tractor may also be an option for moving the yurt kit. Sometimes land can be inaccessible to delivery drivers, too, so it’s essential to have a plan of how you’ll get your kit to your foundation.

tiny house tools

Fabric Doesn’t Last Forever

Fabric Does not Last Forever
Yurt fabrics have a shelf-life of about 5-10 years. At that point, you’ll need to invest in a new cover. While the shells are affordable, they’ll degrade over time, and you’ll need to replace them and perform upkeep and repairs.

If you build your yurt carefully, with a strong structure, then it can last a very long time. But keep in mind, you’ll probably need to continue to replace the fabric roof, walls, and possibly the insulation layer regularly.

Curved Walls Present A Challenge

Curved Walls Present A Challenge
From a decorating and design perspective, the yurt’s curved walls are tricky. You can’t put a couch against a curved wall. You can’t hang things from latticework or the fabric. You also shouldn’t have anything flush against the wall because it’s a tent—you’ll want ventilation for drying should the walls get wet.

The workaround with a yurt is to either opt for a hexayurt with wooden, flat walls (basically a hexagonal tiny house) or to build a nice, sturdy interior structure with walls as partitions. I’ve seen some elaborate layouts, and I’ve listed several ideas for yurt layouts here.

How Much Is A Yurt Kit?

How Much Is A Yurt Kit

Assuming you go with a yurt home kit to build your yurt, you’ll look at a kit price range between $4,000 and $13,000. It will depend on the size of your kit, the materials, and what’s included with the kit.

Yurt kits generally range from about 12-foot yurts to 30-foot yurts. Some larger kits will even build a 50-foot yurt, so there’s quite a large selection. Keep in mind that the price of the kit is usually just for the lattice, roof, tension ring, and outer fabric. The extras for your yurt will usually cost more.

Most kits don’t include the base or foundation, so you’ll need to figure in the price of building a deck and platform. They won’t have heating or HVAC, water, a power hookup, or any amenities for building out and furnishing the inside.

Still, for around $10,000 (especially if you already own the land), a yurt offers an ideal temporary home for months or even years as you work on building a tiny house or setting up a homestead.

Yurt Layout Design Ideas

Yurt Layout Design Ideas

I’ve created some layout design ideas to help you brainstorm the ways to set up your yurt. Because the structures are pretty versatile, you can set up space for one or two people to simply sleep or an extensive more permanent yurt home.

12 foot yurt

12-Foot Yurt Layout

A 12-foot yurt home is a cozy but comfortable room for a single person or could be set up for two people as a temporary weekend camp. A small yurt will make a lovely guest dwelling if you’re looking for a way to host people at your tiny house.


14 foot yurt

14-Foot Yurt Layout

A slightly larger 14-foot yurt has room for a bed, a sink, small table, or chair for lounging. The 14-foot sized yurt is a better option for couples who would like a little more room in their yurt.


16 foot yurt

16-Foot Yurt Layout

A 16-foot yurt layout is roomy enough for a bathroom and a bedroom. With a partition wall, you could split up space into a studio-like living area. A 16-foot yurt is an ample option for a single person but room enough for a couple to use as a weekend getaway.


20 foot yurt

20-Foot Yurt Layout

A 20-foot yurt is roomy and comfortable enough for even a small family to make as a temporary home. As you can see from this layout, there’s room for a kitchen, a bathroom, and a small lounge area. With a futon or foldout couch, you could sleep up to four in this yurt.


24 foot yurt

24-Foot Yurt Layout

A 24-foot yurt offers a really good amount of space for a family to use as a semi-permanent yurt home. Using inner walls to create partitions, you could divide the space into several rooms with some storage, lounge areas, and a spacious bathroom.


30 foot yurt

30-Foot Yurt Layout

A 30-foot or even a 50-foot yurt kit offers a significant amount of living space. You could easily have enough room for a small family for several months or a couple as a long-term or permanent yurt. If you build out the deck beyond the boundaries of the yurt walls, you could use the extra porch area for cooking and entertaining.


desiging your tiny house

Designing A Great Yurt Interior

Designing A Great Yurt Interior

yurt interior with kitchen and loftThe interior needs of a yurt are pretty similar to those of a tiny house. If you have a bathroom or kitchen in your yurt, you will want to have access to hookups just like you would in your tiny home. The big difference is that with the fabric walls, your utilities will need to run on the interior.

Many yurt owners put interior walls in the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom to set up outlets and run utilities through there. As far as bathroom plumbing, composting toilets are a very popular option amongst yurt owners.

Besides being inexpensive, fun, and easy to build, the other big draw of a yurt is that it’s easy to build a yurt off-grid. For homesteaders and those looking for a temporary dwelling while they finish building their dream tiny home, a yurt is very appealing.

Here are a few examples of yurt interior design to inspire you.

yurt interior partition walls

Yurt Interior Partition Walls

The walls that break up the interior of your yurt are more like room dividers. Most leave some space between the top of the wall and the ceiling. You can use the interior walls for electric and as a spot to hang storage and even décor.


wood stoves for yurts

Wood Stoves for Yurts

Wood stoves are practical for off-grid living and many folks like them for yurts. Not only do they offer heat, but there are some beautiful choices too. You’ll need to consider how you plan to run the flue pipe through the canvas exterior. Some yurt kits come with a flue pipe option.


kitchen

Yurt Kitchens

The most common choices for yurt kitchen design are L-shaped or galley kitchens. Typically, you’ll want to put your kitchen up against an interior partition wall since your utilities will be on the interior. Otherwise, a yurt kitchen is similar to other tiny house kitchens.


windows and doors

Yurt Windows

There are several options for yurt windows—you can have clear vinyl sewn into the outer fabric shell, you can use the screened windows that are part of the outer shell, or you can build in an actual window. Real windows are beautiful, efficient, and functional, but they’re more costly to install.


tiny houe kitchens

Yurt Home Kit Brands

Yurt Home Kit Brands

Ready to try a yurt home for yourself? Here are the best yurt home kit brands to choose from. I highly recommend investing in a yurt kit to make building a yurt much simpler and faster. For the cost, it’s well worth it.

Best Brands for Yurt Home Kits

Best Brands for Yurt Home Kits

pacific yurts
Pacific Yurts
Pacific Yurts is one of the most popular yurt home kit brands in business since 1978.

freedom yurt cabins
Freedom Yurt Cabins
Freedom Yurt Cabins offer customizable yurt home kit choices with features like real windows.

colorado yurt company
Colorado Yurt Company
The Colorado Yurt Company sells yurt home kits, tipis, and tents and offers many resources and guides.

rainier outdoor company
Rainier Outdoor
Rainier Outdoor Company has been in business since the 1800s and offers an array of yurts and tipis.

smiling woods yurts
Smiling Woods Yurts
Smiling Woods Yurts offers wood yurts and hexayurt kits to help you build a permanent yurt home.

chelter designs yurts
Shelter Designs
Shelter Designs started building yurts back in 1999. There core designs include generous standard features in the base cost of every yurt kit.

designing your tiny home

If you’re ready to try yurt living, there are plenty of yurt home kit sellers to help you build a beautiful, spacious, and comfortable place to stay.

Your Turn!

  • What size yurt most appeals to you?
  • Would you feel comfortable living in a yurt?

Tiny House Parking – Where Do You Park A Tiny House?

Tiny House Parking – Where Do You Park A Tiny House?

tiny house parkingYou don’t get too far into pursuing a tiny house build before asking the question, “Where do you park a tiny house?” That’s because tiny house parking is a major challenge. Having found two different places to park my tiny house over the years, I can tell you it’s not as easy as you’d hope. But now that I’m on the other side it, I’ve learned a lot that I want to share with you.

For the most part, I’ll be talking about how you can find a place to park a tiny house for free or for an affordable cost. Some places charge $300 to $600 a month for rent and honestly, if you have to pay a monthly fee at that level, you’re better off buying land or considering an apartment. I’ll discuss buying land too, but most folks are looking for a free or mostly free parking spot.

Where Can You Park A Tiny House?

Where Can You Park A Tiny House

There is a lot to consider when finding a parking spot for a tiny home, and despite what many folks think, you can’t always roll up on a piece of land and call it good. If you were only going to rough it in a spot for a week or two, you’d probably be fine, but much longer than that and you’ll want to think about making it sustainable for the long term.

I talk about how to setup a piece of land for a tiny house in this post, which goes into a lot of details you might never have thought about.

parking checklist

Ways To Find Tiny House Parking

Ways To Find Tiny House Parking

Below is a slew of options for you that I’ve found to work for others and myself in the past. When it comes to finding tiny house parking, you need to be creative, persistent, and open to possibilities. Finding places to park a tiny home is hard work, but with enough effort and a little luck, you can find a good home for you and your tiny house.

Tiny House Parking In Tiny House Communities

Tiny House Parking In Tiny House Communities

There are a ton of tiny house communities popping up all around the world, each with places for you to park your tiny home. Many of these are simply people looking to rent out their land, but they might be open to work shares, trading, or some other arrangement. Keep in mind that these people do have costs themselves, so you most likely will need to chip in some money along the way.

tiny house neighborhoodCommunities are set up in different ways, but the best thing to do is to connect with locals and if one doesn’t already exist, create it! Even if you don’t have the funds to buy land right now, start a group to meet people in your area and get talking — you never know what might come of it.

Since tiny houses don’t take up a lot of parking space, you can get the density pretty high. Because of this, you might consider splitting the cost of an acre or two for an affordable price.

On a single acre, you could have up to 35 tiny homes with a central corridor and a small parking spot next to each. If you were to buy some land out of town, you might be able to find a parcel for $10,000 an acre, which would cost you about $300 per person to own the land out right!

You could even have people buy double or triple lots if they wanted more space, still totaling less than $1,000 each. Not bad when you break it down.

The best way to do that is by checking out our state pages here:

tiny house builders

Tiny House Intentional Communities For Parking

Tiny House Intentional Communities For Parking

These are similar to tiny house communities, but they might not be focused solely on tiny houses. There are a ton of these around the world and you can find a lot of them at The Foundation For Intentional Communities.

foundation for intentional communities mapEach one of these communities is unique because it’s built by members based on their vision. Not all will be open to tiny houses, but some will be. Most have a new member process, which can be lengthy, and many cost at least some money, but not always.

One thing you can suggest to these communities is a trial period with your tiny home. Because it’s mobile, you can do a trial of, say, three to six months where you find out if it’s a good fit for everyone. If it doesn’t work out, then you can move on.

This is dependent on you being able to fund a move and having another place to go, but I think if you presented the trial period idea along with an exit plan and proof of funds to do so, you’re more likely to win folks over.

You may even want to consider starting your own tiny house intentional community!

Tiny Houses As Accessory Dwelling Units – Tiny House ADUs

Tiny Houses As Accessory Dwelling Units

If you’ve never heard of ADUs before, they’re essentially an extra mini house that sits in the backyard of a traditional home. This is mainly intended to be a granny flat, an in-law suite, or a rental space, but they’re also a really good legal loophole for tiny homes.

cracking the codeNow to pull this off, you’re going to need to have a piece of land with a normal house on it. That could be a run-down house, a house you rent out to tenants while you stay in the ADU, or potentially —though this is unlikely to pass approval from the city — you could build an ADU for a “future” big house to be built, but “never get around to it.”

That last one doesn’t usually fly because ADUs are defined as a building secondary to a main structure, so your mileage may vary on this one.

Check out my book on building codes for tiny houses, which gets into a lot of details and alternative strategies.

Tiny House Parking As A Nomadic Tiny House

Tiny House Parking As A Nomadic Tiny House

You can also consider not having a permanent tiny house parking spot at all and always be on the move. There are many people who have done this for years. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a very good truck to tow a tiny house because tiny houses are very heavy.

Parking Options For Boondocking With A Tiny House:

  • Stay at campgrounds – often 14 to 30 day limits
  • Stay on Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) – stay 14 days in 28-day period
  • Stay in Federal Parks – often 14 to 30 day limits
  • Parking lots overnight in some Walmarts, Bass Pros, etc.
  • Street parking in some areas

Tiny Home Parking In RV Parks

Tiny Home Parking In RV Parks

RV parks are another great place for tiny house parking, if you can find the right one. Some RV parks operate year-round while others are only seasonal. Some have great communities that are well maintained and safe, but others you realize aren’t a place you really want to stay.

Many of these parks will require that you have an RVIA manufacturer plate, which means your tiny house has been built by a certified RVIA manufacturer to certain specifications. This is often an insurance thing, but I’ve found it’s also not a magic bullet. There is way too much emphasis put on this certification by builders and I think it’s largely overblown in value.

Parking In Campgrounds With A Tiny House

Parking In Campgrounds With A Tiny House

Much like RV parks, these are hit or miss on the quality and if they’ll even let you have a parking spot for your tiny home. Most have limits on how long you can stay. The best approach here is to find an independently owned campground and talk with the owner.

If you’re a good tenant, they aren’t too busy, and you can make a deal with them, you might be able to stay long term — these are business people after all. If you’re able to pay rent consistently and they aren’t always fully booked, it might be a good deal for both of you.

Become A Campground Host In A Tiny House

Become A Campground Host In A Tiny House

If you don’t know, many campgrounds have hosts that stay on site, usually in their camper, to handle the day-to-day operations of checking people in, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. Many places only allow RVs, but you could potentially find a work-trade option where you are the host and can stay for free.

It’s important to note that these can be hard to come by because retirees like this option and are often seasonal.

Craigslist And Other Online Listings

Craigslist And Other Online Listings

A good place to look is Craigslist and other online listings for land that is for sale or for rent. This is especially true of land that is for sale by owner, who might be open to a rent-to-own arrangement.

If a place has been on the market for a long time, you might also be able to offer to rent the land with the agreement that if they sell it, you get 60 days’ notice. You can also find good deals to buy land online, which is what we’ll get into next.

Buying Land For A Tiny House

Buying Land For A Tiny House

Buying land can be a challenge too because you’re most likely going to need to pay with cash or owner finance it. That said, you can find good deals on lots that other people couldn’t build on at all because the lot is too small for a big house or other reasons.

You still need to consider building codes and zoning because you’re making an investment in a piece of land, but with some hard work, you can make it happen.

Partner with Land Owners

Partner with Land Owners

In some cases, you don’t need to own the land or even rent the land and you can instead barter for a place to park. I do this now, where I help keep an eye on the land because the owner lives far away.

I also have a friend who lives on a multi-million-dollar estate overlooking the San Francisco Bay who stays there for cheap (relative to the bay area) because she helps take care of their horses.

Tips To Pitching Land Owners

  • Consider what is in it for them, how can they benefit?
  • How can you mitigate risks they might be worried about?
  • What if it doesn’t work out? Discuss the exit plan
  • Consider if the land and owner is a good fit or not

Land Owner Types To Seek Out

  • Elderly people who need help around the house
  • Farmers who have an unused field
  • Vacant land that isn’t being actively developed
  • Land that has been listed for sale for a long time

Find Local Tiny House Parking By Connecting On Social Media

Find Local Tiny House Parking By Connecting On Social Media

Social media was intended to help real people connect, and that is true when it comes to finding a tiny house parking space. There are several ways you can do this, but some good examples of this are finding local Facebook groups and Meetup.com groups.

Don’t Forget About Local Building Codes And Zoning

Dont Forget About Local Building Codes And Zoning

In all of this, finding a parking spot is bound to open a conversation about building codes and zoning. You can chance it and risk getting hit with a notice or even a fine or you can do it formally. I talk a lot about this in my ebook on tiny house building codes. Check it out if you’re trying to find a place to park your tiny home.

cracking the code

Your Turn!

  • Where are you thinking about parking your tiny house?
  • What tips do you have for finding local tiny house parking?

How Does A Tiny House Get Water?

How Does A Tiny House Get Water?

how does a tiny house get waterA tiny house without water is really just fancy camping, so it’s no surprise people want to know how to get water in a tiny house. If you’ve never had to go long without running tap water, trust me, it gets old quick!

How To Get Water In A Tiny House

how to get water in a tiny house

Assuming you have a water source, which we will get to in a minute, there are two main ways to connect water into your tiny home. I’ve used both over the years and which you should go with depends on how often you’re going to move your tiny house.

RV Water Supply Connection For A Tiny House

RV Water Supply Connection For A Tiny House

This is where I started with my tiny house because it was very easy, used parts you can buy right off the shelf for cheap, and didn’t require a lot of technical plumbing. It’s also what I suggest if you move your tiny home often.

PROS

  • Simple to hook up
  • Works at most campgrounds
  • Quick to connect and disconnect
  • Good on mobile tiny houses

CONS

  • More prone to freezing
  • Slightly more expensive
  • Leaky hose connections common
  • Can snag hose and damage inlet

Parts:

With this approach, you’re going to want to plumb your house like you would normally. The main water inlet entry point will terminate to the outside of your tiny house with a Shurflo RV water inlet. This will let you connect any water hose to your house easily.

Water Connection For A Tiny House

One very important thing to consider is the hose you make this connection with. In the house, you’re going to want to use all PEX tubing, but from the house to your water source, you want to use a drink-safe garden hose that’s designed for RVs. This is because regular hoses have nasty chemicals which can lead to serious health issues, plus drink-safe hoses are only a few dollars more, so it’s well worth the money.

If you’re setting up land for your own tiny home, you most likely will need to install the other side of that drink-safe water hose, too. A frost-proof water hydrant will let you shut the water off when you’re not connected, and this style hose bib has a valve at the bottom of the pipe that goes into the ground. Since that valve shuts water off at the bottom, it’s below the frost line, meaning you don’t have to worry about it freezing.

how to set up a rainwater catchment

Make A Permanent Water Connection With Your Tiny House

Make A Permanent Water Connection With Your Tiny House

This is currently what I do with my tiny house water connection and have been very happy with it. Since I haven’t moved my home in over eight years, it’s worked out really well, but it’s not practical for people frequently on the move.

PROS

  • Less prone to freezing
  • Looks neater on outside
  • Cheapest method
  • Lasts long term

CONS

  • Not meant to be moved
  • Needs to be cut if you do move
  • Requires you to bury water line
  • More technical skill required

I decided to go with this over the above method because a couple of times a year, my drink-safe water hose would freeze, leaving me without water. While that Camco hose never split from freezing which is a big testament to its quality, it was still pretty rough on the components involved.

Also, the frost-proof hydrant ended up rusting over time despite it being galvanized. I think they’re made to be used temporarily instead of constantly left on That’s why I recommend the in line water filter.

With this method, you’ll make a hard line PEX connection from your house to the ground and down to the main water line. Try to keep the gap between the house and the ground where the PEX spans as short as possible and insulate it heavily. I’d also suggest installing a 1/4 turn shut off valve there to cut water off to your tiny house should you ever need to.

Pex Water Supply Connection For A Tiny House

simple greywater systems

Living In A Tiny House Without Water

Living In A Tiny House Without Water

A tiny house without water is really just fancy camping, so it’s no surprise people want to know how to get water in a tiny house. If you’ve never had to go long without running tap water, trust me, it gets old quick!

When I built my tiny house years ago, a water connection was a must have for me, and I know I’m not alone in that. Having a readily available source of water that you can tap into and bring into your tiny home is essential. I’ve had a few friends who live in tiny houses that attempted living by only trucking in water and not one of them lasted a year.

“I didn’t put plumbing in my house because my land didn’t have running water, and so I knew I would be hauling water. Had I known what I know now, I would have put in running water—it would’ve made my life so much easier. That’s the one thing I don’t like about [my tiny house], and it has nothing to do with the size. I have drinking water in the bathroom, but if I needed to take a shower I would have to go to the gym and that was always kind of a pain.”

— Merete Mueller & Christopher Smith

tiny house plumbing

How Much Water Does A Tiny House Use?

How Much Water Does A Tiny House Use

A tiny house without water is really just fancy camping, so it’s no surprise people want to know how to get water in a tiny house. If you’ve never had to go long without running tap water, trust me, it gets old quick!

I was surprised at how well low-flow shower heads and sink faucets work for me. At first, I was worried about the water stream being too weak, but after using them for years now, I find it to be more than adequate and never leaves me wanting more.

The average American uses around 100 gallons of water per day. After living in my tiny house for years, I’ve averaged out to around 11 gallons per day. That’s for one guy who hand washes his dishes and takes a shower every day.

Your Turn!

  • How do you plan to connect your tiny house to water?

Tiny House Toilet Options: What It’s Really Like To Use A Composting Toilet

Tiny House Toilet Options: What It’s Really Like To Use A Composting Toilet

tiny house toilets
Tiny house toilet options are a rather taboo topic; it’s an area where I think people have a lot of questions but are too afraid to ask. It’s one aspect of tiny living that sparks morbid curiosity.

  • How do you set up a toilet in a tiny house?
  • What are your tiny house toilet options?
  • How does a composting toilet really work?

And of course, Is a composting toilet gross? Does a tiny house toilet smell?

NAVIGATION

But we all must heed the call of nature. If you’re planning a tiny house, you need to know your toilet options, so you can be sure to choose a tiny house toilet that you can live with. Today I’m going to give you the straight talk about tiny house toilets. As someone who’s lived with a tiny house composting toilet for years, I’m happy to share all the honest details of my experience with tiny house toilets.

My Tiny House Toilet

My Tiny House Toilet

When I first built my tiny house, I was firmly against composting toilets of any sort. Frankly, I thought it sounded strange and challenging. I wanted a flush toilet.

My tiny house setup is pretty similar to others’ situations. I stay on a piece of land owned by a friend, and we have an arrangement where I can stay there if I pitch in on the taxes for the land. When I was deciding where to spend on land setup, I was treading that fine line of spending enough to make it livable, but not so much that I couldn’t walk away if something didn’t work out. So I ran water to my land for about $4,000. I installed a driveway for $2,000.

But then I got an estimate to have a flush toilet installed, and I went into sticker shock. It was $50,000!

tiny house outhouse toiletThere are a lot fewer regulations around freshwater compared to sewage. There are more inspections, infrastructure, health codes, and more that you have to navigate. In Charlotte, where I live, the permit for water metering alone is $2,200 for freshwater and $9,700 for a sewer connection! That’s just the meter! You’re spending almost $10,000 just for the privilege of paying for sewerage.

So for price alone, I decided that maybe I could reconsider the necessity of a flush toilet. I grew up camping; I went through boy scouts. I figured I would give a compost toilet a shot and see if it was really so bad.

Several years later, I can attest that a compost toilet is a totally livable tiny house toilet option. I barely think about my toilet anymore. It’s become part of my routine home maintenance and housekeeping, and it’s no big deal.

I recently put in a septic system on my property, but it’s not specifically just for my tiny house; it’s for my planned expansion. It’s much cheaper than connecting to sewer. Fortunately, where I live, it’s allowed. In many cities, if there’s a sewer system, you don’t have a septic option. Many places won’t give a certificate of occupancy without a sewer connection either.

If you do have the option of septic, it’s much more affordable. At the low end, a septic system costs around $3,000. They average between $5,000-$10,000, up to as much as $30,000. If you live in a highly-populated area like New York or California, you may have more environmental restrictions, so even septic gets expensive.

Regardless of where you live, if you’re considering a compost toilet as one of your tiny house toilet options, there are quite a few things to consider in your exploration. As someone who decided rather quickly as I was building my tiny house, I must admit that it’s not bad. I really don’t mind my compost toilet at all.

Tiny House Toilet Options

Tiny House Toilet Options

If you’re building a tiny house and want to weigh all your tiny house toilet options, there’s quite a range to explore. Here are a few of the more popular tiny house toilet choices and what I’ve learned about each.

traditional flush toilet

Traditional Flush Toilet

As far as tiny house toilet options go, this one is probably the most comfortable but maybe the least practical in terms of cost (and depending on your land setup). To have a flush toilet, you’ll need to connect to your cities sewage or install septic. For some people, it’s worth the investment. For others, it’s a deal-breaker.


five gallon bucket

5-Gallon Bucket Composting Toilet

From the most traditional to probably the least traditional, you can go with the economic 5-gallon bucket composting toilet. These are easy enough to make. You line the bucket with a bag and affix a toilet seat to the top. You fill the bucket with an absorbent substrate.


luggable loo toilet

Luggable Loo

I have the Luggable Loo, and I’m quite pleased with it. I’ve been using it for years. It’s very similar to the 5-gallon bucket option, but the lid snaps into place, and it’s built to be extremely durable. Initially, I chose this tiny house toilet option out of convenience, but it’s worked well for me. Compared to the other costlier options, I haven’t found any noticeable drawbacks to choosing the Luggable Loo composting toilet.


Separett Villa 9215 AC-DC Composting Toilet

Separett Villa 9215 AC/DC Composting Toilet

The Separett Villa 9512 is a waterless and self-contained composting toilet. There’s a high-tech fan system that helps vent and a tank for holding waste. It’s big enough for three weeks of use by several people. Bob Vila voted it the best composting toilet on the market, but the price tag is a little high at around $1,000.


Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Waterless Composting Toilet

Sun-Mar Excel Non-Electric Waterless Composting Toilet

The Sun-Mar Excel unique-looking toilet is a self-contained compost toilet that requires no electricity to work (perfect for a tiny house). It’s high capacity, and according to the Daily Gardener, “If you’re only going to use it now and again—perhaps in a cabin used on weekends—it will cope with five to seven users.” The vent on the back helps keep it from smelling. Again, this toilet is around $1,200, making it a cost-prohibitive tiny house toilet option for some.


Self-Contained Composting Toilet

Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet

The Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting Toilet separates solids from liquids, making it a practically odorless option (almost all toilets will have some odor, of course). The Nature’s Head toilet needs to be emptied every few weeks and can be used with a composting medium (like peat moss) to help make it simple to compost. The price point is around $1,000, making it a similar tiny house toilet option to the other composting toilets I mentioned.


Self-Contained Composting Toilet with crank

Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Crank Handle

Voted one of the best composting toilets by NY Mag’s The Strategist, the Nature’s Head Dry Composting Toilet with Crank Handle seems to be a preferred choice for RVs, campers, and van-lifers. The crank handle helps agitate the contents of the toilet, making it compost faster and easier. An Amazon reviewer and user recommends spraying it out after liquids, using a spray bottle filled with water and natural dish soap, which minimizes the smell.

In general, I’ve heard the best reviews of the Nature’s Head toilets, and I’ve also heard positive reviews on the Separett. It’s also important to recognize that certain toilets will have safety certifications, which can help if you want to be sure to go the completely legal route. Some municipalities require toilets to meet specific codes and regulations. If this applies to your area, you may want to consider one of the commercial brand toilets.

tiny house water

What Is It Like To Have A Composting Toilet?

What Is It Like To Have A Composting Toilet

So, what is it really like to have a composting toilet? I get asked this question more often than you’d think. People want to know—does it smell? How do you use a compost toilet? Isn’t it gross?

First of all, I was definitely concerned when I started on my tiny house journey. I’m very clean and tidy, to the point of being a bit of a neat freak. So the thought of a dirty, smelly toilet in my tiny home was not appealing to me. Plus, I worked a professional job, where it was necessary to be hygienic and presentable at all times.

composting toiletBut after several years, I can say, it’s not a big deal at all. It’s incredible how quickly you get used to using a composting toilet. Besides, I’m often out and about, living my life during the day. To be very candid, it’s rare that I need to use my composting toilet. Not to mention that I live on 32 acres, and being a guy, I can find a tree for liquid waste. There will be weeks, sometimes even months, where I don’t need to use my composting toilet at all.

Now for solid waste, it’s a little trickier, especially if you’re not out and about throughout the day. Even with liquids, going in the same spot year after year becomes an issue. It can damage the soil, trees and pose certain hazards (and urine smells).

I also should add the caveat here that as a guy, I’m not as familiar with feminine hygiene needs and the composting toilet, so I had to do some research on the topic. Macy over at Mini Motives has a comprehensive post about feminine hygiene and composting toilets. It seems that many of the sustainable options for menstruation work just as well with composting toilets. As she says, “Whatever you use is your preference, and they CAN all be used with composting toilets.”

Charlotte has a lot of health requirements surrounding the disposal of solid waste. You are required to bag it and put it in the trash. At first, this seemed odd to me, but if you think of it like baby diapers or dog waste, it’s really not too different. There are eco-friendly bags that help. I also suggest reading the Humanure Book, which delves into what you need to know to compost human waste safely.

I’ve learned that the smell factor is an issue if you don’t separate liquids and solids. Things that are wet smell more and break down quickly. Bacteria are drawn to warm, wet environments, especially those that are dark and have oxygen. So, it’s essential to keep waste covered and dry.

You can still use toilet paper with a compost toilet, especially if you’re bagging it up. There’s RV-specific toilet paper that breaks down quickly and is suitable for those with compost toilets.

Tiny House Toilet Indoors Versus An Outhouse

Tiny House Toilet Indoors Versus An Outhouse

Almost every tiny homeowner I know has a composting toilet inside their tiny house. When I first started using a composting toilet, I was still in the process of building my tiny house. Because of this, I was using my bathroom as storage, and I had no space for anything. I wasn’t sure what to do with the toilet, so I set it up outside with a little coverage deck (again, keep in mind I live on a vast, isolated piece of land).

tiny house bathroomsWhen the house was ready, it was time to move the toilet inside, and I remember thinking, “Why?” Why would I want to invite smells, bacteria, and occasionally even flies into my house?

If you can make an outhouse or outdoor bathroom happen, I say, why not go for it? I’ve seen some nice setups, where people have a little shower in their outdoor bathroom, a sink, and a little toilet. You could go with an outdoor bathroom or just an outhouse. It’s less of a headache than having a bathroom indoors.

But of course, there are some hazards, including pests, bugs, and even animals that are more prevalent outdoors (and more likely to break into your outhouse). In the middle of a winter storm, pouring rain, or the dark of night, not everyone loves going outdoors to do their business. Plus, it gets very cold in the winter, which is excellent for keeping smells at bay but not great for comfort. The heat can get intense in a small space in the summer, and you may end up with flies and bugs.

You have to weigh the pros and cons of the outhouse versus an indoor bathroom with a composting toilet and decide what’s right for you. Again, my experience is as a guy who is very comfortable outdoors and lives in an isolated area. For a family or those living in a tiny house community, your needs may be very different.

Compost Toilet Hacks & Materials

Compost Toilet Hacks and Materials

If you decide that a composting toilet is the right tiny house toilet option for you, certain items will make your bathroom experience more pleasant and easier. Not only will these items cut back on the smell factor and keep your bathroom cleaner, but they’ll prevent some of the issues that arise with tiny house toilets.

Tiny House Toilet Hacks

Tiny House Toilet Hacks

  • Consider a built-in woodchip bin. A built-in bin is a nice feature in a tiny house bathroom. You could, of course, use a bucket or container to hold the wood chips, but having the bin makes it look more cohesive. I’ve seen some built-in bins about 2 feet x 2 feet, with a closed lid to store the chips.
  • Install a solar-powered vent fan. A fan is a must-have if your bathroom is indoors. You need something to move odors out of the small space. Make sure the end of the vent is carefully screened to prevent flies and pests from sneaking into your bathroom.
  • A urine diverter keeps the toilet smelling fresh. Even though we think of solid waste as the source of smells, the truth is that wet matter smells much more than dry. If you want your bathroom to stay fresh, a urine diverter is a fancy funnel that splits the liquids and the solids. I’ve heard from female friends that this is an especially appreciated feature.
  • Seal the toilet lid carefully. Take time to seal the toilet lid very carefully. A good seal will go a long way toward keeping smells out. You can use weatherstripping, similar to what you would use on a door, to get a nice tight seal.

design your dream tiny home

Tiny House Composting Toilet Materials

Tiny House Composting Toilet Materials

The other question I often get about my toilet is about the materials used to absorb the liquids and solids inside the toilet. You need some absorbent material in the toilet to keep things from getting messy or smelly. For me, wood shavings (yes, from the pet store) are my preferred choice.

I’ve tried many materials, and the same wood shavings you’d buy for hamsters or guinea pigs work well inside your compost toilet. It’s absorbent, low-odor, cheap, lightweight, and easy to deal with. It might feel a bit funny buying hamster shavings for your human toilet but let me tell you—it works!

Composting Toilet Materials Options


wood shavings compost material

Wood Shavings

What I use, and my highest recommendation. I’ve tried many toilet materials, and the shavings from the pet store are the best, cleanest option.


sawdust compost

Sawdust

Similar to pet wood shavings, sawdust works well for composting toilets. The main issue is that unless you live near a lumber mill or own a woodchipper, unlimited sawdust can be tough to access.


use cat litter as compost material

Cat Litter

Some folks have tried various types of cat litter for composting toilets. It’s a bad idea, and it isn’t a sustainable option that works well for humans.


coco coir composting

Coco Coir

Made from the shells and husks of coconuts, coco coir is sustainable and can work well for composting toilets, but it’s challenging to come by and can be expensive.


compost with peat moss

Peat Moss

There are more sustainable peat moss options out there now, and it’s not difficult to find. As far as materials go, peat moss isn’t a terrible tiny house toilet option.


wood ash compost

Wood Ash

I wouldn’t recommend using wood ash as your tiny house toilet material. It’s very messy and hard to deal with. It is, however, odor absorbent.


grass clippings as compost material

Grass Clippings & Leaves

I’ve also found that this is not a great long-term solution. Unless you have something to finely breakdown the clippings and leaves, it’s a pain to maintain. Plus, leaves and grass clippings have their own smell as they breakdown, which can exacerbate the already smelly situation.

compost bucket toilet construction steps

Should You Choose a Composting Toilet For Your Tiny House?

Should You Choose a Composting Toilet For Your Tiny House

All in all, using a composting toilet isn’t a bad tiny house toilet solution. Having used one for many years now, it’s not terrible at all. To be honest, I hardly even think of it most of the time.

There are a lot of people out there who claim that a composting toilet doesn’t smell…and they’re unfortunately wrong. The odor seems to be the biggest worry for most tiny house owners, and I’m not going to lie—it’s a toilet; it smells. The biggest thing you can do to mitigate the smell is to keep your toilet outside and choose the outhouse option as your bathroom solution.

I realize that an outdoor toilet isn’t realistic for many people, so the next best way to combat the smell is to have a really good ventilation fan. If you install a high-quality fan and keep your toilet sealed, you will minimize the smell. It’s also crucial that you’re diligent about using plenty of cover material and cleaning out the toilet frequently. Those steps will go a long way.

If you choose to dispose of the waste in a bag, you can put it out with the trash (again, like pet waste or a diaper) in most places. It’s not pleasant to think about, but once you’re used to it, it’s really no big deal. If you choose to compost, make sure that you have the approval of the landowner (if that’s not you).

While most of us probably don’t want to think too much about the toilet for our tiny house, it’s one of those things that makes life more livable, clean, and comfortable. The call of nature is something we all must heed, so it makes sense to find a tiny house toilet solution that you can live with in the long term.

Even though I’ll admit, I decided to take the plunge into a composting toilet as a last-minute solution to save the plumbing costs; it’s something that I’ve been satisfied with for years.

design and build collection

Your Turn!

  • What are your biggest concerns about using a composting toilet?
  • Do you prefer an outdoor or indoor bathroom?