Posts Tagged Tiny Home

Tiny House Kitchen Ideas and Inspiration

Tiny House Kitchen Ideas and Inspiration

Here are all the tiny house kitchen ideas you need to design your perfect kitchen space.

I had a blast when I planned my tiny house kitchen. Considering all the different tiny house kitchen ideas and inspiration was one of my favorite parts of my tiny house build. I really enjoyed figuring out ways to make my space more functional and fit in everything I needed in my small kitchen.

After living in a tiny house (and cooking in a small kitchen) for several years now, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips as well. There are a few things I would change in my layout (like more cupboard space and figuring out somewhere to put the trashcan—oops). But overall, the time spent up front in planning resulted in my kitchen being both functional and beautiful.

If you’re looking for tiny house kitchen ideas and design inspiration, this post will get your wheels turning. Here’s everything you need to know (and everything I wish I’d known) before you design your tiny house kitchen!


Layouts: Tiny House Kitchen Layouts

A great tiny house kitchen design starts with a careful tiny house kitchen floor plan.

A great space starts with a great floor plan. Working through your tiny house kitchen planning ideas is no exception to this rule. You need a floor plan that’s functional, smart, and even scalable in case your needs change down the road.

Below I’ve compiled my favorite floor plan options. You’ll glean plenty of ideas from the photos as well as a good overview of the space in the layout drawing. These tiny house kitchen floor plans are an excellent starting point as you design your dream kitchen.

This tiny house kitchen floorplan includes a raised platform, deep blue-grey and dark oak color scheme, and cheerful pops of white and green.
This simple floor plan has a walk-through kitchen, or galley-kitchen, leading to the bedroom. A raised platform offers extra storage.

I love the platform idea in this tiny kitchen design. The raised floor gives you tons of storage space underneath the kitchen. There are storage doors on either side of the stairs. This kitchen has a hood above the stove, which is a nice feature for a tiny kitchen, where ventilation is a MUST. The Dickson fireplace on the side is a fun touch as well.

The galley kitchen design is functional and keeps every station (fridge, stove, sink) within reach. That said, I’m not totally sold on the idea of having the kitchen right next to the bedroom. In a tiny house, every room is close together though (and again, the ventilation hood above the stove, probably helps with air circulation).

This A-Frame kitchen features barstools for sitting and a full-sized fridge with plenty of storage.
This L-shaped tiny house kitchen floorplan is relatively standard, but has some excellent features and counter space, with the option of a full-sized fridge.

This is a typical layout and L-shape design for a tiny house kitchen. That said, two features make this particular tiny house kitchen layout special. The first is the full-sized refrigerator, which is kind of rare in a tiny house.

The second great feature is the inclusion of barstools at the countertop with space for eating. While this isn’t necessarily a rarity, it’s a very nice feature to include. The undercabinet lighting brightens up the kitchen and the open storage above the cabinets could lend itself to expanded storage in the future if needed.

This U-shaped tiny kitchen has beautiful open shelving, high-end marble countertops, and a full refrigerator as well as wine storage.
In this tiny house kitchen floorplan, the U-shaped kitchen is open to the living room, with storage, seating, and room for a full fridge.

This tiny house kitchen layout has an air of luxury. One significant advantage of tiny house design is the option to select quality finishes, like hardwood, brass fittings, and marble countertops, without spending an arm and a leg. When you’re outfitting a small space, it’s not nearly as expensive as a standard-sized home.

I like the airiness of this U-shaped kitchen design. The high ceilings and open storage make it feel huge. There’s plenty of storage, though; they’ve even put in a spot for wine! The full-size (or close-to-full-size) fridge is excellent as well.

High ceilings and a pullout eating space make this tiny house kitchen design functional and roomy.
This tiny house kitchen floorplan has several unique features, including storage under the loft steps, a double sink, and space for seating.

If you’re looking for tiny house kitchen ideas, this kitchen has several brilliant concepts. I love the pullout countertop seating. When you aren’t dining, you simply push in the surface like a drawer. Convertible solutions like that are critical to making the most out of your space. I also like the high ceilings and, once again, the lighting, which is so critical in a tiny house kitchen.

The steps going up to the loft are storage containers as well as stairs, making it easy to tuck pots and pans away and out of sight as needed. There’s room for a four-burner stove and a double sink, which makes the kitchen functional for bigger meals and even small gatherings.

This natural wood tiny house kitchen features a galley design. Simple and functional, this tiny house kitchen layout is worth considering.
This simple tiny house kitchen floorplan provides everything you need for a functional kitchen.

This is a very simple, minimalist tiny house kitchen idea, but it’s also highly functional. The galley-style kitchen has the mini-fridge and microwave or oven on one side and the sink and storage on the other. Shelving is open and ready for frequently used dishes.

I love the uncomplicated design of this tiny kitchen layout. I also really like the storage underneath the mini-fridge and freezer. This storage space brings the fridge up to eye level, so you don’t need to look down and bend every time you need to get inside. (If you need help deciding on the best size fridge for your tiny house, please check out my refrigerator guide.) Even though there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to this kitchen, it’s perfect for one or two people.

Tiny House Kitchen Design Aesthetics

tiny house kitchen design aesthetics

Now that your tiny house kitchen ideas are brewing, it’s time to explore the fun part—aesthetics and color schemes! While I’m no interior designer, what drew me to tiny houses were their dedication to a good looking and functional space. I more thought into my tiny house kitchen than any other part of my home.

Obviously, each person has their personal color scheme preferences, but I wanted to offer a few ideas to get your wheels turning. Here are a few tiny house kitchen designs that grabbed my attention.


This L-shape tiny house kitchen features an alcohol stove, two windows and open shelving above wooden countertops.

This farmhouse kitchen has a country cottage feel. I like the wood countertops, and they’re similar to the counter in my kitchen. The open cabinets in a green watercolor finish keep the look bright but not overdone. Having two windows in a tiny house kitchen is a rarity, and these let in plenty of light.

This kitchen is in a traditional L-shape, but the deep pullout drawers and open shelving provide lots of storage space. I wanted to point out the alcohol stove, which a lot of people love (especially people who live on houseboats).


Modern navy and a high-shine countertop make this tiny house kitchen modern and sleek. Open shelving and cupboards, along with a full-size stainless steel fridge, offer storage space.
This kitchen has a much more modern feel. I liked how the designer used dark colors—navy and brown—but kept the space from feeling overwhelming or small, thanks to the white wall. The stainless steel fridge is quite large for a tiny house, but the finish offers a mirror-effect to keep the space bright.

The countertops and chrome features have a subtle shine to them, which again promotes the light, open, and bright feeling even in a dark color scheme. The open shelving and sconce lights are placed so the bowls and cups appear almost decorative (but still functional).


This grey and white kitchen with subway tile feels light, airy and open.
Okay, before you call me out on this, I fully realize this isn’t a tiny kitchen. It’s a rather large kitchen, but there are a few design touches that can be carried over as great ideas for tiny house kitchens too.

First of all, the white and light grey cupboards keep the space very bright. The deep drawers to the side of the stove are great for storage, and the marble countertops are stunning. I like the pops of bright green and maroon, which I wouldn’t have considered before. They look great in this kitchen.


Teal and rustic wood touches make this country-style kitchen look charming. Concrete countertops and hardwood floors add a luxurious feel.
Again, this isn’t a tiny house kitchen, but there are excellent design features to consider when you’re looking for tiny house kitchen ideas.

The concrete countertops are really cool and very popular for kitchen design. Notice how the reflectiveness on the countertops (and stainless steel) keep the dark colors from feeling overwhelming. The rustic light oak ceiling and support post keep this kitchen feeling casual and comfortable; tied into the light oak flooring, the kitchen looks put-together and cohesive.

Stoves: Cooking Surfaces for Tiny Kitchens

Whether you have two burners to heat your pot of boiling water, or you need four, there are many considerations when choosing stoves and cooking surfaces for tiny kitchens.

I wrote an in-depth breakdown of appliances for tiny kitchens, including how to choose the best stove for your tiny house. So here, I wanted to give you an overview of all the options and cooking surface ideas for tiny house kitchens.

When choosing a stove, space is a significant consideration, but don’t also forget to consider your power access and what your setup will support (if you’re off-grid, your options are more limited). You’ll also want to consider how much cooking you like to do and the type. For example, I realized that 90% of my meals only needed 2 burners, so for me, a small, two-burner Verona stove and a toaster oven is plenty. Other people can’t imagine living without four burners.

One other point to bear in mind, don’t choose the stove you need for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Many people think, “how will I cook a turkey,” or “how will I prepare a five-course meal?” Consider your needs and space the other 363 days a year. You could always cook a turkey outside on the grill, in a smoker or fryer, or prepare a meal in a crockpot (or at a friend’s house with more space). You could even have the meal catered and not worry about that part of it entirely! I keep a Gasone portable butane burner for this or many people have an extra induction burner that you can pull out and setup on the counter top for times when I need an extra burner.

With all these considerations in mind, here’s how to select the best cooking surface for your tiny house.

Selecting The Right Cooking Surface

For Your Tiny House
A three-burner gas stove is an excellent idea for a tiny house kitchen.
GAS
Gas is what I use because I’m off the grid. I like gas, too, because it offers easy adjustability and a high level of control over your cooking. Many chefs I know, swear by gas, and there are plenty of gas stoves out there for tiny houses.
A traditional electric coil stovetop with two or four burners, is a nice option for a tiny kitchen, but uses a lot of power.
ELECTRIC COIL
Electric coil stoves are popular because they’re very affordable. They’re not as easy to keep clean, and they don’t offer the control of gas. It’s also important to note that a coil stove requires quite a bit of power, which is a concern if you’re off-grid.
The sleek, electric smooth-top stove is easy to use and easy to clean. In a tiny house kitchen, it works as an additional surface.
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP
If you select a flush-mounted electric smooth-top stove, it helps keep the surface clean. I also love the flush-mounted electric smooth-top stove as an option for extra counter space. When it’s turned off, use it as a work surface.
Alcohol stovetops are popular off-grid stove options.
ALCOHOL
A lot of tiny house people who are off the grid, and don’t want to use petrochemicals love alcohol stoves. These use denatured alcohol, which is cheap and handy. These stoves are hard to find, but they’re quite popular with the houseboat community.
An extra induction burner is a nice addition to your tiny kitchen. Use it as a backup or install in-counter as your everyday stove.
INDUCTION
These little induction burners are great because you turn it off, and it’s cool in a few seconds. It’s very safe, but it does use a good deal of power. I’ve owned one that I use as an extra burner when cooking big meals or for the holidays. When it’s not in use, I throw this under $50 stove in a drawer.

Surfaces: Sinks & Countertops in Tiny House Kitchens

A small kitchen needs a sink! Whether you select a two-basin option as featured in this white kitchen, or you make another choice.

As I mentioned before, one of the best aspects of designing a tiny house kitchen is that your options are vast. You can go for the high-end options like marble, hardwood, tile, and stone because it’s not expensive for a small space. A few hundred dollars more will create a huge impact, so this is where I recommend choosing the highest quality materials.

Sinks, countertops, and backsplashes allow you to let your creativity shine when you design your tiny house kitchen. It’s incredible what a huge impact a different color, different tile choice, or different countertop medium play in the look and feel of your kitchen.

To illustrate the point, see below. Any change will cause a kitchen to look and feel bigger, smaller, more modern, or more rustic. So, when you pick your surfaces, get something you like!

This gif shows the considerable difference the backsplash and countertop choices have on the look and feel of a tiny house kitchen.

Choosing the Right Sink

In this graphic, you can see the pros and cons of a top mount, versus an under-mount sink in your tiny house kitchen.

Undermount or top mount, the choice is yours, when you install the sink in your tiny house kitchen. There are pros and cons to both options. I like the undermount, personally, because you can put a covering on the sink, and use it as extra counter space when you need it. I also think the undermount sink is easier to clean because I can sweep crumbs from the counter top right into the sink easily. Plus, I think it’s a cleaner look.

That said, there are plenty of reasons to choose a top mount as well. If you’re building your own tiny house, the top mount is much easier to install. This style mount is used with any countertop material, including laminate. Simply caulk around the edge of the sink for a clean look. Undermount sinks are often not used with laminate counters.

Whichever you choose, consider the type of sink to fit your needs. I selected a very deep sink for my tiny house kitchen because I don’t own a dishwasher, and I wanted something to accommodate pots and pans. I also don’t own a washer (I use a laundry service), and I wanted a sink where I could occasionally wash clothing if needed. The sink I choose was a stainless steel deep tub sink.

Sink Surfaces

A standard stainless steel sink is an inexpensive and easy-to-find sink surface choice for your tiny house.
Stainless Steel
Stainless steel sinks are easy to find and are often pre-cut with the proper holes for your faucet. These sinks are available in double or single basin options, and they’re inexpensive. The drawback is they’re a little hard to keep clean, and some people prefer a different look, but for me, I love the look.
Composite sinks are scratch-resistant and durable, making them a good option for your tiny house kitchen.
Composite
A composite sink is made from granite dust and acrylic resin. This material is very scratch resistant, but it might chip if you toss in a pot or pan. These sinks are heat resistant, easy to clean, and very durable. They are cheaper than granite with a similar aesthetic.
Cast iron is an appealing option for a tiny house kitchen sink, especially for a farmhouse-style kitchen.
Cast Iron
Cast iron is a classic option for your tiny house kitchen sink. This is the same sink you might see in a farmhouse or older home. It’s beautiful, but it may scratch, especially with metal pans and utensils. It’s also very hard (so if you drop a glass dish, it will likely break). Keep in mind the weight here—you want to make sure you factor in the weight when you choose a trailer.
Copper is a unique material for a tiny house kitchen sink.
Copper
Copper sinks offer a beautiful look that patinas over time (polish your copper sink to keep it bright and vibrant). These sinks go well with a rustic look and décor. As a material, copper is antimicrobial, which helps reduce kitchen odors.

This infographic shows the different types of countertop materials and rates them in terms of durability, heat resistance, UV resistance, eco-friendliness, customizability, and cost.

Choosing countertop materials for your tiny house kitchen, takes research and work. While budget is always a concern, the truth is, with a tiny house, you can often afford higher-end and top-of-the-line materials since your space is small.

For my countertops, I chose a wooden, butcher-block-type counter with a protective coating. I really like it for the look and feel of my kitchen design. That said, there are certain drawbacks to wood. It can get stained by food or marked by a hot pan. It may fade in sunlight, and the choices are limited. The convenience of wood is that you could sand and refinish it if needed.

That all said, after using mine for over 7 years, the only thing I’ve had to do was re-caulk the sink once— outside of a few minor nicks in the surface, it’s great. If you make your countertop solid wood, you can have them sanded down and refinished to make a well-worn counter top look just like new. My countertops are 3” thick, so I can refinish them many times.

I’ve heard great reviews on stone, mainly for the beauty. Again, stone is durable, but it can also be stained (although stone is heat-resistant). Depending on the type of stone, the extraction process isn’t very earth-friendly, so that’s also a consideration.
The other significant consideration with stone is the weight. Remember, a very heavy countertop adds hundreds of pounds to your tiny house. Confirm your trailer or base can handle the weight before you decide on a counter.

Other countertop options include Corian and laminate. Corian is quite durable, and many people love the look. Both types of countertops are made using harsh chemicals. Corian is rather expensive, while laminate is typically the cheapest option.

A good countertop lasts for 20 years or more, so look at it as an investment. Get something you love and find easy to work with. My wooden countertops have held up to a lot of use, and I’m still pleased with them.

Cupboards: Maximize Space with Smart Tiny Kitchen Cupboards

Whether you choose white cabinets, like these with a cheery orange tile backsplash or another color, cupboards change the look and feel of your entire kitchen.

Careful planning of your tiny house kitchen is critical. There’s nowhere this is truer than your cupboards. When I was planning my tiny house kitchen layout, I went to the store and completely stocked my cupboards and pantry. I put everything I was going to use together and measured precisely the amount of space I would need.

While I still highly recommend this exercise as you plan your tiny house kitchen, I now realize I should have planned even more space than I allowed for. This realization is especially true when it comes to my pantry. Everything fits, but it would still be nice to have more room.

So, my advice is to buy everything you would normally keep on hand, measure it, and then double it. It’s much easier to deal with wiggle room than to contend with space that’s slightly less than what you need.

Whether you choose white cabinets, like these with a cheery orange tile backsplash or another color, cupboards change the look and feel of your entire kitchen.

As you see from the cupboard organization tool above, a systematic approach is key to maximizing your space. Even if you have very small cupboards in your tiny house kitchen, a strategic approach will help you find a place for every item.

Put items you use less often up higher. This includes bulky items, lightweight appliances, vases, and other items you only use once in a while. If you have a taller space, consider adding a second shelf in the space or in a pinch, add risers to create a second layer. This is also helpful for small bottles, like spices, jars, tea, or cups that don’t stack well.

Lids are always a struggle to deal with unless you find a way to store them properly. I’ve seen great solutions with drawers and slots. If you don’t have a drawer, you can nest pots and hang lids on the door or above the pans.

I know it takes time to buy uniform containers and repackage all your purchases into matching jars, but when space is at a premium, uniformity will help everything fit in your tiny house kitchen. Be sure to include labels as well. Organizing solutions like drawers, lazy Susan organizers, and small racks help with awkwardly shaped items and small jars like spices.

Don’t store what you don’t need or use frequently. If you own a hoard of Tupperware lids or plastic containers, you’re saving and reusing, go through them and find a match. If there’s not a match, ditch it and purchase a matching set. Keeping only what you need is the key to maximizing cupboard space in your tiny house kitchen.

Pantry: Tiny Kitchen Food Storage

Pantry in a tiny house

Similar to organizing your cupboards, an organized pantry makes a massive difference to the look and feel of your kitchen. When you’re living in a small space, a tiny pantry quickly gets out of control, disorganized, and unmanageable.

One issue is most pantry items vary in shape and size. A bag of chips, a toaster, blender, and a box of cereal don’t fit well together on a shelf. This challenge requires careful planning when you build your pantry. As I said above, if I had one area I’d expand in my tiny house kitchen it’s my pantry.

That said, my pantry is still quite functional because I WAS deliberate when I planned it out. I made sure I knew what I was going to store and exactly the space I would need to do so. If you’re organizing your pantry, follow the guide below.

This infographic shows you exactly how much space you need for every item in your pantry. If you’d love to organize your pantry, follow this pantry planning guide.

When it comes to an organized pantry, it’s all about the right design. Figure out exactly which appliances you’ll need for your tiny house kitchen, and plan accordingly. Even if you take a minimalist approach to stocking your pantry, you’ll still need room for small appliances, jars, cans, pots, and bowls.

Consider what you use in your pantry and which items you may want to let go of, especially if you’re paring down. For example, many people aren’t going to need a shelf for tablecloths and linens, but if that’s something important to you, you may want to plan it in. I own only a few appliances, but if you use items like an Instant Pot, slow cooker, or food processor regularly, you should plan room to house them.

As I said above, before you build your tiny house kitchen pantry, buy all the items you would regularly use. Lay them out, and measure precisely how much space you’ll need to hold it all. Then increase it a little. I spent a lot of time planning out how much space I needed. I was close, but I still wish I had a bit more room for pantry storage.

Organization: Innovative Solutions for Small Spaces

Organization for a small kitchen and storage options in small spaces

I’m not one for gadgets or one-trick-ponies in the kitchen. I like to keep my tools to a minimum—a good knife set, a durable set of measuring cups, enough silverware for myself, and a few guests. I do like innovative organization solutions, though. I’ve found organizers, hooks, and specialized storage, really helps keep a tiny house kitchen tidy. Everything I need in my tiny house kitchen is right within my reach.

Innovative Solutions

For Small Spaces
An organized silverware drawer is made easy with drawer inserts.

Silverware Drawer Inserts
In my silverware drawer, I had a custom wooden silverware organizer made. This helps me keep all the items in order and easy to find. When you only own a few utensils, you definitely don’t want to misplace them.

Spice Drawer Organizers
There are several organizing options for spices. Some people like a magnetic strip on the wall, or a lazy Susan. I, again, had a custom made specialized spice drawer insert made, which keeps my spice jars in perfect order and ready to go.
A spice drawer looks great with specially made organizing inserts to keep the jars lined up in order.
Non-breakable cups are perfectly at home in a specialized open-shelving wall niche.
Wall Niche for Glasses
I love these stainless steel cups, and they look great in their special wall niche in my tiny house kitchen. This open-shelving lets me keep cups right by the sink, within reach, when I need a drink.
Measuring Cup Hangers
I set up special hooks in my tiny house kitchen for my measuring cups. I use these frequently, and they’re nice sturdy cups. I was sure to get high quality and create a place in my kitchen to keep them handy.
Measuring cups are hung on wooden hooks out of the way but within easy reach in this tiny house kitchen.
built in knife rack in counter top
Easy To Reach Knife Storage
This knife storage solution is one of my favorites. I had a knife holder built right into my butcher block countertops so that I could keep my chef knives within reach. It saves space and protects the knives.
Drawn To Organizing Things
I love this organization idea. For oddly-shaped items, draw them in the bottom of each drawer organizer space. At a glance, you know exactly where each item will fit for storage.
If you want to keep drawers organized, try outlining each item in the bottom of the drawer.
 Drawer organizers are useful for housing multiple items like paper towels, plastic wrap, tinfoil, and other bulky boxes.
Double Duty Drawers
If you use tinfoil, paper towels, and other bulky items, a drawer like this is a perfect solution. These oddly-shaped items are often a kitchen organizing challenge.
Simple Sorting Solutions
Using vertical storage helps maximize your space for large flat items like sheet pans, cookie sheets, and even lids. A divided drawer keeps trays and pans from getting messy.
Sheet pans, lids, and flat items are easy to organize using vertical storage in a divided drawer.
A drawer is a great tiny kitchen solution to hide away your trashcan and recycling bin.
Trash Can Compartments
This is one storage solution I wish I had in my tiny house kitchen. A drawer is a great way to hide the trashcan and recycling bin, keeping them out of the way when they aren’t in use.

Finishes: Flooring, and Design Elements

Here’s what you need to know about choosing the best finishes for flooring, tile, and backsplashes for your tiny house kitchen.

As I said before, one advantage of a tiny house kitchen is you can splurge on high-end finishes, flooring, surfaces, and appliances. When you’re outfitting such a small space, an upgrade may only increase your budget by a few hundred dollars (making it worth the investment).

I’ve seen a lot of truly beautiful, high-quality touches in tiny house kitchens. The only thing to keep in mind is that in a small space, you’ll want something to blend with the rest of your house (since it is likely viewable from any place in your home). You’ll also want to choose flooring and finishes that are durable because every spot in your home is high traffic.

Lastly, when choosing flooring and finishes, keep the weight in mind. Tile and stone may add extra weight to your house, so factor it into your frame and support calculations.

Flooring

Hardwood is a reliable option for your tiny house kitchen flooring. There are a few considerations when you choose hardwood floors.
HARDWOOD
Durable and easy-to-care-for, hardwood is an excellent choice for a tiny house kitchen, particularly if you choose hardwood throughout the rest of your house. Hardwood is water-resistant and comes in either solid wood or engineered wood planks.
Tile is a durable, beautiful flooring option for a tiny house kitchen.
CERAMIC TILE
Tile is durable, beautiful, and easy to care for. Porcelain tile (an upgrade from ceramic) is less porous and even harder. Tile is available glazed or unglazed in a wide array of colors and textures. Ceramic tile is also lightweight, making it a good choice for tiny houses.
Linoleum is a renewable flooring option that’s durable and available in many colors and patterns.
LINOLEUM SHEET
Linoleum is a manufactured flooring made of cork and linseed oil. This natural flooring is renewable and durable. There are many different patterns and colors available. Be aware that linoleum can crack over time, but it typically holds up for decades.
Natural stone makes a beautiful and interesting tiny house kitchen flooring option.
NATURAL STONE
Granite, marble, slate, and limestone floors are show-stopping options for tiny house kitchen floors. Natural stone has interesting variations and natural beauty that many tiny house owners love. That said, the weight of natural stone is a challenge, so calculate and factor it into your planning.
Cork is a sustainable, waterproof, kitchen flooring choice.
CORK
Cork is one of those options people either love or hate. It’s waterproof, tough, and lightweight. It’s also made from sustainable tree bark, making it an eco-friendly choice. You need to reseal it every few years to keep it protected from stains, scuffs, and marks. Cork also has a distinctive look.
Vinyl plank flooring has come a long way and is quite a popular option for tiny house kitchen floors.
VINYL PLANK
Vinyl plank flooring is a low-maintenance kitchen flooring choice. This flooring is water-resistant, durable, easy to install, and affordable. While vinyl has come a long way in the past few years, it still doesn’t beat the look of hardwood, but there are many options available and an array of finishes.

When it comes to flooring, there are many different options out there. When you’re planning flooring for your kitchen, you may want to choose one type of flooring throughout the entire house. With a small floorplan, uniform flooring offers a cohesive look and help the space feel a little bigger.

I installed hardwood maple flooring throughout my tiny house. I love the look, and it’s solid hardwood so it will last forever. In a regular-sized house, maple hardwood floors would cost a mint, but in a tiny house, it’s much cheaper. Choose top-tier materials and higher-end finishes you’ll be happy with; consider it an investment in the long-term comfort and livability of your tiny house.

Backsplash Materials

Ceramic tile is a beautiful, crisp, and clean option for the backsplash of your tiny house kitchen. Whether you choose all white like this kitchen or another color, it's an attractive choice.

CERAMIC TILE

Ceramic tile such a classic, bright look for your backsplash. White subway tile has become a popular option, but square and colored tiles also add a lot of visual interest.

Glass tile looks lovely in a tiny house kitchen. This tile looks great with a hint of color or a mixture of clear and opaque tiles in a backsplash.

GLASS TILE

Glass tile is a light, airy backsplash tile option that works well in a small space. This tile is easy to install yourself. Find it in a variety of colors and variations from clear to opaque.

A natural stone backsplash has a rich, luxurious feel in a tiny house kitchen.

NATURAL STONE

Granite, marble, and slate are beautiful backsplash options for your tiny house kitchen. You may want to match your stone to your countertop or choose a contrasting color.


Stainless steel countertops bring a professional look to any kitchen.

STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel countertops feel modern, professional, and “chef-worthy.” Not only does stainless steel brighten a small kitchen, but it’s easy to maintain and durable.

A wood backsplash is versatile and looks rustic or modern, like this slate grey tiny house kitchen with a teak backsplash.

WOOD

A wood backsplash is classic and easy to maintain. Not only does this option fit well with the aesthetics of many tiny house kitchens, but it’s a great DIY choice.

A painted backsplash is one of the easiest options to maintain. The white paint looks fresh and modern with open shelving and pewter finishes.

PAINT

A painted backsplash is the easiest options for your tiny house kitchen. Vary the look with beadboard, shiplap, or wainscoting. Use semigloss paint for easy cleaning.

For my backsplash, I chose natural wood to match the rest of my tiny house kitchen. I find the wood is easy to keep up and looks great, even after several years. There are many different backsplash options out there for tiny house kitchens, and this is a place to express your creativity. It’s incredible how much a backsplash changes the look of a whole kitchen.

Designing a kitchen is a big project, but hopefully, these tiny house kitchen ideas have helped you get your creative wheels turning. It’s essential to plan a kitchen that’s well-organized, functional, and easy-to-maintain. It’s also important you end up with a kitchen you love, where you enjoy cooking.

I’ve found since I moved into my tiny house, I’ve started to enjoy preparing simple meals. While I often grill out, I really love prepping in my kitchen. I’ve built up my knife skills and learned cooking techniques I’m proud of. Working in a clean, organized kitchen brings me a lot of joy. With careful planning, your tiny house kitchen will bring you culinary happiness as well!

Your Turn!

  • What is your favorite tiny house kitchen idea?
  • What part of the kitchen do you most enjoy?

Tiny House Appliances: Everything You Need to Minimally Equip your Tiny House Kitchen & Home

Tiny House Appliances: Everything You Need to Minimally Equip your Tiny House Kitchen & Home

tiny house appliancesWhether you’re planning to build or you already live in a tiny home, chances are you need to outfit your kitchen with the right tools to cook. So, which tiny house appliances do you really need when space is at a premium?

It’s important to remember all tiny house appliances have two requirements: power and space. So be judicious when deciding which appliances you need for your small space. Not everyone needs every appliance to get by.

tiny house 2 burner gas stoveIn my house, there are a few appliances I couldn’t live without (and quite a few specially-made tiny house appliances I’ve skipped out on). For example, I don’t own an oven. I also don’t own a freezer. The truth is, I don’t have much use for those items, but I know others who couldn’t live without them! I own a small toaster oven, which I use occasionally, but for the most part, I cook on the stovetop and I love to grill.

Before you decide on which small space appliances you really need, assess your tiny house and lifestyle. Once you’ve determined what fits your needs, your space, and your specs, you’ll choose the right appliances that you’ll feel happy with.

The other important word of advice is to research and plan to invest in the best products you can find. Living in a tiny house means doubling down on quality, not quantity. When you own a minimally equipped kitchen, every appliance must be built to last. Buy the items that perform well and offer all the functions you need for enjoyable and easy cooking.

Choosing Tiny House Appliances to Fit Your Needs: Questions to Ask

choosing appliances to fit your needs

Like all purchasing decisions, appliances are an investment requiring research and preparation. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you choose any small space appliance for your kitchen.

How will you power your tiny home?

how to power your tiny house

Power is an area that I often see people overlook when they dream up their tiny house kitchen. Depending on how you plan to power your home, you’ll need appliances to fit your power capacity. Kitchen appliances are notorious as the most significant power drains on your house, many of them often requiring 240 volt power connections. So it’s essential to plan accordingly. Are you on the grid? If so, what types of connections do you need for your appliances?

Are you planning to live off-grid, or would you like the possibility of going off-grid in the future? Unless you have an extensive power system, you’ll need to go with gas for your appliances. Consider if your inverter can handle 120V or 240V; not many inverters can handle 240V, which limits your appliance options (even if you’re looking at appliances made for small spaces).

If you’re planning to do a hybrid of on and off-grid, you get the most flexibility in terms of tiny house appliance options. In that case, you’re mainly looking at size and functionality, but you must consider the limitations of any system you plan to use.

Do you have the right ventilation?

do you have the right ventilation

The importance of ventilation in the kitchen can’t be overstated. Ventilation is a huge deal for a tiny house. In a small space like a tiny house, bad air accumulates quickly. If you don’t have the right ventilation in place, your tiny house can become unlivable and even dangerous.

Ventilation tubing is often large and awkward. It’s tricky to install in a tiny house, so it’s essential to plan carefully. You won’t want to adjust your layout later because you forgot to accommodate bulky ventilation.

You should consider installing ventilation directly over your stove, so you aren’t dragging oil particles all over your house. I’ve seen many people who assume they’ll get away with a bath fan, but in a very short amount of time, there’s a greasy film that’s accumulated all over their home. You’ll be surprised at the considerable difference ventilation makes when you cook.

Do you have the right water connections and drains?

do you have the right water connections

Many tiny house appliances don’t require much more than a power source, but there are appliances like washers and dishwashers where you’ll need drainage in place. Where will you source the water for your appliance? You’ll need to make sure you’ve planned to hook your appliance to a pipe or water tank.

On the same note, be sure to plan out your drain lines too. Nothing is worse than trying to install a drain line, only to discover a metal strut of your tiny house trailer is blocking your way (I learned that lesson the hard way). Placing drains and water connections is one of the toughest parts about planning a tiny house, so give it very careful consideration.

Do You have the right plugs and outlets?

Placing outlets for your tiny house kitchen appliances

It’s crucial to consider plugs, as well. Did you plan enough outlets and are they placed where you need them to run all the appliances in your tiny house? You don’t want to run a cord from the bathroom every time you need to use your blender or run your toaster oven. When power is at a premium, planning is critical.

Plugs cost only a few bucks apiece and take about five minutes to install while you’re building. Once you’ve built your tiny house, it’s a lot tougher to put in more outlets. Plan ahead! I can’t stress enough, the importance of planning your plug and outlet placement before you build. You will save a lot of time and headache later.

If you need assistance with planning your outlets and understanding your electrical setup, check out my Shockingly Simple Electrical For Tiny Houses.

Will you use DC or AC appliances?

will you use ac or dc power

DC versus AC is a huge question in the tiny house community. To clarify, DC means direct current, whereas most appliances use the traditional AC or alternating current. If you read many of the off-grid forums, you’ll inevitably come across people espousing the virtues of opting for DC over AC. At first pass, this seems like a great idea, but in practice, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

When you compare the price differences between DC and AC tiny house appliances, you’ll find DC appliances are often 2-3 times more expensive. Your options for size and colors are limited. On top of those barriers, it’s often challenging to find a local electrician to do the installation work for you.

I suggest going with an AC power system in your tiny house and opting for AC powered tiny house appliances. You’ll get a much broader array of options, the prices are better, and you can use the money you save to buy more solar panels to compensate for any inefficiencies from AC.

Choosing the Best Tiny House Appliances

choosing the best appliances

A word before the tiny house appliance reviews. These are the appliances I use or recommend, because they work with my setup, or I’ve heard positive experiences from others in the tiny house world. You must assess your unique appliance needs before you go out and purchase any of these items. You may decide you don’t really need an oven, or you prefer a smaller fridge.

That said, here are the best tiny house appliances I’ve found for small spaces.

Best Stoves for Tiny Kitchens

best stoves for tiny house kitchens

I own a Verona two-burner stove. It’s good, but it runs hot. It’s actually not built as a tiny house appliance. It’s meant as a backup range option for people in huge houses where four burners (for some reason) aren’t enough. I like the stove for my needs, but I also grill a lot. If I cooked indoors more often, I would recommend one of the following.

Cuisinart Double Burner Induction Cooktop
Cuisinart Double Burner Induction Cooktop

This is a really nice option, and I really like them if you’re on the grid. They use about 1800 watts, which is a ton if you’re on solar power. Here are the pros:

  • Electric
  • Induction
  • Clean top
  • Very inexpensive (you can even keep a second one if you need more space for a larger meal)
  • Completely safe (once you remove the pan, it cools almost immediately)
  • Options that drop in flush with the countertop for a flexible space (great for small
    kitchens)
  • Also available in a single-burner option.
Kenyon Mediterranean Two Burner Trimline Cooktop
Kenyon Mediterranean Two-Burner Trimline Cooktop

This is a good option with many of the same features as the Cuisinart version above. This stovetop is 240V, making it challenging on solar (depending on your capacity and setup). The pros:

  • Electric
  • Clean top
  • Inexpensive
  • Safe
Avantco Double Countertop Induction Range
Avantco Double Countertop Induction Range

If you love the advantages of induction cooktops (safety and ease of use), then this is a nice option. At 120V, this will work with most solar systems, making it an ideal tiny house appliance. Pros of the Avantco:

  • Electric
  • Induction
  • Clean top
  • Affordable
  • Safe
  • 120V
Gas ONE Portable Butane Burner

Gas ONE Portable Butane Burner

Butane is another option many people love. I own this burner, which I use as a secondary burner, and I’m so happy with it. It’s particularly useful for cooking smelly and oily foods outside (bacon, fish, and frying). This is a fantastic backup stove that really comes in handy.

  • Butane
  • Great secondary burner
  • Adjustable
  • Easy to store and carry (comes with a case)
  • Extremely affordable ($25)
Happybuy Two Burner Gas Cooktop
Happybuy Two Burner Gas Cooktop

I know at least a few chefs who will ONLY use gas. I understand because you do get significant control over the heat with a gas stove. Honestly, if I didn’t grill out most of the time, I would likely prefer gas myself. For tiny house appliances, this two-burner gas cooktop is a great choice. Pros of the gas cooktop:

  • Gas
  • Two-burner cooktop
  • Affordable price
  • Excellent control for cooking
Avantco EB102 Double Burner Countertop Range
Avantco EB102 Double Burner Countertop Range

This stove is remarkable for several reasons. I like how you can put it away if you aren’t using it. It’s on the smaller end, but it’s an excellent option, especially if you don’t think you’ll use it daily and if you have minimal counter space.

  • Electric
  • 120V
  • Great for small counter spaces
Origo 6000 Alcohol Stove
Origo 6000 Alcohol Stove

This stove runs on grain alcohol (yes, like moonshine). Built for marine use, it’s an interesting option many tiny house owners like. It’s highly sustainable. That said, Origo stopped manufacturing these stoves last year. You can still find them on eBay and through tiny house and marine forums. The pros are:

  • Sustainable
  • Clean burning
  • Easy to fuel

Best Ovens for Tiny Kitchens

best ovens for tiny house kitchens

As I said above, I don’t own an oven amongst my tiny house appliances. This shocks some people, and others totally get it. I don’t bake, and when I was planning my tiny house kitchen, I took time to assess my use. I knew an oven would only get used a few times a year for significant events. To me, it seems silly to accommodate two meals and skimp on space for the other 363 days a year.

I opted with a quality countertop toaster oven instead of a built-in. I like it for several reasons. First of all, ovens are massive energy sinks. They use up quite a bit of power, which wasn’t worth it to me on solar. I also skipped out on the microwave, because most of the foods “cooked” in a microwave are junk food anyway. For me, it didn’t seem worth it.

You must consider your space, the way you cook, your family size, and other preferences. Your oven selection will also depend on your power levels, access to gas hookups, and of course, your personal preferences. Once you’ve figured out all of those factors, here are a few small-sized ovens to consider.

Breville Smart Ovens
Breville Smart Ovens

  • Breville offers a whole line of smart ovens and toasters. Many of them provide multifunctionality like air frying, dehydrating, and more. Better still, these are nice looking, stainless steel products.
  • Good price for the quality
  • Multifunctionality
  • Smart settings and sensors (to adjust temperature control)
  • Beautiful
Avantco Half Size Countertop Convection Oven

Avantco Half Size Countertop Convection Oven

These are very high-quality products, often used in professional test kitchens. They look beautiful and sleek. The Avantco offers significant capacity, considering it’s a countertop-sized oven.

  • Holds up to 4 ½ size sheet pans
  • Large interior space
  • Cool-touch glass door
  • 2800 watts (so only works well if you’re on-grid)
Cosori Air Fryer Toaster Oven

Cosori Air Fryer Toaster Oven

This smaller toaster oven is also on the affordable side but comes with tons of features. You may feel tempted to choose a $40 toaster oven and call it good, but if this is your only oven, I suggest you upgrade to a slightly nicer option like the COSORI. At 1800 watts, it’s going to use quite a bit of power but is still doable on a decent-sized solar system.

  • Air fryer and dehydrate options
  • Larger interior
  • Compact outside
  • Stainless steel finish
  • Affordable

Viante Digital Convection Toaster Oven

The Viante is similar to the COSORI. This convection toaster oven offers multifunctionality in a slightly smaller package. Still roomy enough for a medium-sized frozen pizza, the Viante is a good middle-of-the-road option. At 1500 watts, it’s also easier to power.

  • Convection technology
  • 10 Preset options including air fry and dehydrate
  • Great price
  • Compact size
  • Lower power requirements
Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Oven Air Fryer Toaster

Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Oven Air Fryer Toaster

I love Cuisinart products. They’re incredibly durable and are often also nicely designed. This convection oven is a bit on the larger side of the countertop options, but it’s roomy enough to cook a 4-pound chicken.

  • Stainless steel finish
  • Seven functions
  • 1800 watts
  • Durable
  • Air fryer option
Black Decker Six Slice Convection Countertop Oven

Black & Decker Six Slice Convection Countertop Oven

Sometimes you realize all you need is a standard toaster oven. If you’re cooking for one or two people (or if you’re like me and rarely use an oven in your cooking), then a small option like this super affordable Black & Decker oven is excellent.

  • Convection function
  • 1500 watts
  • Four settings
  • Two tray positions
  • Affordable price
Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven

Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven

This Panasonic FlashXpress oven is another great appliance for small spaces. This toaster oven cooks with infrared technology, using ceramic heating elements. While this is a smaller oven, it can still fit a 9-inch pizza and offers precise temperature control.

  • Easy to clean
  • 1300 watts
  • Infrared technology
  • Compact size
  • Temperature sensors and precise controls

Tiny Kitchen Refrigerators

refrigerators for tiny house kitchens

When it comes to tiny house appliances, refrigerators are one of your most significant purchases. I did a full review of tiny house refrigerator options in a range of sizes, including on and off-grid. Don’t miss my full tiny kitchen refrigerator review here.

Most refrigerators are a sizeable power users at around 350 kWh/year for an 18 cubic foot fridge. To give you an idea of size, 18 cubic feet is on the smaller side of most “regular-sized” house fridges. Because they need to run continuously to keep your food cold, it’s crucial to select a refrigerator that works with your power setup and to consider your fridge within your power planning.

Because they’re generally built into your kitchen layout, it’s essential to choose one that fits your space as well as your needs. A single person can get by with a mini-fridge, but several people may need a small, standard 16-18 cubic foot fridge instead.

Fortunately, there are an array of tiny house refrigerator options out there:

  • Propane: Not recommended, because everyone I know who purchased one of these super expensive appliances has ended up throwing it out due to way too many issues.
  • High-Efficiency Electric: A small investment, but one that generally pays for itself in time, and works well with solar.
  • Mini Electric Fridge: This is what I use at four cubic feet. I like my fridge (and opted for one without a freezer). It’s the perfect size for me.
  • Small Electric Refrigerator: These are generally 7-9 cubic feet, which offers plenty of space for a 2-3 person household.
  • Small Standard Electric Refrigerator: These are available in 15 cubic feet and up (18 cubic feet is the top of the small house appliance-size range).
  • In-Counter Options: Refrigerated drawers and built-in units are a stylish and convenient option many people choose for their tiny house.

Other Tiny House Appliances

other appliances for tiny houses

When it comes to other tiny house appliances, I don’t use much beyond a few countertop appliances. A few items that often come up are washers, dryers, and dishwashers.

Washers & Dryers for Tiny Houses

washers and dryers for tiny houses

There are combination washer and dryer units out there, and everyone I know who uses them says they take FOREVER to run and they don’t work well. You also need to accommodate venting. Additionally, the combination units are costly. Having many friends who put these in their tiny house and grew to loath them, it’s my advice to pass on these.

Some of you may know, I send out my laundry through a service. I hate doing laundry more than any other chore. I realize this option isn’t for everyone, but it’s one way I simplify my life and protect my time. Otherwise, spending hours at a laundromat feels like such a waste to me.

If you feel you need a laundry option in your home, then a stackable unit is the way to go. Yes, these units take up more space, but you can find compact options made for apartments and small homes. These may also take up a significant amount of power—often requiring a 240V connection—so be sure your system can handle the requirements. Yes, you could skip the dryer in favor of only a washer, but with space at a premium, you don’t want to trip over-drying clothes every time the weather is cloudy.

Dishwashers

dishwashers for tiny houses

A friend of mine hates doing her dishes. She lives in a smaller duplex with a kitchen that wasn’t built for a regular dishwasher. She swears by her Danby portable dishwasher. The unit is on casters, so it rolls right up to the sink. The dishwasher connects to the sink faucet and runs quickly and efficiently. It uses 120 volts of electricity, and the top functions as additional counter space.

If you’re someone who detests doing dishes, or who needs a dishwasher for sanitization purposes, then a portable unit is a good tiny house appliance option.

Countertop Appliances

tiny house countertop appliances

I avoid cluttering up my countertop as much as possible, so I’m cautious about what I store on there. After all, when you live in a tiny space, the last thing you want is to clutter your minimalist kitchen. Whenever I think I want an appliance, I tell myself to wait until I need to use it at least three times in 30 days.

Then, if possible, I buy the item used or look for the least expensive option. If I use the appliance once a week for three months, then I let myself go out and upgrade to a nice, long-lasting version. For example, I wanted a Vitamix. Instead of spending $400+, I went to Walmart and bought a $15 version. It turned out the cheap mixer suited my needs well and held up, so I’ve stuck with it for now.

Depending on your needs, you may want to consider the following:

  • A food processor OR a bullet-style blender. Food processors are useful for chopping, pureeing, and for larger projects. Bullet blenders are great for beverages, smoothies, and small mixing jobs. I own a blender like this Hamilton Beach Go Sport.
  • A hand mixer.
  • Foodsaver Vacuum Machine, which is great for food preservation.
  • A food dehydrator (provided this is something you’re interested in using).
  • Instant Pot or crockpot. I prefer the Instant Pot, because it functions similarly to a slow cooker, but doesn’t take as long. It uses less power, which is essential when you are off-grid.
  • An outdoor grill. I live by my grill. I cook on mine several nights a week, and the cleanup is so fast and easy.
  • Air fryer. I’m not experienced with the air fryers, but I’ve considered them. People love them for healthy eating.

Watch for appliances that do more than one task, like the Instant Pot (which can slow cook and pressure cook) or the toaster ovens that also act as an air fryer. The multi-functionality is helpful, especially when your tiny space is at a premium.

Finally, remember it’s always important to buy quality, top-rated products. You may think you’re saving money on the front end, but in the long run, cheap products often cost more. Look for appliances that take up a minimal footprint in terms of space and energy. With a little research and planning, you’ll find tiny house appliances to outfit your kitchen perfectly!

Your Turn!

  • What tiny house appliances are your must-haves?
  • Which appliances do you keep on your countertop?

How To Set Up a Tiny House Loft Sleeping Area: 5 Challenges + Solutions

How To Set Up a Tiny House Loft Sleeping Area: 5 Challenges + Solutions

how to setup a tiny house sleeping loftBack when I built my tiny house, sleeping lofts were (and still are) very popular, but they all had a similar look. Like most tiny house layouts available at that time, my tiny house loft features an angled ceiling and a ladder. Yes, my tiny house loft is a small space, but it works fine as my sleeping area.

Looking back, there are several challenges of setting up a tiny house loft that I wish I’d addressed before I built my house. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the space, but there are a few tweaks that would have made my sleeping loft more comfortable and cross-functional for other uses and activities.

Lately, I’ve been looking for a new mattress for my tiny house loft, so it’s been on my mind quite a bit. So, I’ve been looking for solutions to some of these tiny house loft challenges and figuring out ways to create a more comfortable, functional sleep space that’s easier to maintain.

Here are the five main challenges of tiny house loft spaces and what I suggest for addressing these issues for a better (more comfortable) night’s sleep.

1. Tiny House Loft Challenge: Finding a Perfectly Sized Mattress for a Tiny House

how to find the perfect matress for a tiny house sleeping loft

While your house may be tiny, you are still adult-sized. A small, low-quality mattress will leave you uncomfortable and wreak havoc on your sleep.

small house loft with skylightsWhen people move into a tiny house, they often have visions of a truly minimal life. You may think all you really need is a small sleeping mat and you’re good to go. This approach may work for a few years in your early twenties, but by the time you hit thirty or older, chances are you no longer love sleeping in uncomfortable places. It’s tough on your back, your joints, and your overall energy level.

There are so many mattress options out there, all geared toward people who DON’T live in small spaces. One of the best rules is to build your sleeping loft to accommodate a standard-sized mattress.

In my house, I started with a fluffy queen-sized mattress, which works fine for one person. The loft area essentially becomes one big bed, but since the edges run right up to the ceiling, you’re only able to sleep in the vaulted center. You could fit two people, but I found it was a tad too cozy (even when you really like the other person). This issue led me to decide to downsize to a smaller and less lofty mattress.

tochta matress foam in boxThe trouble was finding a mattress that was the right size, but also long enough. I’m a big guy, and on a regular queen mattress, my toes hung off the bottom by an inch. The other bigger issue was that mattresses today are very, very thick—think pillow and foam tops and built-in springs. Many older sheet sets don’t even fit over the top of a newer mattress. This fluffiness works great in a regular-size house, but in a tiny house loft, it’s a whole other story.

A tiny house’s sleeping loft doesn’t have a ton of vertical room. If you want a mattress that’s thick enough to be comfortable, but still fits in your tiny house loft, you’re going to need to shop around. In my loft, I can sit up in my bed, but just BARELY. There are about three inches between the top of my head and the ceiling.

tochta logoThat’s why I was so happy when I found Tochta. Their mattresses are custom-made, almost any size (length, width, and thickness). When I stumbled upon Tochta, I finally found the perfect solution to my tiny house sleeping loft problem.

SOLUTION:

The Tochta Mattress


Tocha matress uptopia

Visit Tochta at: Tochta.com

2. Tiny House Loft Challenge: Changing the Sheets on a Loft Bed is a Major Issue

How do you change the sheets in your tiny house loft bed? Prepare for a workout! Remember the break-dancing move, “the worm”? Well, you soon will, because it’s about the only way to change a regular sheet set.

Unless you’re a tiny house person, it’s hard to understand the pain that is changing a fitted sheet in a tiny house sleeping loft. The challenge is that you actually have to be on the bed itself to put on the sheet. By the time you’re done flailing around trying to keep all four corners of the fitted sheet tucked in, you’ll be ready to tuck yourself in for a nap!

Changing the sheets is something I’ve struggled with for so long. Since I’m not a huge fan of doing laundry already, I absolutely dreaded changing the sheets…but I’m quite particular when it comes to cleaning, so I’d wrestle the sheets regularly.

quick zip logoWhen I discovered QuickZip sheets, it was a gamechanger! These easy-to-use sheets make swapping out your fitted sheets a breeze. Regularly having fresh sheets helps me feel like I actually have my life together like a real adult!

making bed with quick zip sheets

The way these sheets work is so simple, but smart. There’s a fitted component that goes around the edge of your mattress. Then there’s a fresh topper layer you zip onto the side. You can keep extra top layers on hand so they’re always ready to swap out when one is in the laundry. It takes about two minutes to change the sheet and put on a nice fresh one.

This company is excellent, and I can’t recommend this product enough for solving one of the biggest challenges of having a tiny house loft bed. They also sell nice duvet covers with clips in the corners, which is yet another lifesaver. The clips are great because the duvet doesn’t slip down and get bunched at the bottom of the cover.  You unzip the extra-long zipper across the bottom and up the side and lay the comforter inside, clip the corners – so simple and so smart. Everything stays right where it’s supposed to go.


SOLUTION:

The QuickZip Sheet Company


Visit the QuickZip Sheet Company at: quickzipsheet.com

3. Tiny House Loft Challenge: Fitting Two People (Comfortably) in a Tiny House Loft

can you fit two people in a tiny house loft to sleep

Oh, if I had it all to do again, I would have absolutely put dormers in my tiny house loft. Dormers are the small areas that jut out on the roof. The roof is still pitched, but straighter than a typical triangular gable of a vaulted ceiling. These dormers really maximize your tiny house loft space and let a lot of light into the space.

Tiny house with dormers for more room in sleeping loftHere’s the deal: it’s not hard to include the dormers in your design (again, they were less popular years back when I built my house, but I see them more often now). It’s much more of a challenge to remove your roof and add dormers later, although it’s not impossible.

The other easier solution is to measure the height of your mattress very carefully and select a smaller, shorter mattress (less loft). Totcha is an excellent option for this problem, as well. While it doesn’t solve everything, especially if two adults are sleeping in a very snug space, some options will give you at least a little breathing room.

I also recommend you keep your space as neat and tidy as possible. Living a minimalist lifestyle with less clutter will really help you keep your loft space from feeling claustrophobic. If you pile in pillows, dirty clothes, dishes, and hobbies in your tiny house loft, it will undoubtedly feel cramped and frustrating. Keep the space as clear as possible.

If you’re still planning your tiny house layout, then I strongly recommend you consider the dormer option. It will make a massive difference in the long run. My next house will definitely include dormers to expand the sleeping loft!

SOLUTION:

Maximize space wherever possible and plan ahead with dormers.


cozy loft in a tiny house with dormers

4. Tiny House Loft Challenge: Climbing Up a Ladder to Your Loft Every Night

tiny house loft ladder, stairs or ground floor bedroom

A loft bed isn’t for every tiny house owner. Building your tiny house taller helps you maximize space, which is why it’s often the preference. But not everyone loves the idea of climbing into a loft every night. Many people opt for tiny houses with ground floor beds or completely single-story tiny houses. Others use their tiny house loft for storage, while still keeping the bedroom on the ground floor.

Even though I could have done stairs, I opted not to. Stairs take up a lot of space. Yes, they offer storage space, and many people have turned their stairs into bookshelves, storage trunks, and more. However, at the end of the day, I wasn’t hurting for storage space and I really didn’t want to give up the room to a set of stairs. In my mind the aim should be less stuff, not more storage.
how to design the perfect tiny house
A ladder isn’t without peril. If you’re older, have mobility issues, or you’re not feeling well, climbing up and down a ladder each night isn’t quite as fun as it was when you were a kid. If you’re trying to carry anything up to bed with you, it’s more challenging.

If you’re still planning your tiny house, look for floor plans with bedrooms on the ground level, or single-story tiny house floor plans. These will help you figure out a climbing-free solution for your bedroom. There are lots of great options I’ve seen, where they either turn the loft area into extra storage space or omit the loft space all together and put the entire house on a single floor.

ground floor bedroom in a tiny houseLook for ranch-style tiny house plans or single-floor tiny houses to get ideas. There are plenty of ways you can maximize your horizontal space, while still keeping everything on the first floor. Consider storage solutions under the bed, tucked inside furniture, or built into the wall. Many trailer homes and RVs already feature single-floor layouts, so that may be an option to consider as well (or at least a source of layout ideas).

One of the interesting solutions I’ve found online is building an elevator bed for your tiny house loft. Surprisingly, you can create an elevator bed for around $500. In the blog post linked here, the owner explains they originally planned to build a loft bed with the ability to sleep “low.” The owner wanted to accommodate guests on the sofa bed (be sure to check out the day, night, and guest photos at the end to see examples). The elevator bed is a neat solution and a great option if getting up and down a ladder each evening isn’t for you.

SOLUTION:

Ground floor bedroom layouts for your tiny house.


get into bed easily without a ladder

5. Tiny House Loft Challenge: Maximizing the Space Under Your Loft

maximizing space beneath your sleeping loft in a tiny house

The need for space under your loft completely depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Most tiny house floor plans with a loft only feature a partial loft with a higher ceiling in most of the living space. The portion of your home underneath the loft tends to have lower ceilings and less headroom.

storage under a sleeping loftIf you’re in the design process, there are several options. The first option is to play with your layout so you’ve planned sitting activities underneath your loft space. The space under the loft is a great spot for couch, a lounge space, or a home office. You can tuck a full workstation underneath a lower ceiling and you’ll barely notice. If you’ve positioned your windows and lighting well, it will still feel roomy.

There are modular storage spaces and designs (similar to what you see at stores like IKEA). One Swiss designer, Till Könneker, created The Living Cube, which features a sleeping area up top with a dozen storage spaces on the sides, including openings for a TV or clothing (you could even have a walk-in closet). As I said before, I’m not in any need of more storage space, but for a family, this may be a possible solution.

You could also opt for one of the ground floor bedroom layouts as discussed above, and turn your bed into a platform bed with some storage underneath. This storage is a practical option if you choose a daybed or plan to convert your couch to a bed at night.

SOLUTION:

Plan carefully & include plenty of storage to fit your lifestyle.


loft in a tiny house

The truth is, tiny house loft beds are a fun way to sleep. There’s something that reminds me of being in a treehouse or a fort as a kid. A small, lofted sleeping nook is cozy (sometimes a little too snug in hot weather) and mostly comfortable. There are certain challenges though, and loft beds aren’t for everyone.

Small spaces are very livable. With some strategic planning and wise purchases, there are plenty of ways to outfit a comfortable sleeping spot for your tiny house that you’ll be very happy with.

Your Turn!

  • What is your biggest sleeping space challenge?
  • Do you like sleeping in a loft bed?

Shipping Container Homes: Hard-Learned Lessons from Those Who’ve Done It

Shipping Container Homes: Hard-Learned Lessons from Those Who’ve Done It

shipping container homesI get asked a lot about shipping container homes when people learn that I’m into tiny houses, and I do have some experience working with shipping container homes. My good friend, D.I. built his own container home here in Charlotte, using a 40-foot container. It was the first one I’d ever seen built out in person and it was neat to watch as D.I. built it over two years, learning along the way.

Living in a shipping container may sound a bit … unconventional. You may envision an old, rusty boxcar or simply a big metal box.

shipping container home living room

Surprisingly, shipping container homes are quite beautiful and economically friendly. Many are drawn to their affordable nature and modern lines. They do require a fair amount of work and preparation (and there are a few quirks to be aware of), but with effort, you can create a beautiful home from something ordinarily discarded and save thousands doing it.

 

What Is A Shipping Container Home?

what is a shipping container home

If you aren’t familiar with shipping container homes, they’re quite interesting. Charlotte happens to be home to one of the largest fabricators of shipping container homes, and I was invited to take a tour of their facility. It was really eye-opening to see how much work went into prepping the containers, so they were ready to build with. The common perception is, “it’s easy because the box is already there.” I learned both from watch D.I. and from my plant tour that’s far from the truth. There’s a lot of effort that goes into turning a container into a home.

Shipping containers are big metal boxes (like a boxcar or the box atop the trailer of a semi-truck), sometimes referred to as Conex boxes. These containers are typically built overseas (usually in China) and are used to ship goods all around the world. Shipping containers are widely available, and many are used only one time on a one-way trip from China (since the U.S. receives more goods than it sends back).

stacked shipping containers

These metal (aluminum or steel) Conex boxes are used to ship all types of materials—some hazardous, but mostly benign. Once they’re used and retired or put out of commission, they’re often stored near ports around the United States. Shipping containers are inexpensive to procure and readily available.

Shipping containers have been used to transport goods since the mid-1950s, but it wasn’t until 1987 that the first shipping container was patented for use as a converted home (although people used them as homes and buildings years earlier). Because the modular containers are easy to combine, there are large buildings built from multiple containers, including a mansion made of 31 containers and a hostel large enough to house 120 people!

Most people who live in shipping container homes, however, opt for the tiny house version, using one or two shipping containers as their home. Thanks to the availability, sturdiness, and modern look of Conex boxes, they are customizable.

Why Build A Shipping Container Home?

why build a shipping container home

Admittedly, I’m drawn to the idea of shipping container homes. My one hesitation is that I have no experience with metalworking. I’ve never used a plasma torch or welder before. It’s definitely one of those things I want to learn on my bucket list, but from seeing people actually do it—before you build a shipping container home, you need metalwork experience.

Due to the metalwork, shipping container homes are a little more advanced in terms of building and modifying. They aren’t always the right fit for the typical hobbyist or DIYer who doesn’t have prior building skills because there is quite a bit of technical work required (the obvious metalwork, plus other skills like concrete, engineering, etc.). The big appeal of shipping container homes really comes from the modular design and the modern look.

container home kitchen

That said, there are many other reasons why a shipping container home is an appealing option. The biggest draw of building or buying a shipping container home is that it’s often quite inexpensive. You can find single-use shipping containers for under $5,000 and you instantly have a shell to work in.

Shipping container homes are very strong and sustainable. They’re built to last with a tough exterior that holds up to hurricanes and earthquakes. It’s also nice to give life to the used containers that would ordinarily go to waste. Many shipping containers are used once and then sit empty in ports (or get melted down).

Shipping container homes are also fairly easy to transport intact. Yes, they’re extremely heavy, so they aren’t exactly a tiny house on wheels, but moving a shipping container home to a new foundation is doable without disrupting the structure of the home itself. The containers can be stacked to expand into multi-story homes or configured in interesting modular designs.

The Pros and Cons of Shipping Container Homes

pros and cons of shipping container homes

There are a few drawbacks to living in a shipping container home. One of the biggest challenges is that metal is conducive to heat and cold. Shipping container homes require insulation and ventilation for comfortable living.

Unlike wood, concrete, brick, and stone, metal is a little trickier for temperature and condensation control. They are also loud in windy climates. Thermal bridging is a huge issue in a shipping container home; the metal skin acts as a heat sink, drawing the heat out in the winter and bringing the heat in during summer. This all adds up to a less efficient building and can lead to moisture and mold issues if not properly managed.

welding shipping container homes

Shipping containers also require welding abilities to modify. Unlike wood and other home construction materials, you can’t simply create a window or cut a vent in your home without planning carefully. Welding takes time and is costly, so you’ll want to be cautious as you plan. It’s also a bit more difficult in remote locations because they don’t make battery-powered welding units.

Obviously, planning windows, vents, and other modifications means you need to be aware of load-bearing and structural elements before you make a change to the container. Openings cut in the skin often lead to you needing to reinforce the structure because each cut you make weakens the whole structure.

Shipping containers also require a concrete foundation or, at minimum, piers. You can’t simply put your container house on the ground unsupported and I’ve seen many novice builders attempt to skimp on their footings.

Laying a foundation takes time and adds to the expense associated with the project; it also means you need to be certain exactly how you want to plan the layout of your property. A shipping container home should be viewed as a more permanent construction (although they can be moved intact to a new foundation). It is a cost that you should make sure to budget in for expenses.

shipping containers in a row

Work with a contractor or someone with previous shipping container home-building experience, especially if you’re new to the world of tiny home building. Shipping container homes tend to be one of the more advanced tiny home options. Although they’re ultimately a simple structure, there are certain quirks and issues to be aware of.

Of course, you can find pre-made shipping container structures, but they’re often quite expensive. Creating a shipping container home by yourself is less expensive, but you’ll still need to enlist the help of experts. Even to procure the shipping container and move it to your foundation is a big undertaking. You’ll need a crane to deliver the container and set it atop your foundation. Shipping containers are extremely heavy. Depending on the length (20 foot or 40 foot) they weigh between 5,000-8,000+ pounds. You aren’t going to move a shipping container yourself.

When I worked with my friend, D.I. on his 40-foot container home build, the need for welding skills was a big issue. He didn’t know how to weld or use a plasma torch at all when he started to build his container home, so modifications were a challenge for him. It was important to plan ahead so he could have a contractor do all the welding at once (rather than paying him to return over and over again).

The other challenge D.I. faced was his container home was so immobile. You really need a crane to even move it a short distance or adjust it slightly on the foundation. This means when you get the container installed, you need to be certain of the exact placement you want.

container home bedroom

Finally, another big barrier is that local building code enforcement officials are often unfamiliar with shipping container homes. As a result, it can be tough to get the proper permits for them.

Although there are building challenges, the final look of a shipping container home is really appealing. They have a modern, architectural quality which I find really appealing if done well. They’re inexpensive, extremely durable, and are easily customized.

Here are a few reviews and honest takes on the pros and cons of living in a shipping container home:

 

How Much Does A Shipping Container Home Cost?

how much does a shipping container home cost

Shipping containers themselves, depending on size, cost anywhere from $3,000-$5,000+. It’s much less expensive to buy a shipping container that’s been used for a single ship than to buy a brand-new container. As long as you do your research and ensure the container didn’t contain any dangerous materials, the use is almost always undetectable. You can work with scratches or dents to cover them (or remove) as part of the design, even a little rust can be ground out and repainted.

The biggest mistake I see people make is not factoring in expenses of building a shipping container home to include transportation and placement of the container itself. The second biggest mistake is the foundation build, too often people skip or skimp on this step.

Even if you take the DIY route, chances are you will need to enlist expert help on factors like solar, electric (remember, metal is conductive), plumbing, and modification, especially if you don’t have much welding experience.

shipping container home room ideas

As I said before, because aluminum and steel are conductive, they must be insulated and ventilated carefully to prevent the buildup of condensation and to simply make living more comfortable. So, expert insulation, heating, and cooling will need to be configured into your cost as well.

That last area where I see people get tripped up is that you will also need to consider fees for permits, architectural designs, and plans. As far as permitting goes, as I said, there are many cities without much familiarity with zoning for shipping containers used as dwelling structures, so you’ll need to work with your local officials on the proper approval. This often will include hiring an engineer to work out plans to make officials feel comfortable signing off on it.

The question of cost really comes down to how much planning you will need to do, what you can DIY, and what you’ll need to outsource. Once you’ve procured the container itself, the other pieces can either add up or be done on the cheap.

Here are several outlines of storage container build-outs with pricing:

As you see, the costs vary greatly depending on your plans and the level of architectural design you want to put into your shipping container home. If you’re most concerned with functionality, then a single shipping container buildout is an inexpensive tiny home option.

how to find and buy a shipping container home

How to Find and Buy A Shipping Container

If you’re ready to find and buy a shipping container home, you need to start researching the size you want. Shipping containers typically come in two standard sizes: 20 foot and 40 foot. The best containers for homes are listed as “HC” or High-Cube containers. HC containers are 9 feet “tall” (as opposed to the standard 8-foot container). That said, shipping containers come in many other sizes as well; you can find them ranging from 8-53 feet. The next most common size is 45 feet, but again, 20- or 40-foot containers are standard (and the easiest to find).

When choosing a size, don’t forget that you’ll be building inwards. You’ll need to frame out the inside and insulate it as well. Depending on your choices for these, you could be eating into your interior by 6-8 inches off each wall.

Shipping containers are graded by condition. “A grade” means the container is good quality with a clean interior and watertight with in-tact seals. The container grades go down to “C grade,” which usually means rust is present, and the container is 10-14 years old. The prices vary by grade but for living, chances are you’ll want to pay a little more for a higher quality container.

container home rooms

Shipping containers are also graded by the following: “One-trippers” meaning new containers that contained only one shipment. “Certified Cargo Worthy” meaning they’ve been used for multiple shipments but are in good condition. “Wind and Watertight” (WWT) indicating they’ve been used but are still in decent condition. “As-Is” means the container may have rust, doors that don’t seal or pinholes in the metal. Containers graded “As-Is” should probably be avoided for dwellings.

The other factors to consider are the land where you plan to place your container (and if you already have a foundation or will need to pour one). You’ll need to ensure the land is accessible for large trucks or cranes so your shipping container home can be placed.

To buy shipping containers check out:

  • Shipped is the biggest new and used shipping container marketplace online
  • BoxHub is another big new and used shipping container marketplace
  • Craigslist and eBay are also options for finding shipping container homes

Before you buy, you’ll want to review these resources and guides for buying a shipping container home as well:

 

Building Your Own Shipping Container Home

If you decide you don’t want to take the DIY route to building, there are certainly options for fully designed and built-out shipping container homes. These are, of course, going to be more expensive, but because the modular design is favored by architects, you can find really beautiful “pet projects” for sale. The design and build quality of these homes are often excellent.

Resources for pre-built container homes are:

Like most of us in the tiny home world, though, chances are you enjoy putting in the sweat equity. (I know I do!) Shipping container homes are a more advanced project and they require certain skills, like metalworking. Building the internal walls, insulation, plumbing, and electrical can all be completed yourself, but there are considerations so follow expert resources and instructions. It takes quite a few manhours to complete a DIY container home build.

building container home

Great examples of people who successfully DIY-built their container homes are:

Before you start your build, you’ll need floor plans and a strong idea of how you want your finished container home to look. As with any tiny home build, the planning portion of the process is vital.

For great shipping container home floorplans, you may want to view:

The fact that shipping container homes are pretty straightforward (one 20- or 40-foot-long container by 9 feet high and across), means configuring floor plans isn’t terribly challenging. Considerations like plumbing, window placement, and access to grid services are really all you need to keep in mind in terms of layout. If there are any dents or areas of your Conex box you need to cover, figure that into the design as well.

designing container homes

As you design your home, consider the needs of each person who lives in the home. Some shipping container homes are built in sections. One container may serve as the main living area, another container may become a guest area, and another container serves as the office. It depends on the functionality, amount of space you desire and how many containers you can afford or access. The good news about shipping containers is you can always add more, expand, and build out in the future.

After seeing the amazing floorplans and designs of shipping container homes out there, I’m sure you’ll feel inspired too. If you’re looking for a strong structure with a modern look and feel, a shipping container home might be the right type of tiny home for you.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer the modern design of shipping container homes?
  • What skills would you need to learn for your shipping container home build?

All About Teardrop Trailers: Take Your Tiny Life on The Road

All About Teardrop Trailers: Take Your Tiny Life on The Road

teardrop trailersI’ve been wanting to build my own teardrop trailer for years now, having seen my first teardrop trailer “in the wild” during a visit to Yellowstone National Park. We’d stopped to take some photos of elk and noticed an older couple happily fixing lunch under their pop-up galley hatch. Much to the embarrassment of my friend, I walked up to them and struck up a conversation. (I even got invited to join them for lunch!) Since that moment, I’ve been in love with the simple design of the teardrop trailer.

Whether you’re looking for a full-time living option or a weekend away, a teardrop trailer is a fun and functional tiny living project to take on.

yellowstone national park travel

 

What Is a Teardrop Trailer?

what is a teardrop trailer

Teardrop trailers originated back in the 1950s and 1960s when they were featured in Popular Science Magazine as a weekend project. They caught on like wildfire as Americans came home from WWII and Americans began to buy cars for the first time. People began to explore all that the US had to offer all from the comfort of their personal cars.

This led people to want a way to camp in a way that was a little bit more comfortable than a tent and campers hadn’t even been invented yet. Picture dad packing up the family for a weekend camping trip. He’d want a trailer he could hook to the back of the car and pull along. Often, these small popup trailers featured storage, perhaps a cooking grill or fold-out dining area (referred to as the galley), and in many cases, a small sleeping area.

This nostalgia explains the popular resurgence of teardrop trailers in the last few years. These trailers are popular with the Boomer Generation (and Millennials looking for an affordable way to camp with a little luxury). With enough space and utility for simple outdoor living, and enough comfort so campers aren’t exactly roughing it, teardrop trailers are a nice weekender solution.

teardrop-trailer-towing

Teardrop trailers are definitely small, they’re somewhere between a step-up from tent camping and a step-down from a typical tiny home, skoolie, conversion van, or traditional camper. There are, however, people who live in teardrop trailers full time (like this teardrop trailer couple on YouTube).

I personally like teardrop trailers because they’re the perfect balance of the creature comforts of home with a great kitchen. Yet, the trailers are small enough to easily tow behind most cars. Having towed my tiny house before, I have a newfound appreciation for smaller trailers—there’s not as much to worry about when you go out on the road.

Because teardrop trailers are meant to pull along behind a car, they’re built with an aerodynamic “teardrop” shape. Which not only saves on gas and makes them way easier to tow but looks great too.

towing a teardrop trailer

Teardrop trailers are an “all-in-one” camping solution. Simply pack in your goods, attach the trailer to your car, and head off on your next adventure. Many people keep them fully stocked so all they have to do is add their fresh groceries on the way out of town and they’re on the road fast.

They weigh very little (most less than 800 pounds), making them easy to tow along without effecting your gas mileage or speed. For camping, they leave a minimal impact, barely touching the ground with two wheels and stabilizing bars. Once you’re ready to move on, in just a few minutes, you fold everything back up and leave no trace. Having a comfy bed and a way to cook meals saves you thousands in hotel room costs and expensive dinners out.

oregon travel

The compact teardrop camper trailer can be used for part-time or full-time living. There are teardrop trailers that function as tiny homes. Some teardrop trailers are large enough to feature a bathroom, kitchen, and shower. Other, smaller teardrop campers simply provide an area for sleeping, storage, and the back galley for cooking. They usually sleep two people comfortably and are perfect for a camping trip.

I like that it’s a small package I can tuck away easily. Since it’s a smaller build, versus building an entire tiny house, it’s an approachable DIY project for almost anyone. That’s what attracted me to them, it was a challenging project that was still achievable and save thousands in the process.

ask the experts about teardrop trailers

Why should someone choose a teardrop trailer over a camper/RV?

rustic trail teardrop trailers
Rustic Trail Teardrop website
Jonathan & Kathy

“They are quick and easy to set up at the campsite as well as lightweight where just about any vehicle can tow one. They can usually fit into a standard garage which is great for those with HOA restrictions. They tow easy for folks that have little to no towing experience.”

camp inn teardrop experts
Camp Inn Teardrop website
Craig Edevold & Cary Winch

“Teardrop campers are the easiest camper to tow and can be towed with the average automobile. This saves having to own larger tow vehicles just for camping. They are also less stressful to tow, great for people with limited towing experience. They also are easy to store and maintain compared to other campers and RVs.”

timberleaf-teardrop-experts
Timberleaf Teardrop website
Kevin Molick

“People who value the ability to spend more time outdoors, have less maintenance, less mechanical complications, and more maneuverability will appreciate a teardrop trailer.”

runaway campers teardrop experts
Runaway Campers website
Stephen Shives

“There are many reasons to choose a mini-camp trailer, but only the individual can determine if it is a suitable option. Some of the benefits of a teardrop over an RV include: affordability; ease of maintenance and storage; and fuel efficiency.”

What Are the Types of Teardrop Trailers?

what are the types of teardrop trailers

There are several types of teardrop trailers. Because teardrop trailers are a great DIY project that’s easily customized, the varieties are practically endless. There are options for different sizes, shapes, and skins. Typically, though, most teardrop trailers fall into a few categories.

The three most popular teardrop trailer options are:

  • Traditional style: aluminum outside, insulated inside.
  • The Woody: Made from layers of wooden panels and a natural wood finish on the outside.
  • The Foamie: Made from insulation foam with an overlay.

teardrop trailer design

There are also various shapes of “teardrop” trailers. The classic teardrop shape is the most popular, but there’s the reverse teardrop, square, and several other shape options. The classic teardrop offers an aerodynamic quality that’s easy to pull along with a car without lag (but most small camper trailers are lightweight enough to pull along without impact) that looks great too. There’s also the canned ham shape trailer, which isn’t as popular but is a fun option as well.

No matter what shape camping trailer or which skin you choose—metal, wood, or foam—most teardrop trailers consist of wooden ribs connecting the two walls resting on top of the floor and anchored to the frame of the trailer. The trailer then sits atop a two-wheel base trailer with a hitch to tow along behind you. The walls are usually made up of layered materials—wood, insulation, and/or aluminum sandwiched together using epoxy or liquid nail.

national parks travel

Teardrop trailers are relatively easy to build and take minimal woodworking skills. Teardrop trailer kits and parts are so readily available, so it’s easy to piece together a part-DIY and part store-bought version of a camper trailer. The most challenging piece of a teardrop trailer to build is the hatch for the galley kitchen (depending on the size and shape of your trailer). But overall, a teardrop trailer is a fairly easy project even for beginners and a simpler design can make it manageable for just about anyone. Many teardrop trailers even feature a small table that folds out for eating, a covered space for food preparation (or relaxing), and a sleeping spot. Basically, it’s an all-in-one camping solution, a home away from home.

A teardrop trailer is perfect for a weekend away, to supplement as your tiny home when you travel, or with the right build, a full-time dwelling. It can even serve as a guest bedroom if you live in a tiny house!

ask the experts about teardrop trailers

What do most people get wrong about teardrop trailer camping?

rustic trail teardrop trailers
Rustic Trail Teardrop website
Jonathan & Kathy

“Underestimating what their true needs and abilities are. We have had customers who went smaller only to find out they needed larger because of physical limitations.”

camp inn teardrop experts
Camp Inn Teardrop website
Craig Edevold & Cary Winch

“The struggle we see with someone new to teardrop camping is trying to use their decades of tent camping experience as a reference to how to teardrop camp. Just because you are used to doing something one way while tent camping does not mean you should continue exactly the same in a teardrop camper. Teardrop camping should be easier than tent camping. For example, a teardrop with a sink and built in water system. This is much simpler than using tent camping methods.That can take a little bit to get one’s head around that after doing it the tent camping way for decades.”

timberleaf-teardrop-experts
Timberleaf Teardrop website
Kevin Molick

“Many assume they cannot go off road. many teardrops are now able to go wherever any 4wd can pull it.”

runaway campers teardrop experts
Runaway Campers website
Stephen Shives

“It’s not RVing, it’s CAMPING! Most of your time should be spent outdoors; your mini-camper is a comfortable place to sleep at night.”

 

How Much Is A Teardrop Trailer?

how much is a teardrop trailer

If you’re DIY-ing your trailer, you can get away with the buildout budgeted anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars, but it seems like the sweet spot is $2000-$4000. Buying a teardrop trailer or mini camping trailer readymade will run you between $10,000-$20,000, so opting to DIY is a cost-saving endeavor. As with all DIY projects, your budget is determined by how complex or simple you choose to make it.

Here are a few cost breakdowns of DIY teardrop trailers:

In the debate of DIY vs custom made camping trailers, there are a few different options to choose from. You could buy a teardrop trailer kit or follow a DIY tutorial/guide and source all of the materials and labor yourself. You could also go out and buy a custom-made trailer (the most expensive option). Most teardrop trailer enthusiasts choose to DIY because frankly, it’s a fun project to show off!

national park

For teardrop trailer kits, check out The Teardroppers, which offers an array of teardrop trailer kit options. The Chesapeake Light Craft kit is also a fun and unique teardrop trailer kit option, so beautiful it almost looks like a piece of sculpture.

As for pre-built custom trailers, if that’s the route you choose to go, there are many options out there ready to buy (and to have customized to your preference):

If you decide to build it yourself, the most important thing is to have fun with the project and find a camping trailer design you’re excited about. Teardrop trailers are all about carefree camping and enjoying the mobility of taking your home on the road.

For the cost of a few nights at a hotel, you can build a teardrop trailer and take your bed anywhere you want to go!

ask the experts about teardrop trailers

If you were to buy a teardrop trailer, what three things would you look for when evaluating a model for sale?

rustic trail teardrop trailers
Rustic Trail Teardrop website
Jonathan & Kathy

“Price point, quality of construction and materials used, and features for the money.”

camp inn teardrop experts
Camp Inn Teardrop website
Craig Edevold & Cary Winch

“1) Intended years of service. For some a teardrop camper is a stepping stone to larger campers. In this case an older used teardrop or a basic “entry level” model is ideal. For those who plan to travel well into their retirement years going to a more refined durable would be more practical in the long run. 2) Features and options. Our experience is the only regrets most teardrop buyers have is not getting enough options and accessories when they get their teardrop. Buy right the first time. 3) Reviews and owner feedback. Find an online forum for the brands you are looking and participate on there beforehand. Find out how happy the owners are when using their campers. Be apprehensive about asking input on forums about options and accessories, the unique configurations are often the most vocal.”

timberleaf-teardrop-experts
Timberleaf Teardrop website
Kevin Molick

“Fit and finish, aerodynamic profile and ergonomic layout”

runaway campers teardrop experts
Runaway Campers website
Stephen Shives

“The company’s/brand’s reputation for quality and service. Will the size be adequate for my needs. Can options be easily added later.”

 

Ready to Build? Here’s How to Start Your Teardrop Trailer Project

how to start your teardrop trailer project

Just like I harp on planning with any tiny house build, a great teardrop build begins with planning too. I’ve found many tutorials and build walk-throughs online to get a feel for both the project and the lifestyle associated with teardrop trailers.

I recommend beginning with the Teardrop Trailer Build post on planning to get started. You may also want to explore the resources at Oregon Trailer. Teardrop trailers can be outfitted with water access, electricity, ventilation, heating, and even plumbing (again, depending on the size and your plans for the trailer).

oregon travel mount hood

There are many teardrop trailer plans and building guides out there. A few to explore are:

ask the experts about teardrop trailers

What advice would you give to someone who wants to build their own teardrop trailer?

rustic trail teardrop trailers
Rustic Trail Teardrop website
Jonathan & Kathy

“When you build something the first time that is when you make the most of your mistakes. It usually takes 3-4 to work out the problems. If a person is highly skilled in construction and does a lot of research then I say go for it. Although the old saying that you can’t beat a man at his own game still holds true.”

camp inn teardrop experts
Camp Inn Teardrop website
Craig Edevold & Cary Winch

“Plan to be involved in this hobby for years to come. Most teardrop home-builders will typically end up building at least three campers in time before they are truly satisfied with their creation.”

timberleaf-teardrop-experts
Timberleaf Teardrop website
Kevin Molick

“Use a welded frame that will outlast the top structure, use kiln dried lumber for the cabin, apply aluminum skins to the undercarriage, apply three coats of spar varnish to the exterior before applying sheet aluminum.”

runaway campers teardrop experts
Runaway Campers website
Stephen Shives

“If you have a target date you’d like/need to use it, be honest with yourself about the skills and time you have to invest to finish the project to the level of your own satisfaction.”

Choosing a Camping Trailer Base, Parts, and Accessories

choosing a trailer base and accessories

If you plan to build a teardrop trailer, finding all the parts and accessories is a big step in the process for your build. I’ve spent hours researching and selecting each item that is going to go into my build. The biggest item you’ll need is the trailer itself.

Trailer bases for teardrop trailers are generally available in 4 x 8 foot or 5 x 8-foot sizes, but some people make their own custom sizes. As long as your trailer meets DOT requirements and it can hold the weight of your build, you can make it any size you want. Look at various teardrop trailer plans to decide on the size base you want. For those who don’t want to build their own trailer, many big box stores (like Home Depot, Harbor Freight or Northern Tool) sell towing trailers to use as the base of your teardrop trailer.

teardrop trailer for building

From there, you’ll need to figure out what the materials are needed for the outer shell of your teardrop trailer. Your two main options are to skin it in a stainless steel or aluminum cladding or go with a more natural look like the “Woodie” style. My plan is to go with stainless steel as it’s the most durable option and looks great too, the downside is potential for “tin canning” which causes ripples in the metal as it expands and contracts in the heat.

The interior structure can be built from your standard materials whether it’s standard 2x4s or a skeletonized piece of plywood or MDF. The two big considerations to take into account here is what tools you have available to you (plus your ability to use them) and weight. Options like MDF can add several hundred pounds to your build, so make sure your trailer can handle the weight.

oregon coast travel

The galley is the most difficult but iconic element of the teardrop. Even after years of woodworking and building my own house, I’m intimidated by its complex curves. To lift and hold open the galley hatch you’ll need struts, the hydraulic component for opening the back door.

Another consideration is that you’ll need to balance structural integrity with insulation in the walls. Many people “skeletonize” the walls with a router on MDF or plywood, allowing a ridged frame while still keeping you warm inside. My plan is to create my wall panels by cutting them with a CNC machine to create the cavities for the ridged insulation foam.

exploring with a teardrop trailer

Finally, many people want to have some basic power in their teardrop to charge their phones, run a few LED lights, and power a Fantastic Fan. Some even go as far as having AC in their trailers. For most people, a pretty simple power system and a couple of batteries will meet your needs, if you have a solar panel to top up along the way. You also should make plans to connect to shore power because many campsites will have an outlet for you to connect to.

The best places I’ve found for compact appliances, trailer parts, and accessories are below, but Amazon and eBay also offer a big selection of teardrop trailer parts and accessories, like fans, doors, and appliances.

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the weekend or explore the world, then a teardrop trailer is a great DIY tiny life project to take on. I would suggest trying a smaller trailer as your first build to see how you like it, then expand from there.

roadtrip with a teardrop trailer

As I said, you may even decide to design your teardrop as a tiny house, or as a “vacation tiny house” for camping. Teardrop trailers certainly beat roughing it, offering you a nice, comfortable bed, a place to cook, and storage in a small, easy-to-tow package.

ask the experts about teardrop trailers

If someone wants to get into teardrop trailer camping, what advice would you give to someone starting out?

rustic trail teardrop trailers
Rustic Trail Teardrop website
Jonathan & Kathy

“Don’t over think it but don’t under think it either. Look at several different models and make a list of essentials and start there. Don’t buy a bunch of stuff that you might not need just because of the excitement of doing something new. The camping industry thrives on people over spending on cheap made stuff that they may not need simply because they are excited about their new adventure.”

camp inn teardrop experts
Camp Inn Teardrop website
Craig Edevold & Cary Winch

“Look at how you travel, in distance, time on the road and type of camping venues. Take this and double, maybe triple, it all because once you go from tent camping to a teardrop camper you will travel far more often, far more distance and in locations you never thought you would. Use this increased travel potential for determining your teardrop camper needs.”

timberleaf-teardrop-experts
Timberleaf Teardrop website
Kevin Molick

“Make sure their tow vehicle is rated for at least 50% over the actual weight of the trailer. Many buyers assume their little car can tow a 1500 lbs trailer if their rating is 1500 lbs. They should factor in gear, water and supplies and weight of car passengers.”

runaway campers teardrop experts
Runaway Campers website
Stephen Shives

“Keep it simple to start and don’t go all out buying every camping accessory that looks cool. After several times out, you will discover the things you need the most, and won’t have wasted time and money on the things you may never use.”

Your Turn!

  • Would you like a teardrop trailer for fulltime living or just camping?
  • What’s your favorite teardrop trailer design?