A First Glance at Our Design

Tessa has been working hard to bring our design to life in SketchUp, and is happy to release what she has finished so far so you can get an idea of where we are going with our Tiny House!

dining and kitchen area

Using SketchUp has been a learning process for her. Just as she draws something right, we realize we want it to be different, and there are a lot of little details to fix each time a change is made. The picture above is an earlier draft of our concept. It was the first time I saw a SketchUp conceptualization of our pencil sketches, so it was super exciting and it enabled us to discuss things we liked and things we weren’t sure would work. It’s important that we go into the build with open minds too because we know from other people who have built their TH’s that once you go from design to build, things can look different when they are nailed together. It’s an evolving project!

whole house from right angle

This is a great shot of the entire layout. We will have French doors positioned either off to the left of the stairs to open up mainly into the living room, or to the right of them to open into the kitchen. Our stairs will lead up to a mid-level platform which connects the bedroom loft off to the left above the living room, with a little platform for a small washer/dryer unit and clothing storage on the right. More on that later.

Stairs are a major investment of real estate in a TH and a lot of designs use ladders to maximize open space and minimize weight. But we lived in a cabin with a ladder leading to the loft and Waffles got stuck up there once because he learned how to climb the ladder, and it was not fun getting him down! But in all seriousness, we decided to go with stairs because there are cool ways to utilize the space they fill and we did not want to struggle with a ladder if we end up living in this TH for an extended period of our lives.

whole house from left angle

Another overall view. There will likely be a side table or a shelving unit along the right wall, depending on where the door is, to hold bags, mail and whatnot, as well as a few wall hooks for coats, keys, and Waffles’ leash. We’ll also need a little shoe rack for daily shoes, but will store most shoes upstairs in our closet. But we will only have shoes we use; we won’t have space for a collection of nice shoes we wear once in a blue moon. The thrift store will help us keep our style fresh for cheap 😉 

close up of dining area

Looking at the dining room area here. The kitchen table shown here is a fold out, with art work as a focal piece when the table is put down. Ideally the table would be extendable, with an inner leaf, to accommodate 6 guests instead of 3 or a crowded four. The whole stair unit might be too complex, so we may just do a stand-alone table, preferably one that could have collapsible legs, and be extendable. There’s storage for dishes under the stair unit, and storage for glasses (open cupboard), spices and other cooking supplies off to the right of the table. The table also offers extra prep space while cooking, as well as a work space. The bottom two stairs will have a basket with hats/gloves/purses/ and another with Waffles things.

close up of kitchen

We want our kitchen to be airy, not crowded, with ventilation for all the garlic, onion, cumin and kimchi we eat, so we’d like to locate it in the tall half (non-loft side) of our home, with a window for air flow and a view! The dedicated kitchen prep space is limited but we learned a few tricks in Alaska. The counter space between the sink and the range is stacked high, but will open to cover the range for easier prep and dish washing. There will also be a pull-out board underneath the sink that will fit snugly over it so that the whole area can be used for prep if needed. Don’t forget, the table is nearby and can act as an island for extra prep too. We will have a double burner, which may or may not be electric, a drawer for utensils and cooking tools, and underneath, an electric toaster/convection oven, which could be on a rolling shelf for easy access and appropriate ventilation when used. Below that is space for other tools like cutting boards, pots and pan. We will use the wall space above the sink to hold knives, other cooking tools, and possibly some essential spices and oils. The fridge we’d like is smaller than average but it will be plenty of room for us – if we live in a more rural area we will grow a garden and if we live in a more urban area, we will buy fresh food often. The top of the fridge will probably become storage for a lot of things, including non-refrigerated items.

bathroom full shower


bathroom half shower

Here are two shots of the bathroom, with a composting toilet and shower. Not sure if we will have a separate sink for the toilet or if we would just use the kitchen sink. For the bathroom floor, it would be neat to have wooden slats over the shower floor for more comfort and a sauna vibe, which would also help not flood the area because the water would drain to a water catchment tub below. We saw this design element in an episode of Tiny House Nation. We aren’t sure if this type of floor is necessary for the entire bathroom, but it may make the most sense for ease of cleaning it out. We hope to drain the water into an outer grey-water treatable storage tank for yard watering. As long as we don’t cook meat, or if we do and we wash those dishes outside camping style, we will be able to re-use our strained kitchen sink water as well. The doorway is on the skinnier side with a sliding glass door that won’t be transparent for privacy. The bamboo behind the toilet is just a bamboo drape instead of a wall to reduce weight (behind it is just a closet holding the extra bed which is enclosed by the stairway). No point in putting in non-weight-bearing walls in this TH!

living room

The sofa couch in the living room will be sectional , with the ability to move around the two pieces and the dining table in order to accommodate a relaxing duo and dog watching a movie, or a larger gathering wanting to look across at each other. There’s space for an extra chair or two to be added to the living room.

The stairs are super cool. The bottom two are almost invisible in this concept because they can either be out and locked in place for use, or slid into the stair unit to make more room for gatherings or a yoga session. We may place a heater system to the right of the closet’s bamboo door, under where that lip with photos is. The heater would probably have to be turned off when guests are over, as the spare bed might closer than allowed to the heat source. There are many different types of heating systems, so this is something we need to research further. A common solution is to use a small propane heater which is usually mounted to the wall, but we’re not sure it’s the safest method. Open flame, tiny wooden house…yeah.

The ability to host guests is important to us, as we have friends scattered all over not just the country but the world. Our spare bed will be located under the stair unit, possibly on a rolling system for easy pull-out. The mattress and supporting frame would be placed on top of the two sofas and coffee table, leaving some room underneath for bags. We plan for our sofas to have storage space under their cushions for extra pillows, bedding, and quilts.

You’ll notice there’s no television as a focal point to our living room – that is because we don’t plan on having one. We will have a handy blue tooth speaker for sure, though. And maybe eventually we’ll invest in a projector if our computer screens become annoyingly small, but we don’t watch much TV anyway. 

extra bed storage

The catwalk/stairs unit provides a lot of sneaky storage options. In the upper left corner, there are a few short rods for those need-to hang clothes, and a shelf for other items. Around the corner hopefully will fit a mini washer/dryer combo unit. Maybe a window next to the washer with access to a clothesline could be a hang-to-dry plan depending on where we live/the season. All the stair steps will have tops on hinges to store items such as undies, shoes, or art supplies. Underneath, there hopefully will be enough room to store the extra bed as well as a battery system if we have any on-site energy sources such as solar. Electrical outlets will probably only be available connecting to the work space/dining table (on the other side of the mattress) as well as the kitchen wall (for the fridge and toaster oven) to simplify wiring. Our breaker box will likely also be in this closet.

We haven’t figured out a plan for lighting but we want to strive towards living off the grid, so we’d like to rely heavily on natural lighting as well as gas lamps for the bedroom and living room. Track lighting in the kitchen would be nice too.

STILL TO COME: Upstairs bedroom, deck, walls, electricity/lighting/windows, and exact measurements!

What do you think so far?


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