Designing a tiny house is a little different than designing a conventionally sized home. The process is similar in many ways; however, the need for compact and super efficient design in a tiny home is far greater than in a home that boasts 1000SF or more. How you approach the process is important because having tiny house plans design strategies from the start will allow you to address each and every detail that needs attention. Below are 3 design strategies for creating awesome tiny house plans that we found most useful when designing hOMe, our 221SF tiny house on wheels.
BE HONEST IN YOUR DECISION MAKING PROCESS:
-Take stock of what you intend to bring with you into this space. This includes the obvious things like family and pets, but also needs to include physical things like kitchen utensils, clothing, bathroom essentials, etc. In a tiny home, all of these items need a specific storage space. Having too much stuff will make the home feel cramped, so lighten your load as much as you can and then design your space to accommodate those items you decide to hold on to. Creating an actual detailed list of all of your essential items is helpful.
START WITH A BLANK SLATE:
-There are a lot of tiny house designs out there. Unless you find one that totally speaks to you and that you want to use “as is,” I recommend that you not try to adjust an existing design to meet your needs. It is hard enough to make adjustments to a conventional sized home design, and doing so with a tiny house design will likely prove almost impossible. This is because the design elements of a tiny home are so specific to the space in which they live. Moving or changing one element will have an impact on many others and may, in fact, make the rest of the design less functional, or even unusable.
-Starting with a blank slate allows you to get all of the details you identified in the first step, honest decision making, into your design. This eliminates the frustration of trying to make something fit into a space that was not designed to accommodate it.
-Perhaps more importantly, designing from a blank slate means you won’t be influenced by other ideas that may look good on paper but won’t actually work for you, personally. It is far too easy for our brains to get locked into an idea or a vision of a home that we have seen. If that home fully fits the bill, go for it; however, pulling together an idea for the perfect living room you saw on a blog, adding in a great kitchen space you saw in a magazine, and then trying to make a bedroom from Houzz.com fit the bill may all be too much to bring together.
USE ADEQUATE DESIGN SOFTWARE:
-I used Google SketchUp to layout the design of hOMe in three dimensions. This was incredibly helpful as it allowed us to move a full size (to scale, that is) person through the floor plan and see where things might have felt cramped. This, in turn, allowed me to make changes to the design to improve flow, headroom, and overall spacial management of the structure.
-I had never used SketchUp before and there is certainly a learning curve for the software. I probably spent about 4 hours viewing tutorials on the web in order to get comfortable enough to start my design process. At that point, I was ready to move forward and able to layout hOMe in three dimensions. There are many different tutorials out there and everyone learns differently. I had a hard time finding ones that worked for me, and you may too, so I have included a link below to the ones I ended up using. I hope you find the following series valuable and that it helps you as much as it helped me. Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/xqcL-xPC-Ys
Good luck with your process. Again, if you find that hOMe or some other design perfectly fits your needs, then I hope you will simply move forward with building that plan. If, however, you find a plan that only partially meets your needs, step back, follow the steps above, and create the home of your dreams from scratch. You will be glad you did.
Stay Tiny, my friends…
Andrew and Gabriella