2012 Design Challenge

Jeff H. sent me this email about a challenge for the designers and builders in the tiny house world to consider. Here is what Jeff had to say:

I have a favor/challenge/request for this year for you and the builders of these tiny houses. I have my own ideas that I want to incorporate in my tiny house design and here is the reason. I have a neurological disorder and do not handle stairs very well, and require a hand rail to climb stairs. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is a huge deal for me.

I rarely see any houses on this site with a hand railing at the entry let alone a Murphy bed type sleeping arrangement or a bed that is a dual purpose design. Climbing up into a loft is do-able, but I would never design anything like that at all for me. Climbing down to use the rest room at night would never appeal to me even if I was as strong as a bull.

So if you agree with me I think it would make for a good discussion and maybe get a few builders thinking a little more about design and dual purpose possibilities. I think a whole new range of people would be interested in the tiny house movement.

I have mentioned this to a couple of builders I know and they think it is a good idea. One or two even have such a design in the works and I’m hoping many more of you will step up too. If you already have such a design please list it in the comment section below and share a link if you have one. If you have other ideas and suggestions please also bring them up in the comment section.

Let’s help people like Jeff and others have the ability to have a tiny home that they can enjoy just like everyone else. If you have a website with your design please list it in the comment section below. If not please email photos and/or floor plans to tinyhouseblog (at) gmail.com and I will pull together a post with your designs so that everyone can see.

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Diane - January 8, 2012 Reply

I totally agree with this. I fully understand how the loft bed is space saving in regards to a home being more compact, but for myself, living with a back condition doesn’t make this concept feasible living. Also, with getting up in yrs., the need to “powder my nose” more frequently, all hrs. of the night has become an unwelcome reality. I’d love to see more ground floor bedroom ideas.

Texas Tiny homes did have a home with a murphy bed incorporated in one of their homes that worked and looked totally awesome.

Diane

Derin Williams - January 8, 2012 Reply

Hi Jeff, awhile back i saw, I think on this blog, but I can not find it now. It was a video about a small structure with a bed that used a garage door assembly/track for the bed. The garage panels were the cushions for the bed/couch and it came down from the wall. All the owner did was push a button and it came down from the wall. I will keep looking and if I find it will get you a link.

Lisa - January 8, 2012 Reply

This also applies to the older population. I am 53 and I could climb up to a loft but it would not be ideal. My husband, on the other hand, would not be able to at all. I love these little houses, but that is a drawback.

Katie Troyer - January 8, 2012 Reply

I am a tiny person and live in a tiny house and have a tiny bed. But this really doesn’t answer your questions, unless you all shrink down to 40 inches.

    Ralph Sly - January 8, 2012 Reply

    Katie, you’re cheating. @ 72” I need almost twice the space. I call fowl. LOL, good for you!!

Liz - January 8, 2012 Reply

It makes sense that the houses have been designed for young people with big bladders, since they’re the people who have been building them, in large part! 😉 But yes, it’s time for the perspective to broaden a bit if it’s going to be an idea that catches on with planning departments, and it’s a long way away.

Belinda J. Barry - January 8, 2012 Reply

Ah what a wonderful idea to bring to the table!!! Both my husband and I are retired, and have issues with a loft and stairs as well, We also have a disabled child (not living with us) who would like to visit 🙂 Small should NOT mean inconvenient, convenience means something different to each family, I am very exciting to see this challenge met, and look forward to the growing results,for many years to come. Thank you Jeff for bringing this different and much needed style of living into the forefront.

Derin Williams - January 8, 2012 Reply

here is the link to the garage door opener bed-http://www.thetinylife.com/awesome-tiny-guest-house/

Anna - January 8, 2012 Reply

I have had the same thoughts about lofts – personally I hate ladders and would never build myself a house that required climbing on a daily basis. Instead I’ve tried to think of solutions where a bed could function as a sofa during daytime – but still be fast & easy to convert at “dusk & dawn”… Plus comfortable both in the bed AND the sofa version!

Sue Moak - January 8, 2012 Reply

Our cabin is 464 sq ft so is bigger than many of the tiny houses but it is all on one floor. It was in the tiny house blog last year. Below is a link.
While we have the 20 x 20 room open but the kitchen side could be divided with a wall and have an L-shape kitchen on one side and the bedroom on the other beside the bathroom.
I know there will be a big response and you will be able to get many ideas on your request! Lots of people looking for a one level, I think. Below is the link to our cabin.

http://tinyhouseblog.com/small-house-feature/hill-country-texas-cabin/

    Shea - January 9, 2012 Reply

    Sue,
    I LOVE your little house! And the one-room plan gives it an airy country feel, too.
    See, something like this would be PERFECT for many folk who are vision-impaired, for instance, and/or spend most of their indoor hours in a wheelchair (no walls or doorways to run into). Thanks for sharing it again, beautiful photos! 😉

http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/ - January 8, 2012 Reply

I am currently building such a design in my micro house video series If you care to watch I will be unveiling this secret project on this site soon .

Amanda - January 8, 2012 Reply

Although most of the houses on this blog do have lofts, there have been quite a few over the years that have ground floor sleeping arangements.

http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house/the-simple-life-bungalow/

comes to mind. Also, Tunbleweed has a plan that has a main floor bedroom (although it is almost entirely bed and you would have to crawl out the end – I’ve seen it done with a futon in there tho).

Maija - January 8, 2012 Reply

Great idea!

I’m 52 and have been worrying over the bed in the loft thing. The loft would be great for visiting kids or grandkids, but I cannot see ~me~ using it for much longer.

The garage door bed, that Derin Williams shared the link for, is great, but it doesn’t look like an ideal (comfy) bed to LIVE with.

I did see a tiny house somewhere that had a tiny bedroom at the back as well as a loft. That would be ideal for some of us.

I’m looking forward to seeing the entries for this contest!

Laura N. - January 8, 2012 Reply

Check out Tiny Home Builder’s Tiny Retirement Plan. It is a one-level design for those not interested in climbing a loft. I’ve seen interior pictures of this place and it is really cute!!

akaallice - January 8, 2012 Reply

Many 45+ couples are downsizing their family homes due to their children growing up and out. These tiny houses are perfect for those couples to live in. I’m with everyone else, those bedroom loft areas have to go! Maybe they can be used for able bodied visiting guests, but for me, the loft area would be totally useless. I struggle to go up 5 steps with a handrail. No bathroom on the loft area? Nope, these days the potty needs to be ‘shuffle’ close. There needs to be a bedroom on the ground level in these tiny houses for the babyboomer generation.

barb - January 8, 2012 Reply

YAY!! What an excellent design challenge.

I think tiny houses, with lofts and ladders and lack of real dining space, are for the young, nimble, single folks. Great! I’m excited to see small scale houses, built on one level, and designed for the long haul of multiple phases of life.

Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!!

alisa - January 8, 2012 Reply

I was thinking for a low budget home that the hotel room that I stayed at in Squaw Valley would be a good design. It was about the size of a two-car garage. It had a sleeping area with a murphy bed, an eating area, a living area with a fireplace in the corner, an l-shaped kitchen, and a bathroom. http://www.redwolfsquaw.com/en/The-Resort/Photo-Gallery.aspx

Also check out the medcottage on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MEDCottage/106185369416028#!/media/set/?set=a.139721266062438.18183.106185369416028&type=3

Morgan - January 8, 2012 Reply

Although I am young and have a healthy bladder (as one of you so succinctly put it!) I too have a neurological disorder. I can handle stairs alright, but use a service dog for mobility. I want so desperately to build a tiny home, but I need stairs to a loft that my DOG can handle, and I’ve yet to see that at all.
Right now the design I have come up with is one similar to the Texas Tiny Houses bookshelf/stair combo found in their Canyon Lake, but with the staircase footing deeper and split to wrap upwards in the area of the Fencl usually reserved for closet space, if that makes sense.
I’m so glad this thread and contest is happening, and I’m excited for the result!

ani B - January 8, 2012 Reply

http://tinyhomebuilders.com/home

Dan has a one level “Retirement Cottage” he designed for his mother.

The loft is used for storage, and it looks very well built. Mr. Pino did a video tour of this one level for Dan’s mom on Tiny House Talk.

Check it out!

Jan - January 8, 2012 Reply

The tiny house I am currently building (see my blog–http://riveredge-jaybee.blogspot.com/) includes a permanent queen-sized bed on the first floor. I don’t want to sleep up a ladder; neither do I want to set up and fold away my bed every day. My home is 26 feet long in order to make this possible. I ended up designing this home myself (the floor plan is posted on my blog) because I could not find a plan/design that met my requirements. I agree, more such designs are needed!

ani B - January 8, 2012 Reply

http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/dans-tiny-house-video-tour/

Here is the video of Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk of Dan’s Retirement cottage….

Ralph Sly - January 8, 2012 Reply

Ahhh, the loft idea is also a challenge for pudgy older 63, gimpy (emphysema and mild parkensons), bladder controlled geezers (but dam good looking) like me, as well as the challenge of making the bed up to look “pretty”. I need the bed accessible for naps (often), (“lack of oxygen”). I have a 48” presently taking valuable floor space but want at least a queen. Google “Safari RV bed” and it will give you an idea of a terrific concept. Some older RVs also have an easy pull down over the driver’s seats (easy to salvage from RV wrecks) that would be good for young healthy guests. Economics has me building a Murphy type with the office concept as seen on this blog. Utilizing “from the ceiling concepts” has me coming up with all kinds of great ideas, many also found here. I do have an RV chesterfield which folds down and out for guests and of course a phone number for a local reasonable priced motel. I of course am living in opulence of 250 sq’. Anyone passing through Castlegar BC is welcome to come see this rough, building restoration on a shoe string prototype in continual progress but email first, I may be out living!!! Like minded people are always welcome in my world.

Mark Kenney - January 8, 2012 Reply

I live in a 10X20 tiny home on trailer that has a 7X10 sleeping loft and a forward storage loft over the 4X10 covered porch. I’m 58 and though I do not have any real trouble climbing UP to my loft for sleep given a decent ladder, I do have issues with the fact that, at 4 ft at the peak, I have to “clamber & crawl on my knees” to bed. I have back & hip issues, so often I sleep in a full recliner on the main floor just because it IS easier. I’m looking for ways to mechanize a people riser or a disappearing ladder. I also have trouble with “fitting in” a murphy bed design on the main floor given the placement of windows (I came into this adventure with a shell that had already been completed), so had no choice on window placement. Don’t have a website, so I’ll try to do the above gravatar upload.

    Kent Griswold - January 8, 2012 Reply

    Hi Mark email me a couple of photos and I’d be happy to publish them on this post. tinyhouseblog (at) gmail. com -Kent

et - January 8, 2012 Reply

As Mark Chenail said when posting this design, “I found this a very intriguing exercise but would like to point out that most of the designs posted are aimed at the young skinny nimble and able-bodied. As I am confined to a wheelchair and plus-sized into the bargain, I decided to see what I could design all on one level and as accessible as possible. That meant NO steps, ladders, lofts for sleeping. [Here is] a simple minded shed.”

http://www.countryplans.com/contest.html

    Kent Griswold - January 8, 2012 Reply

    These are great et, thank you for sharing. As more come in I will pull together a post that shows off these designs. If you don’t have a website but would like to share your home or design please email photos or floor plans to tinyhouseblog (at) gmail.com.
    – Kent

Yvette - January 8, 2012 Reply

Thank you so much for this discussion. I live in Los Angeles, so land is at a premium. I work with individuals with developmental disabilities who want to live independently. There have been some developments based on “cottage-style” living or “SRO”s/Single Room Occupancy (studios in a high rise). A much more practical solution is an accessible tiny home or homes on smaller lots in the community. It would do much to solve the issues of affordable housing for many.

Cristina Coddington - January 8, 2012 Reply

If you check out my web site http://www.thinkbigdesignsmall.com the image on the homepage is of a bed system I designed. The idea was simply to remove all the wasted space in a bedroom and make a ‘Bed Pod’ which can be placed in a hallway or living room etc. It has doors that slide shut to hide the mess when guests come over and appears simply like a closet on the outside. Inside it has built in bookshelves, a nook for your coffee cup or night time snack, a built in tv, and reading lights. It is accented with small windows above to add natural light. The mattress is on platform that slides out for ease of making the bed and below the bed there are one or two large full length drawers (depending on the model) that can be used to store bedding, clothes, or even a pull out mattress set in a giant drawer for when guest come over. Among the models options are included for a small cabinet along side it 18″ wide, where a full closet pulls out towards you, with small drawers below. There is even an option for a small stack laundry closet along side in a cabinet. This bed screams storage and efficiency!

Sandy - January 8, 2012 Reply

I think the Tumbleweed type designs fit in a certain niche, but I have always felt that something in the way of 500-700 sq would be more appropriate and practical for our soon to be senior citizens(that would be me). We need to think of designs that will us allow us to build our smaller houses with the aging process in mind. Wheelchair sized doorways, wheel-in showers. It’s always best to be prepared, none of us knows what the future may bring us in terms of our health. For me, my small house will be the last one I build and is going to need to be darn near perfect! lol

    Patricia Lynn - January 8, 2012 Reply

    I am with you – I like the tiny home but at 61 I need room for a walker and a walk in shower/tub of some sort so need at least 500 sq ft. Any chance of a web blog for “cozy homes”? It would also open up putting a home on land since most cities require that a home be at least 500 sq ft.

      Shea - January 9, 2012 Reply

      Patricia, you did it! That’s PERFECT: “cozy homes”!
      We’ve been discussing ‘tiny homes’ here for a few years, and this subject comes up again and again (more so, recently) and leaves many of us wondering what to call the ‘tiny house’ WE are trying to envision and share… small house? Too broad… Little house? Again, a little vague, brings to mind either gnomes and hobbits, or the Gilbert family…

      The Cozy House, just a little bigger than the ‘tiny’, single floor, wider halls, hand rails here and there, lower switches and higher outlets… for those with seniority and/or disability needs!
      😉

Engineer Guy - January 8, 2012 Reply

I’m not much with e.drawing, so my Bed idea – for a Custom RV Trailer, too – is this. Improve on the standard Futon Couch. For a King Bed, use 2 – 3′ Single Bed-sized pieces of very dense Foam; the Foam we have for all House Beds. Cover each with attractive Single Bed Fitted Sheets. Make 2 ~3′ x 6+’ Wood Frames w/bottom Slats and ~1″ Dowel Rods on each half-Frame corner [8 Dowel Rods/Pins total].

Underneath, strap the 2 Frames together with study Nylon Webbing, etc.. In the Couch configuration, the rear Back-support 3′ half is angled, and could even sit up on the Fanny-support Frame half.

The Frame corner Dowel Rods would travel in routed grooves on both sides in the Frame. They could be waxed, or lined with Teflon Strips. Or, the stout Dowel Rods could be Teflon. Garage Door Wheels and Brackets [very stout] in a Routed recess also could be used instead of Dowel Rods. These would require ~2 quick-engage Locking Pins, etc., to keep the bottom Seat rear Wheels from moving in the Couch position.

Pulling forward on the Couch front pulls the Back-support half along, and makes into a 6′ wide Bed with 2 – 3′-wide side-by-side Sections.

I fell ~half-way down from an RV Bed up over the front Seats. My Leg hit a sharp edge on the Dinette MDF. I opened up and bled nonstop. Made a believer out of me to use any future Loft for Storage, or an occasional, comfy Reading spot. Accident odds increase statistically if you climb up/down daily.

What I’ve found is that Routing in detents, or half circles like a Comma shape, lets the Dowels drop into place and not move while still allowing desired movement between Couch and Bed functions. The Routing trick is where the lower side of the Back support-half rests so that it can come out of the rest position and follow the Couch Seat bottom as it’s pulled into a Bed.

For me, a Couch needs to deploy into a Bed in seconds. If Friends sitting on your Bed Sheets is too weird, throw something over the Couch during the day.

This Couch/Bed could be permanently mounted to the Wall, since pressure will cycled upon it daily. A Duvet w/integral Cover [no Top Sheet needed] and a Pillow could be stored in a Drawer, etc., underneath. This would permit the Bed to be made up in no time. This idea would work for a Single Bed. The Couch Back Support could mount to the Wall on an angle, and stay there.

If precisely implemented – and Manual Operation is not desired – this idea should be compatible with a +12 VDC Servo Motor and threaded Drive Screw. They’re used in ‘Toy Hauler’ RVs to raise/lower rear Beds from the Ceiling.

Tess - January 8, 2012 Reply

Thanks for addressing this! I have been looking at tiny house designs myself, and have found few that don’t require climbing a ladder to get to the loft. Though I am young and at least 30 yrs. from retirement, I have very bad knees, so climbing ladders on a regular basis doesn’t appeal. I could probably handle a few well-placed stairs, but that’s it. I look forward to seeing what designs come up!

Beverly - January 8, 2012 Reply

Like many other responders, I am older (63), achy and clumsy. I was lucky to have the foresight to have a one story house built 24 years ago. However, it is way too big now for me to handle the cleaning, upkeep and utility expenses. The tiny house for me would have one bedroom to handle a king sized bed and 1 1/2 bathrooms. So far, I haven’t seen one like this. Anybody know of one?

Jeff H - January 8, 2012 Reply

Kent, I was so happy to see you posted this for me. I really appreciate it. Your a man of your word.

And as far as the comments go, WOW! I am so happy I am not the only one wanting and needing more from a tiny house. I had a feeling this would be a good topic.

Thanks for all the ideas and links, I am still going through them and adding ideas to my growing list.

Thanks again for this great post, the excitement and comments. It is so nice to see other people express the need for something as simple as hand railings and a better bed situation. I am so happy about this.

Jeff H.

Jennifer Y - January 8, 2012 Reply

One of my favorites is the 400 sq ft Home Care Cottage. Looks very livable for us less-than-agile folks.
tinyhouseblog.com/stick-built/home-care-cottages/

Thomas - January 8, 2012 Reply

I greatly enjoy the site and visit almost daily and have been hoping that some one like myself (middle Aged 52 and mildly disabled Physically, mobility issues ) would bring forward designs which would be more appropriate for someone like myself. I grew up in a huge suburban Mansion 7850ft/2 and have spent my entrie adult life moving down in size of home for the last 12 years 1276ft/2 while 200 to 400 is economically sensible 650 would probably due. My first interest in a smaller home was sparked by a book called the “the little house” written by Leslie Armstrong, This how to shows the wear of a hundred readings, its simple design and small size make for a alternative but it still has stairs and a small bedroom on the first floor would still be necessary in my case.
Lastly I personally would appreciate more floorplans be presented along with the pictures of small and tiny home allon the lines of the various layout presnted of the 16×20 houses on this site floorplans help give context to photos
thank you

Rebecca B. A. R. - January 8, 2012 Reply

Tumbleweed Houses has the Popomo plan that has a bed on the main floor and is 172 sq. ft. They say it is one of the easiest of their houses to build, too. It isn’t as pretty on the outside, but the floor plan is nice.

James Vroman - January 8, 2012 Reply

I am presently building a Tiny House on skids.
It is 7’6″ wide by 16′ long excluding the roof.
I also went through the decision of loft or no loft and decided on no loft for sleeping but a loft storage area over the bathroom for water storage (rainwater capture and pumped overhead for storage and thermal mass). I am still deciding on a fold up bed or a dedicated bed with pillows that can be used to make it a day bed. I have been looking at campaign furniture as a possible solution to all my furniture needs ( Blame Christopher Schwarz for that).

Aaron Brachfeld - January 8, 2012 Reply

The Meadowlark Herald (a newspaper I am editor for) has done stories on small houses before, and I also live in a tiny (120 sqft) house with my wife. Lofts are entirely unnecessary, and I’d be happy to talk to you about how my family manages without one, and about various beds we’ve tried. You should consider a sleeping mat – it’s really good for the back – because they can fold up in the morning. You can even put the mat up on a cot if you like, and the entire thing folds away.

Tiny homes are not so inconvenient that you can’t have a full sized bed, or a hammock, or any other thing you like to sleep on. Lofts are great ways to make room for your stuff, but if you have that much stuff, you need a larger house.

Tiny homes are great for all ages and abilities: walking an extra 50 feet per day to go to the bathroom or kitchen 3 times per day translates to over 10 miles at the end of the year. That wears out shoes (or wheels on your wheel chair)! Homes built on a human scale mean a happier human inside…

I recommend designing your own tiny home to your specifications, and would love to help if you want my advice. The home need not cost more than $3,000, even if you get fancy. You can reach me at the Meadowlark Herald, at meadowlarkherald@gmail.com.

Hazel - January 8, 2012 Reply

Being 61 but fit and agile, I wouldn’t have trouble with a loft; thinking long term though, a ground floor bed would be the best design.

I like the Tiny House Builders’ Retirement Cottage but with some modifications. I would shorten the kitchen space…it’s a very long counter for one person…to leave enough space for a built-in double bed with drawers under and bookshelves at the ends. With an attractive quilt and lots of pillows/cushions, it could be used as a couch during the day. I don’t see why beds need to be hidden away. 😉

I also would want a porch for sitting out, and a small ‘mudroom’ area for shoes and coats.

Spending the winters in a 31 ft Airstream in Texas, I’ve found that the motto, “everything in its place and a place for everything” is so true.

Marsha Cowan - January 8, 2012 Reply

HI again,
I have a number of ideas that I will try to sketch and send in an email, but in the meantime, what about a bed with hydraulic hinges that easily folds up against the wall over the desk, but lowers on legs that prop on the desk without disturbing the desk things on top, and what if the bottom of the bed (when it is folded up to the wall) contained storage areas, bulletin board, pictures, etc. that could be used when not sleeping? And what if the roof was lowered so that you would still have the adorable roof line, but could build a loft right down the middle, but open on the sides so that anyone standing at any point along the floor can reach up from either side and get something from the loft without having to climb. What about cool storage boxes with lids under the built in sofa that could slide out and be used as footrests, and fold down little tables on each side of the sofa that could be used for a laptop? Handholds could be attached to the walls and ceiling at strategic places to aid in standing and sitting, and you could build a cool ramp to come and go to your porch instead of stairs. I will try to sketch out some of this, but it will be a day or so. Good Luck!

Freya Dawn - January 8, 2012 Reply

Here is a link to a little cottage that was featured in a 2007 edition of County Home Magazine.

The cabin design is approx 545 sq feet, and is laid out very nicely for 1-room living. It is still one of my all-time favorites for 1-room home concepts.

I think the online article show 9 photos of the ‘interior’.

http://www.countryhome.com/decorating/showhouse/kbisretreat_1.html

http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/ - January 8, 2012 Reply

WOW! as a tiny house designer and builder/Instructor I am blown away at the feedback on this post. I am glad you all have responded with your needs and request.

I will be creating innovations and design responses to solve the needs of this segment of micro housers this year on my blog and youtube channel stay tuned.

    http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/ - January 8, 2012 Reply

    P.S. I’m listening let me know your needs.This is exciting I love problem solving.

      Jeff H - January 8, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Kevin, I watched a few of your videos, they are great. As the comments come in they are full of great ideas. I will be adding to the list as well. I’m glad that you as a builder are excited about this, I can tell in your writing this interests you a lot.

      Jeff H.

alice h - January 8, 2012 Reply

Tiny life is a lot simpler if you just need a tiny bed. I sleep on an Ikea Beddinge couch that flops out into a larger bed if needed but most of the time it’s good enough as is. I raised the back legs to keep the sleeping surface level and added extra foam for a more comfy snooze. When I stay in my Boler I sleep on the couch there too where I have a 6″ foamie. I took off the backrest part, just use pillows. Luckily I’m only 5’4″ so there’s lots of room lengthwise.

SSR - January 8, 2012 Reply

It’s not just a problem for the upper-middle-aged or a previous commenters blithe remark about wheelchairs, and it’s not just about murphy beds or lofts.

My husband and I love the tiny houses we see here and elsewhere, but the reality is that although he’s young (27) and “healthy”, he’s a veteran with a bad back, grinding knee joints, and largely useless foot. He limps, he’s fully deaf in one ear, and he has brain trauma they’re only beginning to diagnose. (He also has a family, a job, and the grit to stay as active as he can, so no pity!) But fact is, his physical life won’t get any easier with age.

Many of these houses that I see regard a window as a secondary fire-escape exit, something about meeting codes for habitation, I believe. That isn’t going to work for people who can’t climb, especially a lofted window, but also even a counter-height window. A murphy bed can’t be lowered by someone with a bad back, or a tiny wet bath used by someone who can’t bend well or stand for long periods of time. What about an option for lights to signal that someone is at the door, instead of relying on sound?

Odds are we’ll never have a tiny house because of many small but meaningful issues like these. It’s a shame that more architects and designers of tiny homes don’t offer options and expand their market audience. They’re missing out, and that’s just poor business sense.

    Engineer Guy - January 8, 2012 Reply

    I watched my ‘Out Laws’ have to leave their Detroit ‘Burbs Post-WW II House due toSteps. So, I just finished our ‘last’, single level House with all 3′ Pocket Doors, and Wheelchair Access. I lowered all Light Switches. The roll-in Tile Shower, w/sloped Floor, has no Lip, A slight, sloped one could be built-in. From a Hotel in Brazil, I borrowed the idea of the [Glass] Door clearing the Tile by JUST a smidge. Water doesn’t flow out if this gap is small. A relatively-large Shower Door makes a modest space Wheelchair-accessible. Also, Big Box Stores now sell a high-walled, sit down Tub with a relatively-small Footprint.

    Some RVs place Toilets in a corner at a 45. This allows for Knee room, and for Assist Rails on both sides. This occupied Toilet footprint overall is smaller than usual. A custom, corner Cabinet above the toilet could hold Toiletries, etc..

    Murphy Beds [or Kits] have ‘assist’ Hardware that offset Bed weight. I’ve thought that a roll-up Garage Door ‘assist’ Spring could be installed and adjusted for Murphy Bed use to make it ‘feather’ light. Once stored up in daytime, a hinged, fold down, cushioned Couch Seat on the Bed bottom could deploy horizontally for sitting. A hinged Desktop could deploy, also.

    Wireless Doorbells are easily bought. Have an ‘Electrical’ Pal modify it to light a bright LED.

    We did all 9′ Ceilings to allow for high Shelves to hold infrequently-used items in Closets [small Suitcases; Seasonal Coats; etc.]. I like this approach better than a climb-up Loft, although neither is ADA-compliant.

    Jeff H - January 8, 2012 Reply

    SSR, I think you have some very good points here. But I think the problem is the builders and designers never really thought about people with disabilities. And that is why I decided to ask Kent to post my request. I have soooo many ideas in my head and on paper that I will share as soon as I have time. As I read through I see mention of “cottages” and to me they can adapt many features fairly easily given the fact they are larger, but a “tiny house”, say on a trailer with limited space will be what I call a “challenge”. So give these builders and Designers a chance and I bet they come up with some excellent ideas. Maybe even a get together at one of these gatherings would be helpful for the builders? I know I cant bend over very well and pull out a hide-a-bed, I could but I wouldn’t want to. This is going to be a exciting new phase that I think will really get people thinking and sharing ideas on different designs. Anyways thanks to everyone who has contributed to this post. It is very nice to see I am not the only one looking for some changes.

    Jeff H.

    alice h - January 9, 2012 Reply

    A lot of accessibility issues have been addressed in RV’s, things like portable ramps. http://portablewheelchairramps.ca/ is just one. Some ideas here too http://www.accessibleconstruction.com/articles/special-living3.html

barb - January 8, 2012 Reply

Someone on the facebook page mentioned Katrina Cottages in response to this post. I had forgotten about those! What a great option!

The med cottage and retirement cottage are fabulous. You might also want to check out http://www.townandcountryplans.com Some of these designs are single level.

    ani B - January 8, 2012 Reply

    This guy built a beautiful one level Retirement cottage for his Mom. This is a video of Alex Pino from Tiny House Talk touring it…

      Hazel - January 9, 2012 Reply

      This is the design I was talking about in my previous post. It’s seems so bright and airy! I would shorten the kitchen area though to make space for a real bed with drawers under and bookcases at either end. Futons and pullouts are not good enough support for back health.

Kera - January 9, 2012 Reply

I guess I’m of the younger variety, but I do not fit into the skinny nor large bladder category. I have a loft for my bed and I usually have to get up at least once a night to go the bathroom. I can say it has firmed up my glutes for sure, having to go up and down a ladder multiple times a day. I love, love, love my loft bed. Makes me feel like I am in a tree house. My inner 5 year old appreciates that.

I did wonder how the tiny house movement could work for the folks who weren’t so inclined for a ladder due to injury or age. I had contemplated a murphy bed in my earlier stages of my tiny house search, and what I realized is that I do not want to have to put my bed away every day. But I would be curious to see what designs pop up out of all of this for sure.

~Kera

Al - January 9, 2012 Reply

I’m young and I have overactive bladder and has no desire to climb a loft especially one with a ladder multiple times a night so I think this is an AWESOME idea. We need more one story houses. I don’t mind having a loft for storage use but not to sleep in.

The other problem with Tiny houses I’m running into is efficiant closet space. Living in a climate with 4 seasons and my husband has to wear suits to work. Our wardrobe is pretty extensive and nothing can be done about it. I typically find the closet space in these homes would barely cover the amount of coats we need to last us these different tempatures.

Doug - January 9, 2012 Reply

If you have more than enough room for a full-size desk on the main floor, there’s a Murphy bed/desk at Storagebeds. (http://storagebeds.com/products/hidden-beds.html)
Otherwise, an old fashioned day bed also makes a mediocre couch, given enough backrest cushions.

    Sarah Weisiger - January 15, 2012 Reply

    I love this desk/bad design and it is much cheaper than the couch/bed from Italy I had been salivating over. Thanks for the link!

Howard - January 9, 2012 Reply

While I can (sometimes) manage stairs with two handrails, I have a service dog who can climb regular stairs but not the steep kind often found in tiny houses.

    Morgan - January 9, 2012 Reply

    I posted the same ‘problem’ above (I hate to call my sd and lifeline my problem, but with a tiny house she is considered one). Glad I’m not the only one 🙂

tara - January 9, 2012 Reply

I love this request. I have noticed some of those very same issues when looking at all the lovely tiny houses. But I often wondered, as people age, get arthritis, etc, how they would be able to keep climbing up to the loft area to sleep.
I realize some solutions will end up with more overall square footage and take up more “space” being flatter, however if the longevity of living in a tiny house can be maximized, isn’t that truly the win in this case?

Kay in KCMO - January 9, 2012 Reply

Quite a while back (2010?) there was post here about a French tiny house that had ground floor sleeping. I remember thinking at the time that is was the first tiny house that would have been practical for me. Plus, it was gorgeous. I can’t seem to find the link now.

Adela - January 9, 2012 Reply

Being already partial disabled and one day will fully be I’ve been researching around the possibilities for cozy, compact design and you get more options if you drop the limited view the tiny house ideology baggage brings first.
If you tweak the the search engine right, places like Houseplans.com will bring up a couple dozen one floor, 1 or 2 bedroom cottages in the cozy scale.(There are 72 under 1,000 sq feet, 1 level, 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 0 garage.) Some are even from the dreaded status quo main stream designers, omg.
I like to think of micro houses as being a different group from antique scale in tiny houses. And there are a lot of antique scale designs out there that will meet modern regulations and needs and still be “tiny” cozy homes.

Paula - January 9, 2012 Reply

Just making some rambling comments here:

I’ve often wished I had alot of land to develop in a way that reflected a sensible approach to housing needs for a cross section of people. Why can’t developers and architects “get” that is a very needed commodity? Having said that I may as well wish I was a builder and designer. I’m more of a gobbler up of lovely small house design information in all manner as many of you are.

In my small mountain town I’ve seen gorgeous tracts of land being swallowed up for second very expensive homes, other small land tracts have nice houses put up but still “big” and not very sensible.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have pocket neighborhoods/developments for small and tiny homes for an array of people with garden spaces, community areas/buildings but still in town limits where people can access services? Ross Chapin designs are lovely but those neighborhoods are really expensive.

We have a little bit of property where our house sits that we can build one or two units on according to zoning not being more than 1100 sq. ft. total. It is also surveyed to be sold with the unit(s) on it if we desire.

My question to everyone who wishes for the “right” kind of house is do you want to own it out right or would you be happy to rent?

In my very small way I’m looking at providing a couple small/sensible/efficient homes for people. Since I live in a desirable area, renting them would not be a problem but I want to provide a well designed space as well. My hope is that I can eventually do that. All these ideas are wonderful to read about! Thanks.

    Shea - January 9, 2012 Reply

    I loved your ‘rambling’… In fact, I have a tiny Moleskine (little black notebook with an elastic band that holds it shut, the kind Hemingway used to jot down notes in, they say), with ‘squared’ paper, that I’ve been sketching floorplan ideas into for many years, and last Fall I actually came up with several such ‘pocket’ neighborhood ideas!
    At the time, I was looking at what could be done, had I the money (and the city’s okay! lol), with the just-over-a-half-acre my old house was sitting on, and I came up with a ‘tiny’ neighborhood that had a driveway ‘street’ down the middle and a total of 10 tiny ‘lots’ on it, each with a tiny house (of two “Katrina-type” models I had also developed, a single bedroom and a 2bedroom-ish) all with a basic driveway, little front yard and slightly bigger backyard, at least 6 to 8′ lotlines on the sides. ALL hooked up to a building on a lot at the end of the ‘block’ that not only housed a small laundry facility, but some mechanicals and, on its roof, a solar panels array, and a half dozen residential wind-power systems, to provide electricity off-grid to all at about 20-26kWh per day…
    Of course, there would have to be a well and septic system provided for all, too, in order for this to be completely off-grid, but it was just a rough idea, anyway… I’ll see if I can’t shoot or scan the sketches into digital form and share them here… 😉

      alice h - January 10, 2012 Reply

      If you had a single well you could set each place up with their own gravity fed water tank that only needed to be refilled by pumping from the central source as needed. That way you reduce the number of pumps needed and the number of times it needs to be activated. Another advantage of several people using single systems is that you get to set up a better greywater system that might be hard to make work with smaller amounts of water. I love your idea for a community. There were places around the Yukon that had a few “shacks” on an acreage that people would rent, many longterm, and interesting communities would evolve. Rents were usually low and amenities basic.

      Paula - January 12, 2012 Reply

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who has thought about this. Instead of the average mobile home park what if there were tiny house parks? Myriad ideas such as yours could be incorporated. Leads me to wonder about small plots of land around. I know I can build two 550 sq.ft units or have a couple park models on the property. Hum, three or four tiny (100 to 200 sq. ft. houses parked?? Interesting. Love and had also thought of the communal building–laundry, workshed, etc.

    carolyn getchman - May 17, 2016 Reply

    i was just thinking that i would love to have a Small not tiny house on a permanent lot that i owned , aroune 800 or 900 sq ft, wonder if anyone has plans to do that—would love to live in florida or california , but cannot afford the houses there

Moontreeranch - January 9, 2012 Reply

I our 200 sq foot version we have a loft (for the kids) and the grown ups use a giant day bed / converted dining area. When I was building I got some surplus cushions from an RV Salvage yard and designed around them.

We have been visting the place now for a couple years and find that we don’t make the grown up bed into the dining “booth” to often.

http://www.hometalk.com/Kevin/project/1462

Johanna - January 9, 2012 Reply

Scroll down several pages to Glenn Grassi’s Micro House posting. His bed isn’t in a loft and he manages it in just 84 square feet. True, the shower is “under” the bed (you flip the bed up and shower in the knee-high shower stall), but you could cut a wide “notch” in the shower wall so that you could step into the shower (without compromising the structural integrity of the bed) if it’s hard to step over the shower “wall”.
If it’s difficult for you to raise the bed, you could rig a pulley-and-weight system. (But you did mention a Murphy bed.) As an elderly woman, I had thought I might have to rig up a bosun’s chair (canvas seat on a pulley) to access a sleeping loft, but Glenn has shown that the bed needn’t be in a loft.
Also, by putting the door over the trailer hitch, he has room for a tiny “porch” on the hitch, and you could weld a little fold-down step on one side of the hitch to ease access from ground level. You’d be using the trailer hitch as your front stairs.
I hope you get some usable ideas from designers. It’d be wonderful to open up the tiny house movement to the elderly and those with physical challenges.

    Cathie - January 15, 2012 Reply

    I agree about making tiny homes more accessible to older people. I am 60 and can still climb a ladder into a loft, but I know that won’t always be the case, and crawling as opposed to standing up might not be as appealing at some point. I look forward to the results of this challenge!

Shea - January 9, 2012 Reply

WOW! 66 responses this evening already?? Now I’ll add mine, and try to keep it (uncharacteristically) short…
Jeff, I’m in your corner on this one. In less than 10 years I have gone from working with horses and dancing all weekend to literally hobbling with a cane (wheelchair/scooter when I’m away from the house) like an 80 year old woman… wait, my neighbor’s 83 and she’s a spry thing!
I cannot ‘do’ stairs. At all. I’ve suffered along with a heart arrhythmia (since several auto-immune/neurological monsters surfaced around 2002) and it’s become worse as the polymyositis and severe spinal stenosis have painfully progressed. I wheeze terribly just from going ‘up’ the single step of my concrete porch, then ‘up’ over the thresh hold of my apartment. My hips and knees are so bad now (the RSD of my ‘monsters’) I can hardly get up and down from a chair (without screaming).

However, I don’t think the ‘answer’ to ‘tiny house’ design needs to simply address multi-purpose furniture, Jeff! I think we need to see allowances that a house can STILL be considered ‘tiny’ even if it DOES have that ‘extra’ 10X9 little bedroom, and a LARGER bath & shower setup than many of these tiny plans (the ones that aptly demonstrate how a 3-piece bath CAN be shoehorned into a 3X5 space!), fastened on at the end for us folks that cannot live without these ‘maneuverable’ spaces (necessary for us, NOT luxuries)!
I’m afraid, somehow, that the ‘tiny house movement’ has almost become too ‘tiny-focused’ to the point of neurosis: it is wonderful to see what one can do with so little in square-footage, but let’s not be DEFINED by the ‘100 square-feet-or-less’ mantra! I believe there will always be a need for there to be something not quite-as-tiny as tiny simply because not all inhabitants are young, agile singles – there will be couples, roommates of more than 2, small families or single mothers with 2 or 4 children, all desiring to live ‘smaller’. And let’s, please, not forget the seniors or disabled folk (physically and otherwise)!
Obviously, these variables should not be frowned upon just because they will cause the tiny house to look more like a traditional small house or cottage!
It’s all relative, and quite subjective, after all…
The gist of it all is that we want our ‘tinier’ home, as tiny as we, with all our differences, needs and desires, can live within!

Tiny house plans should not be restricted to some square-footage IDEAL, but to be as an IDEA, to cut back all that’s unnecessary and live with simply what we need in order to better enjoy living ‘smaller’!
This means tiny house plans *should* welcome designs that incorporate the additional 50 to 100 square-footage (and at ground floor level!) in order to accommodate those who cannot manage stairs (let alone a ladder! LOL)…
I have a few I’ve been working on that *I* might even be inspired to contribute… 😉

    Jeff H. - January 9, 2012 Reply

    Shae, this is a wonderful reply. I love it! I’m sorry for your health problems, @40 I decided by 45 I will have my Tiny House one way or another built the way I want. Then with this site and all the Builders, Designers, Links, Comments and suggestions I will be ready for anything health wise that might come up in the future and plan the layout that will suit me. I have the land, and its all paid for ready to go.

    I love all your suggestions. You bring up a lot of great points.

    Thanks, Jeff H

      Shea - January 9, 2012 Reply

      Jeff, you’re way ahead of many of us, in that you have land ready for ‘house-buildin”!
      But for me, the question of ‘where’ is probably as important as the ‘what’ (land and/or house): my health will continue to decline, and I will have to work with that by putting myself somewhere to make things as easy-as-possible for me to SLOW that decline down! I have to get away from hot and cold extremes, humidity is a bear on my breathing, etc. I’m actually planning to move myself to the Azores (Sao Miguel of the Islands, what city or village depends on where I find ‘my spot’ of heaven), where the weather is much like San Francisco in the U.S., but MILDER (winter LOWS average 45 to 55 degrees F, summer highs average 65 to 75 degrees F!). I’ve been asking a few Azoreans what kind of city/parish ‘codes’ I might have to stay within, in regards to having my own ‘little house’ built on a patch of land, even what’s involved if I have a little trailer parked somewhere for awhile first/during… I do know it has to be earthquake-resistant, and my ‘tiny home’ (or trailer) will certainly be that, as there will be no conventional concrete foundation or ‘load bearing walls’ construction involved, in either case.
      At least I know I will not have to build-in too much in the way of heating/cooling, so my propane use should be minimal, just for cooking, hot water…
      Sorry I ramble so… dreaming of, and planning, my move and creation of my ‘tiny home’, pretty much is my biggest passion these days, and it really helps me keep my old artistic and creative skills in shape. 😉

        Ralph Sly - January 15, 2012 Reply

        Shea, I too had to do a ton of travelling to find someplace that I could breath, AZ is great for us Canadians, esp for the cheap ones like me, Quartsite was fun but summers killed me. Ottawa ON, Calgary AB killed me; Believe it or not, Backersfield CA was great one winter. I stayed an extra month. I find low altitudes and generally mild winters ok. This place worked out well. If you have any lung related illness, Google emphysema and trampolines and believe everything you read. The University of Michigan has no record of the study but it’s a fact. It has kept me stable for years after they had my baggage packed. Then go out and get two walking sticks and a rebounder. When that works, contact me and I will give you some more bits the pulmonary specialist say will not work. I no longer see them.
        LOVED YOUR LINE: dreaming of, and planning, my move and creation of my ‘tiny home’, pretty much is my biggest passion these days, and it really helps me keep my old artistic and creative skills in shape,and that is probably what keeps you going.
        Here I am, Mr. used to like to take a plane into slow flight and drop out of the sky at altitude and now held to sea level.

    Al - January 10, 2012 Reply

    I totally agree with your comment!

    And not even regarding to the space to sleep, but with other things.

    My husband thought we would build a shed to keep things like our camping gear, bikes, ski’s, skates,tools and the garbage. BUT why make a shed for that instead of a storage room directly off the house? What’s the point? —–> You get to say your house is smaller. That’s the point. Well I think that’s a stupid point LOL. I’d rather have the convience of having a storage room in my house for those things rather than lugging it outside continually.

    Sandra Van Dyk - January 14, 2012 Reply

    Thanks, Shea, for voting to enlarge the tiny house movement a bit. I am an avid tiny house fan but am personally challenged by stairs and tiny quarters difficult to negotiate if twisting and turning is painful, which it is for me. I agree that tiny houses should be designed for seniors and those with mobility issues as well as for people who can climb up ladders and pull down murphy beds with ease. Many people with mobility issues would welcome economical but attractive housing that meets their needs. I know I would! I plan to build a very small but not tiny house in the near future because I need a bedroom on the first floor. Thanks, Shea!

      D.Nivala - January 15, 2012 Reply

      I couldn’t agree more–Main floor bedroom is a must. Love the small house idea just can’t climb a ladder to a loft! More floorplans to accomodate that and you’ll have a winner!!

      Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

      You’re welcome, Sandra, and D….
      I’m in the same ‘boat’, with mobility issues… I need to start using a wheelchair more, because, quite frankly, I’m going to have a heart attack SOON if I don’t stop exhausting myself and putting my back out by doing more than I’m able…
      I don’t exactly have anyone around to do any of several necessary chores FOR me…and most smaller living spaces not only won’t alleviate our various mobility/aging issues, many almost ADD to the problems we are already trying to deal with.

      I use a cane 90% of the time, because, around the house, I’m able to steady myself with various walls, doorways, and furniture, as I go from one place to the next.
      And this is why, in several of the designs I have put together in the way of floorplans, that I do not like ‘open’ arrangements: because I would HAVE to use my cane all the time, then! For those in wheelchairs (and using walkers), an open floorplan works best, but make ‘room’ divisions an option for those of us who depend on those walls and doorways for support, literally! And three to three and a half foot wide halls/aisles are a MUST. This is difficult for most designers, because three feet can almost be half the width of the entire ‘tiny’!
      In my links to my first idea, above, you can see where I set up a standard ‘room’ layout, with a ‘living room’, kitchen, bath, bedroom and even a hallway! But the wall in the living room and kitchen can be changed to an open arrangement easily enough, too. Some of us WANT the ‘rooms’ not just for supporting themselves on/against, but because we absolutely dont like the idea of sitting in our wheelchair and just ‘spinning’ in a circle in one (albeit larger) room! I LIKE the idea of ‘going’ somewhere… into the kitchen, down a hall, to the bedroom or bath.

      *I* would be miserable if Me and My Wheels were sitting in a room we only had to roll three feet in any direction to be: a. at the kitchen counter, b. in front of the TV stand, c. at the bathroom door or d. rolled up to stop in front of my computer space (whether the kitchen counter area or an actual little stand)! Tiny is GOOD, but I NEED the actual transitioning between spaces/rooms, even if we’re only talking two rooms (not counting the bathroom).
      So planning for the disabled/senior community needs to address more than just ‘everything in one little place’ and at arm’s reach, it needs to do so while mimicking the HOMEY-NESS OF A HOUSE…
      But it does not necessarily mean the ‘cozy’ house MUST also become a 500 to 800 square foot floorplan, either.
      I’m sure (well, HOPING!) there is a middle-ground in there somewhere…

      It becomes a major quest, doesn’t it, this “CAN I have my cake AND eat it, too?’… 😉

Abel Zimmerman Zyl - January 9, 2012 Reply

Fabulous! I just designed a 16′ house, very simple, with lots of nice woodwork for my next client. The bed is on ‘ground floor’… No loft in this design. I begin the build in mid February. This one is pretty custom, so it is not priced like my other houses. Ill try to get some sketches sent out soon!

Pics of my other work on the website. NEW website due to go up in the next week, the current one is not as well put together as my houses (as my friends all point out).

I am also about to offer a $22,000 Zyl house. 18’ floor plan, and an arched roof… I am excited to officially ‘out’ that design. People have been asking me for it.

Abel Zyl Zimmerman

http://kevinsmicrohomestead.wordpress.com/ - January 10, 2012 Reply

This by far one of the most engaging post I have seen here lots of great feedback for me as a DESIGNER/BUILDER to date Gives me lots to ponder.

bob henry - January 10, 2012 Reply

I am in the design stages of a live in trailer mounted 8×20 caboose style tiny home. I am going to incorporate a cupalo on the caboose. This will house a queen size bed which will lower at night to the main floor. I had found a web sight with a bed that lifted away and I have designed the lift system using the guide drums from garage door hardware heavy webbed strapping and a simple boat lift. A have rudimentry drawings but am not smart enough to post them here. I am not clinbing ladders at my age either.

    Shea - January 11, 2012 Reply

    I LOVE your idea! That the full size bed (boxsprings, mattress, right? the ‘frame’ itself would be the ‘frame’ that also is part of the lifting system, right?) could be ‘tucked up’ overhead and out of the way, with minimal brute stength (more like raising and lowering window blinds!) is both practical and imaginative!I really like the idea because, think of it, no cleaning would ever need to be done ‘under the bed’! At least, not in the standard sense, which I, for one, am absolutely unable to do easily these days as it is (bending, even almost laying, on the floor, with a broom, swinging at dust-bunnies in the shadows… echhh!)… 😉
    The cupola would only need to be a couple feet high (above the main roof), too, so I see this as being a reasonably inexpensive alteration that could be done to many plans in place of a loft…

Sharon ODonnell - January 10, 2012 Reply

I would like to join everyone to applaud this thread. Two summers ago, my brother and I attended one of Jay’s Tumbleweed seminars. Last summer we built Fred’s Tiny House (well, we got the entire thing framed and sealed in–he’s completing the interior this winter). This coming summer is my turn. My ‘Tiny House’ will be a combination of the Tumbleweek’s Fencl exterior (with the front bump out for light) and Lusby’s interior (with the downstairs bed) However, I am extending the entire thing to 25′. A triple axle, 8″ channel frame is being used.

I love the tiny house idea, but for me, for full time living, I need a little more space…and a washer/dryer combo. I am going to approach Jay to review my plans and/or also submit them to a structural engineer prior to any construction. Wish me luck!

Jeff H - January 10, 2012 Reply

OK, here is the exact Idea for a bed that I had. I had no idea this existed at all. I found it on another tiny house blog I read once and a while and I hope nobody minds that I am sharing the link to the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RdjNtZ0JxVc#!

Jeff H

    Kate - January 10, 2012 Reply

    I’ve seen similar beds before, although they work without electricity, using counterweights instead:
    http://www.doublespacebeds.com/gallery.html

    Have a look at this, too – a remote-controlled slide-out Murphy bed:
    http://youtu.be/MKHKQn41pio

    Depending on your needs, some of these furniture ideas may also work for you:
    http://youtu.be/lPE7717b_BA

    Just for the record, I’m one of those people who could easily use a sleeping loft, but wouldn’t want to do so on a regular basis. I’m looking into design ideas for not-so-tiny houses that either have proper stairs to the upper level, or even space for a bedroom on the ground floor.
    If I do have to get up during the night, I’m exceptionally clumsy, and a ladder could easily lead to injury! 🙂

      Jeff H - January 10, 2012 Reply

      Kate, WOW! Thank you so much for those links, I have searched for so long and have never seen so many great ideas. These will help so many people out.
      Jeff H.

        Anton - January 12, 2012 Reply

        Jeff, the toyhauler rv bed is what would work best in a tiny house since the dimensions would be similar and you should be able to find one for a reasonable price unlike the household ones. Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er0X0ysACqA .

        I’ve designed a plan with one of these with mainly a closet and desk underneath. Id love to show you it but all my drawings are on paper.

          Jeff H - January 12, 2012 Reply

          Anton, I have seen these before, and I think they are fantastic. I just was looking for more of a “home” type solution that would be kind of a standard in the way of tiny houses, with wood and moldings etc.. . The video you posted is really great and something to think about for sure.

          Thanks, Jeff

          ElfN - January 13, 2012 Reply

          I don’t think a bed with a pieced mattress can be considered anything but occasional use sleep accommodations. It wouldn’t take long and the user would have back trouble.

          Anton - January 13, 2012 Reply

          Jeff, style cant be argued about. But from what I remember the double space bed system is about $5k which is about right for those type systems since they are built to be freestanding. Since tiny house are usually RV width you would actually be wasting a lot of space with a freestanding vs wall mounted system. The toyhauler one should be $1500 new and less than $500 salvaged. I would imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to add wood trim or if the clearances are too tight, just paint it to look like wood. I have seen some steel doors that you would swear are wood from 5ft away. And the idea would be to completely hide your bed in the loft when its not used anyways.

          ElfN, I was talking about using the top (one piece) part of that system to use with a household mattress. This system is used in the garage area of the toyhauler so theres usually something underneath it during travel, hence the folding couch. My idea was to have this come down to 3-4ft off the floor and to have seating, dinette of or storage underneath since those items would normally not be used during nighttime.

          Jeff H - January 13, 2012 Reply

          Anton, You are probably right. I should definitely keep it on my list and not rule it out. Being a RV owner since I was 16, From tent trailers to class-c’s and travel trailers, what I found is things are just not built to last in RV’s. And being this bed would be used at least once a day it has to be reliable for many, many years of going up and down. But again, the idea is there and thats the main thing, and for that I thank you.

      Shea - January 11, 2012 Reply

      Kate,
      I LOVE the double-space bed (does the sofa part ‘stay’, with the bed coming down to just at its top cushion? SInce this AND the prior-mentioned LiftBed combine basic living room furniture (I checked out the ZOOM-room bed, too, which is built into an entertainment wall unit!), these would solve a very real problem without adding an extra room… But, personally, I’d probably opt for the extra (little) bedroom, anyway, as I have to lie down often, at varying times throughout the day and night, and using any of THESE, I’d probably wear them out and break them (if I didn’t ‘wear out’ first! LOL)! 😉

    Shea - January 11, 2012 Reply

    Jeff, I like the LiftBed idea for my own needs NOW, forget that I don’t have the need for it yet! With the remote control, one could (I think? or at least adjust the default)) stop the bed’s descent at several different heights, so it could be a little lower for some, higher for others!
    So, Bob Henry, there’s your LiftBed for your ‘cupola’!

      Jeff H - January 12, 2012 Reply

      Shea, these are great, I thought about these only because they were really the only ones I have ever seen before. I like the RV lifestyle as well and have a 22 foot trailer when I go camping. My friend has one of these toy haulers with a bed that raises and lowers. And that is where my mind started working. As I stated before, I like some of the other ideas, especially the ones that are raised and lowered with weights. Either way I am so happy about this post and all the story’s and ideas coming in from people and builders. This is a great web site with lots of caring people.

Sarra - January 10, 2012 Reply

My husband and I are thinking about doing a tiny house, but we have two toddlers so we need a little more space. What you can do though is a couple things.. Use a foldable bench that fold into a bed. It could double as a couch. You could also have a section where the bed is raised against the wall on hinges. It could pull down for your bed. In the meantime you could have a kitchen table, desk, or items there. Those items could be placed on wheels with stoppers on the wheels and just get pushed out of the way when you are going to bed.

Use a little creativity with your home. That is my favorite thing about these homes. My husband and I live in a 3500 sq foot house and it way too large. My daughter and son have tons of stuff but play with 5 items max. They have tons of clothes but have about 5 favorite outfits. We have 3 freezers and it is just all too much. We are working on building our own version of a tiny house. It will have as much recycled material and also be completely solar power. We are canceling our direct tv and going with netflix for movies. We will have full size appliances.. propane fridge, propane/ solar water heater (solar summer, propane winter)..

Point is get creative .. learn.. and design something that is completely unique to you and your needs.

    Kate - January 12, 2012 Reply

    Sarra,
    I’d be extremely interested to see your ideas for a tiny family home. Please document your downsizing journey and share it with the Tiny House Blog when your ideas take shape! And good luck! 🙂

    Kate

Mike Moore - January 11, 2012 Reply

What a great conversation! Thanks, Jeff!

I thought I would send some thoughts on a couple of issues…
I live in a Tumbleweed home which was posted by Kent in May of last year (see Mike’s Tumbleweed Mulfinger, May 13, 2011). My home does have a first floor bedroom, a feature of interest to several people. There are, however, several aspects of my home that do not conform to accessible or universal design. Smaller interior doors, and some steps at the entry are two examples. I currently am playing with a couple of designs that would solve some of the accessibility issues. One would have a separate bedroom. The other would be one large room with Murphy or pull-down bed. Both designs would include a bathroom in which you could maneuver a wheelchair. With luck and perseverance, I’ll email these plans to Kent for consideration concerning his possible upcoming response to Jeff’s challenge.

The second point I’d like to address is the idea of a tiny house community. Several folks have suggested this idea, and it has merit. To me the most important part of this concept is “community”. It is in community that so much is possible. When the question of funding is raised, or issues dealing with physical challenges, community is an excellent approach. I live in a community of 13 families that’s been around for 21 years called Potluck Community Farm; it has made quite a difference in my life. Things that I had thought were not possible suddenly become possible. Each family at Potluck has a 3 acre lot, plus shared land, in a rural setting in central North Carolina.
For various reasons, there will come a time in our lives when we want to simplify even more. With that in mind, some of our group have started a sister community next door called Elderberry. Although primarily designed for elders, plans at this stage are flexible, and could include younger folks, younger folks with disabilities, etc. There will be a total of 18 home sites, with one space reserved for a resident caretaker. Approximate footprints for homes would max out at 24×36, so most of the homes will be under 900 sq. ft. Because building codes change frequently, I’m not entirely certain what’s current, but I’m thinking you could get by with 200-300 sq. ft.
I may downsize from 450 sq. ft to 300 sq. ft. to Elderberry in a couple of years.
Elderberry will be a true cohousing community, and the common house will be built this spring/summer. The website is elderberrycohousing.com and gives a great idea of the vision of the group, ongoing news and events, and several fun photo galleries. Take a look. If you’re interested give Mary, or Vonda and Cecil a call.
Would such an arrangement answer all the needs of those who have posted on this topic? No, but it’s food for thought. Maybe the answer for someone who doesn’t have the capabilities to get up a few steps, or make the bed, (or whatever), isn’t a technical fix, but a neighbor who stops by to lend a hand and sit and chat for a while. Maybe a tiny house, as others have mentioned, isn’t 120 sq. ft., maybe it’s 600 sq. ft, with a little more room for a walker or a wheelchair.
A tiny house can be a house, or it can be a home. Explore all options, be creative, be a friend. Make things happen. Every day is a gift.

Mike Moore

    Paula - January 12, 2012 Reply

    Hi Mike, I live in WNC and never heard of your community. I love the Elderberry name. A friend and I have talked of a community such as yours and it’s nice to know it’s happening somewhere. I’ll let her know about it. A resident(s)caretaker for the Elderberry part is a thought and to take it further can be helpers/CNA’s/mildly skilled folks who can help as that particular population ages. Or people in the community may like a little part time income helping in the Elderberry community. I would rather end up in a small home community like this rather than assisted living. I’m 54 and very able bodied but as I watch my 92 yr. MIL living alone with our help and others and my mom living with a sister…..we need to create our own caring tiny communities such as yours!

      Mike Moore - January 13, 2012 Reply

      Hi Paula,
      Your ideas about the caretaker plan are exactly what the Elderberry people have in mind. And, as you pointed out, I’m sure there will be assistance available from the connection with Potluck Farm folks. If you or your interested friend would like to visit, just let me know!
      Mike M.

Jeff H - January 12, 2012 Reply

Thank you so much Mike. I really like this response. Many ideas I never thought of or heard of. Planned communities are new to me but really sound like an amazing alternative to think about for some.

Thanks
Jeff H

    Jeff H - January 12, 2012 Reply

    Mike, I re-read this a couple times and thought this was really great.

    “””Explore all options, be creative, be a friend. Make things happen. Every day is a gift”””.

    Jeff H

Zach P. - January 12, 2012 Reply

These little cabins look just like tumbleweed houses and have the bedroom on the bottom floor. Me and my wife were considering on looking into these “cabins” because we love tumbleweed houses, but because we are newly weds there plans are cheaper for us to afford since my wife is in college and we don’t have a lot of money. Hope this can give you a small place to enjoy.

Zach, P

Larry - January 14, 2012 Reply

I just designed a small home single story its called the red shack.I just posted it on my web sit http://www.besttinyhomes.com
no loft just 35 sq ft It has an arched roof
I can redesign it and make it any size depending on what you want.

-Larry

Alexis - January 14, 2012 Reply

I love these things, unfortunately they are way out of my price range. Must be nice to have the money to do these with.
Anyway, I was thinking about that hand railing thing. Rather than stairs I think it would be nice to see some of these houses with ramps like for the handicapped. Another idea would be for the loft area, again kinda like a ramp but one of those pull down ramps would work too. Sort of like the old pull down attic doors you see in some older houses. Just a couple of suggestions, donlt want to rain on anybody’s parade.

kim smith - January 14, 2012 Reply

it would be awesome to hear how small families fare, going tiny. as a single mom with one young child, tiny is very enticing (if only as an external motivator to reduce clutter!), but i wonder how realistic it is for two to share such a small space. i’m starting to lean ‘small,’ away from my gypsy caravan dream…

your book says to have a private space for each resident (preferably with some sound proofing, i.e. not just a curtain). that alone ends the possibility of wheels, doesn’t it?

and, in the theme of this post, as much as i LOVE lofts, i can see a time when climbing a ladder (age, injury), even just to access a storage space, might be troublesome. that heads me back in the direction gypsy caravan, where the bed might be elavated somewhat, but didn’t need a ladder to climb into. the bummer is just that you end up having unused head space, which is part of what’s so awesome about lofts–cozy, secret nooks.

as i was reading your book, i did think some about what folks would do who are one-level bound…

thanks for lots of food for thought (and reason for action)!
🙂 kim from vermont

Iggle - January 14, 2012 Reply

Good comments Lets make the standard tiny house split level inside. Same floor plans as already seen on various web sites.Then we put the bed under with bathroom over. This would give say four steps to get to the bathroom with hand rails. The steps could be used as seats. Heres hoping that you can get to your knees to get in bed. If so this gives one exercise when going and comming from the bed room.Great arobic exercise just getting to the floor and back up again,try it.Then there is the added advantage of being higher in the top section with better views to the outside. I have suggested this in another forum and it was posted on one of my blogs.
Cheers Iggle

bob adams - January 14, 2012 Reply

Jeff H brings up an excellent point. I’m 61 years old and can’t imagine having to climb down a ladder in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Lofts are great for reading or relaxing but not really functional as a true living. I think the true small home should have the following to be a viable living space. In order of importance.

1) access to well or municipal water system

2) access to sewer hookup or septic tank

3) bathroom that has a toilet, sink and a small tub or shower

4) sleeping setup on the first floor

5) kitchen range with 2 eyes and small oven.

6) stacked washer/dyer or at least a washer with outside area to put up clothes line.

    Ralph Sly - January 15, 2012 Reply

    Bob, I just lucked out with all you recommend and you are so right, especially for the elderly somewhat feeble. Dats me Bud.

Stephen Marshall - January 14, 2012 Reply

We custom build ADA accessible Little Houses.

Dana Dahl - January 14, 2012 Reply

I am a residential designer (CAD plans) and have designed for numerous people with a variety of handicaps. I also specialize in modest and economical home plans that are efficient to build and fit on tiny lots or as guest homes behind most city lot homes or as an addition to a home. I’ve also done a lot of garage conversions to help people in similar situations, elderly folks needing wheelchair access, etc..

If you are in need of a plan or specific design I’d be more than happy to e-mail you some plans and ideas that can be built for far less than traditional building costs.

Most sincerely,
Dana Dahl

mybluemake - January 14, 2012 Reply

I am an ADA consultant and I deal with disability compliance issues daily. Now, I don’t advocate ADA standards as a standard for any home design, and certainly for tiny home design. That is as much because the ADA Accessibility Standards represent compromise, minimal accessibility requirements, and not truly accessible design. I’ve raised the concern about loft sleeping arrangements, and I am not disabled, I am fat, over 40, and occasionally drink whiskey. There is one commercially available tiny home model that one of the “major” builder builds — a “retirement” model. However, I feel it is a compromise. I think there are huge entryway problems with typical tiny home design. Then bedroom issue, internal circulation, access to and use of toilet and bathing facilities. I’ve been designing a more accessible tiny home on trailer in my head with some notes. I think this is an interesting challenge. However, my barrier is the trailer-based tiny home concept itself. Ramping to doors or providing close to grade access into unit is proving impossible so far. Anyone have a trailer solution?

    Korinth - June 19, 2012 Reply

    I was actually thinking about the ramp/stair question for a trailer earlier today. I am looking at getting a tiny home, but I have several family members with disabilities that would have difficulties coming to see my home and would need a ramp to get in and out. So my ‘solution’ would be to attempt to make some kind of collapsible metal ramp/stairs and attach it to the bottom of the door in such a way that when it’s down there is no ledge to step over. I would also have to make some kind of box to keep the ramp/stairs in when it in while the tiny house is being moved. Also, I believe that they already make ramps that fold up or slid up underneath the trailer like with moving trucks. All in all, I do not believe it would be impossible for the disabled to access the tiny house trailer homes.

Tiny House Living – January 14, 2012 | Tiny House Living - January 14, 2012 Reply

[…] 2012 Design Challenge tinyhouseblog.com I rarely see any houses on this site with a hand railing at the entry let alone a Murphy bed type sleeping arrangement or a bed that is a dual purpose design. […]

Violet Thompson - January 15, 2012 Reply

Sounds like the Roulottes de Campagne would fit perfectly.

susan - January 15, 2012 Reply

I have long-entertained the prospect of a dumbwaiter type system in my house. i have lotsa steps, bad knees, and no easy way to get groceries to the kitchen. i have considered electric winches, manual winches, pulley systems, types of container boxes. There’s some good info on youtube. Everyone says I’m crazy and it’s a dumb idea. I think it would help a lot of physically challenged folks.

Judy - January 15, 2012 Reply

I am 65 and will finish my tiny house on an 18′ utility trailer this Spring. Yes, I currently go up and down a ladder to my loft, and during the night as well. I have designed my “living room” with a notch that can hold a single bed for the future.

My kitchen has a 3-burner range with oven [Wedgewood Vision] as well as a single bowl kitchen sink with drain board [Ikea]. I have seven, custom-sized drawers and four, upper cupboards.

My closet is located at the end of the kitchen so that when the closet door is open [into the kitchen] the closet door becomes a privacy door for the bathroom. The inside of the closet door is mounted with a wire rack which holds toiletries, blow dryer, bandaids, etc. This makes a temporary, mini-dressing room.

One enters my house via a tiny deck with stairs [hand rails to be added]. My solution to loosing interior space to a porch.

Perhaps in the late Spring I’ll get some photos posted.

Ralph Sly - January 15, 2012 Reply

Jeff, you are the man, what a great Post. I hope it continues but now, I am never going to get things finished around here as intended. Thankfully I didn’t get further with my restoration than buttoning it up to spend this winter in; you people are just too absolutely brilliant with your research. Out came the tape measure and off to the planning board next week or maybe the week after. If I can put four, 250 sq’ apts. here they are going in. I have enough space out back to build a couple of cobs and even a tree or elevated place if I live long enough to do it. My building, in rough but salvageable condition is somewhat fairytale in appearance so want to keep going with that motif and it’s on municipal services with post office, library, cafes and shopping a spit away, zoned residential commercial. I can play around with solar and wind generators from a central station later, get into permaculture gardening, but will work with what I have to get things going. I can rip and slash this summer as I have my RV to live in then.
Two can be totally handicapped accessible and two for able or mild disabilities on the upper level. I may have to consider a joint venture with the collage or a builder but haven’t even thought how that would work yet, I would only consider it for expediency. This place would make a great classroom.
Shea, I love your comments, you’re very bright and analytical. I hung onto every word. I too am in health conditions that sounds much like yours, with severe, emphysema (getting old aint for sissies) and a very slight side order of parkinsonism, I was struck on small in as tinny as I could get, but as my earlier post shows, I am living huge in 250’, separate bedroom, large W/C and really could not live much smaller to have this comfort. I often think I could but then when snooze calls; it’s good to just walk to the bed and crash for an hour.
As I have blabbed on here a bunch, I want to say to those who think this lifestyle is out of reach, think again. Start scaling down, toss out or sell what you might think is of value, for what, to store “forever, for whatever”. I am a guilty. I was successful; the key word is “Was” and has a ton of outdated useless things I am now paying storage on with a small fixed income. Hopefully it’s all gone this summer. I have Tens of thousands of dollars in worn out or things that would cost at least tens of thousands to salvage for resale in the small hundreds. First start auditing your bank accounts, phone bills TV and anything to see how many charges you are paying on things you do not use. That alone shocked me, Insurance, and on and on. Ok I’ll shut up but last, this place, when purchased was a stupid move, one of my huge mistakes and when everything around me fell apart to add insult to injury, I could not get rid of it, dam place was always here. My hell as I once labeled it to the person it was originally bought for. Well, my hell had turned into my heavenly haven. What’s that song, Your Greatest Gifts Are Unanswered Prayers? Just be positive, I have a fatal condition but by god I am going to outlive all expectations, have so far.
By… (I’ll be back)

    Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

    Ralph Sly,

    Thanks for the compliment. I don’t often get them, but DO hear ‘long-winded’, ‘overmuch’, ‘blabby’, etc. 😉
    I don’t care about THOSE anyway. You learn to pick your battles when you have ‘untreatable’ (and often terminal) conditions that others don’t understand, because we know better than most how PRECIOUS life is, especially the part where ‘I’ve always got my health’ used to mean something in a kidding kind of way. I only WISH I could quip that ‘glass is half full’ euphemism again, and MEAN IT…
    I do want you to know I am so sorry to hear about what you are having to contend with. My sister has COPD, and even though I smoke I feel like I’m biding my time for when *I’ll* start having breathing problems (thank God mine are minimal, but I KNOW I’ve got to quit, and SOON)…
    I wish you good health (any way you can get it!) and happiness (ditto)…

    I agree with your outlook on tiny vs. teensy… When I DID settle down, after my little boy got to school-age and I realized I wasn’t going to be a good Mother if I continued my gypsy ways, we seemed to wind up in large houses. Maybe it was so we could comfortably fit in all those overnight sleepovers on the weekends, the half dozen or so rowdy boys (noise, noise, noise) to pre-teens (EEK! Where did the food go?) to teenagers (DUCK – paintball/air guns alert!), maybe I just had some pre-conceived notion of ‘this is what a family home should be’, but when my son moved out (and later joined the Air Force) it all seemed too huge, too empty.
    Besides, my health was going downhill fast, and it was getting harder and harder to keep trekking through five or six rooms, hallways and foyers to get from my computer room to the coffee pot to the bathroom, etc.

    Now I, too, live in a much smaller place, an apartment of basically two rooms: one is about 10X20, the first 12 feet or so being the living room area, with a 6W X 8D kitchen(ette?) at one end, beside it a 4W X 8D closet… the second ‘room’ starts at the end beside the ‘closet’, a nice-sized full bathroom, the 3X4 ‘inner-foyer’/hall and the roughly 9 X 11 bedroom. I can literally stand in one spot – the ‘inner-foyer’ – and see the ‘whole single room’ of it all, and that’s when I feel a twinge of claustrophobia (usually when I’m depressed and missing my big old Victorian and the half-acre backyard and garden).

    For me, THIS is TINY!
    I’m continually AMAZED at how tiny ‘tiny’ really can be, and still be incredibly doable… It’s gotten so I look at spaces differently now… Like the ladies’ bathroom at Pizza Hut… I find myself imagining what kind of living quarters could be managed in a ‘tiny house’ about that size (you know, the 10 to 12 feet by 10 to 12 restrooms), or I’ll pause and stare at my big walk-in closet sometimes, doing the mental and creative ‘math’ of ‘if THIS were all I had to live in, how would/could I make it into a comfortable living space?’

    Does anyone else find themselves doing this? Can I be the only one who has gotten so fixated on the tiny/cozy house thing that I can’t stop crunching the numbers on every space I find myself in?? LOL…

      Paula - January 16, 2012 Reply

      Shea I do the design in my head thing all the time. I lay in bed and design our bedroom into a tiny house. It’s not huge but I can see how a little house with a loft (the attic) could work. I’m going to measure it all and play around with a design for fun. Your place sounds perfect for your needs.

Seattle Tiny Homes - January 15, 2012 Reply

Seattle Tiny Homes “Magnolia” model has a ramp entrance with railing. All doors are 3-feet wide. The floor plan is configured so you can use a wallbed, murphy bed, day bed, or double-space bed. The bathroom has an ADA compliant shower and handrails, etc…
The prototype should be up on the web sometime in the next few weeks.

Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

Now, dangit, I almost forgot…
I found my little sketches (I have a squared Moleskine, pocket size, about 3X4) and – grrr- my scanner is not working, so I re-remndered one of them using part Google Sketchup, the finishing of it in Illustrator.Photoshop…
It’s at (lower quality JPEG)
http://home.mchsi.com/~shear/jipsi/images/mycozyquarters-011612.jpg

Or (higher resolution):

http://home.mchsi.co/~shear/jipsi/images/mycozyquarters-011612.jpg

These are my ‘first’ that I’ve ever shared… hope they don’t look too aateurish

    Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

    I fixed a flub on both images: the dimensions were SUPPOSED to read 24′ X 8′ 1/4″ , NOT 24′ X 9′ 3/4″… (my math is good, just bumbled on a ‘duplicate/paste’ in forgetting to change the figures…)

Mat - January 16, 2012 Reply

Like everyone else, I’m surprised that this topic has received (seemingly) little attention within the tiny house movement. The same could be said for people with kids. I know that I’ve spent years working to design a small house that’s big enough for the 3 of us to use everyday, while minimally impacting our wallets. That one’s finally designed, but clocks in at 620 square feet. I’m sure I could pull it down another 100 square feet…but it would just be because I said I could.
A few months back it became a possibility that my late-50s, arthritic mother-in-law would be in need of a home. She lived with us once before, a number of years ago…that didn’t work out well. I thought that if she truly did have to come back to our house, a tiny house of her own might be a good alternative. What I came up with is here: http://s336.photobucket.com/albums/n343/matlowenstein/Junk/?action=view&current=cindyb.jpg
I found out that the largest I can build something permit-free in my yard was 120 square feet, so I figured out how to best use that footprint: either 8’x15’ or 10’x12’. Both sizes have pros and cons, but after a dozen variations, I settled on 8×15 offering the better ground-floor sleeping arrangement and passive solar nature. She doesn’t usually eat the same foods we do, so I designed in a 5’ kitchenette with a small sink, cube fridge, microwave, and hotplate. For the bathroom, I figured on a composting toilet (probably a home-brew variant) and a shower with a point-of-use water heater and some gray-water recovery. That was another shortcoming in the 10×12 version—it really only worked well with a 32” or 36×48 wet-bath (shower/toilet) and since she already has some trouble getting around, a 32×88 opposed configuration seemed more hospitable.
There’s room for a small, 28” closet near the door and it leaves a 6’4 x 7’4” space for a daybed or a futon. She already uses a full-sized futon as her sofa and has commented that it’s the most comfortable bed she’s ever slept on (it has innerspring coils and weighs a ton!), so there’s room for it there. Ideally, I would use a twin-sized daybed with room for storage (clothes organization) to pull out from underneath.
I did figure on a loft; however it would be restricted to storage and grandchild sleepovers. And if it’s in my yard, one of us will always be around to help pull bins down.

    Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

    All-in-one kitchen units are available and can be reasonable if you shop around online, find something on sale or clearance (one this size would average around 800 to 1000 bucks and could be pretty sweet, with all of the kitchen components you (she) will need and thensome!)…

Mat - January 16, 2012 Reply

Like everyone else, I’m surprised that this topic has received (seemingly) little attention within the tiny house movement. The same could be said for people with kids. I know that I’ve spent years working to design a small house that’s big enough for the 3 of us to use everyday, while minimally impacting our wallets. That one’s finally designed, but clocks in at 620 square feet. I’m sure I could pull it down another 100 square feet…but it would just be because I said I could.
A few months back it became a possibility that my late-50s, arthritic mother-in-law would be in need of a home. She lived with us once before, a number of years ago…that didn’t work out well. I thought that if she truly did have to come back to our house, a tiny house of her own might be a good alternative. What I came up with is here:

http://i336.photobucket.com/albums/n343/matlowenstein/Junk/cindyb.jpg

I found out that the largest I can build something permit-free in my yard was 120 square feet, so I figured out how to best use that footprint: either 8’x15’ or 10’x12’. Both sizes have pros and cons, but after a dozen variations, I settled on 8×15 offering the better ground-floor sleeping arrangement and passive solar nature. She doesn’t usually eat the same foods we do, so I designed in a 5’ kitchenette with a small sink, cube fridge, microwave, and hotplate. For the bathroom, I figured on a composting toilet (probably a home-brew variant) and a shower with a point-of-use water heater and some gray-water recovery. That was another shortcoming in the 10×12 version—it really only worked well with a 32” or 36×48 wet-bath (shower/toilet) and since she already has some trouble getting around, a 32×88 opposed configuration seemed more hospitable.
There’s room for a small, 28” closet near the door and it leaves a 6’4 x 7’4” space for a daybed or a futon. She already uses a full-sized futon as her sofa and has commented that it’s the most comfortable bed she’s ever slept on (it has innerspring coils and weighs a ton!), so there’s room for it there. Ideally, I would use a twin-sized daybed with room for storage (clothes organization) to pull out from underneath.
I did figure on a loft; however it would be restricted to storage and grandchild sleepovers. And if it’s in my yard, one of us will always be around to help pull bins down.

    Shea - January 16, 2012 Reply

    Your design for a single-floor ‘tiny’ is perfect for 1! I especially like the idea of its suitability for a sweet vardo layout (picturing the ‘sofa-by-day’ bed littered with embroidered/fufi pillows!). And build that couch up a bit to sit on a 2 drawer deep/3 drawers-wide storage base and… oh, sorry, YOUR design! LOL
    Really nice plan, Matt… 😉

      Mat - January 17, 2012 Reply

      Thanks, Shea. I’m always open to suggestion–and a “captains” style bed is what I had in mind, but for the sake of economy, I figured that a basic 2×4 framed platform bed that’s raised just enough to get some large Rubbermaid storage bins underneath would fit the bill better for my M-I-L. Your mileage may vary.
      I have seen those little kitchenettes online…the cabinetry looks pretty junky. The only thing I saw that I thought was really cool was the built-in hotplate. However, I figure that all you really need is a 3′ double base-cabinet–available for $200 or less at Home Depot. Stick the sink over the one side and glue the drawer front to the frame. Then use the shelves and the other drawer however you want. You could even store a small hotplate in that drawer. Or, hook it onto the free side of the base cabinet.
      And anyone who wants the plan is welcome to it; my contribution to the community.

    di - January 30, 2012 Reply

    That’s a great design, but try placing the couch adjacent to the kitchenette. Point of view is everything.

    I’d rather sit on the couch and look out the windows – rather than sit on the couch and look at the kitchen, closet and bathroom doors.

David Swinson - January 16, 2012 Reply

Hi, here is a product that might be of interest. http://www.smartbed.com.au/
You hilight an interesting challenge with Tiny Houses, the trade off between reducing the space, the extra space needs for kids, adaptability etc. and the clever use of minimal furniture. It all seems to be about using the space for as many uses as practical e.g. bedroom, dining and lounge (living space). For this reason the sofa / day bed / futon works seems to work better for combination with a living area i.e. what do you do with furniture for the living area? Can you hide the smart bed and the furniture for the living area?

    di - January 30, 2012 Reply

    Our sofabed has been the perfect piece of furniture – with underbed storage baskets for our minimalist wardrobes.

    We use it to sleep, lounge, study, dine and entertain. We dine with our plates in our laps, study with computers in our laps, etc.

    It’s not about the furniture – it’s about changing habits to eliminate the need for a separate bedroom, living room, dining room, office, etc. along with eliminating the need for cupboards, closets, shelving, tables and desks.

Paula - January 16, 2012 Reply

Nationwide homes is making Care Cottages, a nice modular home a bit over 600sq.ft. They build homes well and also have a cool one I’ve considered to put on our property for my sister–Eco Cottage which were on the blog here at one time I think. Here’s a video of the Care Cottage and you can also look and read more on their website. Just Google them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GpigPWe0Hc

    Catherine M - June 16, 2012 Reply

    Thank you Paula for that link – I had never heard of “Accessible Care Cottage”.

Paula W - January 17, 2012 Reply

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I considered the Murphy bed or sleeper sofa type idea. But I absolutely love the thought of sleeping up under the stars, looking up into the sky as I fall asleep. I’m in my 50s now and have some knee issues. I also get up several times a night to go to the bathroom and don’t want to deal with the ladder idea. One of my ideas involved stairs, rather than a ladder, that maybe could pull up when not being used. Not very aesthetic. I considered a circular staircase, or one against the wall. I also wondered about putting some sort of small lift in. I also want my dog to be able to get up there with me.

Jeff H - January 17, 2012 Reply

Thank you all soooo much. I cant keep up with all the comments, ideas, links, builders, replies and ideas, I am just so thankful this thread is so popular and full of ideas for a better way to build these tiny homes. I have added it to my favorites and have been checking in, saving links, blogs, videos an web sites for the future. By far this has been the most informative post I have read to date on any web site. I’m so happy that so many “healthy” people are thinking about the future and long term living situations. For me its a no-brainer, being I have issues with stairs. I am very impressed with so many ideas.

Thanks to everyone.

    Shea - January 21, 2012 Reply

    I think the cameraderie and genuine respect and concern for one another here comes from the simple fact we are all here to find answers/share knowledge about one of the most basic staples of LIFE, Jeff, and that’s not just ‘house’, as in a dwelling, but the very premise of HOME, and everything it’s all about.
    Unlike other blog sites/forums where a mixed bag of people are there for ‘different reasons’ and come and go from one topic to another much like the way some people who drink a LOT will go from bar to tavern to pub to club, ambling from this group to that crowd with friends and strangers alike, talking all night but with very little really getting ‘said’… if that makes sense.
    I used to cocktail-waitress, both before my son was born and for a year or so afterwards (I freelanced illustration and web design at the time – yep, 1995, 1996, those years only 1 in maybe 10 people even knew what the ‘www’ on my business card meant, and telling them ‘internet’ only made them even MORE confused! LOL – and cocktail-waitressing paid some good money, let me have a work schedule that worked with ME as both a new mom and a busy artist who worked odd hours; as a result, much of my anecdotal observations might have a ‘bar’ vibe BECAUSE you can learn so much about people just by watching them socialize, what drink and how many, until one of us onstaffers wrangled a cab for them and sent their soggy bottoms home… Plus it was a great way to be ‘out’for the evening, making money instead of spending it, and the best part was, I didn’t have to go home DRUNK!

    ANyways, it’s like people HERE, at TinyHouseBlog, are actually gathering for the sole purpose of SHARING and learning information, while the other places’ traffic is mostly that of younger ‘kids’ who are online, as a whole, to just flit in and outin an endess, aimless search for what;s hit and what;s not…
    In a way, this online ‘home’ away from home, is not only our destination, but OUR ‘intentional community’! 😉

      Shea - January 21, 2012 Reply

      Sorry, that should’ve been “What’s HOT and what’s not”… I fell asleep just for a sec in the middle of my closing line there… 😉

      ‘Nite, ‘Nite, all….

Engineer Guy - January 17, 2012 Reply

See a Bed store up and out of the way on this Video at the 4:00 minute mark. The Crank mechanism appears to be a very ‘common’ one used to winch Boats up onto Boat Trailers. For us ‘Sparkies’, automating this Bed with a small +12 VDC Motor and Gear safely out of sight/reach would be very simple. Low voltage operation would make it Off-Grid compatible.

Safety would be ensured via several Micro-Switches and Fuses to ensure fail-safe operation in case of any Murphy’s Law events.

One Tool ‘Recycling’ idea is to have only a Nut on the Crank Wheel. It is then driven by a Cordless Screwdriver w/a matching Socket in the Chuck. There is a Garage Door Opener that works in this manner from the side of the Garage Door. It uses a dedicated low voltage Motor instead of a Cordless Drill, of course. Thinking through the Cable and design would ensure no accidents. Barn Door Tracks and Wheels used vertically, instead of horizontally, is one such idea to have the Cables safely inside a Track. As several of us mentioned earlier, RV ‘Toy Haulers’ have rear Beds on Screw Drives that store up. Study them.

See, also, other good ideas on this Video well known to us RV/Trailer People.

http://elkmountaintrailers.com/elkmt_video.html

    alice h - January 18, 2012 Reply

    Clever hideaway potty and shower setup! Like the kitchen too. And that bed is an excellent “up,up and away”.

Munro - January 18, 2012 Reply

Just found this website today, might be of use… http://www.smallhousecatalog.com/largaud/

Pepper - January 19, 2012 Reply

Wow, what a wonderful thread, so full of great comments links and suggestions! Here’s a post I just put together on a more accessible bed for a tiny house on wheels. There are still some steps, but I plan to have another go soon at one without any steps whatsoever. http://realtimerealtiny.blogspot.com/2012/01/ground-floor-sleeping.html

    Shea - January 21, 2012 Reply

    Pepper,
    LOVE that you placed an enormous amount of storage space BELOW the floor under the bedroom! And the three ‘deep’ stairs – I’m assuming again, that the stairs would be low in height, and deep in depth (lol getting punchy!): are they 12″ deep? 14″ maybe? – would not be terribly difficult for the disabled or senior, in accessing the bed and dresser… Ground floor bed but it would still have a bit of a ‘lofty’ feel to it, wouldn’t it, being raised up such that it is… 😉
    You spent a lot of time on your PAGE! I can’t muster much more endurance than what it takes to create an IMAGE, these days, and even THAT takes me FOREVER… you created a floorplan and design on a SITE/PAGE layout worthy of a pro ‘brochure’!

Jeff H - January 21, 2012 Reply

I do like your homes Pepper, The fit and finish and attention to detail are excellent. I think for most builders a drawing with options for placement of beds, appliances, what types and styles would be helpful and less costly than actually building every idea that comes up obviously. For instance placement of a refrigerator under a cabinet wont do for me, the small size is fine, but maybe have it counter height with a cabinet face on the front and blend in with the rest of the cabinets so I am not having to bend down to the floor to get something.
So many very good ideas and people on this thread I love it.

LMackey - January 22, 2012 Reply

as someone who’s suffered two strokes and dreams of living in a tiny home, I’ve been trying to address this issue for myself as well. I’ve been reading, researching, looking at plans, drawing plans,and looking at all manner of design concepts for the past 8 months. I’ve had a passion and desire to live in a small, off-grid home for the past 15 years and the tiny-house concept has been the key to unlocking the door between dream and possibility.

At this point I’ve got a very rough working concept along with photos of my inspirations. The stream, along with caption details can be found at:

https://picasaweb.google.com/110705948172544730779/TinyHouseConceptAndInspriations?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCKqFgfmGw_nuSw&feat=directlink

    jeff h - January 24, 2012 Reply

    Lmackey, those are some great ideas you have saved there. I really like the compact kitchens. Looks like you have done some homework. I sure hope this thread doesn’t get lost. Maybe it could have a 2012 challenge sticky on the main page? Lots of great ideas still coming in.

    Jeff H

    Kate - January 25, 2012 Reply

    Wow, what an impressive collection of ideas and information! LMackey, if you don’t mind I’ll be bookmarking your site for future reference. Several of those sites and images incorporate ideas that might work very well for me as well someday. Thanks for sharing!

di - January 29, 2012 Reply

A one-story building makes common sense.

Here’s a few pages of examples where a daybed or sofabed may be suitable:

http://tinyhouseforum.com/topic.php?id=117&page=2

Engineer Guy - January 30, 2012 Reply

WEEEEEELLLLLL, Good News -> Bad News. I did track down the Manf. of the Bed Lift System I’d seen repeatedly used in the back of ‘Toy Hauler’ RV Trailers. I was at the huge RV Show in Quartzsite AZ last week. I was there mainly to see the huge Gem/Mineral Show running simultaneously, and to camp out n/c on BLM Land nearby with plenty of other ‘Boondockers’. Great fun, and good practice Livin’ Large in an 8′ by ~14′ older Trailer.

The ‘HappiJac’ System is shown linked below, in action, no less…

That’s the good news. In a ‘sample of one’ Search, I found this System on line marked down from ~$2,100- to ~$1,600-. I’m sure there’s safety considerations, etc., that cause such pricing in part. Not the System price point I’d hoped for…

Anyway, folks can see it in sped-up action at this Link:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/happijac-beds-t-5267

A very similar mechanism can be seen used in ‘high end’ Screw Drive Garage Door Openers at any Big Box Store. However, there is only one such Screw Drive [Auger] mechanism on Garage Door Openers, typically priced at $300- or so. So, it would be quite a stretch to re-Engineer that mechanism into anything useful as a Bed Lift.

di - February 1, 2012 Reply

We live in one room with a vaulted ceiling, skylights, arched windows, recessed lighting and heated floors.

A luxurious sofabed and equally comfy chair are our only pieces of furniture. We store our minimalist wardrobes and possessions in baskets beneath the furniture. The baskets are easy to transport to the top of the furniture, to pick up the room, to do laundry, etc.

We use the furniture to sleep, lounge, study, dine and entertain. We frequently sit on the floor. We eat with our plates in our laps and study with our computers in our laps. We keep tote bags nearby for a few extra items and to store our computers.

We have a tiny kitchenette where “everything” is stored away. Limited kitchen items are stacked, behind a small set of curtains, beneath the kitchen sink. Eating and cooking utensils are kept in a single basket for easy transport. Rather than a dish drainer, dishes are dried on kitchen towels – towels are then dried on hooks under the sink.

We use a portable stovetop, one-pot recipes, an under-counter fridge and under-counter washer/dryer. Rather than a counter top, large cutting boards are on top of the under-counter appliances. Another large cutting board fits over the entire kitchen sink area – to hide dirty dishes and create a continuous counter area. Our under-counter kitchen has arched windows across the entire working area, which is very pleasant.

In the bathroom, we have a tiny corner sink without a vanity, a shower and large arched window adjacent to the toilet. Towels are stored on hooks over the toilet and also near the shower and sink. Tissue paper and covered cosmetic baskets are stored on the back of the toilet. Shampoo, soap and shavers are stored in the shower. A full-length mirror is on the back of the bathroom door along with a clothing hook.

A washer/dryer makes it convenient to clean our limited linens and clothing at any time. I have a swivel sweeper. I wash windows, walls and floors by frequently rinsing a rag in the sink. I use one multi-purpose cleanser or soap. Buckets, mops and paper towels are not needed.

Our one-room home is “very” spacious – with lots of arched windows overlooking a changing forest and sky. We frequently rearrange the furniture to observe different outdoor scenes. Curtains are not needed. We have a few favorite decorations on the walls or window sills.

We keep folding lounge chairs and a screenhouse in the trunk of the car. We place them in different far-away areas on our property to escape and enjoy picnics. On hot summer nights, we’ve also slept over several times.

We do not need a separate bedroom, dining room, office or loft. We do not use shelving, cupboards, closets, bureaus, desks, tables or lamps. All media has been replaced with a computer. We shop weekly on our way home from our part-time jobs.

Hope this helps others…

Clinton - March 8, 2012 Reply

I’m a bit late to the party on this topic, but I saw this and am intrigued.

Jeff, I’d like to know a little more about your requirements for a tiny house, aside from your accessibility needs.

Are you looking for a permanent house, or something on a trailer? If on a trailer, are you looking to keep within easy legal limits, or make it more like a mobile home, and wouldn’t mind pulling a permit to move it? If on a foundation, the maximum footprint that you’d want to see?

Since everyone lives life a different way, interior requirements are incredibly diverse. What would you feature? Do you need a kitchen large enough to do serious cooking, or are you happy with a simple kitchenette? How would you prefer to handle toilet facilities? Do you prefer an open floorplan with a line of sight through the entire building, or would you opt for a more compartmentalized design, lending itself to being more “cozy”

To touch on requirements of accessibility, would you be comfortable navigating “real” steps, with handrails? Do you have any requirements for door width, or any special bathroom, kitchen, or shower features?

I’d like to try taking a stab at designing something that would fit your needs in particular, since they’ll give me a bunch of data to work with.

I feel that sitting down and attempting to develop a “generic” accessible tiny home will lead to a whole whack of shortcomings caused by trying to accomodate everyone, and pleasing nobody. Working to a specific need gives me a specific set of constraints and restrictions to stay within, and the end result is much nicer overall.

I look forward to seeing more data!

-C

The 2012 Design Challenge | Humble Homes - June 21, 2012 Reply

[…] On the 8th of January 2012, the Tiny House Blog (a great resource for all things related to tiny houses, but if you managed to find our little ‘underground’ tiny house website then you’re probably well aware of the Tiny House Blog) featured a post which issued both tiny house designers and builders the challenge of producing homes that are more accessible to those for whom it may not be so feasible to climb up a ladder to the sleeping loft. You can view the article by clicking here. […]

Update & Images Of The ‘Bedroom House’! | Humble Homes - August 2, 2012 Reply

[…] ongoing effort to make tiny houses more accessible and to address Tiny House Blog’s ‘2012 Design Challenge‘. Our ‘Bedroom Home’ (again, like the McG Loft, the name’s only temporary!) […]

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