Indoor Plumbing with a Twist

By Margy Lutz

Several years ago I wrote posts about living off the grid in our float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal BC. You can read them here on the Tiny House Blog at “Our Little Cabin Up the Lake” and “Living on the Water.” Our float cabin, at the time, was 420 square feet downstairs with a 200 square foot sleeping loft under the peak of the roof. That is more than ample living space, but what it didn’t have was “indoor plumbing.” This fall we decided to trade in our trusty outhouse for a 60 square foot (6X10) bathroom with a composting toilet. The view won’t be as great, but the convenience will be appreciated. And instead of climbing four flights of stairs, we just have to go into another room. No rain, no wind – how civilized.

Our good friend John, who built our cabin, took a design I created and made it a reality. The bathroom addition is downstairs off our guest bedroom. He framed the walls, tied the roof into our existing one, made the old window into a doorway, added a window to the bedroom, and even gave us a side porch extension. He is a jack of all trades and was able to handle most of the work single handedly. Wayne and I worked on finishing touches like painting and furnishing.

We chose a Sunmar Excel NE for our composting toilet. The NE stands for non-electric. While it isn’t hooked up to our cabin’s solar powered electrical system, it does have its own panel to run a small fan within the air circulation pipe. That helps eliminate odour, and keeps the air moving around the compost as it processes. Six twists of the built in handle after each use keeps the contents in the holding drum mixed and working. The air circulation pipe rises above the roof line and has a built-in rain deflector. There’s also an overflow tube just to make sure there are no accidents indoors. With just two of us using the toilet, the capacity is excellent. We’ve had in operation for two months now, and are very pleased.

Our bathtub has been in our downstairs storage room for several years. Now it’s part of a real bathroom. The tub, however, isn’t connected for hot or cold water. Our bathtub is a cold weather luxury. In the summer, our natural swimming pool is all we need for a cooling swim or wash. We’ll continue to heat our water on the wood stove. I can fit four large pots on the surface at the same time, and a hot winter fire will get them almost boiling. Add an equal amount of cold water, and you have enough for a nice soak or soaping down. And there’s nothing like bathing with a friend to save water.

The bathroom also gives us some additional space for storage. A shelf built by John holds towels and toilet supplies, a recycled $1 end table holds toiletries, and a commercial pantry kit on sale for $49 provides space to store my canning in a cool place away from the sunlight. What a difference a little extra space makes when it is used wisely.

You can find more information about float cabin and off the grid living at For information about Wayne’s Coastal BC Stories, come to Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake have lots of information about our cabin life on Powell Lake.

John frames the 6 X1 0 bathroom addition and new side porch. Continue reading

Ikea and Small Space Solutions

Ikea Malaysia is posting a video series featuring their interior designers who give tips on how to squeeze every thing you need into a small space. Featured in this post are a 430 square foot apartment; a 118 square foot combo bedroom/living room and a 29 square foot bathroom that also has laundry facilities and more.

These videos are short and they demonstrate very well what can be done in a small space. The ideas could be easily applied to a tiny or small home. You can view the Ikea Malaysia Channel here and see the complete series.

Continue reading

Diana’s Innermost House

Guest Post by Diana Lorence

*New photos added below of loft, kitchen and bathroom

This is Innermost House, my home in the coastal mountains of Northern California. It is the latest of many very small houses my husband and I have occupied over twenty-five years, all for the same reason–to make possible a simple life of reflection and conversation. I am delighted now to be a part of Kent’s public conversation with others who share my love of tiny houses, and I’m grateful to Michael Janzen of Tiny House Design for introducing us.


Innermost House is about twelve-feet square. It faces directly south beneath an open porch that shelters our front door. A hill rises to the north behind us and the forest lies all around. The house encloses five distinct rooms: to the east is a living room eleven feet deep by seven feet wide by twelve feet high; to the west the house is divided into kitchen, study, and bathroom, each approximately five feet wide by three feet deep, with a sleeping loft above the three of them, accessible by a wooden ladder we store against the wall. Continue reading

Bill Brooks Tiny Solar House Part 3

Tiny Solar House part 3 by Bill Brooks. This video covers his storage area and refrigerator as well as some of the electronics in the unit to convert the electricity to the different modes available.

Also a tour of the shower and bathroom area and an introduction to Bill’s composting toilet. Again lots of little details that you may not have thought of. I appreciate Bill being such a great tour guide of his work.

View Part 1 and Part 2 here and join the Youtube Tiny House Blog Channel here.