“My advice for designing your tiny house? Follow your gut.
There are many valid approaches to design such as the pragmatic (function) or the aesthetic (form), but these tend to be rational processes using the cerebral cortex, the thinking part of your brain.
Here’s the thing: if you want to live happily in your tiny house over the long haul, you need to tap into your amygdala. That’s the more primitive part of your brain that triggers your immediate visceral, or gut, reactions to sensory input.”
Posts Tagged With: design
Now that I’ve survived the last few months of design crunch and the first building stint, I’m catching up on some technical posts. You may remember I was determined to design my house the old school way with graph paper, pencil and a triangular engineering ruler. Part of this was because I loved the tactile feeling of drawing and it seemed in keeping with the tiny house simplicity mindset, and part of it was that my earlier experience with SketchUp had been a little frustrating. I’m usually comfortable diving into a new software application and figuring it out as I go, but I quickly learned that SketchUp, while an amazing free 3D modeling tool, is not exactly intuitive. I was able to make some rudimentary conceptual designs but lines stuck together, moved in strange ways, and basically made me want to kick it.
Just as I was getting serious about my final designs, I stumbled across some online SketchUp tutorials and the lightbulb went on. Once you get a few key concepts, it starts to make a lot of sense. I invested a weekend learning it and then spent the next few weeks painstakingly building my virtual house stick by stick, pretty much like I would do during actual construction (it takes less time if you aren’t making a zillion design decisions and research tangents along the way).
So to share the SketchUp love, here are the tutorials and resources I found most helpful:
Good question. The last several weeks have been such a blur, I barely know myself anymore. I’ve been scrambling to get everything ready at work to be able to take 5 weeks off for my first build stint, and every moment not at work has been spent on wrapping up my designs, ordering windows, and all the myriad other things that need to get done.
Yesterday I had to have some last minute surgery so today I’m laid up and following the Yestermorrow Tiny House Fair via the Yestermorrow blog, and the Smalltopia and RowdyKittens Facebook pages – it’s kind of like the tiny house olympics! Can’t wait to see the videos of the presentations – what a great resource for everyone. Check out this awesome Mushroom Tiny House blog using mushrooms for insulation and structural stability!
Tomorrow I pack and Monday I drive 12 hours to Oregon to start prepping and building to be ready for the PAD work party on July 6th! It’s all a little surreal.
Current systems thinking
After I wrote my post on my decision to go without plumbing, I was asked what I’m doing for my other systems (here you go, Paula!). Don’t hold me to these since they may well change, but this is where I am at the moment:
In general, I’m trying to see how simple I can go without feeling deprived. It’s been a good exercise to look at how I live now and how much change I could be comfortable with. I also have tried to design my systems so that I can easily live both on and off the grid. It’s a little challenging having to plan for future parking situations when you have no idea where you will be! So, the more options and the more self-sufficiency, the better. Would love to hear what others are considering along these lines.
Electrical – I still have a lot to learn about setting up a solar system. Due to the expense, I may hold off on installing one until I know where I will end up and whether I will have access to grid power or not. In terms of wiring my house, fortunately if you use 10/2 gauge wire you can keep options open for either system. I’m planning on building a tool shed on the tongue to house the batteries and other electrical equipment. I’m not going to have high electrical demands so will just need to have enough juice to power a few lights and charge my laptop and cell phone, and perhaps a couple other things. I’m also curious to look into wind power to see if that is feasible where I might end up. Continue reading
Oh, oh, oh, everything changes…
~ Eurythmics, “This Is The House”
I got my new wave, granola self through freshman year at college on that song. That and my dad’s stock advice whenever we were going through childhood trials and tribulations: “The tide comes in [said on a rising intake of breath then long pause before the exhalation]; the tide goes out.” It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but, as much as I was impatient for answers, there’s a certain comfort in the way it puts our small personal worries in perspective. It also is a reminder that everything is in constant flux. Apparently that holds true for the plumbing plans in my tiny house as well.
Up until last weekend when I took a trip up to Oregon, there wasn’t much to report on my design process (hence the digression into the swamp). Since a number of you have asked what’s happening, here’s where I am at the moment:
Designing & research
I’ve been pretty hunkered down trying to develop my final plans. I’ve downloaded free or inexpensive plans to use as reference, bought books on framing and building principles, and have been reading up on various strapping methods, insulation types, venting requirements, green construction materials, whether or not to apply advanced framing practices, and countless other minutiae, some important and some less so.
When I was in film school, I wrote a short screenplay called Shear Madness about a sheep and a hairdresser who was waiting to hear if she had breast cancer. It was a strange, dark little serio-comedy; probably a good thing it didn’t go further than paper. What interested me was playing with various takes on the words shear/sheer and madness.
I had to look up the terms for this kind of word play, which opened up a whole new esoteric world. According to Wikipedia: “In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Thus homonyms are simultaneously homographs (words that share the same spelling, regardless of their pronunciation) and homophones (words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of their spelling). The state of being a homonym is called homonymy.” Try saying that three times fast! Homophones that are spelled differently are called heterographs. Confused yet?
In that weird cyclical nature of life, shear/sheer and madness – in all their heterographic and homonymic splendor – have come up again 17 years later as I find myself pondering plywood and wool for my tiny house. Continue reading
Lately I’ve had bitterns on the brain.
In college, I couldn’t decide whether to major in biology or art. I ended up with a bio degree just because I’d taken a couple more classes in it. One of those classes was how birds have adapted their coloring for camouflage and mating displays. Continue reading
If you’re up for a glimpse into the tangled workings of my mind, I thought I’d share the convoluted way I got to my final design for Naj Haus. It all started last summer at a music festival. Camping next to a woman who had a fiberglass “egg” trailer similar to the one above, I found myself obsessed with the idea of getting one. At first it was just for camping and tootling around, but I was also looking ahead to splitting my time between Oregon and California and the idea of living in one started to grow. Turns out if you get one that is about 17′ they come with a tiny kitchen and bathroom. My first serious thoughts of tiny living started to sprout.
Ready for some tiny house eye candy? First you must endure a short lesson and then you’ll get your reward… 🙂
One of the first decisions you need to consider when designing your tiny house is what architectural style you want.
Unlike their land-tied, foundation-built cousins, which can be made into virtually any shape from any material, tiny houses on trailers have certain limitations that need to be negotiated in their design. These involve road legal limits for height and width; weight of materials; and structural stability to withstand vibrations, torquing, wind shear and other road-related stresses. There are also aerodynamic considerations to make the houses easier and cheaper to tow.
For now, we’ll keep it simple and just look at 1) roof shape and 2) whether or not there is a loft. These two elements are surprisingly crucial to designing a tiny house that’s right for you well into the future.
“But how does your roof make you feel…?”