As I mentioned in the last blog, I’ve been frustrated by money recently – I can’t really afford any materials or tools to bring my Tiny House to its full potential. At the moment I’m only using about 30% of the available space, and that very inefficiently.
However, I did have a revelation – a lack of money does not stop me PLANNING that full potential. And in fact the more planning I do, the less I’ll have to mess about when I do get the resources I’ve been dreaming of – so I got to work planning for the future of my dwelling!
So, here’s how I’ve done things so far – I think any lay person like me (a non builder, non architect, non-DIY expert) can use similar steps – of course they can be used for any house plan, but there are special concerns for Tiny Houses which we will get to!
- Measure Up and Make A Rough Plan
To say this was my first step may seem self explanatory – to make a floor-plan I needed to measure. Duh. But what I learned from it is that it’s no use getting excited and starting to throw around ideas if you don’t know what you’re working with.
The internal dimensions of your house are your canvas – and it can be very liberating, having measured, to discover just how much floor space you really have at your disposal.
The first draft of my plan was very rough, and that was how it should be – I have heard many people (including the lovely Steve Ramsey of Woodworking For Mere Mortals) say caution against ‘driving yourself crazy’ when it comes to planning projects.
Here’s what my first draft looked like:
You can actually see a shopping list in the top right hand corner.
This roughness meant that I didn’t have to think too much about the drawing, just note down the measurements nice and quickly to fill in the blanks later.
- Neaten It Up And Get The Fixtures
I am a child of the computer age so my first act upon completing my sketch plan was to transfer it into a digital environment. You may be more comfortable with graph paper of course – I’d say the advantage with a digital copy is its flexibility, no need for rubbing out, plus the ability to rearrange things with a few clicks (more on that in stage 4) but it can be a little bit fiddly and take a bit of time.
The other main thing I put down on this second, neater version of my floorplan with the fixtures – in-built cupboards and shelves, the bath, sink and toilet. I also included the bed because, even though it is movable, whatever I choose to do I will still need a bed, and it will take up roughly the same amount of floor space.
Also worth noting down are sockets and ventilation grids – if you live in a static home like me, there will probably be more of the latter! Knowing where your sockets are will definitely help you when it comes to deciding how to plan out your rooms.
Also, there may be fixtures which get in the way. One of the major features in the front room is the fireplace, which I never use – in fact the one time I did try to turn it on it wouldn’t ignite, just released gas, so I am slightly concerned it might not work at all- and the in-built shelves above it, which are far too shallow to store books and barely deep enough for DVDs.
These both annoy me, but I can’t get rid of them so I will have to find a way of incorporating them into my plans!
NB: For general help, and for the official blueprint-style symbols to make your floor-plan look all official, I found the site House Plans Helper. You can get some downloads by popping in your e-mail address – I did and haven’t been spammed at all, so give it a go!
- Consider Your Needs
NB: From this point on I will be focussing on my front room, as this is the largest of my four rooms and has the most potential for re-modelling, but this step can be applied to any room and indeed the whole of your (tiny) house!
Of course the thing about a tiny house as supposed to a regular property is that limited space means pairing down exactly what you need and getting clever about the use of space. Some considerations which are just nice in a regular home are critical in a tiny house – one is storage, usually vertical storage, the other is considering that things will need to be moveable and storable – tables, chairs, desks etc.
Needs For The Front Room….
- Varied storage space – primarily for shoes which currently get piled up everywhere, and for books and DVDs
- A place to put my computer and a desk to work at it
- Lots of seating – at least sofa sized – for guests
- A place for my rabbits
- A dining table and chairs for group meals
- A place to grow things – flowers and culinary herbs
- A guest bed – double size if possible
So, that’s quite a big order for a little house! Can I do it?
Something you’ll probably notice ISN’T on the list (you may even be surprised by it) is a space for a large TV and the accompanying massive sound system (plus video games consoles) that seem to be mandatory these days, especially to millennials like me.
I watch all of my TV through computers – as do many of my generation – but that is VERY little. I only watch about an hour a week, so having a big TV and making space for it just doesn’t make sense. And when I have guests round my major goal is to enjoy their company and conversation – hence the extra seating and dining table!
However, if I did need a TV, and intended to spend a lot of my time watching it and playing video games, it would probably shape the entire room. Likewise you may wish to have extra appliances in this space or a display cabinet or a place for crafts – having moved my sewing table to the bedroom, this last is no longer included on this list, which is also worth considering – if you find that you can’t fit one of your needs in one room, could it be located somewhere else?
- Experiment And Play
This is, to my mind, the fun part. To take your floor plan and experiment with different layouts. There are theoretically infinite ways to arrange this space that I call my front room, but in practice only a dozen or so can really fulfill any set of needs, especially a long list like mine.
I started sketching a couple of ideas at work, like this…
I found a hybrid of the two above that I liked a lot, and decided to put into my digital copy…
My list of needs are fulfilled quite neatly:
- Storage space – There are three mixed cupboard/shelving units which will provide tons of space (I tried to figure it out in litres but my brain just wouldn’t do it!). Shoes will be stored nearest the front door, making it easier especially in wet weather!
- Computer space & desk – The cabinet nearest the door will also have a fold-out desk – It is far enough away that it won’t disturb either the guest bed or the table if they are out at that moment
Click to see the fold-outs and temporary features
- Lots of seating – More or less the whole back wall will be taken up with a continuous built in ‘snug’ seat which can be used for reading, relaxing and when the table is out (see below)
- Place for rabbits – my beloved buns can have a multi-tiered cage to retreat – I’m a bit concerned about the lack of floor space in this model and the proximity of the cage to the dining area – although I do plan to make an outdoor bunny palace at some point so it may become less of an issue in future. We shall see.
- A dining table and chairs for group meals – These will all be foldable and can be stored (fingers crossed) in the cupboard closest the window, which will also have small drawers for extra cutlery, coasters, table-clothes etc. When out the table is placed with one side along the built in seating, so four to six people can sit comfortably.
- A place to grow things – a plant shelf will be just behind the in-built seating, hopefully away from nibbling bunnies – although of course they will get some of the herbs as treats!
- A guest bed – This will (again fingers crossed) be unfolded or extended from the built in seating, with the cushions for the seating converting into a mattress. I’ve seen it done elsewhere so I’m sure I can manage it – it may be a little fiddly though!
Not too shabby! But what will it look like? That takes us to the final point…
- Bring It To 3D
At the top of this blog I said that I was using, at a guess, 30% of the available space.
But I wasn’t necessarily talking about floor space – I mentioned vertical storage earlier and as you will know if you’ve lived in one for a while, getting the most out of a Tiny House means building upwards!
A floor-plan can only show so much, so making a 3D model is the next step, and is brilliant for visualising what it would actually be like to live in such a space.
Well look more in depth at this stage in the next projects blog…stay tuned!