So, you’re thinking of moving into a tiny house. Simplifying and downsizing make life so much easier. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the tiny house design choices!
So, how do you choose a tiny house design that fits the needs of you and your family?
It starts by asking yourself questions to help guide your decision. Once you’ve narrowed your focus, you’ll know exactly what type of tiny house design you’re seeking. You’ll also rest assured the house you choose is one you’re happy with.
Here are nine questions to help you choose the right tiny house design.
1. Have You Tried Tiny Living Before?
Last summer, my husband, our son and I lived in a tiny house for a few weeks. It was a great (and eye-opening) experience, but we found there were really wonderful aspects of tiny living and significant challenges.
Before you take the plunge into tiny living, you may want to consider merely moving into a smaller home. If you’re now living in a 2500 square foot house, could you find a cheaper option with 1200 square feet, instead?
Most true tiny house designs feature less than 400 square feet, which is a big adjustment. Consider moving into a tiny house or smaller space for a few months to test the waters.
2. Do You Plan To Move to the Tiny House Permanently?
If you’re planning to sell your current house or end your lease, your situation might look different than someone who wants to test tiny living for a while.
A vacation rental, a temporary lease, or a short-term move is a good idea, especially if you’re new to living in a small space.
Before you put your current house on the market, do plenty of research. Talk to other people who live in tiny homes.
Visit tiny house websites and forums like:
- Tiny House Talk
- Tiny House Town
- Tiny Living
- Tumbleweed Tiny Houses
- Tiny House Community
- The Tiny Life
- Tiny Home Builders
Ask plenty of questions, research thoroughly, and explore your options.
3. Do You Plan to Rent or Purchase a Pre-Built Tiny House (or Build Your Own)?
If you plan to rent a tiny house, you’ll be limited in the types of designs you can choose from (especially if you’re seeking a tiny home in a certain location).
On the other hand, should you decide to purchase a small house, your tiny house design options are limitless. There are plenty of pre-built tiny houses, tiny house designs, and layouts to choose from. You may even want to go with an alternative tiny home like a converted shed, treehouse, or shipping container home.
Check out the following sites for pre-built tiny houses and kits:
- Tumbleweed Tiny Houses
- New Frontier Tiny Homes
- 84 Lumber Tiny Living
- Tiny Home Builder’s Tiny House Marketplace
Explore the following for tiny house designs and floor plans:
4. What Does Your Family Need Regularly?
As you start to explore tiny house designs, don’t get too hung up on aesthetics-only. While it’s important to choose a beautiful design you love, it’s also important to find a tiny house design that meets your family’s needs.
If you’re single or live with a partner, your options are pretty broad. Most tiny dwellings accommodate two people reasonably comfortably, with a minimal number of furnishings.
Throw kids in the mix, and you may need a slightly bigger space.
The best way to figure it out is to go through a typical “day in the life” of your family. What items do you use regularly? When you fix meals, what are the basics you need? Don’t focus on decorations and “extras,” but what do you need to live your life?
Then, consider the space you’ll need to reasonably accommodate your life (and the lives of those in your household).
5. Does Your Family Do Any Hobbies That Require Special Space?
I like journaling, doing yoga, taking hikes, and biking. None of those hobbies require a distinctive space. In fact, most are outdoor-based.
However, if there are different hobbies and activities you love, you may need to find a way to accommodate them in a small space.
For example, crafters may need to pare down and consolidate your piles of fabric, art supplies, paper, and tools. Similarly, readers may wish to switch to an e-reader or find digital options for media.
Most hobbies and activities are carried out in a minimal space, but plan your tiny house design to accommodate activities you enjoy. After all, simple living is terrific, but not if you give up the things that bring you joy.
6. Will You Sell or Store Your Unneeded Furnishings?
As you decide on your tiny house needs, you’ll likely find many furnishings you no longer need or want to hang onto.
Go through your belongings, organize, and pare them down. Declutter your house by sorting through all the items you no longer need.
As you declutter ask yourself:
- Is this item useful?
- Do I need this item regularly?
- Could I use something else to do the same task?
- Is the item in good repair?
- Does this make me happy?
- Am I only holding onto this out of guilt, anxiety, or for sentimental reasons?
Now, what do you do with all those unneeded items? You have several options. Could you store the season items you aren’t sure about getting rid of? Perhaps a relative, friend, or even a storage unit is an option?
The truth is, if you aren’t using it and you plan to store it for the future, you may want to assess if it’s an item truly worth keeping. You will earn extra cash by selling the item on eBay or Craigslist (or donate the item to give it a second life).
7. What Are the Privacy Needs of Your Family?
When we stayed in our tiny home, the biggest challenge for me was personal space and privacy. As much as I adore my family, I’m a person who needs time by myself to clear my head and refocus.
On days when the weather was nice, finding pockets of alone time was no issue at all. I would go for bike rides, take long walks, or sit on the porch and write. When it was cold or rainy outside, though, it was tough to avoid the feeling of being “cooped up” indoors.
If you or your family members are the type of people who need personal space, a tiny house may be challenging for you. Be sure your tiny house design includes your own distinct area and at least a marginal amount of privacy.
The lack of privacy and alone time was definitely the most challenging part of tiny house living for me. It’s something to consider, especially if you haven’t lived in a small space before.
8. How Will The Needs of Your Family Change in the Future?
None of us can predict the future, of course, but when you decide to move into a tiny house, you should consider your plans for the next few years (especially if you buy your tiny house).
Do you plan to grow your family? Will you be travelling at some point? Do you own the land where you will put your tiny house (and are the laws and regulations on the property subject to change in the next few years)?
Again, these questions come up whether you plan to buy a 400 square foot house or a 4000 square foot house. It’s crucial to ensure you’re in the right financial place, especially if you decide you’re going to design and build your tiny house.
Although a smaller house is typically less expensive than a larger home, many expenses still occur.
Tiny house expenses to consider are:
- Building materials and expenses
- Electricity/solar power
- Generator power
- Water and sewer access and storage
- Maintenance (especially if your tiny house is on wheels or a trailer)
- Appliances and furnishings to fit your tiny house
- Supplies that fit within a tiny space
- Storage (trailers and containers)
- Building licenses and fees
Check the expenses against your regular budget, to prepare for any costs that may arise after you move into your tiny house. You may realize renting is the way to go at this time or look for another affordable solution.
9. Is the Tiny House Design Comfortable?
Some people love a cozy space. Others prefer a lot of light and openness. There are tiny house designs to fit almost any preference, so research the tiny house designs available to find something that fits your taste.
You may prefer a design that’s boxy or modular. Do you like convertible furniture (like a Murphy bed, or trundle bed)? Do you plan to use your kitchen space for eating and working, or will you need a separate desk space?
Refer to the list you made of your typical daily activities and make sure there is room in your tiny house design. This is especially important if you blog or work from home. Spending all your time in a small space means taking every step to ensure it’s comfortable for you.
There are plenty of ways to lighten up your tiny house design and help a small space still feel roomy. Keep your home clutter-free and organized. Choose a simple wardrobe. Free your house of things you don’t need.
Cultivate and create a space that’s inviting and comfortable for you and your family members. Use texture and color to add personality to your space.
Living in a tiny house is stylish, comfortable, and meaningful. In a small space, you narrow your focus to only the items you need. You’re no longer weighed down by clutter and stuff you don’t use.
If you’re ready to simplify and embrace tiny living, research tiny house designs and layouts to find a space you love. A tiny house can truly become a great home.