How To Design Your Tiny House Floor Plan
The most common request I get is for specific sized small house floor plans. It can be hard to find house plans for something small, especially something only 12-feet wide. Whether you are starting from scratch or converting a shed or container into a house, here are some tips to customize floor plans to work for you and the way you want to live.
Buy Tiny House Plans
If you want build a tiny house from scratch and want professional plans, you can’t do better than the ones on Etsy. They aren’t very expensive and they are complete.
You can also buy small house plans from houseplans.com. They have the original Katrina Cottage plans and a lot of newer practical small house plans.
There was a Spiral-bound book of house plans, Katrina Cottages Collection by Stephen and Wanda Mouzon. It is out of print, but you can sometimes find it on eBay or Amazon.
Design Your Own Plans
You can design your plans yourself. Get some graph paper and a pencil and start sketching out ideas. Pencil in where the doors and windows are, if you are working with an existing structure.
If you want ideas, see how they have laid out some of the single wide trailers. Most of them are 14 or 16 feet wide, but some are 12 feet wide if you look. factoryselectmh.com/single-wide-floorplans
If you are starting with a shell, you can arrange the interior any way that works best for you. No interior walls means you can put walls wherever you want. In a regular house, you have to be careful if you move walls. They might be holding the roof up, load bearing walls. They might have power or water in them. If you are starting without walls, you can put them wherever you want them.
If you haven’t bought the shell you are going to use, you can plan your interior first so that the windows will be where you want them, rather than working around the windows that are already there.
Some storage buildings come with a little porch. These look great, but make sure that the space you lose is worth it.
The first step is to decide how you plan to use your home.
You can save space by putting in specialized smaller kitchen appliances, but using standard sizes will save money now and in the future if you ever need to replace them. The smaller ones aren’t usually that much smaller anyway.
Standard free standing stoves are 30” wide. You can easily find 20” wide ranges, too. They may cost more, but it may be worth it if 10” makes a difference to you.
If you don’t plan to really cook, you can get by with just a microwave and maybe a hotplate or cooktop. They don’t have to take up much space at all. They make microwave ovens that can also bake like a conventional oven.
Fridges come in a variety of sizes too. And the same size fridge can have more of the space used for the freezer. So think about how you will use the space. Smaller fridges may not have an icemaker option, another thing to consider. Most single door fridges can have the door convert to open the opposite way, but not always. If you plan your kitchen to work with a standard opening refrigerator door, it will make life simpler. As you lay out your kitchen, also consider how much space you will need to open the refrigerator. A double door fridge may be wider, but needs less clearance to open the doors. Don’t forget to consider how much space you will need to open the freezer. A pull out freezer drawer needs enough room to pull it out and still be able to reach in.
You will want enough counter space, especially on either side of the stove. Using standard cabinets and countertops is often actually less expensive than putting something together yourself. Standard cabinets give you workspace and storage and come in a lot of sizes. You can stuff more into a pantry with a door than you can balance on shelves without a door. If you are left with an awkward space at an end, rather than just cover it with a blank, look at some of the pull out shelves. They are available in a lot of sizes and prices.
What about a dishwasher? If it is important to you, see if you can fit it into your plan. They are only 24″ wide. They make smaller ones, even really small ones, but again, they cost more to buy, cost more to replace. And they hold way fewer dishes.
I wrote an entire post on designing the smallest practical kitchen: Planning a Small Efficient Kitchen
Start with the size bed you want. Even if you intend to build a storage base, it is a lot easier to work with standard sized mattresses than to hunt down custom sizes. Here in the US, the standard sizes are:
- Single (Twin) 38.5” x 74.5”
- Full (Double) 53.5” × 74.5”
- Queen 60” × 79.5”
- King 76” × 79.5”
If you are tall, a Twin XL is not as common, but is pretty easy to find. They are 5” longer than a regular Twin, 38.5” × 79.5”, the width of a twin, but the length of a Queen or King. A California King, also not too hard to find, is even longer, 72” × 83.5”. So it is not as wide as a King but 4” longer.
- Twin XL 38.5” × 79.5”
- California King 72” × 83.5”
You need to be able to walk around the bed. Optimally you need 36” on each side of the bed. That gives you plenty of room to walk, space for bedside tables and space to access under-bed storage. If you have a narrower bed, you may have it up against a wall on one side. No matter how you arrange things, you need at least 30” on one side.
If you want access to both sides of the bed, a Full bed will need at least 9 1/2 feet width, a Queen will need at least 10 feet, a California King will need 11 feet and a King will need nearly 12 feet at a minimum. You can count on needing at least 9 1/2 or 10 feet to be able to get around the foot of the bed, too.
- Full 9 1/2 feet
- Queen at least 10 feet
- California King 11 feet
- King nearly 12 feet at a minimum
Another alternative is a bed that folds up against the wall. Although that seems like it will give you more space, it uses up a wall and you can’t really use the floor where the bed is going to be for any other furniture. They can be expensive, but you can buy components to make them yourself.
Standard bath fixtures cost less and don’t take up that much more space than specialty small ones and are more convenient and comfortable unless you are really small.
A shower will take less space than a tub. A standard alcove shower can be as small as 36” x 36”.
If you are planning on living in this house with a child, you will probably want a tub. You can get a tub as small as 47” long x 28” wide.
A pedestal or wall mount sink may take less space, but the added storage of a cabinet mounted sink will likely make up for it. And don’t forget, it will be easier to keep the place looking less cluttered if there is a door over the storage.
When laying out your space, think outside the box. The toilet, sink and shower don’t have to be together. I have seen plans that have a tub on one side and a toilet with sink on the other side with a pass-through between them to reach the bedroom. There was a pocket door on each side.
Barn style doors look good, but they may take up wall space that could be put to better use.
Pocket doors can be pushed out of the way, but they don’t work well with outlets and switches.
Even the best accordion style doors don’t block sound at all.
A standard door needs enough room to swing open.
Double doors or bi-fold doors need less room to open. Bi-fold doors fold up. Double doors are narrow doors that hinge on both sides and close in the center, like french doors. Think two narrow french doors. You could even put spring hinges so you can push open and they will spring closed, like in a saloon or restaurant kitchen. You can make these yourself using bi-fold doors.
If two people are sharing a small space, using solid wood doors that fit closely within a frame will muffle sounds way more. I promise you, the tiny amount of added privacy is worth it.
A low ceiling will make your house feel claustrophobic. But you might use some of the the space above the kitchen and bathroom for storage while leaving a higher ceiling in the bedroom and any living area you have left after you have stuffed everything else in. A loft can be accessed from one or both sides. If it is high enough, you can have some tubs up there for the things you don’t have room for and want to keep.
This is better than storage in the bathroom, where it will be affected by steam.
Storage with doors will hold more and keep the space less cluttered looking. A lot of tiny houses show lots of open storage. It looks great now, but not once all your stuff is crowded in.
Some people forget to plan the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems. They take some space, too. They can also be some of the most expensive things you will buy for your project.
When you are planning your house, think about where you will put a breaker box. It needs to be convenient and safe. It should not be in a closet or in a space that will be covered.
An instant hot water heater or tankless water heater will take up less space.
A Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump efficiently heats and cools. It is a good use of space with a pretty small indoor evaporator and an outdoor condenser. Because the house is so small, as long as air can circulate, you will be comfortable anywhere.
Free Small House Plans
Jay Osborne gives away open source plans for a small house. The original plans are for a 1000 foot house. You can download digital files to customize the plans to make a smaller or larger house. The files can even help you generate a materials list.
More Plans to Get Ideas From
These plans are from other posts, click to see more information on any of them.