Monthly Archives: May 2015

Top Ten Items Overlooked in a Tiny House Design

Over the years and through my conversations with other tiny house dwellers I have heard some consistent conversations about things they wish would be different.  I have made my own little list just to pass some of that information onto you so hopefully you can learn from others (including me!).  These are the ten most overlooked items needed in a tiny house off the top of my head, if you have any creative solutions for some I would love to see you post them in the comments!


1 – Room for family photos – This is one of those little things that makes your house feel like a home.  It is easy to overlook but subtly impacts your day to day life, especially when missing.  Wall space can be hard to come by in a tiny house so make sure you account for any family pictures, or wall art for that matter, that makes the ‘must keep’ list!


2 – Cleaning supplies – Smaller homes mean you have to clean less, not never.  In fact I have noticed in a small house the tasks I used to be ok to put off in my big house become more of a necessity in a small one, sweeping and dusting for instance.  There is less space to clean but the same amount of people dirtying it so it shows faster if you don’t make it a routine!  You will still need items like a broom, sometimes a mop can be replaced with a towel but be honest, do you want to be on your hands and knees wiping the floor?  If not allot some space for a mop!  Think about what you need and want when it comes to cleaning your house before building and make your life easier than if you change your mind and have to do acrobatics to jump over the broom handle any time you need to use the potty. 🙂

download3 – Laundry hamper/storage – People seem to get a good idea of the clothes they need but forget that those close spend time both clean and dirty, where you store your dirty clothes has been a complaint of many who never considered it until it was too late.  This is one of those things that can take up a couple cubic feet so it matters!  If you are a type of person who waits for all of your clothes to be dirty before washing them you will need a little more space than someone who can keep up with smaller loads and may be able to just dedicate a drawer in a dresser as ‘dirty laundry’.  What works for you will vary but this is one complaint I see come up often so think about your solution first!


4 – Summer/winter clothes – On this same topic, many of us design our homes in one season but live in an area with multiple seasons.  Winter clothes are bulky, if you’re designing in summer you may forget to allot a good amount of space for bulky winter clothes.  ‘Where do I keep my winter coat’ is something that comes up a lot.  You can always find a place to stuff it but in those few months it’s nice to have something close to the door and out of the way.  Same with winter boots to keep from tracking water through the house!


5 – Heater/air-conditioner – This is another thing that is often thought of from one season.  Generally I hear more people accommodating heaters but it is actually not that difficult to heat a tiny house, the cooling can be a much bigger effort, think about how you will accommodate both of these things and if that matters to you.  Swamp coolers take up space, air conditioners take up space and usually require a window to take air in, fans can fit on a shelf.  It is easy to let these things be an afterthought but that can lead to tripping over an appliance in your day to day activities.  Split systems are great because they can heat and cool while being wall mounted and not taking up valuable floor space, they require considerations when installing though, make sure to accommodate whatever heating and cooling needs you think are necessary for you!

6 – Expanding families/flexibility – It is pretty easy to pay off a tiny house within five years, or let the monthly savings pay it off.  For this reason I suggest you think of a five year plan.  I have seen many a families enter this world and then find out they will be adding to their family (seriously, tiny houses are fertility treatments sometimes) and they have no way to accommodate their expanding family.  They are forced to jump ship and take a loss on investment both in money and time spent building.  It is heart breaking.  If kids are a part, or POTENTIALLY a part of your five year plan think about how they would fit if needed.  I could go into depth about how easy it is to have a baby in a tiny house and how it may actually be better for everyone involved but I won’t, here.  Just take my word for it, it may seem challenging (I remember I thought it would be), it’s not.  It SO convenient in most ways!  They do take a little bit though.  Could you add a loft if needed?  Could you build onto a space?  If this isn’t an issue for you pass over it BUT I would hate to see someone forced away from all their hard work simply because their space wasn’t flexible!


7 – Food storage – I have seen some people go WAY overboard on this (and admit it!) but more often I hear complaints about not having enough room to store basic needs in the food department.  Often times we opt to have open shelving in the kitchen to keep the open feel but taking away those cabinets is taking away a lot of storage.  Think about how much room you need to store your food and be realistic.  If you enjoy canning you will need a lot more than someone who prefers not to cook and sees tiny living as a way to save money and eat out more (which it is!).


8 – Shoes – I am not a shoe person.  I never have been, the most I have ever owned is 3 pairs of shoes, winter boots, shoes and flip flops.  Well, I moved into my tiny house and found a liking for boots.  You can’t have just one, you need black, and brown and short heels and longer heels… you see, some things just grow.  It turns out I am not the only one either!  People have issues fitting their shoes in their tiny house.  Design a space or space saving solution to fit your habit if you have a habit of collecting shoes!


9 – Toiletries – I got rid of every single non essential toiletry item I owned when I moved into my tiny house.  Somehow the bred when I wasn’t looking because random toiletries are constantly taking over my bathroom window sills.  I see this pretty often in tiny house pictures, there are ‘things’ stashed in random nooks that they will fit.  It is easier if you just give yourself a little leniency and space for toiletries… You may eventually break down and change your hair style requiring some other sort of things to maintain, you might find a great sale on Q-Tips and have a box to store somewhere… you never know, a little ‘expansion room’ in that area is a good idea.


10 – Pet sleeping areas – You may have a pet already, you may get one down the road, no matter when that happens that pet will, at a minimum, need their own place to sleep.  It is fairly easy to accommodate this with a little forethought but don’t just assume they will share you bed (though they may!).  They may decide one day that doesn’t work for them and take it out on your shoe collection from above.  Pet’s are their own beings and need their own place to curl up and chill out.


11 – Hobbies/Books/Sporting gear – Just for good measure here is a bonus.  This one gets covered pretty well generally, people go through their book collections, either digitizing or pairing down, people think about the main hobbies that sustain them, quilting, painting etc.  What I have heard missed fairly often are those seasonal hobbies and the gear that they take.  I think this is once again because we tend to design and take inventory of our lives when thinking about going tiny at a certain time of year, forgetting about the other part but do you have seasonal hobbies to store gear for?  Camping/backpacking, rock climing, skiing/snowboarding, Kayaking??  Where will you keep your gear?  The good part is this stuff can often be stored in those less readily accessible areas, the thing is you actually have to dedicate that space to them!  Make your inventory of these lesser used items if they are important for you to keep!

FREE Tiny House Workshops!

I will be giving free workshops in Boise on tiny houses, if you are in the area please RSVP at the links below and come on by!

We have a lot of interest here in the valley and I want to provide whatever information and help I can to others to get them on their way!  For those who don’t know me, or why I’d want to share this info, I am Macy Miller.  I designed and built this tiny house 4+ years ago.  I have been living here with my family in Boise every since.  I have found a passion for helping others navigate this path and ‘right-size’ their lives.  My background is in design and architecture, I think because of that my house has been featured in TIME Magazine and Dwell, as well as a plethora of websites.  In reality this is a lifestyle option available to all though, not just those with a background in design.  I have enjoyed being a speaker at the last two Tiny House Conferences and want to bring a little of that info straight to Boise.  I try to stay active and engaged with the tiny house community in most ways that I can!  I’ve learned a lot and it’s constantly changing/growing.  I’d like to share what I have learned and how it can help you create your own lifestyle, as wanted.

In reality the main goal is getting info to all of those interested in this path, it will be nice to just meet, do a complete brain dump and give an opportunity for others to make those connections locally to help this movement take hold in Idaho.

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I have set up four different sessions, intended to cover four major areas in decent depth (it will be a lot of info for those brand new to tiny houses and hopefully those of you researching for years can learn something too?!).  For those not able to make it for whatever reason I am going to do my very best to record the sessions and put them on YouTube after the fact with downloads to all the worksheets so you won’t miss anything!  No promises but I will do my best!
So here are the four sessions and an overview of each, they will all be from 6pm-8pm and include time for Q & A – please RSVP for each one you are interested in:

Wed. July 22 – Part I – Tiny House Codes and Foundation Selection

This is going to be a conversation around the local and national code issues surrounding Tiny Houses.  I will talk about the options you have both locally and nationally focusing on the permitting process and alternative paths to legalized tiny house living.

As a part of this conversation I will explain the difference between a foundation tiny house and a tiny house on wheels (legally) and the process that each must go through.  The MAIN focus of this series will be tiny houses on wheels so I will get into the considerations that will go into picking your foundation (trailers).

Wed. July 29 – Part II – Tiny House Construction

This is going to be a conversation about the various types of construction you may use when building your tiny house.  I will talk about standard framing practices, advanced framing techniques, steel stud construction and SIPs.  the great thing about tiny homes is that even the most complex house is pretty basic.  Even though this will be a bit more ‘technical’ information I hope it stays simple enough for those not in the construction industry.

In addition to framing options I will get into insulation types, pros/cons and tiny house specific considerations and suggestions.  This will MOSTLY focus on tiny houses on wheels.  I also hope to give you a basic understanding of tools needed for the task!

This is the same presentation I gave at the Tiny House Conference last month plus some additional information.

Wed. Aug. 05 – Part III – Tiny House Systems

This is going to be a conversation about the utilities and hookups available for tiny houses including pros and cons of each.  I will talk about on-grid, off-grid and self contained options when it comes to water, sewer and electric as well as a basic intro to wiring and plumbing.  This will be the one where we talk at length about toilets and all the options there ;-).  I will also cover heating and cooling options and regional/mobile considerations.

Wed. Aug. 12 – Part IV – Designing Your Own Tiny House

This is going to be a conversation about how to design your own tiny house.  Fact is tiny houses HAVE to be suited for their occupants, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ but there are things to consider and think about in your daily life.  I will share some of the important questions to ask yourself, some things to consider and give you some general rules and background of design to help make the appropriate decisions.  Design is daunting but it’s also systematic and with tiny houses, form really does follow function, there are reasons that one strategy makes sense over others.  

In addition to talking about the design of the actual house I will touch on designing your lifestyle and building your own community, in the way that you desire.  This one will be my favorite conversation but you have to get all that other stuff out of the way and get questions answered before you can have fun in the actual design!  

If you are not able to make the events but want to be notified when the videos are up on YouTube please sign up for the newsletter HERE and you’ll be notified when they are live!  They will be posted on this site when ready!  

I want this to be beneficial to those who need it so if you have specific questions please comment with them below and I will be sure to include relevant information!  Thanks!