5 Creative Staircase Ideas for Tiny House RVs

Creative contemporary staircase design. Photo credit: Archi Expo

A few months ago, we posted an article that asked: LADDER vs. STAIRCASE, which would you choose for your Tiny House RV? The overwhelming opinion was that a staircase was preferred, but only if it didn't overwhelm the living space. It sounds like we need to get creative!

Below you'll find FIVE SPACE SAVING STAIRCASE IDEAS to get your inventive juices flowing.

1). Japanese Tansu Steps

Tansu Step Cabinet. Image credit: Pinterest

Japanese Tansu Steps are available for purchase, but if you're looking to save some cash, try building them yourself. Start from scratch or modify an existing bookshelf. Stack and secure wood storage boxes or antique crates (such as Tiny House Giant Journey did in the video below). 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub3RUyHUiEw

2). Tiny Spiral Staircase

Molly & Zack's Tiny Ski Lodge on Wheels. Photo Credit: Mark Fisher

In a tiny space, an average-sized spiral staircase will dominate the great room. So if you're interested in this aesthetic for your Tiny House RV, you'll have to get creative and think tinier. Molly and Zack's tiny spiral staircase design (above) was featured on the TV show Tiny House Nation. Francis Camosse used this same design in his Tiny House RV (below). 

Photo credit: Telegram.com

3). Alternating Tread Staircase

Photo credit: Tiny House Living 

This form of climbing might take some getting used to (ask any sailor), but it's a great space saver. After a few climbs, you'll start to remember: right, left, right, left. Muscle memory will have you ascending and descending with ease.

Photo credit: Stylish Eve

4). Folding Staircase

Photo credit: Loft Centre Products 

Wouldn't it be nice to retract or fold away your staircase when not in use? Perhaps the above example is a bit steep (almost a ladder), but with the right handrail it could work! For a bit of whimsy, enjoy the innovative "Disappearing Staircase" design below. In what other ways could we fold away our stairs?

Disappearing Staircase. Photo credit: Apartment Therapy 

5). Repurposed Staircase

Could you repurpose these stairs? Photocredit: Mental Floss

Remember the stairs from your childhood playground or bunkbed? Could you find a similar set that could be repurposed for your Tiny House RV? Maybe you could snag a set of steps from a dilapidated sailboat or manipulate a set of "pet steps?" Check your local resale shop, garage sales, estate sales and craigslist. Keep searching! Who knows, you might find the perfect set of stairs for free!

Pet steps.  Photo credit: Trend Hunter

Learn how to make the above staircase from a set of IKEA storage shelves, click here

YOUR TURN! Share your creative staircase ideas below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey here.
 
  

Written by Jenna Spesard — April 30, 2015

Filed under: Alternating   Folding   Reclaimed   Staircase   Stairs   Tansu   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Nation   Tiny House RV  

Jeff & Megan's Tiny House RV

Recently we held a workshop in Las Vegas and decided to check in with Jeff and Megan's Tumbleweed Linden build, called "Room To Spare Tiny House." Last summer, when we delivered their trailer, you might remember their difficulty maneuvering into their backyard build site. The retaining wall collapsed and the couple ended up maneuvering the trailer by hand. It worked!

Almost six months of construction, Jeff and Megan's build is nearing the halfway mark. "We originally thought it would take us about this long to finish the entire Tiny House RV," Jeff admitted. Currently they are sheathing and wrapping their Tiny House RV with Tyvek 

"Sometimes you can plan and plan and plan, but at a certain point, you need to just start building," Jeff shared. "At a certain point there is value in getting two pieces of wood attached to each other, instead of standing around and talking about it all day!"

For visual reference, above is a complete Tumbleweed Linden. Jeff and Megan have slightly modified the design to suit their needs and personal preferences. Notice, their door is located on the side rather than centered.

Megan Standing on her Sheathed Rear Roof

The couple was recently featured on the local news. Watch the video below to see the interior "Room to Spare" and learn about the growing interest in Tiny House RVs in Las Vegas! 

FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

The big question still hovers over Jeff and Megan's exit strategy (literally). How are they going to get their custom RV out of that backyard when it's fully built? 

"We don’t think there’s any way we’re going back out the way we came in," Jeff and Megan explained that they have two options: 1). PUT IN A GATE THROUGH THE BACK WALL OF THE YARD AND EXIT THROUGH THE NEIGHBOR'S YARD, or 2). HIRE A CRANE. 

The crane option might seem a little extreme, but the couple has quoted both options and the pricing is similar! So, why not crane it? It'll make for an amazing story, not to mention an incredible photo opportunity. 

Rain Tarp Protecting "Room to Spare Tiny House" from the Elements

Jeff and Megan's Three Pieces of Advice for Other DIYers:

1).  Invest in a good tarp (unless you’re lucky enough to have a covered build site)

2).  Know your exit strategy – or at least be aware of the challenges before you start!

3).  Trust yourself. Anyone can do this, with a little training and help.

We'll be sure to check back in with Jeff and Megan periodically, but in the meantime, follow "Room to Spare Tiny House" on their websitefacebook and Instagram.

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*All photos provided by Room to Spare Tiny House

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — April 14, 2015

Filed under: Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House RV  

Ariel's Off-Grid 24 Foot Tumbleweed

Ariel's Off-Grid Tiny House RV in Wyoming

Wouldn't it be nice to travel anywhere with your Tiny House RV without worrying about "plugging-in?" Ariel McGlothin just purchased a Tumbleweed 24 Cypress, and she customized her Tiny House RV to be completely off-grid, even in the cold winter climate of mountainous Wyoming. 

"The propane heater built into my RV does an excellent job of providing steady, even and comfortable heat," Ariel explains. "The only thing I would prefer comfort wise is a heated floor as my feet have always tended to be cold, but I chose not to go with that due the the power use and knowing that (my Tiny House RV) would be off-grid."

Ariel's lofted bedroom

Ariel chose the 24 foot Cypress model, and her layout was customized to have a large kitchen for cooking meals from scratch. Some other customizations include: converting her closet into a pantry, adding a double sink and creating a smaller custom shower stall in order to make her kitchen larger.

 

"I use my oven and all four burners," Ariel explains. "So it (the full range appliance) is absolutely worth the space for me." 

The benefits of being off-grid include self-sustainability, a lower carbon footprint and reduced utility bills, but it's not for the faint of heart. "(Being off-grid) is a commitment." Ariel admits, "I don't mind that, but it does require more thought than being plugged into the grid somewhere. I just have to be mindful of things."

How Ariel's Tiny House RV Functions Off-Grid:

1). Solar & Generator

When it's sunny out, Ariel is able to provide the electricity for her Tiny Home RV with solar panels. On a cloudy day, she switches on the generator to recharge her batteries. "I take an extra minute in the morning to run up the bank behind my RV to dust the snow off the solar panels," Ariel explains. "I recharge camera batteries and my laptop, while the generator is running."

2). Propane Appliances

Ariel's heater, water heater, stove and oven are all powered by propane rather than electricity. "I need to monitor my propane tanks and fill them as each one gets empty so I'm not suddenly without heat," Ariel comments. 

Her refrigerator is Energy Star rated, meaning it uses less electricity than most models. 

3). Water Tanks

Ariel's Tiny House RV has a 26 gallon water tank hidden under the kitchen sink. She fills this weekly by hauling jugs of fresh water to her RV and pouring them into the exterior water inlet. The tank could also be filled using a garden hose, if she had one nearby, and if it wasn't frozen.

Consumption wise, Ariel uses about 140 gallons of water a month not including her showers that are usually taken at the gym. "It's been fun to measure my use of things." Ariel tells us. Because of this, she has become very conscious of her usage. 

4). Composting Toilet

Ariel has a Nature's Head composting toilet, the fan favorite for manufactured composting toilets in the Tiny House RV world. She dumps her urine container about once a week. The "solids" compartment is rated for 90 uses before dumping.

"None of this is hard, it's just a commitment to extra regular chores that people typically do not have any experience with these days." - Ariel McGlothin

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For more details on Ariel's tiny house or off-grid living tips, check out her informative website here.

All photos provided by Ariel (who is an excellent photographer)! More of her work on her website.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — April 13, 2015

Filed under: 24 foot   Ariel   Cypress   Dickenson Heater   Kitchen   Off-grid   Propane   Solar   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Water Heater   Water tanks   Wyoming  

Roof Shapes for Tiny House RVs

Six Basic Roof Shapes / photo credit

In architecture, the roof shape of a structure will have a big impact on the overall design. Above you can see six basic roof shapes, but for the purposes of this concise article we are only going to discuss the following: 1). Gable Roof, 2). Gambrel Roof, 3). Hipped Roof, and 4). Flat Roof.

Remember there are advantages and disadvantages to every roof shape, but most importantly you should choose the shape that best fits the visual aesthetic of your entire Tiny House RV design.

A Tumbleweed Elm w/ a Gable Roof Shape & Dormers

Gable Roof

When you ask a child to draw a house, what do they usually draw? Answer: A gable roof shape with two windows, a door and perhaps a chimney. The gable roof shape is classic, sophisticated and summons an emotional connection of "home". 

Here is what the interior of a Tiny House RV with a gable roof looks like:

A classic gable roof. *Note, the roof expands to shed dormers in the loft.

This Tiny House RV's great room feels spacious because of the peaked roofline, guiding your eyes skyward. The steep 12:12 roof pitch also allows for easy rain and snow runoff. 

"Runaway Shanty"- Tiny House RV being built on a Tumbleweed Trailer w/ Gambrel Roof Shape

2. Gambrel Roof

The gambrel roof shape is a staple for the traditional American "country home". As you travel through the rural areas of the United States, you will see many examples of the gambrel roof used on farmhouses and barns. You might also see this roof shape used in a few colonial residences around New England. 

Here is what the interior of a Tiny House RV with a gambrel roof looks like:

April's Tiny House RV with a Gambrel Roof Shape

The gambrel roof provides more interior ceiling space than the gable, while also providing a decent slope for snow and rain runoff. That being said, this roof shape is more difficult to construct and will be heavier than a traditional gable.

The Tumbleweed Cypress w/ a Hipped Roof

3). Hipped Roof

The hipped roof, seen here on a Tumbleweed Cypress, is our most popular Tiny House RV design. A visual charmer, hipped roof shapes can be seen all over the country in residential architecture. The design resonates will many home owners, which has lead to its overwhelming popularity. 

Here is what the interior of a Tiny House RV with a hipped roof looks like:

The hipped roof, as seen above in the small loft above the door, slants inward but still provides ample space for storage or a display. 

The Tumbleweed Mica w/ a Flat Roof

4). Flat Roof

The term "flat roof" is a bit of a misnomer. This roof shape is not completely flat, but actuality has a slight slant for rain runoff. Flat roofs are an ancient form of architecture, but the design is still used all over the world today. For example, most green roofs (roofs used for growing vegetation) are flat roofs.

Here is what the interior of a Tiny House RV with a hipped roof looks like:

So which of these roof shapes would you choose for your Tiny House RV? Comment below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — April 06, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Elm   Flat   Gable   Gambrel   Hipped   Mica   Roof   Roof Shapes   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House RV  

How to Calculate Your Tiny House RV Layout Design

Let’s do a fun spacial exercise to help you design the interior layout of your Tiny House RV. WARNING: MATH IS REQUIRED! 

Consider your Tiny House RV as a pie chart. Your space could (and maybe should) be divided based on the amount of usage each room receives per day. Rooms common in most Tiny House RV’s are the: 1). Bedroom, 2). Bathroom, 3). Great Room, 4). Kitchen 5). Storage / Closet.

Here is an example.

First of all, as a Tiny House RV owner, let’s assume you’ll be spending time outdoors, exploring or perhaps at work. For this example, we’ll be subtracting 8 hours from your 24 hour day as time spent outside your RV on a daily basis. The below percentages were calculated from the remaining 16 hours you’ll be spending inside your Tiny House RV.

Bedroom. Let’s say you spend 8 hours a day in your bedroom. That would average 50% of your interior usage.

Bathroom. Let’s say you take a 10 minute shower every day. For easy math, let’s also say that your primping and other bathroom visits might take up another 50 minutes of the day. That’s 1 hour total or 6.25% of your interior usage.

Great Room (or Living Room / Dining Room combination). Let’s assume you spend on average about 4 hours in your great room. This space will encompass all lounging and dining. Of course, if you work from home, this number will increase as we can assume your office will be part of this space as well. 4 hours = 25% of your interior usage.

Kitchen. Let’s say you love to cook and will be preparing most of your meals in your Tiny House RV. On average, let’s estimate your cooking and clean up for three meals per day can take approximately 2 hours each day, or about 12.5%.

Storage Closet. The major variable here will be the space (probably divided in multiple closets) you’ll be using to store your belongings. Let’s assume this space, when combined, is equivalent to the size of your bathroom space: 6.25%.

If you look at this data, you can begin to divide your space based on usage in a pie graph. Now think about each of those slices as the approximate size of each room based on your usage. Do you really want half of your house to be a bedroom? How much space do you need to sleep? Maybe you can size that down and redistribute that space to another room. Another option is to consider a murphy bed or lofted bedroom. The loft, such as in the Elm, Cypress or Linden, is NOT included in the total square footage. This is why many Tiny House RVs have a lofted bedroom.

So let's consider a Cypress 24, which has 172 square feet of interior living space, NOT including the lofted bedroom. If you eliminate the bedroom, and redo your calculations based on the remaining 8 hours of interior space usage (because in your 24 hour day we assume you'll be in the lofted bedroom for 8 hours and outside for 8 hours), your chart looks something like this:

Now we can divide up the 172 square feet of the Cypress 24 to calculate the spacial usage of each room.

Bathroom: 12.5% / 21.5 square feet

Great Room: 50% / 86 square feet

Kitchen: 25% / 43 square feet 

Storage Closet: 12.5%  / 21.5 square feet

*Not included in 172 square feet: Lofted bedroom

Now the fun part starts! Once you have your approximate room square footages, based on your daily usage, you can begin to draw your layout or manipulate one of our standard layouts. Get creative! Can you move some of you storage into the loft? Can you add a murphy bed that would combine your great room with your bedroom? Do you have room for an office or small downstairs bedroom? Perhaps you’ll learn something about yourself and your space! 

Check out our standard layouts, and decide which Tiny House RV design works best for you, based on this exercise!

Share your calculations below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — March 26, 2015

Filed under: Exercise   Layout Design   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House RV  

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