Ladder vs. Staircase. This is a huge topic in the tiny house world. How will I access my loft? A staircase will take up so much room, but a ladder seems difficult and dangerous to climb. How can I decide? Don’t worry, I’m here to help! Let’s discuss the pros and cons and look at some photos for inspiration.
Space Saving. A ladder will save you valuable floorspace.
Tuck it Away. Tuck your ladder behind a bookshelf or into a hidden slot. You could also use a rope ladder, which can be rolled up when not in use.
Versatility. Ladders can be used in any tiny home. Stairs are not possible is all tiny homes, especially those without dormers.
Lightweight. Ladders are usually very lightweight, unlike stairs.
Mobility. Simply move your ladder to access your front storage loft.
Can be used on a slope. You can build your ladder to function on a slight slope instead of straight up and down. This will make it easier to climb and more secure. Use flat footed rungs. Rounded rungs can be uncomfortable underfoot, avoid these.
Easy to climb. This is the biggest “pro” of stairs.
Can be used for storage. Many tiny housers double their staircase as storage. You can also hide utilities within a staircase, such as a water tank, water heater, etc.
Tumbleweed Cypress with storage staircase to the loft. Notice the loft has a cutout passage for staircase access.
Takes up space. There’s no way around it: stairs take up space. This is a big “con.” Of course, if you utilize the inside of your staircase as storage, this space could be functional and not an issue.
Heavy. Adding stairs to your tiny home means that you are undoubtedly adding weight and that you might need to compensate for that somewhere else.
Cannot be used in all tiny homes. Stairs require a certain amount of headroom, at least for the top step. You will need to plan ahead for stairs. Extend your dormers past the loft flooring, or create a cut out for staircase entrance to the loft.
Mobility. You cannot move your staircase. You will still need a ladder to access the front storage loft.
Spiral staircase in Francis Camosse's tiny home. Photo credit: telegram.com. A normal staircase would not be possible in this tiny home unless a portion of the loft floor was cut out for entrance, or the staircase was placed in the center. A circle staircase is a great way around this.
Keep in mind, not all “pros” and “cons” are created equal. It's up to you to decide what really matters in your tiny home.
Is there another way? Of course! One of the most appealing ideologies behind tiny house design is that you have the freedom to be creative. Use a rock climbing wall, a climbing rope, or a pole vault to access your loft! Use alternating tread or a half staircase / half ladder. Use a slide or a fireman's pole to get down. Or how about an elevator?? That’s one I haven’t seen before!
So what are you leaning towards: ladder or stairs? Comment below.
A lot has happened to Annie Coburn since taking the August 2014 Tumbleweed workshop in Dallas. She admits that she was unsure of her future plans when she first decided to attend the workshop, but one comment from another attendee changed her mind (and her life) completely. "A lady said: 'I know this person who travels around in her tiny house and sells .....' I don't even remember what she was selling, but that statement put all the pieces together for me," Annie told us.
Interior: Tiny House Teas
Annie has always loved to travel. In 2010 she created a travel website for seniors. So the idea of creating a business that could function out of the tiny house, while wayfaring around the United States, tied all of her passions together in one beautiful package. It wasn't long before Annie received her Tumbleweed trailer and started building her traveling Cypress 20 Equator without dormers.
"When I saw the picture of the Cypress, I wanted to give it a hug," Annie recalls. "It's so cute!"
But what does Annie intend to sell out of her traveling tiny home? TEA, of course! In the late 1990's, she lived in China and remains in contact with her friends there. "They know tea and tea producers," Annie comments. "So I have access to premium teas." In September she flew to China to strike up a partnership and, just like that, "Tiny House Teas" was born.
Annie's tiny house is now close to completion, and she'll soon hit the road with her traveling tea business. Her first destination will be the Florida Keys. "The tiny house gives us options," Annie explains. "We can stay as long as we wish. When we feel the need for a change, just hook-up, fill-up and GO."
Whether you are planning to be on the road everyday or you are choosing to stay parked in your favorite corner of the world for a bit, it’s likely that you have chosen a tiny house for the freedom it will provide. The adventure looks different for everyone, but it undoubtedly means a journey with less “stuff”.
So how do you approach the overwhelming task of choosing what to take with you?How will you fit everything into only a couple hundred square feet?The key is to focus on the fun ahead then choose what to pack for the adventure.
You’re already being creative and living intentionally by choosing a tiny house.You’re focusing on all that you’ll gain, not what you’ll give up. So approach the task of evaluating your “stuff” with this same positive mindset.
Think versatility and comfort for clothes, compact and dual purpose for your kitchen items. Think creatively and resourcefully with everything!
2). Remember your vision
Be selective and intentional, keeping in mind the amount of white space, storage and keepsakes you’d like with you on the journey.
3). Think with an abundance mindset
Trust that anything you need will be available when you need it.The “I might need this” reasoning will not support your freedom.You don’t need any extra baggage!
4). Remain optimistic…
Think about the opportunities ahead and the new community of people you’ll meet.By choosing to take only what you know you’ll need now, you’re making space for exciting new experiences.
5) Go with your gut
Remember when you experienced that gut feeling knowing that a tiny house was perfect for you?Use that same gut feeling to make smart decisions about your stuff.
6). Give it a rest
Tired minds don’t make good decisions.Working in small chunks of time can be better than putting in long days, so plan accordingly.
The open road. Photo credit: Lisa Luken
By approaching the task this way, you’ll be well prepared for the exciting adventure ahead, having intentionally chosen to bring along only what you truly need, use and love.
You’ll be ready to enjoy your tiny house and the big life it provides…with just the right items for the adventure.
Lisa Luken is a Simple Living Mentor, helping people find joy and freedom through simplifying. She and her family recently sold their “more than enough” home in Illinois, let go of nearly three quarters of their possessions and moved to the coast of Maine. For more inspiration on simplifying and to learn how Lisa supports others on their journey, visit her website SimpleJoyLiving.com.
Background: Ella never built anything before undertaking a tiny home. She attended the Los Angeles workshop a few years ago and began building her Tumbleweed Fencl (now called Cypress) the next month. She built her entire tiny home wearing a skirt! Her enthusiasm was and is contagious. Ella now presents our workshops all over the country. Read more about Ella and her tiny home called "Little Yellow" on her blog.
Background: Brittany built her Fencl (now Cypress 18-Overlook) after attending a Tumbleweed workshop. Without any building experience, she created a beautiful cottage that she now uses as a vacation rental. She also modified the interior and really took great effort to accent her home with charm. Take a look at her website to learn more about visiting this home.
Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
Brittany: My favorite part of my house is the loft bed with the skylight overhead. It's so cozy up there, and it is wonderful to watch the stars from bed on a clear night.
Q: What was the most difficult part of your build?
Brittany: The most difficult part of the building process was overcoming all the questions in my own mind (i.e. "how the heck do you cut a birdsmouth notch at the right place in a rafter?", and answering the multitude of logistical questions that others asked me. "Where are you going to park?", "How is the toilet going to work?", the list goes on. I didn't have all the answers, but I tackled each issue methodically as I built, and everything came together splendidly!
Q: Any space saving advice?
Brittany: Find creative and unique ways to hang things on the wall or use vertical space such as a cabinet or closet. Use beautiful personal belongings as artful wall hangings. I decorated the wall of my bathroom with my earrings, jewelry and hung my (ahem, beautiful) skis from the ceiling. Find furniture that folds, tucks away or is stowable and that fits your body when using it!
Background: While Meg was getting her degree in Architecture she stumbled upon Tumbleweed and fell in love with the designs. She became fascinated with building her own and called us to order tickets to a Tumbleweed Workshop. The conversation lasted 30 minutes and ended with a scheduled job interview to come design tiny homes for Tumbleweed. Meg designed our newest model, the Linden, and is currently building one for herself and her husband to live in full time.
Question:What is your favorite part of your tiny house?
Meg: I really love my trim. It took a long time to get all the curves cut, but I think the end result was totally worth it. I also really like the glass block "windows" that I made and installed high on the long sides of my house.
Q:How was it building with SIPS? Would you do anything different?
Meg: Building with SIPS (Structurally Insulated Panels) was fun, I had a big work party and we got the walls and roof up on my house in two and a half days. However, I'm nervous about doing the wiring and plumbing because the interior of the walls are not accessible. If I were to do it again today I would probably have gone with the Amish Barn Raiser instead of SIPs.
Meg: I love the discussion and seeing people make connections with each other during the course of the weekend. Many group builds and friendships have come out of the workshop, and it's an invaluable experience to add to the knowledge that the workshop provides.
Calling all creative entrepreneurs, artists/makers, and tiny house enthusiasts,
I am in the process of starting Miranda’s Hearth, the first community art hotel, a business where everything in the rooms from the soap to the furniture to the dishes are handmade by members of the community. Our mission is to build a community through creativity that is approachable, accessible, and affordable to people of all professions.
In the long term, our goal is to transform an underutilized piece of public property into a hub for creative economy, an educational resource, and a retreat for makers and patrons. By employing makers to build and run Miranda’s Hearth, we will accomplish the parallel goals of providing local jobs that keep young professionals engaged in the community while developing a focal point where people can gather and create.
Currently, we are in our second year of running monthly Dinner, Art, and Music nights which regularly draw 30-50 people and have engaged over 200 individual patrons. Rather than following the “build it and they will come” model, we are bringing our community together so that they can help us build the community art hotel from the ground up.
In 2014, we co-hosted the BIG Tiny House Festival with the Somerville Arts Council and when nearly 2,000 people showed up, we knew that we needed to further engage that community by asking them to help us build our own. We plan to start this spring by building a tiny house of roughly 115 sq ft that will become the first hotel room. This tiny house, filled with local handmade items, will create an affordable preliminary space to host events, showcase our business plan, and engage the community.
Currently, we are looking for a building location in New England, preferably within an hour or two of Boston. For six months to a year, we will need roughly the space of two parking spots as well as a secure location to store tools. We are looking into locations at both private residencies and businesses.
For private residences, we could exchange a small amount of rent in addition to assisting with yard work, child care, etc. For businesses, we could help with administration, use our growing network to market your services, and host exciting creative events. We are also looking for a longer term parking location while we continue to develop plans for the fully realized hotel.
If you have a space or know of someone who might, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 978-233-1423. We would also love to hear any questions, ideas, or suggestions you might have regarding the tiny house or the community art hotel.