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."
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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:
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 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 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!
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!
I've been traveling around in my tiny house RV for six months now. I'm very comfortable inside the small space, but that doesn't mean there weren't a few challenges along the way. Once or twice I’ve cried out in frustration, “it’s too small!” Other times I’ve been thankful for having less space to clean and maintain, and for the freedom it has provided.
Below are FIVE unexpected lessons my tiny house RV has taught me in the past six months:
1). I CARE MORE ABOUT CONSUMPTION
I know how much water I use on a daily basis- approximately 15 gallons when I take navy showers. I know how often I need to dump the urine container on my composting toilet - every 3 days. I know how much propane I use per month - about 15 pounds. I have to physically empty my grey water tank, fill my fresh water tank, refill my propane tanks, dump my toilet, etc.
I take navy showers and use the Nature's Head to conserve water and propane.
Measuring my consumption in physical labor has made me more conscious of my waste. There’s a HUGE difference between seeing decimals and graphs on your monthly bill and having to physically refill your tanks. I use less. I waste less. I save more money.
2). I THINK BEFORE I PURCHASE
I have nightmares about clutter. In a tiny traveling house, clutter can mean the difference between owning three mugs or four. I don’t shop often, but when I do I have to know: 1). What purpose will the new item serve? 2). Can it replace something else and/or increase the functionality of my daily life? 3). Where will it be stored? If I can’t answer those three questions, I DON'T NEED IT!
I try to keep my kitchen counters empty. Everything tucks away and has a place.
3). I APPRECIATE THE IMPERFECTIONS
As I travel around, I've had the opportunity to tour many other tiny house RVs. Sometimes I swoon over a great space saving idea or an innovative layout. I call it "tiny-envy." I have to remind myself that my partner and I had zero construction experience before building our tiny abode. It's not perfect, but my house is still pretty darn cool. And it's mine! When we were building I was so meticulous about everything. If something wasn't perfect, I wanted to redo it. Now those imperfections that once made me cringe, don’t bother me at all. In fact, I kind of like them! Each nick, scratch and hole was a lesson and a memory.
4). "IF YOU BUILD IT, YOU WILL FILL IT"
This is sound advice from my friend and fellow tiny house RVer - Art Cormier. Guillaume and I recently modified our staircase to have a few extra storage compartments. And now they're full! Uh oh…the clutter monster is knocking at our door! We’re going to have to think twice before adding any new shelving or storage spaces in the future. If there's no place to put new stuff, I don't need it! (See lesson #2).
My kitchen cabinet. I own three mugs, two cups, two wine glasses and a bunch of spices. It's full!
5). I'M LESS NEEDY
Perhaps my partner would argue, but I'm going to make an assumption that I'm less needy now than I've ever been before. I have less, but I want and need less as well. When I think about all the stuff I used to own and purchase, I feel overwhelmed. This small space has challenged me to unburden myself. I like the new care-free me!
Just for fun, here are a few more ways my life has changed from traveling in a tiny house RV:
I clean less. I shop less. I cook more. I consume less. I primp less. I dress better. I eat better. I sleep more. I read more. I watch TV less. I drive less. I play with my dog more. I hike more. I go to the gym less. I travel WAY more.
Meet Derek and his backyard Tiny House RV located in the heart of New Orleans!
Derek's modified Cypress 18 was originally used for a living space close to work, but recently he purchased a big house in town and has parked his tiny abode in the backyard. His Tumbleweed is now used for recreation and occasional overnights.
For Derek, the build was a learning experience and a labor of love. "I would have a hard time parting with it (the tiny house)," he admits. Watch the below video tour where Derek openly shares the mistakes he made during construction and offers tips for future tiny house builders.
A highlight of Derek's tiny house RV is his transforming couch design. While the couch can act as a comfortable sitting area, it also transforms into a dinning area for four AND a full size bed!
Derek's couch and storage bench / sitting area
Derek's inspiration for this design came from the boating world. "And it was pretty simple to make," he explains. A hidden hinged piece of wood seamlessly latches the couch to the storage bench, creating a downstairs sleep space for two! The back rest of the storage bench in turn becomes the footboard of the bed. Cushions from the bench and couch are rearranged to create the mattress. Every item has two purposes!
Derek's transforming couch as a dinning area for four
A hidden hinged piece of wood connects with a lip to the storage bench for a bed
The cushions are used as a mattress for the bed.
As for the exterior, Derek chose to go with traditional cedar siding, red trim and a red metal roof. Other features include a mini-split air conditioner, aluminum clad windows and a loft skylight.
His galley kitchen acts as the centerpiece of the small space with an apartment sized refrigerator, hot plates (that tuck away), toaster over, large farmhouse sink and plenty of counter space!
Derek's tiny bathroom features a unique alternative to the fiberglass shower stall. He chose to construct his own shower walls from a metal roofing material, creating an industrial aesthetic. His bathroom also features a flush toilet and a pocket door.
Derek's shower stall is a standard size - 32" x 32"
For more information on Derek's customized Cypress, follow him on Instagram @noladerek