The Advantages of Tiny House Dormers

A dormer is a structural element in architecture that protrudes from a sloped roof and allows for additional space. If you're a tiny house enthusiast, the words "additional space" in a tiny house article might seem oxymoronic. Yes, owning a tiny home means that you are "okay" with small spaces, but there is no reason that you should have to sacrifice comfort in your tiny home.

So let's learn a little more about dormers and what they could do for your tiny house loft. 

A Tumbleweed Elm or Cypress loft WITHOUT dormers (keeping the gable roof line throughout) and a skylight.

Some tiny housers love the coziness and lightweight option of the un-dormered loft (keeping the triangular gable roof line throughout), but most prefer to have a little more headroom. Dormers provide extra space for comfort and additional windows, while keeping the lovely visual aesthetic of the rest of the tiny home. 

Tumbleweed Cypress WITHOUT dormers. A lovely gable roof line throughout.

 

Tumbleweed Elm WITH Dormers. Space is gained. The visual aesthetic is not sacrificed. 

How much space do you really gain by having dormers? In order to visualize how much space is actually gained by adding dormers, you will need to have a basic understanding of roof pitch.

Roof pitch is described as the vertical rise divided by the horizontal span of a roof. The gable roof in our Elm and Cypress models have a 12:12 pitch, while our lofts with dormers have a 3:12 pitch. It is important to maintain some roof pitch for weather runoff. 

Examples of roof pitch. Photo credit: Wikipedia

An older Tumbleweed model, where the 3:12 pitch returns to 12:12 for the last few inches of the loft.

If you peer into the back of this older Tumbleweed's loft, you can see where the 3:12 pitch returns to the triangular gable roof line (12:12 pitch). This is a great way to visualize the difference between these two roof pitches. 

If the above loft DID NOT have dormers:

  • The roof pitch would be that triangular slope throughout
  • The four windows that line the sides of the bed would be lost
  • The space on either side of this queen bed would be lost
  • A king bed would not be possible (only possible with dormers)
  • The use of a staircase would be rather difficult (a ladder would most likely be used instead)

Due to costumer feedback, in all of our current models and plans, the dormers extend all the way to the back of the loft. By doing this, the above Tumbleweed loft has gained even more space. Starting this year, we will also include dormer plans with our Elm and Cypress plans, free of charge.
Steve Weissmann (President of Tumbleweed) is 6'2" and can comfortably sit up in bed in this Cypress loft with dormers. 
By adding dormers to your loft, you will also gain valuable wall space, not only on the sides of your loft, but also in the front and back. Consider the cheek walls: the walls that are formed between your dormers and gable roof. Below is a photo of my loft and, as you can see, we've chosen to add an outlet to our cheek wall. My future plan is to mount a television there one day. I could also add a cabinet, shelving, additional lighting or hang decorations / plants / photographs in this additional space. 
Tiny House Giant Journey's loft with dormers. 
So what do you think? Do you want dormers in your tiny house loft?

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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 — January 26, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Dormers   Elm   Loft   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tiny house Giant Journey   Tumbleweed  

Q&A with Tiny House Experts

We asked three of our tiny house experts to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions:  

ART CORMIER

Art Cormier / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background:

In 2012, Art completed his Tumbleweed home using SIPS and reclaimed wood and even posted some videos on YouTube explaining how he did it  And that's how we connected - we asked him if he wanted to partake in our Tumbleweed Construction Video and Art obliged. One thing led to another and today Art is traveling the country teaching others the benefits of owning a tiny home. Read more on Art's blog.

Art's modified Tumbleweed Elm

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny space?

Art: My favorite part of my tiny house?  The love seat when I want to sit,  or the shower when I want to get clean.  Or do I have those confused?

Art's love seat, which can convert into a bed.

Q: Do you have any space saving or downsizing advice?
Art: See video!
 
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Art: If I built it again I would have dormers, got to keep up with the neighbors!
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EDDIE LANZO
Eddie Lanzo / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Eddie and his girlfriend Lacey have their almost complete DIY Tumbleweed Cypress parked in a campground in Austin, Texas. Eddie's background is in real estate and he also recently joined the Tumbleweed team as a workshop host. More about their house and build here
Eddie's DIY Tumbleweed Cypress
Question:  How are you decorating your tiny space for the holidays?
Eddie: We have perched a very wintery wreath on the wall for the holidays. That should do it for us. Next year if we're more ambitious, we want to do a stick christmas tree.
Q:  Clever storage ideas / space saving ideas?
Eddie: We plan on adding loft beam storage, installing a leaf table, and putting our compost toilet on tracks that slide out from under the storage stairs.
Eddie's loft with dormers
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Eddie: We would've finished plumbing before moving it to the RV park. It’s all “roughed out” but ABS piping still needs to be finished so we can install our sinks.
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GUILLAUME DUTILH
Guillaume Dutilh / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Guillaume and his girlfriend Jenna finished their DIY modified Cypress since September 2014. So far they've traveled over 7,000 miles with their tiny abode, from California to Nova Scotia to Atlanta, while hosting countless open houses and Tumbleweed workshops. Learn more about their tiny house journey here. 
Guillaume's traveling DIY Cypress
Question: What do you do when you and your partner need... space?
Guillaume: We usually just take the dog for a walk since the front door is never that far. 
Q: What is biggest benefit of having a tiny house?
Guillaume: Being able to pursue my passion for photography while traveling.
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Guillaume: If I could do it again, I'd have my corner porch on the sidewalk side or I would build a full porch (the Elm). Porches are awesome!

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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 — December 10, 2014

Filed under: Art Cormier   Cypress   Elm   Experts   Holidays   SIPS   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny SIP House   Tips   Tumbleweed   Workshop  

10 Tiny House Tricks to Declutter Your Kitchen Counter

Tumbleweed Linden Kitchen

In a tiny kitchen, counter space is a luxury and clutter is your enemy. Bare counters are pleasing to the eye and functional for folding laundry, unpacking groceries and food prep. Bulky appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens and coffee machines will quickly consume your counters.

So how do you declutter your counters in a tiny kitchen?

1). Eliminate any gadget that isn’t essential to your daily life. Ask yourself, do I really need a microwave? Do I need it enough to sacrifice the counter space? Do I need it enough to power it with electricity, which might limit my ability to be off-grid? Or, would it be simpler to warm my food on the stove? Key word: SIMPLER. Tiny living is about living a simpler, more fulfilling life. So keep it simple, and try not to overfill your space.

kitchen

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen, which consists of a sink and a 3-burner stove.

2).  Own gadgets / appliances that serve multiple purposes. For example, choose a pot lid that doubles as a strainer. Do you really need a tea kettle (an item that only serves one purpose), or will a pot of boiling water suffice?

3). Consider alternative appliances that consume less space. For example, this AeroPress can be used to make coffee instead of a standard machine. The AeroPress uses zero electricity and is only a fraction of the size of regular coffee machine. As a bonus, the paper filters are tiny and more compact for storage. Consider a french press too!

4). Store “pretty” items high. Having high shelves or hangings baskets can clear your counters and harness the underutilized space above your eye-line. Put your “pretty” items, such as festive plates, wine glasses or Grandma’s pasta maker on a display shelf to double as art. Store your fruits and veggies in a hanging basket. Mount a floating dish rack over your sink. Hang your pots and pans from ceiling hooks

Brittany's Kitchen. Notice the use of the ceiling space & open shelving

5). Hide “ugly” items. There’s no room for the word “ugly” in a tiny house. Place large or ugly appliances under the counter when not in use - such as blenders or toasters, unless they are beautiful to you!

6). Create counter space. Purchase a sink cover, such as a cutting board, that will expand your food prep area. Eliminate the counter space allocated for a stove top by using a portable hotplate that can be stored under the counter when not in use.

Ella's Kitchen. Notice the high corner shelf, the hanging pans and alcohol stove which can be tucked away when not in use.

7). Mount items to the wall. Use hooks to hang your cutting boards. Magnetize your knives to a wood magnetic knife holder and use magnetic spice holders on your refrigerator.

JT's Kitchen. Notice the pots and pans hanging high from a wall mount.

8). Custom containers. Food packaging can be cumbersome and ugly. Why have a box half full of sugar on your counter? Store your flour, sugar, cereal, etc. in small containers or decorative bags that can reduce in size as the food is consumed. Refill as needed.

Mica Kitchen. Notice the small containers that can be refilled.

9). Utilize cabinet doors. An old trick, but a good trick. Mount flat or small utensils to the inside of your cabinet doors instead of using a counter utensil rack. If you have a counter skirt, sew pockets into the material for storage.

Utilize in the inside of cabinet doors. Image credit: here

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen. Sew pockets into your cabinet skirt. 

10). Keep Organized. Keeping your kitchen counters bare and organized should be part of your daily routine. Every new appliance or gadget needs to have an appropriate place in your kitchen. Share your own counter space declutter tips 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. 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 — December 04, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Thanksgiving in a Tiny House

Thanksgiving 2013 in Tiny House Giant Journey (under construction)

Can you have dinner guests in a tiny house? Yes, of course. Can you have Thanksgiving Dinner in your tiny house? Well, that depends. When designing your ideal tiny home you’ll need to plan ahead for such occasions.

Kitchen Space and Appliances.

When designing your tiny kitchen, appliances tend to be compact to save space. This might mean that your oven is a wee bit too small to hold an enormous turkey! Of course, you can choose to have full size appliances in your tiny kitchen, but consider the infrequency that you’ll be hosting a large dinner party before cramming those items into your cozy kitchen. Bottom line, your tiny kitchen should be designed for everyday use, not for special occasions.

I suggest asking your dinner guests to bring a dish pre-cooked or try cooking outdoors! Have you ever tried deep frying a turkey outdoors? It's a lot of fun and delicious! You can rent large deep fryers at your local party rental store. Or how about roasting your bird on the BBQ? That's what we did last year.

You might need to get creative, but anything is possible.

Seating.

As with any home, you are limited on the amount of dinner guests you can seat comfortably. In a tiny home your number will be more intimate than the average home, think party of four. We’ve managed to put on a dinner party for five, but it was tight! Our dinning area has a fold down table, a bench and two ottomans. We pulled in one of our lawn chairs for the fifth seat.

Photo credit: Guillaume Dutilh

Embrace your lack of space by making your dinner party informal. It can be fun for some of your guests to eat upstairs, with plates on their laps and feet dangling from the loft. Make your dinner party unique and it will be an event your guests will not forget!

With the above open floorplan there’s enough room in this tiny house for three to eat comfortably at the folding table, while three others can eat in sitting area of the great room!

You can always host an outdoor dinner party (weather permitted). Appetizers and pre-drinks can take place in the standing room of the tiny house and the main course can be served outdoors at a comfortable picnic table. How lovely!

 Photo credit: Outdoor Thanksgiving 

Dinnerware.

Another obstacle you may face is a lack of dishes. After all, being a tiny houser means being a minimalist! Not to worry, you can always ask your guests to BYOB or BYOP (Bring Your Own Bowls of Bring Your Own Plates) and because they’re about to eat dinner in a tiny house, they’ll surely understand.

Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving in a small space? Please share your stories and tips below!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and 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 — November 27, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Dinner in a Tiny House   Dinner Party   Thanksgiving   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Traveling Tiny House - Stories & Tips

Tiny House GJ at Ye Olde' Mill Campground in Burnt Cabins, PA

Hi All -

Now that we've been on the road for a few weeks, Guillaume and I wanted to share our stories and travel tips. We will be scooting along the highway for the next year. So stay tuned!

Our official trip began September 2nd with our departure from Shelbyville, Illinois. If you're confused it might be because we built half of our house in Los Angeles, but at the beginning of the summer we decided to move the build to the midwest (where my family graciously let us take over their driveway). Read about our move from California to Illinois here

The construction of our house had taken over our lives for the past year, and yet, we were still scrambling to finish right up until the final gargantuan moment of our tiny exodus. It was 6pm before we slowly rolled away from my family's quiet farm town and began an 800 mile journey to our first destination: the Tumbleweed Philadelphia workshop, where our house would make its debut. Check out the below video tour of our home taken by Philadelphia workshop presenter Deek

I had never been to the east coast before, so I was very excited that the first section of our trip would take us to somewhere exotic - a place where locals don't even blink an eye as they shuffle past 300 year old buildings, coffee is served strong and meant for drinking on the go, and lobster rolls are considered a common lunch. 

Philadelphia really surprised me. I spent days just walking the streets, reading plaques and snapping photos. I'm not used to living in a place that has history, and I allowed myself to feel proud and at home. The words: "I could live here," occasionally crossed my mind.

Our Parking Spot in Philadelphia - across from the workshop

That being said, I was full of contempt for the city as we pulled our (what seemed like) enormous house through its narrow streets. Parking was impossible, which I expected. Our trailer jack clawed at the ground more than once, and every time it felt like the house was collapsing. 

Tiny House GJ Parking Illegally in Philly
Watch out wire - Here we come!!

Tips for Towing a Tiny House in North Eastern USA:

1). KNOW YOUR HEIGHT. REALLY KNOW IT. There are many low overpasses along the east coast. Our house is 13'4" and we had a few close calls. One in particular in New York City, where an overpass boasted a low clearance of 12'6"! We slowed down, frantically discussed our options and then realized that our house would fit. The sign was a lie, or a terribly un-funny joke. Either way my heart skipped a beat at the thought of reversing in NYC traffic. I cringe at the idea of a convertible tiny home. A wonderful purchase for us was an RV GPS. It alerts us of any low overpasses, weight restrictions, horizontal clearances, propane restrictions, etc. If you are going to travel often with your tiny home, buy one!

2). Watch for potholes, steep inclines / declines. Our trailer jack and chains will usually take the hit first, but I wouldn't recommend it. Take it slow and be alert. 

3). If you are still in the pre-build stage, consider placing your door on the passenger side. When parking on the side of the street, exiting the tiny house on the driver's side (or the side of traffic) can be dangerous. This tip really applies to travel anywhere, but especially relevant in an east coast city where streets can be very narrow and traffic heavy. 

4). KNOW YOUR WEIGHT. Tie down everything inside, and distribute your weight evenly. You can weigh your house at any trucker scale (LOVES or similar). Ours is a bit heavy - 9,800 lbs. This means we have to be very careful about our tongue weight. Semi-tedious work, but we often shift our belongings to the back of the house for travel to alleviate our heavy tongue. We are looking for a bigger truck to compensate for this. Currently we have a 3/4 ton diesel Ford F-250, but would like a 1 ton dually. If anyone has any advice for us about this, please feel free to comment!

5). In New York City, watch for gawking pedestrians and flying hotdogs. 

Tiny House in Central Park 

Yes, after leaving Philly we drove the house through New York City. No, we aren't insane.. well, maybe a little. A short-lived cruise through central park ended with us being kicked out; we had permission but ended up causing trouble when we couldn't navigate properly. Our tiny home crawled away with its tail between our legs to a campsite in Croton-On-Harmon, about an hour outside of the city.

Our Campsite in New York - Croton Point Park

Before leaving New York City we snapped a few photos of the tiny house amongst the skyscrapers. It was September 11th, and the significance of the anniversary was not lost on us. We tried to visit the memorial, but it was closed for family members only - a respectable request.

As the new One World Trade Center proudly served as our canopy, we remembered. 

Currently we are on our way to Montreal. My next update will be about crossing the border and staying overnight in campgrounds, truck strops or similar. Wish us luck!

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Check our OUR ROUTE and follow our journey on our website and facebook

For more photos of our journey, follow us on INSTAGRAM

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Jenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a self-built Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure that began in September 2014. Occasionally they will be hosting an open house. More on their tiny house and giant journey here.

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