101 Tiny House Designs (Book Review)

©. Tiny House Design

Developing the right layout for a tiny house or any other small space is not always easy: with a limited footprint, it means giving a lot of thought to where you might put the stairs, shelving, seating -- in other words, every little thing. It can be a time-consuming and challenging process to fit all the features one wants in a tiny house, especially if one hasn't had much previous experience designing things before.

That's where books like tiny house designer Michael Janzen's 101 Tiny House Designs can come in. Part inspirational idea book, part handy reference tome, this 400-plus-page book includes a wide range of possible layouts to help the reader visualize what different configurations might potentially look and feel like. Here's a video of Janzen offering a preview of the book:

One great thing about the book is how it's organized: different layouts are organized according to the length of the tiny house trailer, from 12 to 32 feet long. It makes sense, as the longer the trailer base, the more space -- and therefore, more options -- one gets to work with and move around. Essentially, as the sections in book increase in terms of trailer size, you really can see how adding a couple of feet of length can increasingly add more functionality to tiny house -- which can be a big decision for aspiring tiny homeowners to consider.

Tiny House Design

© Tiny House Design

There are a lot of intriguing ideas included here that a novice might not initially think of: desks in bay windows, integrated garages and more. The book includes the design implications of different roof types, such as a shed roof, a gable roof, a dutch gable roof, gambrel roof or combinations of them -- which is quite helpful. Similarly, the book includes designs with different kinds of trailers, such as 2-axle, 3-axle and gooseneck trailers.

And then, there are the stairs, which can present interesting design problems in of itself. The book includes layouts with various types of vertical circulation, be they ladders, storage stairs, stairs with alternating treads, and spiral stairs. There's also examples of loftless tiny house designs, as well as ones with sleeping lofts.

Tiny House Design

© Tiny House Design

One thing to keep in mind that these are not ready-to-build floor plans with measurements per se (Janzen has another book that deals exclusively with floor plans). It's more of a detailed sampler of design possibilities, with the underlying ideas of each of the designs briefly explained. The book's images are created using digital design tools (SketchUp), offering a birds-eye overview of the general layout, elevations, and the isometric diagrams to see the schemes in three dimensions. The aesthetic content of the book is geared more toward the traditional with some modern-looking tiny house designs mixed in, but it's easy to see how one could potentially extract basic layout ideas, or mix parts of them, and adapt them to a tiny house of any style. The idea here is to offer a treasure trove of ideas to stimulate one's creative process and to have it all in one volume that can be easily flipped through, making it a useful book to have on hand.

For those who are apprehensive about drafting a floor plan to scale, Janzen is also offering these nifty stencils via Kickstarter to help budding tiny house designers easily draw in their stairs and furniture into their plans, which can be used in conjunction with these neat bullet journals.

To find out more or to order the print book, e-book or stencils, visit Tiny House Design or Kickstarter.