design

Cozy Homes with Lofts

Many shoppers of tiny or Cozy home plans want to have a sleeping loft available in their new home. Many famous tiny homes utilize the loft idea for not only sleeping, but for storage, design aesthetics and the ability to “nest” inside their own home. The idea of a loft for sleeping is cozy, comforting and a real space saver.

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While the benefits of a loft work well for tiny homes under 200 square feet or on wheels, there are some disadvantages to the spaces under the roof. One of the main ones being that they usually need to be accessed by a ladder. This is not easy for older people or the disabled. Another reason that a loft may not work in your tiny home is that they tend to trap heat in the summer and don’t release the heat quickly unless you have an operable skylight or other window. Another reason not to build a loft is that you are not able to stand up in most tiny house lofts. This may appeal to children, but not to a six-foot adult. It also makes it more difficult to make your bed or get dressed.

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Cozy Home Plans offers a small home design with an “upmarket” loft. The Cozy Cube has a simple shed roof design that stays classic, but allows for a standing loft that also includes a balcony. The Cozy Cube is 196 square feet with a flexible design plan and includes all the “Tiny House Must Haves” including a fully functioning kitchen, storage space, a dining area, a 3/4 bath, room for another bed and a stackable washer and driver. The loft is accessed by an open staircase rather than a ladder and looks out over the living area. The loft can be a sleeping or office space and also has a large closet area under the roof.

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Other Loft Plans include the Innuendo at only 192 sq ft and our latest Micro house concept, the Spyglass at 196 sq ft.

Photo by Rowdy Kittens

Earth Berm Cozy Homes

The first earth berm house I ever visited was not a tiny, small or Cozy home, but the house stayed at an incredible 70 degrees during 100 degree temperatures in the high desert summer. This clinched the idea that an earth bermed or earth sheltered home is one of the best and energy-efficient ways to go if you live in a hotter climate.

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Earth sheltering is an architectural practice of using earth against a building wall for external thermal mass. This reduces heat or cooling lost and maintains a steady indoor temperature nearly all year long. Earth sheltering has long been a part of human shelter. The first home-dwellers lived in caves and utilized the rock to keep the place cool in the summer, sod home dwellers of the American Plains would use the local earth to maintain heat in the winter. Eventually the prairie grasses would grow up over their walls and roof, creating even more thermal mass. These days, earth sheltering is a rare practice and is considered unconventional by most builders. Some problems like water seepage, condensation and poor indoor quality can be addressed with appropriate design, landscape planning and construction.

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Several Cozy Home Plan designs can be turned into an earth berm home with several different processes. The 320 square foot Granite Mountain for example can be bermed with earth piled up against the back exterior walls and sloped away from the house. The mansard roof on the Granite Mountain will help shed water off the main berm. Another way to earth berm is to build your home into a hill. The house is set into a slope or hillside and the open part of the home can face to the south (Northern Hemisphere) or to the north (Southern Hemisphere) to obtain passive solar light and heat in the winter. The 975 square foot Gypsy Rose can be built into a hill with the appropriate foundation and wall materials.

If you want to learn more about earth berm homes, check out the earth bermed house of Dual Survival’s Cody Lundin.

 

Photos by Natural Building Blog and Energy.gov

Cozy Homes as Vacation Rentals

The summer months mean family vacations for many people across the country and many people these days are looking for alternative ways to spend their holidays. To get away from the typical hotel or resort, some people camp during the summer and some people stay in unusual places like river camps, tipis, sheep wagons and even tree houses. Companies like VRBO and Airbnb are making it easier for people to experience these fun and unusual places to stay.

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If you have your own tiny, small or Cozy home, you will know about the satisfaction that comes with living and being happier in a smaller space. It would be nice to share that feeling with visitors without having to have them take over your own sacred space. Maybe you could build another tiny house that is just used as a vacation rental? Cozy Home Plans offers several very tiny home plans that are affordable to build and could end up being a good source of income as a short term or long term rental.

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The first is the Cozy Cube, which was featured on Tiny House Talk. The Cozy Cube is 196 square feet and two story with an upstairs balcony. This home will probably have to go through a county inspection before it is started, but it offers a private space for several people.

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The brand new Limbo Rock is for someone who really wants to challenge themselves with living small and it’s the perfect guest or rental option since it’s only 64 square feet. It has a single bed, a toilet and some great skylights.

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The cute Sprinkle Drop looks just like a typical guest house and comes in at just under 200 square feet. It features a great room with a tiny kitchen and a small bathroom with a shower. The kitchen doubles as a food prep area, eating area and small office.

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The Thimble Peak is a Cozy Home basic that comes in at 288 square feet and offers a large covered porch and a studio room that includes a kitchen. It also has a full bathroom and an area for a washer and dryer.

Cozy Home Plans has many other tiny house ideas on its Flickr pages. Check them out for your own guest house idea.

 

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

Small Patios for Cozy Homes

Now that the weather has warmed up around most of North America, the garden centers and landscaping stores are full of people pushing around carts laden with pavers and patio stones to build that perfect outdoor patio. A Cozy, small or tiny home can also benefit from an outdoor patio. They offer a great refuge to sit and enjoy your garden as well as an extension of the indoors. Patios can be placed anywhere in your yard: right off a back door, tucked in a secluded corner or they can even encompass the majority of your yard.

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For a Cozy home, a smaller patio might work best. Not only will it be less expensive to construct and you could do the labor yourself, but it will not overwhelm a smaller home. With a good design you can also fit an eating area, some plants, a barbecue and maybe even a small water feature. Pre-cut paver stones or bricks make a good patio and they can be laid down in a variety of patterns and styles. Natural stone pavers create a more organic look, but will need to be adjusted a few times to fit together – like a puzzle. Both types of pavers can have sand, small pebbles or “gator dust” pour in between them to create a smooth, seamless patio. Also make sure that you create a level and stable patio that can support foot traffic, chairs and tables. Transition areas between the yard and the home should also be smooth and should not have sharp corners or places where you can trip.

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Here are some additional design tips for building a small patio for a small home (from Better Homes & Gardens):

• Make the design attractive: It should complement the house and landscape, as well as provide a comfortable living space.

• Don’t be square. Add slabs at the corners of paver patio, for instance, to make a unique geometric form. Curves often make the best use of space.

• Create a hidden or enclosed patio away from the house. It is one of the simplest outdoor rooms you can make. All you need is level ground, comfortable seating, and the shelter of trees and shrubs.

• Extend a patio’s usefulness with a roof or partial cover. Position the patio to be warmed (but not baked) by the sun; a southeast or southwest location is ideal.

• Keep in mind the costs of maintenance over the anticipated lifetime of the paving material, when figuring the patio’s cost initially.

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Photos by Wonderlane and Houzz

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

Tankless Water Heater Located in a Wall Cavity

The blog, Backyard Home Pros, recently posted an article about the Noritz Tankless water heater that saves room by fitting snuggly into the exterior wall studs of your  tiny or small home. Most tank water heaters can take up approximately 8-10 square feet of space and even a regular tankless water heater needs space for accessibility and will usually be installed on the outside of a home, which on a small home, is less than pretty.

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The Noritz Tankless water heaters are eco-friendly and energy efficient and can provide up to 40 percent in utility cost savings. The water heaters come in several different sizes and models including the NRC83 with a maximum of 157,000 btuh and weighs about 60 lbs. One of their smallest water heaters is the indoor/outdoor NR50 which has a maximum of 120,000 btuh and only weighs 33 lbs. Each of the water heaters come with a tiny enclosure that protects the studs, insulation and the interior walls from leaking and damage. A small cover or door can be placed over the unit for access from the outside. The one disadvantage I see is that insulation cannot be added in front or behind the unit.

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According to Noritz, a tankless water heater also reduces carbon emissions. If every U.S. household installed a tankless water heater, it would equate to the CO2 savings of taking about 6.7 million cars off the nation’s roads. In addition, Noritz instant hot water units last up to twice as long as traditional water tanks and use recycled components and replaceable parts which keeps older water heaters out of landfills.

All of our micro, tiny and small home designs anticipate using both a tankless water heater and a mini-split ductless heating and cooling system. Space saving and efficiency go hand in hand here at Cozy Home Plans.

Photos by Backyard Home Pros and Noritz

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

Five All-In-One Kitchens for Tiny Houses

The design of all-in-one kitchens has really flourished in the past few years. Way beyond the design of The Jetsons, these modern tiny kitchens for tiny homes really take into consideration space-saving techniques, new technology and style. Some of these designs include flat-pack kitchens and mobile units that can be pushed out of the way for when you have company. While some of these may be available in small quantities solely by the designer, the little Avanti kitchen is a viable idea for a compact home.

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The Circular Kitchen by Alfred Averbeck

This revolving cylinder which contains a full kitchen can rotate 180 degrees and is equipped with stainless steel sink with chrome single lever mixer, a garbage can and drawers. The upper shelf can rotate a full 360 degrees and can store plates, containers or your pots and pans. This small space saving invention actually contains the same amount of cupboards in a conventional kitchen and has it’s own lighting, electrical sockets water and waste disposal. You can also include all the necessary appliances – refrigerator, microwave dishwasher etc.

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The Flow 2 Kitchen by Studio Gorm

Not only does the Flow 2 Kitchen provide a space for preparing food, but waste products are also used to fertilize plants and dishes drip dry over plants in terracotta containers. The gas cook top is made up of a floral pattern, offering an alternative to conventional standards. The continuous surface allows pots to be easily moved on and off the heat source.

 

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Avanti Mini Kitchen

The Avanti Mini Kitchen is probably one of the more affordable (around $700) and practical all-in-one kitchens and can be connected to any space that has water and a plug. There is no oven, but there is a nice stainless steel sink, a built-in refrigerator and a small cabinet.

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Oma’s Rache

Named after “grandma” in German, this compact kitchen folds flat against the wall and with the push of a button, warps into a 3D kitchen and dining area with a table, two chairs, a lamp and some cupboards.

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MiniKitchen by Boffi

This stylish little kitchen on wheels includes a stove, a tiny refrigerator, drawers and storage compartments, sockets for small electrical appliances, a large chopping board and pull-out worktop. It’s made of durable white Corian® and ceramic glass and can be moved and swiveled around 360°.

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

Cozy Grain Bin Homes as Alternative Small Housing

For anyone who lives in farming country, driving past a grain bin may put visions in your head of an unusual and nearly ready-made home just ripe for the picking. Actually, people have built homes out of grain bins and silos using various techniques and styles. Grain bins come in various widths and heights and are used for storing harvested grain. Many of the older silos are standing empty or are being torn down to be sold for scrap. However, there are some builders and architects who have begun designing homes and barns out of the metal structures.

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Grain bins can be reinforced and insulated in various ways with typical wood framing, straw bales or even an additional grain bin inserted into a larger bin. The area between the two bins is then insulated. You can learn more about how to build a grain bin home from this article from Mother Earth News. The Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Missouri documented their renovation of a grain bin into a small duplex and even some homes have been built for the people of Haiti from brand new Sukup grain bins from Iowa.

You can also purchase a grain bin home plan from Dream Green Homes. Their design is a one bedroom, two bathroom 692 square foot cabin with the bin inside bin concept. The insulation can be spray foam or straw bale and the structure is self supporting with no studs needed. Their design can even be relocated. The plans cost $415. You can purchase new or used grain bins from individual sellers on Yakaz or eBay or several companies including Used Feed Bins ( $1,500 for 18 foot tall bins to $3,500 for 24 foot tall bins) or Grain Bin Sales.

This is on our list of things to build when Cozy Home Plans gets more site traffic and sales. Thanks to my brother, we have two of these disassembled and sitting in Iowa plus a spiral staircase just waiting for the time and money to be put together.

Photo by Visit Missouri

Small Ponds for Your Cozy Home Garden

Even though it is still snowing parts of the country, this is actually a good time to get a head start on your tiny garden for your Cozy Home. We did a post last year about small vegetable gardens for your small home…so how about adding a water feature to your garden with a small pond or fountain? Many cultures add water features to their gardens to represent peace and balance. In Japanese culture, water represents serenity in nature and in Islam, the word paradise means an enclosed garden with the sound of water. Water not only brings peace to your green space, but it also attracts helpful wildlife like birds, frogs and dragonflies.

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Because your Cozy garden is small, your pond or fountain should be too. This saves you time and money up front and care and maintenance later on. You can get a huge range of ideas for garden water features from Pinterest. There are several different types of ponds and fountains that you can build yourself for around $200 in supplies.

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Pre-formed Pond

You can purchase a pre-formed pond liner from any home improvement store for around $30-$75. To install, all you need is an area large enough to dig a hole for your pond, a shovel and a level and some sand to set the liner. Flagstone, flat rocks and other plants can be put around the pond once it’s installed and filled with water. A fountain or spitter and some water plants can also be added to aerate the water. Here is a great video by Patti Moreno on how to install a pre-formed pond in a small space.

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Vinyl or Rubber Pond

Vinyl ponds give you a little more leeway as to the shape and size of your pond. High quality vinyl is laid inside and over the lip of your pre-dugged hole and held down with rocks, soil and other landscape materials. You can add pond pebbles and rocks to the bottom as well as fish and plants. Vinyl is more expensive (around $90 for a 10×10 foot liner) and is prone to damage from rocks and roots.

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Patio fountain

If you want to keep it even more simple, just add a small pot or container fountain to your Cozy Home patio or deck. These can be made with various pots and fountains can be purchased in a garden store or online for around $20. If the pot is large enough, fish and plants can also be added.

 

Photos by chiotsrun, brevort and jrconlin

 

Composting Toilets in a Cozy Home

Some builders who are building a Cozy Home may be building in an area without a local sewage line or even a septic tank. Some may also want to avoid using water to flush their toilets in regard to the environment or in order to save water if its scarce in their area. Installing a composting toilet will fulfill all of these home building desires.

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There are various types of composting toilets on the market these days and some are even designed to fit into small or tiny homes. The process of a composting toilet is essentially the same, but different toilets will compost material in different ways. Composting toilets use aerobic processing to treat excrement. This process is sometimes helped along by dumping small amounts of sawdust, coconut coir or peat moss into the bowl to help with anaerobic decomposition. During the decomposition bacteria that thrive at high temperatures (40-60 °C or 104-140 °F) oxidize (break down) the waste into its components, some of which are consumed in the process, reducing volume, and eliminating potential pathogens.

There are several different types of manufactured composting toilets:

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Self-contained toilets

The types of composting toilets complete or begin the composting process in a container within the receiving bowl. They are slightly larger than a flush toilet, but use roughly the same floor space. Some units use fans for aeration, and optionally, heating elements to maintain optimum temperatures to hasten the composting process and to evaporate urine and other moisture. Operators of composting toilets commonly add a small amount of absorbent carbon material (such as untreated sawdust, coconut coir, peat moss) after each use to create air pockets for better aerobic processing, to absorb liquid, and to create an odor barrier. This additive is sometimes referred to as “bulking agent.” Some owner-operators use microbial “starter” cultures to ensure composting bacteria are in the process, although this is not critical.

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Remote, central, or underfloor toilets

These types of toilets collect excrement via a toilet stool, either waterless or micro-flush, from which it drains to a composter. “Vacuum-flush systems” can flush horizontally or upward with a small amount of water to the composter; “micro-flush toilets” use about 500 millilitres (17 US fl oz) per use. These units feature a chamber below the toilet stool (such as in a basement or outside) where composting takes place and are suitable for high-volume and year-round applications as well as to serve multiple toilet stools.

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Desiccating toilets

These types of toilets dry the excreta to destroy pathogens, though one study suggested that drying can result in rehydration of pathogens when in contact with moisture later.

 

Prices of composting toilets can range from about $500 to over $2,500 depending on the brand and the type. The Sun-Mar Spacesaver Self-contained Composting Toilet is around $1,600 and is made to fit in a home with limited space. It’s only 19.5 inches wide and uses a patented Bio-drum which ensures fast and odorless decomposition.

 

Top photo from Mother Earth News

Five Easy Tips for Painting Your Cozy Home

The winter months are a good time to get some indoor work done on your small or tiny home. Painting your Cozy Home walls is one of those projects that can be done while you are stuck inside. The Cozy Home Plans blog has a post on the types of colors that work best in a small home, but here are a few tips on how to simplify your painting job and keep from making a mess or getting frustrated while working in a small space.

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1. One of the worst things about painting is trying to get around awkward, permanent objects. This includes the toilet tank. A good tip is to cover the toilet tank with sealable plastic wrap (the kind you use for sandwiches) to keep the paint from getting on the porcelain tank.

2. When you are taping off your trim or other woodwork with painter’s tape, here’s a tip to keep the tape from peeling up and to prevent bleeding. Lay the tape onto the woodwork and press it down with the corner of a putty knife. Let the tape stick out perpendicular to the trim to act as a little protective roof to catch paint drips. A great way to then get that painter’s tape off is to soften it with the heat of a hair dryer. Use the dryer on the low setting until the tape is soft and then pull it off at a 90-degree angle.

3. Don’t you hate it when you scrape a little extra paint off your brush and it goes running down the side of the can? Take a screwdriver and a hammer and poke a few holes in the lid edge of the paint can. The leftover paint will drip back down into the can.

4. Soften and loosen up spilled latex paint with pimple pads. These pads (usually used for the faces of teenage boys) will soften up the paint, but won’t harm your wood or other surfaces. The pads work best on paint that’s been dry just a few hours.

5. Renew old painter’s or masking tape by putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds.

 

We have some Drywall Tips and Electrical ones if your project is a little bigger.

 

Photo by OlgerFallasPainting/Flickr

 

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

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