This classic 20′ Craftsman tiny home has been featured by Tiny House Expedition, House Method magazine, on the cover of Tiny House Magazine, and the local news (twice). Custom designed and built by a North Carolina couple in 2015, Callie Brauel & Nathan Huening; it features everything you need for 2 adults to live comfortably in a compact footprint: plenty of storage, two lofts, a custom transforming sofa with diner seating, custom (dog-friendly) half-spiral staircase, stacked washer/dryer, coat closet, linen closet, radiant floor heat, drawer dishwasher, and 4-burner gas range. Callie & Nathan each have their own separate clothes closets with hanging rods for the occasional times they have to dress like grownups. The 2nd loft has variously been repurposed as a work-from-home office, guest/child’s bed, and study nook. Together with a covered deck and screened-in porch, they’ve been living tiny, nearly sacrifice-free full-time since 2016.
Delightful finishes like stained glass, aromatic cedar trim and shelves, all stainless steel appliances, concrete countertops, architectural black pipe brackets, and matching teal cushions and dishware create a sense of understated luxury in 270 SF. This house is ideal for either permanent or temporary living, can accommodate a couple with small children, is well-suited to dogs, and offers a layout flexible enough to adapt to changing needs.
On top of all that, it is simple to build.
When we first conceived of the project, we aimed to make a space that 2 people could live in comfortably, full-time, with dogs. Our goal was to create a floor plan that was not only open and spacious but maximally practical and even configurable, which is explained below. Moreover, we wanted to use simple, inexpensive materials that are widely available not only to make it easy for us to build but for others as well.
The design includes a bed loft over the bathroom and a secondary flex loft over the sofa. The overall footprint is 8.5′ wide by 20′ long, or 160SF. Include the 2 lofts, and the total is around 250SF, and with the 10′ by 20′ porch, the total living space is about 450SF.
Not including our own labor (but some of the paid labor of our friends), with materials, our cost for this build was about $45000 in 2017. Every window (except the 3 stained glass) that we used in the build we reclaimed from local surplus supply operations, as well as the 3.5″ polyiso rigid foam for insulation throughout that we found used on Craigslist.
Even though we’ve specified specific dimensions for doors and windows, you have a lot of latitude to customize the design around reclaimed supplies that you find! So look for your doors and windows first — certainly a large overall expense — and then build around whatever sizes you find to save money.
As you enter Polaris, you’ll immediately notice how open and airy it feels. This is because you enter at the maximum interior ceiling height of about 11.5′, but also because there are 17 windows total throughout the build, so lots of light all around. Facing you is the kitchen counter and, to the right, the stairs up to the loft, which you can use to set things down. You’ll also see the standing desk with wall mounted monitor and keyboard shelf. To the left is the sofa that you can plop down on after a long day, which has lots of storage (for us, it’s cleaning supplies and winter clothes), but most importantly, it transforms into a day bed for guests or a diner table for meals and game nights.
Above the sofa is the secondary loft, which has variously been a guest bed, office with desk and chair, and reading/meditation nook. You access it by a lightweight RV ladder that is stashed in the loft joists and latched onto permanent hooks. Grab a book off the shelf, bring some coffee, take a nap, or gaze out the giant casement windows at the birds next door.
The kitchen is one-wall style, so all your countertop space is in a single row. It’s a highly functional space with a large, deep sink that we’ve used to entertain large parties — and even cook Thanksgiving dinner! A four-burner gas stovetop and the oven is large enough for family-style cooking, and all the open shelves display your ceramic ware at easy reach. There is a 10″ wide sliding pantry cabinet for all your dry goods and cabinets enough for pans, trash, recycling, and compost bins. After your big party, stash all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and let machines do the dirty work! The 3/4 fridge is plenty of space for 2 people who cook often with fresh ingredients, and make sure that you include a venting hood that exhausts to the outside. It’s very important to remove as much heat and moisture as possible from a tiny space!
Through the kitchen, you’ll find a regular-sized apartment bathroom with full-size vanity, toilet, 36″ tiled shower stall, and extra cabinet space for hanging clothes, linens, soap, contact lenses, and anything else you need. We’ve variously used a flush toilet and a composting toilet depending on where the house was situated. Initially, we used a 5-gallon bucket with sawdust (very primitive), which worked fine, but then upgraded to a Separett (very fancy), which is a better experience. We also found a used shower door that is a 2-way full-size mirror so that you can check yourself out!
In back of the bathroom, along the exterior wall of the house, we cut out a 16″ door that leads to the enclosed trailer tongue box. This is our hidden laundry room! We store the 24″ stacked washer/dryer back there, as well as laundry baskets, winter jackets and mittens, ironing board, broom, and additional supplies like bleach and candle oil. We also mounted our hot water heater here as well as our whole house water and UV filters. Many tiny houses make use of the trailer tongue outside for things like an AC condensing unit. In our experience, enclosing that trapezoidal space gave us a lot more options.
The custom stairs offer a ton of storage and are shallow enough that all 3 of our dogs can climb up and down to the loft. Every step has storage of some kind, and we use these for our dog supplies such as food, medicine, treats, and toys. There’s also a large drawer that we use for overflow pantry goods. Climbing the stairs, you’ll reach the bed loft, which is spacious enough to fit our extra comfy California King bed. The skylight is great for ambiance and star gazing (and emergency egress) but not so great for sleeping in! We added custom blackout shades for all our windows to control light and heat in the summer. You’ll also notice in the bed loft the custom shelves and brackets that serve multiple purposes: visual privacy, safety railing, and most importantly 6 baskets to hold clothes.
Name of Plan
Polaris Tiny House
Number of bedrooms/sleeping areas
178 SF (271 SF with lofts)
8.5’ x 20’ trailer with bump-out over the tongue
(add approx. 10% to 20% to account for the rise of building material costs)
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