yes, to automated washer-dryer

This past week, we conducted a poll with Tiny House Joy readers which asked, “In a tiny house, how would you wash clothes?”

You want a home machine. Some 43% of respondents chose an automated washer/dryer combo. Another 13% sought a regular washer, and 11% picked a standard or spinner dryer. Only 18% preferred any manual, off-grid options.

While living in tiny house, over half of you want to fit a machine. Some plan to head elsewhere to use machines. And a few stalwarts would do hand-washing and air drying. (Tiny House Joy poll, 2014)

While living in a tiny house, over half of you want to fit a machine. Some plan to head elsewhere to use machines. And a few stalwarts would do hand-washing and air drying. (Tiny House Joy poll, 2014)

So here’s to our love of washing and drying machines, even if the drying cycle takes longer with the ventless models. The good news is these combo machines already get installed, as seen in these examples below — and they run fine with (lots of) electricity.

At Tumbleweed's Boulder workshop, participants toured a brand-new home. You can see the automated washer-dryer unit tucked under the kitchen galley. (Tumbleweed Houses)

At Tumbleweed’s Boulder workshop, participants toured a brand-new home. You can see the automated washer-dryer unit tucked under the kitchen galley. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Take a close look at this Minim house in Upstate NY, to spot the washer-dryer unit under the shelving and before the bathroom. It fits just fine here. (Minim NY)

Take a close look at this Minim house in Upstate NY, to spot the washer-dryer unit under the shelving and before the bathroom. It fits just fine here. (Minim NY)

apartment and tiny house siblings

“A tiny house is sort of the suburban or maybe even rural version of a small apartment,” explained tiny houser Ryan Mitchell, to Salon magazine.

We kind of agree. It’s easy to spot apartment and tiny house family resemblances in open, multifunctional and simple interior layouts.

Apartment Interiors

APARTMENT - With 9'-10" ceilings and Juliet balconies, these 250-370 sq. ft. studio apartments have been designed for a new Manhattan complex that's more affordable. (nArchitects)

APARTMENT – With 9′-10″ ceilings and Juliet balconies, these 250-370 sq. ft. studio apartments have been designed for a new Manhattan complex that’s more affordable. (nArchitects)

APARTMENT - This 425 sq. ft. space is 25 feet high. The kitchen, living room and bathroom are on the main floor, while the sleeping area gets cantilevered above. (Specht Harpman)

APARTMENT – This 425 sq. ft. space is 25 feet high. The kitchen, living room and bathroom are on the main floor, while the sleeping area gets cantilevered above. (Specht Harpman)

APARTMENT - Here's a standard unit, which might benefit from some added color or decor. The storage includes built-in cabinets and shelves, like other tinies. (Atlantic Monthly)

APARTMENT – Here’s a standard unit, which might benefit from some added color or decor. The storage includes built-in cabinets and shelves, like other tinies. (Atlantic Monthly)

Tiny House Interiors

HOUSE - This miniHome is a contemporary, modular pre-fab which get manufactured before arriving on site. Here's a shot of the great room area and galley kitchen. (Altius RSA)

HOUSE – This “miniHome” is a contemporary, modular pre-fab which gets manufactured before arriving on site. Here’s a shot of the great room and galley kitchen. (Altius RSA)

HOUSE - Notice the light and bright interior, looking towards the kitchen area and storage. The owner lives in this house on wheels with her beau, newborn and dog. (Minimotives.com)

HOUSE – Notice the light and bright interior, looking towards the kitchen area and storage. The owner lives in the house on wheels with her beau, newborn and dog. (Minimotives.com)

HOUSE - The Downtown Project, in Las Vegas, plans to rent tinies. They have created a modern look inside this house on wheels. (Sally Wilson photo, Tumbleweed Houses)

HOUSE – The Downtown Project, in Las Vegas, plans to rent tinies. They have created a modern look inside this house on wheels. (Sally Wilson photo, Tumbleweed Houses)

going with led lighting

As incandescent bulbs fade away, LED and curly CFL contenders are duking it out. A new rival, called Finally, will also enter the ring with softer light. Yet LEDs are mercury free, unlike CFL and Finally bulbs.

We support LED bulbs due to their longevity, efficiency, overall cost/hour and styles appealing to tiny house dwellers. Let’s compare the bulbs for sale.

All you need to know about bulb cost, longevity, electricity and overall cost per 50k hours. Also catch the spelling error for electricity and you win 10 points. (Angie's List)

All you need to know about bulb cost, longevity, electricity and overall cost per 50k hours. Also catch the spelling error for electricity and you win 10 points. (Angie’s List)

LED in the lead

“A good rule of thumb to understand is that a typical LED light will use about 12 to 18 percent of the electricity as a traditional incandescent or halogen bulb would use for comparable lumens,” explains Michael Beverly, a Los Angeles electrical contractor. Lumens refer to the bulb’s light brightness, by the way.

LED prices, at $36/bulb, seem high though one lasts as long as five CFL and 42 incandescent bulbs. LEDs save money vs. incandescents and, with dropping prices, should beat CFLs soon. Throw in electricity usage and costs, and LEDs already achieve the lowest cost/hour.

The upcoming Finally costs $10/bulb, and you’ll need four to match LED’s longevity. Overall, it lands between LEDs and CFLs on total cost/hour. Finally bulbs resemble old incandescents, delivering warm and dispersed light. Dimmers don’t work yet.

LED for design and decor

Beyond the numbers, LED bulbs fit nicely with different fixtures: recessed high-hats, pendants, lamps, strips, etc. LED light diffuses better than earlier versions and maintains brightness and color through its 50k hour lifespan.

Many tiny house dwellers use them now.

Tiny house owners Christopher and Malissa Tack surrounded all their windows with LED lighting. Their kitchen lights are shown here. (Tiny Tack House)

Tiny house owners Christopher and Malissa Tack surrounded all their windows with LED lighting. Their kitchen lights are shown here. (Tiny Tack House)

In his tiny house, Art Cormier installed LED lighting exclusively. Some LED strips are shown in the great room here. He used laledus.com, a local Louisiana maker. (Tiny SIP House)

In his tiny house, Art Cormier installed LED lighting exclusively. Some LED strips are shown in the great room here. He used laledus.com, a local Louisiana maker. (Tiny SIP House)

At the Tiny Project, Alek Lisefski nestled a large LED fixture near the wood ceiling beam. It’s completely hidden from view, unless you are working in the kitchen. (The Tiny Project)

At the Tiny Project, Alek Lisefski nestled a large LED fixture near the wood ceiling beam. It’s completely hidden from view, unless you are working in the kitchen. (The Tiny Project)

hip minim house multiplies

Minim House is a thoughtfully designed tiny house with hip good looks, energy efficiency, an open floor plan and no loft. Now that a second Minim has been built, we decided to compare the two homes below.

Both Minim Houses impress with their floor plans that include an office nook, closet and wet bath — plus space for a kitchen galley, large sofa, moveable and multi-use table, huge TV screen and roll-out bed. Let’s take a peek.

Minim Exteriors

EXTERIOR, DC - The original Minim House, designed by owner Brian Levy and Foundry Architects, is located right in Washington, D.C. Minim sports dark, natural wood cladding as well as a black-trimmed front door and windows. (Minim Homes)

EXTERIOR, DC – The original Minim House, designed by owner Brian Levy and Foundry Architects, is located right in Washington, D.C. Minim sports dark, natural wood cladding as well as a black-trimmed front door and windows. (Minim Homes)

EXTERIOR, NY - Here's the second Minim House, constructed for downsizing homeowners Tim and Shannon. This Rochester, NY version follows building plans closely and features grey siding, a blue door and white trim. (Shannon Soine, Instagram)

EXTERIOR, NY – Here’s the second Minim House, constructed for downsizing homeowners Tim and Shannon. This Rochester, NY version follows building plans closely and features grey siding, a blue door and white trim. (Shannon Soine, Instagram)

Minim Kitchens

KITCHEN, DC - "A 10 foot wide galley affords room for 2 cooks in the kitchen. It’s designed to accommodate a 7.1 cubic foot refrigerator under the counter, or has adequate room for a fuller size fridge to either side." (Minim Homes)

KITCHEN, DC – “A 10 foot wide galley affords room for 2 cooks in the kitchen. It’s designed to accommodate a 7.1 cubic foot refrigerator under the counter, or has adequate room for a fuller size fridge to either side.” (Minim Homes)

KITCHEN, NY - "This beautiful, light-filled house reminds you to seize the day." In this kitchen, traditional wood and glass cabinets are installed. Notice the larger fridge and freezer to the left. (Tiny House Nation)

KITCHEN, NY – “This beautiful, light-filled house reminds you to seize the day.” In this kitchen, traditional wood and glass cabinets are installed. Notice the larger fridge and freezer to the left. (Tiny House Nation)

Minim Sleeping (Plus) Areas

SLEEPING, DC - "The 5′x7′ office/storage area sits atop the bed platform. There is also a 5′ full width closet. The full or queen size bed hides under the platform, and easily slides out from underneath." (Minim Homes)

SLEEPING, DC – “The 5′x7′ office/storage area sits atop the bed platform. There is also a 5′ full width closet. The full or queen size bed hides under the platform, and easily slides out from underneath.” (Minim Homes)

SLEEPING, NY - "The bed slides out for sleeping, but hides away under the office space when not in use." In this close-up, the full bed is partly rolled out. Our homeowners know that sliding it away is their first daily task. (Tiny House Nation)

SLEEPING, NY – “The bed slides out for sleeping, but hides away under the office space when not in use.” In this close-up, the full bed is partly rolled out. Our homeowners know that sliding it away is their first daily task. (Tiny House Nation)

Minim Seating (Plus) Areas

SEATING, DC - There are no interior walls in the Great Room, and a longer sofa than most tinies. One feature we haven't seen anywhere else is the pull-down screen which covers the left-side windows for TV/video viewing. (Minim Homes)

SEATING, DC – There are no interior walls in the Great Room, and a longer sofa than most tinies. One feature we haven’t seen anywhere else is the pull-down screen which covers the left-side windows for TV/video viewing. (Minim Homes)

SEATING, NY - Here's a close-up of the long sofa (and storage), which looks comfortable for any house and ready for large-screen TV viewing parties. We hear nine people came over and there was extra room. (Tiny House Nation)

SEATING, NY – Here’s a close-up of the long sofa (and storage), which looks comfortable for any house and ready for large-screen TV viewing parties. We hear nine people came over and there was extra room. (Tiny House Nation)

More Access: Want video? The Tiny House Nation show featured the new Minim. Watch “Rochester Studio Retreat” online via your cable provider here or pay $2.99 to view itunes. For the original Minim, check out this video tour.

tiny vote: how to clean clothes

How do you clean clothes while living in a tiny house? There’s a surprising spectrum of conventional, powered or manual cleaning options. To quantify preferences, we cordially invite all readers to answer this question below.

Stay tuned for your washing selections. In the the meantime, let’s look at a handful of smaller washers, dryers and combos already used by some tiny housers.

Click and watch how this newer hand-cranked washer and spinner works. (The Laundry Pod)

Click and watch how this newer hand-cranked washer and spinner works. (The Laundry Pod)

The Wonder Wash is a hand-cranked washer that's popular with tiny dwellers. (Laundry Alternatives. Amazon)

The Wonder Wash is a hand-cranked washer that’s popular with tiny dwellers. (Laundry Alternatives)

This tiny electric dryer, called the Nina, receives kudos as a powered spinner. (Laundry Alternatives)

This tiny electric dryer, the Nina, receives kudos as a powered spinner. (Laundry Alternatives)

Among the 110 Volt washer-dryer units, the little Sonya gets good reviews. (Sonya, Amazon)

Among the 110 Volt washer-dryer units, the little Sonya gets very good reviews. (Sonya, Amazon)

two stories make a tiny presence

Why not consider a traditional two-story home? The footprint remains tiny, yet living space expands to around 550-800 square feet before adding porches.

Pennywise cottages use historical shapes, roofs, cladding, windows and doors. Interiors include bedrooms, bathrooms, parlors, kitchens and porches. Take a look at these examples, manufactured and delivered for on-site assembly.

Southern Piedmont Cottage - This 1700s style has a hipped roof, entablatures and pilasters, and a gabled front porch. Measures  806 sq. ft. with an 87 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Southern Piedmont Cottage – This 1700s style has a hipped roof, entablatures and pilasters, and a gabled front porch. Measures 806 sq. ft. with an 87 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

New Republic Cottage - In the 1700s, these Greek Revivals were popularized as the National style. Measures 560 sq.ft. with an 800 sq. ft. porch (Pennywise)

New Republic Cottage – In the 1700s, these Greek Revivals were popularized as the National style. Measures 560 sq.ft. with an 800 sq. ft. porch (Pennywise)

Chesapeake Tidewater Cottage - English settlers, from the 1700s, built these cottages in MD and VA colonies. Measures 611 sq. ft. with a 168 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Chesapeake Tidewater Cottage – English settlers, from the 1700s, built these cottages in MD and VA colonies. Measures 611 sq. ft. with a 168 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Western Reserve Cottage - After the Revolutionary War, these cottages were built in current-day Ohio. Measures 708 sq. ft. with a 340 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Western Reserve Cottage – After the Revolutionary War, these cottages were built in current-day Ohio. Measures 708 sq. ft. with a 340 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Louisiana Creole Cottage - French, Canadian and West Indies merge, with tall windows, a wide porch and broken-pitch roof. Measures 708 sq. ft. with a 154 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Louisiana Creole Cottage – French, Canadian and West Indies merge, with tall windows, a wide porch and broken-pitch roof. Measures 708 sq. ft. with a 154 sq. ft. porch. (Pennywise)

Update: We have received many questions. For Pennywise floor plan overviews, please click images above. For info about modular/kit homes, reach Kathie Friedley at kathie-at-russellversaci.com or 540-687-8777.

similar city birds and tiny housers

Over the past three years, New York City artist/architect “XAM” has designed, built and installed extraordinary birdhouses for urban avian residents.

Here's a sweet home on a sign. The insulated roof features succulent green plantings. Notice its little DISH which provides TV service for lucky nesting viewers. (Huffington Post)

Here’s a sweet home on a sign. The insulated roof features succulent green plantings. Notice its little DISH which provides TV service for lucky nesting viewers. (Huffington Post)

Tiny houses and their features

XAM says “my dwelling units incorporate passive ventilation, solar panels, LED porch lights (to attract insects), green roofs (for insulation), a food storage area that I fill before hanging and a dwelling space. My feeding units are gravity fed and the feeding trough is refilled from a large food storage cavity.”

Similarly, tiny houses for people focus on insulation, ventilation, humidity control and waterproofing. Tinies naturally conserve energy, and often sport LED lights. Many off-grid homes also generate power through solar panels. And you will find dwelling space with a kitchen, rather than feeding trough.

Living well and in peace

It’s about the neighbors! During 2011, XAM began hanging birdhouses on Brooklyn street signs and they were quickly removed by humans. The houses last far longer when hung in different places, such as industrial sections of Los Angeles.

“I like the community to decide the longevity of my work. I guess I like playing with ‘grey areas’. Are we supposed to accept and/or appreciate the units because they are in a way trying to reverse our destructive effects on nature?,” asks XAM. “Or should we remove them because they are illegally placed? I like to provoke thought and challenge our belief system as well as expand definitions.”

When neighbors see tiny homes for people, they tend to appreciate them. Houses on wheels are technically RVs, which legally prevents full-time living. However, some cities allow caretakers to live in them. For permanent tiny houses, on foundations, other cities like Portland (OR) and Austin (TX) are adjusting secondary dwelling unit codes.

Perhaps we are like the birds, sharing their need for reliable tiny spaces. Birds are used to relocating seasonally and building nests. Yet it’s nice to have ready-made city houses they can simply decorate and use.

stair storage, four styles

With stairs rather than ladders accessing sleeping lofts, more people seem attracted to tiny and small house living opportunities. Yet stairs take up valuable square footage, so the space around them should perform double-duty.

Stair storage concepts start with the steps and move to open space beneath them. Storage also may be open to view or well-concealed. In all instances, we appreciate the practical solutions and eye candy.

Using stairs as dresser drawers is a best practice, as seen in one straightforward and solid ascent to the sleeping area. This version is located in a Manhattan apartment. (Dwell)

Using stairs as dresser drawers is a best practice, as seen in one straightfoward and solid ascent to the sleeping area. This version is located in a Manhattan apartment. (Dwell)

With an artful and geometric arrangement of open shelving beneath the stairs, storage gets maximized in this house on wheels. (hOMe, tinyhousebuild.com)

With an artful and geometric arrangement of open shelving beneath the stairs, storage gets maximized in this tiny house on wheels. (hOMe, tinyhousebuild.com)

Here's something different: crates are installed for stairs and small items in a new house on wheels. The family dog accesses the loft easily, too. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

Here’s something different: crates are installed for stairs and small items in a new house on wheels. The family dog accesses the loft easily, too. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

In a Brooklyn apartment, under-stair storage is hidden within a sleek, white wall integrating the staircase. Kitchen items get stored within these walls. (Dwell)

In a Brooklyn apartment, under-stair storage is hidden within a sleek, white wall integrating the staircase. Kitchen items get stored within these walls. (Dwell)

how much hot water

You might be interested in some hot water for your bathroom and kitchen needs, right? It’s time to learn about water heaters and more.

One water heater fits a tiny house. (Suburban Manufacturing)

One water heater fits a tiny house. (Suburban Manufacturing)

Water heater needs

For houses on wheels, we suggest a 10 gallon minimum, tankless and on-demand water heater because it fits the limited space and supplies two showers before re-heating again. In slightly larger houses, consider installing a 12 or 16 gallon model for a little more hot water capacity.

One standard bearer, Suburban, works with propane or electricity and offers a safer, direct spark vs. pilot option. Once the hot water is depleted, it recovers at 10.2 gallons per hour which the maker claims as “fastest in the industry.”

The Suburban unit and cover seem to be sold everywhere. We would be remiss in not mentioning other popular makers, including Atwood and Girard, for comparison shopping.

Water in, water out

In — A small, legal home on a foundation usually connects into the property’s on-grid municipal water service or independent well. A house on wheels taps into these sources via a pressurized garden hose or may fill its fresh water holding tank anywhere. (Off-grid water deserves a separate post.)

Out — When plugged into a property’s sewage or septic system, the used grey water follows the same lines as toilet/black water. Otherwise grey water may get released immediately to nearby, agreed-upon grounds. Mobile tinies may also install a grey water tank, later emptied at an RV disposal or other site.

Our take? With planning, hot and cold water are a reality for your little home.

those solar decathlon homes

Have you heard about Solar Decathlons? College teams build energy-saving homes for a biennial competition, organized by the U.S. Department of Energy. Afterwards, many houses become residences or are available for tours.

The 2013 Decathlon winner

Vienna University of Technology students built a beautiful and energy-surplus home. They plan to make this winning model commercially available to urban and rural customers, starting in Austria. Here’s a quick tour.

Known as LISI, or Living Inspired for Sustainable Innovation, the Austrian entry offers a calming, zen impact.

Known as LISI, or Living Inspired for Sustainable Innovation, the Austrian entry offers a calming, zen impact. (DOE 2013)

Vienna students created a Mad-Men type of great room, with areas for cooking, dining and hanging out.

Vienna students created a Mad-Men type of great room, with areas for cooking, dining and hanging out. (DOE 2013)

A sustainable, upscale looking bathroom has been installed in the Austrian prototype home. (DOE 2013)

A sustainable, upscale looking bathroom has been installed in the Austrian prototype home. (DOE 2013)

There is nothing flashy about the Decathlon winner's private and cozy pod space for sleeping. (DOE 2013)

There is nothing flashy about the Decathlon winner’s private and cozy pod space for sleeping. (DOE 2013)

Earlier Decathlon competitors

The U.S. Solar Decathlon has been held six times, first in Washington, DC and lately in Irvine, CA. Let’s take a look at special homes over the years, including their post-competition whereabouts.

Appalachian State students built home modules connected by a solar panel porch. Today a modified version is available through Deltec, a North Carolina homebuilder. (2011 DOE)

Appalachian State students built home modules connected by a solar panel porch. Today a modified version is available through Deltec, a North Carolina homebuilder. (2011 DOE)

Santa Clara University students created a tube-shaped home that won top awards for architecture and communications. Back on campus, it's used for research purposes. (2009 DOE)

Santa Clara University students created a tube-shaped home that won top awards for architecture and communications. Back on campus, it’s used for research purposes. (2009 DOE)

A Le Corbusier-style stunner was built by students from Spain, Central and South America. Madrid students continue making home improvements in their materials courses. (2007 DOE)

A Le Corbusier-style stunner was built by students from Spain, Central and South America. Madrid students continue making home improvements in their materials courses. (2007 DOE)

Virginia Tech students won the top architectural award for their energy-efficient marvel. Today the home resides at Richmond's Science Museum of Virginia. (2005 DOE)

Virginia Tech students won the top architectural award for their energy-efficient marvel. Today the home resides at Richmond’s Science Museum of Virginia. (2005 DOE)

Crowder College students received the People's Choice award for a not-so-small home. It's one of two Decathlon entries now displayed at the Missouri school. (2002 DOE)

Crowder College students received the People’s Choice award for a not-so-small home. It’s one of two Decathlon entries now displayed at the Missouri school. (2002 DOE)

More Decathlon details

Fortunately, Decathlon archives are open and accessible. To start, we suggest clicking on a year below. You might pick a college and read about its home, or else select one (of 10) contest categories and compare homes.

Summary | 2013 US | 2011 US | 2009 US | 2007 US | 2005 US | 2002 US
Results | 2013 US | 2011 US | 2009 US | 2007 US | 2005 US | 2002 US