Bullet Journal Brainstorm #1

I had this idea for a tiny house design in my head, threw it into my bullet journal, and took it all the way into SketchUp. I thought I’d share the process with you – and start a new blog post series at the same time. I hope you like it.

I began just sketching a quick outline of the size house I wanted. Then added some approximate locations for all the stuff I wanted in the house, which was:

  • Space to sleep a family of four
  • A lower level bedroom that doubles as a living room
  • The bedroom needed to have a closing door, but open wide when used as a living room
  • A dedicated and private home office
  • A large bathroom with a soaking tub
  • A flexible yet simple table for work, crafts, home schooling, and meals
  • An ample kitchen
  • A fair amount of storage
  • A porch
  • Plenty of windows for views and light
  • Aerodynamic tongue side of the house for easier transport
  • A tall shed roof or shed dormers to open the space up to the maximum height
  • 32-foot triple axle bumper-pull trailer.

Here’s the initial sketch. It’s very rough because I only intended it for me to see – and I was just trying to place all the required stuff. I did several iterations. I don’t think I’ll use a fat Sharpie in the bullet journal again – it bleeds through the paper (but not through multiple pages luckily!).

The next step was to work out the details in more detail – to see if everything fit. Since I’ve got stencils, I used those to roughly block everything in. Again I wasn’t worries about how it would look because I didn’t intend to show it to anyone.

I’m showing you now because I think it’s good to see that any rough idea is worthy of putting on paper – even it you think you can’t draw. Don’t worry, your drawings can be just for you… so let the ideas flow!

The advantage of this bullet journal is that it gives you guidelines to quickly draw a tiny house on wheels to scale, with or without stencils.

I was digging the design a lot, so I threw it into SketchUp. The advantage of using software like SketchUp is that you can continue to iterate… but for getting the basic idea started I prefer putting it down on paper. Starting with paper also helps to make the SketchUp work go much faster.

Above is the floor plan of the lower level.

Below is the living room with the U-shaped sofa bed. These sections would slide around and reorganize into a bed without much effort.

The kitchen and large table are in the center of the house with the tallest ceiling. The table has two sections that fold down so you can choose how much of it to have open at once.

The bathroom is large enough to move around easily, get dressed, and would feel like a normal bathroom. The tub is 4-foot long.

The home office below is really a must for most people these days. I’ve been working from home for over a decade and really appreciate the door sometimes. Most tiny houses don’t have a dedicated space for work. This one is super small, but I could see making it work.

The little room to the left is an exterior accessed utility closet for the water heater, solar electric gear, and similar stuff you typically want out of the living space.


Below is a peek inside from the living room.

Below is a look from the bathroom toward the living room. Notice the cabinet above the sink doubles as a drain rack.

I decided to use a hip roof on both ends with two shed dormers in the center. The hip roof provides a lot of aerodynamics on the tongue side and looks more nicely balanced if it’s on both ends.

The shed dormers give you the most volume in a tiny house. The pitch on the dormers is 3/12, the hip gable roof is 10/12. The transom windows at the top should be operable for ventilation.

There are two lofts, one under each hip roof. The loft over the living room is deeper and could actually handle a queen size bed. The other loft is better sized for a twin.

The house would be built on a bumper-pulled 32-foot triple axle trailer.

A fold-down porch connects the two doors. The door on the right is the office. I continued the slope of the hip roof down the roof over the bump-out. This should be a fairly slippery design rolling down the highway – and it’s looks like it belongs too.

I think I might add this design to the Steel Tiny House Kits I offer and the Wood Framed Tiny House Plans. What do you think… is it worthy?

You can pickup the The Tiny House Bullet Journal and Tiny House Design Stencils here too. The bullet journals are on Amazon right now and the Stencils are currently on Kickstarter.

I’ll continue this series if people like it. I’ve got tons of tiny house designs in my head that often never get this far. Now that I have a place to jot them down, and a blog to share them, I think it might be a great way to share.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.


Thanks to Blake… the first commenter… I made some of the changes he suggested. I also added another window. Might be too many windows now, but what do you think?


12 thoughts on “Bullet Journal Brainstorm #1

  1. Blake Voss says:

    I like the office. I would move the front door closer to the ladder next to it so that the dining/work counter could be longer. I know that messes up the alignment or placement of the windows and doors. Also, I would make this counter approximately 2 feet deep (0.6 m) and the same height as the kitchen counters so that it could be used as a kitchen work place too. I would extend the counter close to the other ladder so that it is long enough for 4 people. I’m assuming that the ladders slide to the center for use. Some owners might want a wide window over this counter too. I would extend this window all the way up to get a bigger view. The other change I would make is to put the full-length storage cabinets across from the front door and next to the bathroom. I like the kitchen close to the living room so that the cook can talk to the people (family & guests) sitting in the living room. IMHO

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Excellent feedback.

      I was thinking the ladders could be fixed since the shed dormers provide enough headspace.
      I think you’re absolutely right about swapping the tall cabinets to the side with the bathroom. That would also separate the bath and kitchen a bit.
      I think I’d leave the table at 30-32 inches and the counters at 36 since sitting at a tall table, especially for kids would require some tall chairs.
      You nailed it on the door placement problem. It was tough to line everything up. I also love idea of making the big windows taller. Good thinking. Thanks!

  2. sandy says:

    you need to reverse the office and loose the door. in the current configuration you couldn’t get into the office because of the tub.

  3. Carolyn says:

    I really like this design, but I would remove the table, make the kitchen on both sides and put steps, not a ladder to the main loft.

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Good idea. The galley kitchen at one end would also open up the other half of the space more too. For kids I think ladders are fine, but yes, if the loft was used by adults (they/we) appreciate stairs over ladders.

  4. Kate says:

    It’s a good set up for a family. I like the extra windows, too. I’m intrigued by the idea of having the office area have it’s own outer door. I’ve been looking to do something similar, but it’s just me and my husband, so no reason to have the extra lofts or child friendly table spaces. My only concern would be that the requisite sound proofing required between the bathroom and office area. What would you suggest?

    • Michael Janzen says:

      I think if you insulated it like an exterior wall you’d be fine. But if you wanted even more sound proofing, a dead air space without any solid connections (like framing) between the two rooms would be better. This space can literally be empty or better yet, filled with sound reading material. But the main trick is to leave a gap without solid materials that the sound waves can travel.

  5. Heidi Barker says:

    I prefer to see my office door over my monitors; having the entry at my back doesn’t feel comfortable. I prefer to share what I am working on by choice, not by having someone approach from behind and look through the window. Maybe you could rotate the desk 90 degrees counter clockwise and have the desktop that’d be in front of the door hinge up and out of the way when someone wants to enter. Your monitor(s) could be fastened to the house-side wall so the movement of the desktop wouldn’t disturb them.

  6. Wanda Ball says:

    I like the idea of the office and no inside access – private space to work and forces you to get up and go out to use facilities or get a coffee. I’d prefer stairs to ladder. What about stairs a far corner of the loft? I love the idea of the Tiny House’s. Unfortunately none in my area that I know of. I know there is a builder in Quebec who builds for our Canadian climate.

  7. Kate says:

    Out of nowhere today, I wondered how you would heat the “separate” space of the office in the wintertime. (I live in Minnesota, and it gets cold here). Cooling isn’t so much of an issue, but heating? Yes, I’m curious about that. Currently, I’m leaning toward wood heating in the main area, but that won’t work with the separate space.

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