A Family Customizes an Off-Grid Tiny Home With Online Design Tools

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A tiny house builder’s clever online design tools enable a family of five to create their dream home.

When the Nguyens, a couple with three young children, were looking to build a tiny home that would comfortably accommodate their entire family, while also allowing them to live sustainably off-grid in East Washington, they immediately turned to Nevada–based tiny house designers and builders TruForm Tiny.

The family wanted a room on the main floor that could serve as an office and playroom. They also desired their home to include two sleeping lofts, rather than just one.

The family wanted a room on the main floor that could serve as an office and playroom. They also desired their home to include two sleeping lofts, rather than just one.

The couple were impressed by one of TruForm's earlier projects, a Payette model named "Tess." While they adored Tess’s excellent craftsmanship, they knew they needed more space for their growing children, so they experimented with a variety of customization options using TruForm's online design feature.

The couple were impressed by one of TruForm's earlier projects, a Payette model named "Tess." While they adored Tess’s excellent craftsmanship, they knew they needed more space for their growing children, so they experimented with a variety of customization options using TruForm's online design feature.

They started with the 24-feet Payette model and made the lofted areas higher by expanding the standard gable roofline to allow for more headroom.

They started with the 24-feet Payette model and made the lofted areas higher by expanding the standard gable roofline to allow for more headroom.

"Our design site allows the customer to choose additional lofts and downstairs bedrooms," says Malia Schultheis, a designer and analyst at TruForm. "In this case, the Nguyen family asked for a second loft and wall below it. Our standard roofline is 4:12 and 12:12 gable. The expanded dormer option changes the roofline to 4:12 and flat over the main loft."

The couple added solid surfaces, cable railings, kitchen and bathroom tiling, open cedar siding, a residential mini-split heater, a Dickenson propane heater, and a six-panel solar system. 

The couple added solid surfaces, cable railings, kitchen and bathroom tiling, open cedar siding, a residential mini-split heater, a Dickenson propane heater, and a six-panel solar system. 

The result was one of the most high-end TruForm customized projects—a 398-square-foot tiny home that cost around $135,000.

The result was one of the most high-end TruForm customized projects—a 398-square-foot tiny home that cost around $135,000.

Using TruForm’s online design tools, the Nguyens added a main level bedroom and two lofts. They also added a bump-out nook, which would double as their youngest toddler's bed area. 

Using TruForm’s online design tools, the Nguyens added a main level bedroom and two lofts. They also added a bump-out nook, which would double as their youngest toddler's bed area. 

"Our family still co-sleeps, so the two sleeping lofts work well for us. Our IKEA Friheten sofa pulls out into a queen-size bed, and the bump-out nook is also big enough for lounging on," explains Mr. Nguyen. "Our family loves spending time together, so living in a small space feels natural to us, but we love that we still have private areas when we need them." 

To add more headroom to the sleeping lofts, the family opted for expanded dormers.  

To add more headroom to the sleeping lofts, the family opted for expanded dormers.  

The nook seat serves as a toddler sleeping surface. With the additional space, there is now enough room for a desk, toy boxes, clothes storage, wall shelving, etc. The main living area is directly outside this room.

The nook seat serves as a toddler sleeping surface. With the additional space, there is now enough room for a desk, toy boxes, clothes storage, wall shelving, etc. The main living area is directly outside this room.

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Ladder access frees up space downstairs and gives the living area a more open feel.  

Ladder access frees up space downstairs and gives the living area a more open feel.  

The second loft can hold two single mattresses.

The second loft can hold two single mattresses.

A look at the spacious master bedroom.

A look at the spacious master bedroom.

Here is a glimpse at the horizontal cedar siding over a quality rain screen.

Here is a glimpse at the horizontal cedar siding over a quality rain screen.

Beyond the living room is a kitchen with pullouts, closets, full-size tiny appliances, and a large Ruvatti sink.  

Beyond the living room is a kitchen with pullouts, closets, full-size tiny appliances, and a large Ruvatti sink.  

A closer peek at the open gallery kitchen.  

A closer peek at the open gallery kitchen.  

A large oval mirror makes the bathroom look and feel larger.

A large oval mirror makes the bathroom look and feel larger.

The house has a standing-seam metal roof, and a fully operable roof skylight.  

The house has a standing-seam metal roof, and a fully operable roof skylight.