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Alena Nikole’s 8×12 Tiny House Design

Alena Nikkole is sharing her amazing 8×12 tiny house design with us as part of our 2015 8×12 tiny house design contest with Derek Diedricksen of RelaxShacks.com. I think you’ll agree that Alena did an amazing job of making this 8×12 design as functional as possible. I’ll let her show you and explain the design to you below. Please enjoy and re-share.

This house contains many wonderful features:

  • At the entry, there are cubbies to store shoes upon entering.
  • There is A LOT of storage space (2 closets that are each 2.5′ wide).
  • A 3′ wide booth with 2’x3′ table for dining/working.
  • A sleeping loft that will fit a full size mattress, and is accessible by a ladder that will neatly slide out of the way and store between the booth and 2nd closet. (Ladder not shown)
  • A nicely appointed kitchen that has a large sink (it converts to extra prep space with a cutting board insert), under-counter refrigerator, a 4-burner gas stove top, as well as 4 drawers, cabinet storage under sink as well as above the cook top, and a lovely butcher block counter top.
  • A small loft above the bathroom that can serve as extra storage OR flat screen tv area.
  • And a FULL BATHROOM, featuring a 2.5’x3′ shower, a small sink/counter, a medicine cabinet, a space-saving pocket door entrance, and a LAVEO waterless toilet.
  • There are also plenty of large windows to provide ample natural lighting. These are located above the sink, next to the dining booth, at the foot of the bed, in the storage loft, and a small window above the toilet.
  • This design can be built on top of a trailer and still meet the height and width restrictions, allowing it to be towed without a permit.

Alena Nikole’s 8×12 Tiny House Design


Images © Alena Nikole

Alena-Nikole-002 Alena-Nikole-004 Alena-Nikole-005 Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior 1 Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior 2 Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Bath 2 Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Bath Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Bed TV Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Dining Area Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Entry View Alena Nikole 8x12 Interior Kitchen

Images © Alena Nikole

I have been going to school for carpentry and cabinetmaking, and designing tiny houses
and teardrop-style campers for about 2 years now.

I am just starting to create my own business to offer these designs for sale to the public
to build their own, and also offering the option of buying a finished one built by me.

I look forward to seeing the other designs you have received for the contest.
Thank you again, and have a great day!

All the best,
~Alena Nikole

Please Note:  Though I give permission to feature this design online with relation to the contest, this is my own intellectual property.  It is prohibited to sell or reproduce or build this design without my express permission. Thank you.

You can share this 8×12 tiny house design with your friends and family for free using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Thanks.

If you enjoyed this tiny house design you’ll absolutely LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Cynthia Taylor
    April 10, 2015, 11:47 am

    Where is the combo washer/dryer? I prefer to place the washer dryer where the stove is and use an induction cooktop instead. The toilet needs to be an Incinolet (incinerating toilet) you also need solar on the roof for off grid electricity and passive solar on the roof for as needed hot water. I would like the front door to be wide enough in order to accommodate my console Wurlitzer piano I would position where the dinette is
    Otherwise I like it.

    • Dean
      April 11, 2015, 4:43 pm

      There appears to be a “cabinet” of some sort behind the booth. The backside of this cabinet appears to be the shower stall.
      Could the washer/dryer is stored in there when not in use?

      • Alena Nikole
        April 14, 2015, 6:51 pm

        Hi Dean,

        Thank you for your comment!
        I wish that the images were a little clearer about the use of space, because I can see how you might draw that conclusion about the shower…. But actually, the shower is on the other side of the wall that divides the kitchen counter from the bathroom. The cabinet behind the booth is actually a floor to ceiling closet that is about 2 and a half feet wide. I would not recommend putting a washer/dryer in a tiny house this small (or really in most tiny houses); I think that they use too much water and power resources, and take up valuable living/storage space. If someone is living tiny in a (sub)urban setting, then there is bound to be a Laundromat near by; and if someone is living off-grid, then there are more low-tech ways to wash and dry clothes/linens/towels.
        Thanks again!

    • John Day
      April 16, 2015, 8:41 am

      Most people wouldn’t have a large piano or organ. With such a specific requirement, you are certainly designing with a unique set of criteria.
      Propane stoves are going to work better for cost, and are quite efficient. When you get enough solar and battery to run an electric stove, you have a huge cost and environmental impact. Lead-acid batteries don’t last long, and nickel-iron batteries are very costly and heavy. All battery systems take space and most will outgas under conditions of heavy charge and discharge.
      Washer and dryer just don’t fit in the 8X12 equation, and composting toilets are cost-effective and eco-friendly.

  • James Chapman
    April 10, 2015, 2:11 pm

    There is nothing wrong with your design,I like it,and dont know for sure but dont think the type of toilet,if you have solar ex. really matters as you will be judged by your design.Again I like it.

  • Michael
    April 10, 2015, 3:43 pm

    You have a wonderful eye for design. You have almost everything that you need in a cute, yes I said cute, … contemporary space. I think you have a great job future ahead for yourself. Thanks for sharing your design. Many designs from you will go very far. Have a great day!

  • Brian
    April 10, 2015, 4:15 pm

    Love your design Alena and especially the excellent separation of bathroom from kitchen. You gave this a lot of thought and I must say you have included a lot of function into a 12 x 8 area. Thanks for sharing and cheers from Australia

  • Alena Nikole
    April 10, 2015, 5:15 pm


    Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my design and for leaving comments! I had a really great time designing this tiny space. It was a real challenge because I don’t usually design anything as short as 12 feet in length, but I was surprised at just how livable this space could be.

    I would like to address some of what you mentioned, Cynthia:
    In my design, I wanted to limit the amount of water and power needed to live comfortably and practically with the limited amount of space, and also to keep the home as mobile as possible. While I know that many people cannot imagine living without their own washer and dryer on site, I prefer to minimize expense and maximize living space by opting for going to the Laundromat instead. I also do not see other large appliances like dishwashers or ovens as being essential in a tiny house either, but I prefer a more minimalist style.

    For the toilet, I opted for a waterless flushing toilet that does not require a black water system, and also is battery operated so it does not pull on the electricity system of the house to operate. Unlike the Incinolet, this type of toilet does not require any time between uses, whereas the Incinolet requires quite a while to incinerate the waste.

    I like induction cooktops as well, and I think they make a great alternative to a gas stovetop, and it would be great in this design so as to free up more of the countertop for larger prep area because the induction cooktop can be stowed away when not in use. Great suggestion!

    Thank you again James and Brian for your lovely comments!!
    Much appreciated!

  • Lisa
    April 10, 2015, 7:41 pm

    I love this design. Functional as well as attractive. You did well.

  • Alena Nikole
    April 10, 2015, 11:19 pm

    Hello Michael and Lisa,
    Thank you both for your kind words of encouragement as well! This is the first time that I have shared any of my designs with the tiny house community, and I am so happy to be receiving such positive feedback from so many people! Thank you all for your comments!

  • Wendy
    April 11, 2015, 12:36 am

    Great job! I like the booth and tv placement. I’ve been enjoying everyone’s designs. So many have put much work into their designs but I can see the creativity and problem solver in yours.

  • Bev
    April 11, 2015, 1:48 am

    Wonderful use of space! Very beautiful design. I would ask for French doors across the entry for look and light. Lovely! What would be the cost for you to build–all inclusive? Thank you, Bev.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 11, 2015, 12:04 pm

      Hello Bev,

      Thank you for your kind comments!

      I love French doors as well. However, in the current dimensions, I don’t think they would work because there isn’t enough space between the booth and the closet to place two doors.

      I do have some designs that incorporate French doors, but they are longer houses (16 feet and up). I would need to do a re-design of this space if you had your heart set on a 12 foot house.

      As for pricing, I haven’t had a chance to work up the materials cost yet, but I can give you a rough estimate. This living space is 136 square feet, so based on comparative tiny home prices, (somewhere between $220 – $300 per square foot, depending on the specifics), this exact design could be done for somewhere in the $30k-$40k range. (I know that sounds like a wide range, but much of the deciding factor has to do with the appliances chosen, and the specific finishing materials).

      Thank you again for your interest, and please let me know if you have any further questions!

  • Jennifer
    April 11, 2015, 11:01 am

    For an 8×12 space, this seems so spacious. I especially love the full bath!

  • Alena Nikole
    April 11, 2015, 11:46 am

    Hello Wendy, and Jennifer! Thank you so much for your supportive comments! I really do appreciate it.

    Wendy: I am glad you like the booth! I forgot to include it in the description, but there is also drawer storage under the seats. And thank you again for your comment; it was a really fun challenge to design so much functionality into this tiny space.

    Jennifer: Thank you for mentioning the full bath! While I love tiny houses, I don’t love tiny bathrooms, so I figured that other people wouldn’t want to skimp on comfort while bathing either.

  • JAVA06
    April 11, 2015, 3:05 pm

    I am so amazed at how you not only fit so much in such a tiny space, but you detailed everything perfectly. The upper loft is perfect so kick back and watch the TV since we basically do the same in the seated area in a little bit larger size of this version. It’s very important to have an area designated for eating and internet.

    The w/d combos are no good. Clothes are so wrinkled and never dry 100%. Plus it takes 4-6 hours to do up to 8 pounds of clothing… I’d rather use the salad spinner or things similar and just hang things on those folding racks in the shower or the good ol’ clothesline outside as I did nearly 40 years ago.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:16 pm

      Hi JAVA06,
      Thank you for your comments! I thought that since the distance from the bed to the storage loft was just right, it would be a great place for a tv. Something that I have noticed in other tiny house designs is that there often seems to be a desire to stick a huge screen (either a flat panel or a pull down screen) that is just too big for the space, and that also does not allow for a suitable distance between the screen and the viewer. The storage loft is about a foot higher than the sleeping loft, but the mattress makes up for some of that distance, and puts the tv at eye level for watching while lounging comfortably. Also, the storage loft is large enough that you could still store some other items even if there is a tv up there.
      Oh, and I couldn’t agree more about washer/dryers, and using good old clothes lines.
      I’m glad you like the design! Cheers!

  • Mary Ann
    April 11, 2015, 7:49 pm

    Alena, your design is exceptional. It is perfect use of space. But ladders for loft sleeping is not always possible. What about a design where the backs of the nook benches fold down. The table lowers. Then with a pully and wheel system a bed lowers from the ceiling and rests on the folded backs of the benches. Or maybe the cabinet behind the nook can be designed to permit a modified Murphy bed. (Like a sleeper in a sailing boat… narrow with raised sides). I think 16′ is a single travelers dream.
    Also, I will just mention in Europe most gas cooktops have a stainless steel or acrylic cover which allows more counter top use. But when the cover is raised, it acts as the backsplash when cooking. A 2 burner should be appropriate for a TH this size.
    My pet peave are people who want solar panels on the roof. First it takes a lot of panels to run a fridge, computers, ovens, microwaves, water pumps, lights and now radiant eating… This is a 16′ TH. This whole house is probably smaller than your current bedroom.
    Think about it. Who wants to park their TH in the sweltering sun just to charge the batteries? Wouldn’t you rather park in the shade of the trees and have portable solar panels sitting in the heat of the sun?
    Living in 16′ means pare-down and live more simply. Many State and Provincial parks have showers and laundry facilities. Almost all RV parks have these as well. If you are a traveller and want to park in “the wild” then you need an off grid TH. Usually only lights and computer charging are solar power priorities.

    Alena, your design is applicable to both a cabin or a mobile TH. It can be used by younger and more agile travelers than myself. You have done such a good design. I have confidence you could modify this design to have a sleeping area on the main level than in the loft. Great work!

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:33 pm

      Hi Mary Ann,

      Sorry it took me a couple of days to reply to you and a few others; my little one just turned 3, so it has been busy around here lately. :^)

      Thank you so much for your comments!
      For this extra tiny footprint of 8×12, I felt like the loft was necessary to allow for enough kitchen and bath space. However, I am not a fan of lofts and ladders for my own personal use either, mainly because I wouldn’t want to have to climb down and up for a late night trip to the loo. ;^) But I am pleased with the way this layout works.

      I had never actually designed a space this tiny before, and I generally like to have a designated sleeping area on the main level, or at least accessible by a couple of small steps, or for larger designs, stairs with a hand railing. But I generally need more than 12′ in length to achieve those features.

      I think your idea for having the booth double as a sleep area could work, but really only for someone shorter than 5’8″ or so (the booth is only 6′ long), and probably would really only be preferable (at least to me) for short term, camping type use, and not as a permanent home arrangement (though, someone else may find it perfectly suitable to their liking). In order to make it longer and more comfortable for a taller person, some width would have to be taken off of the closet behind the booth.

      As for solar panels and such, I am still trying to learn more about what are the most practical and energy efficient power systems for a tiny house, so that I can offer the best set up possible.

      Thank you again for your comments!

  • Mary Ann
    April 11, 2015, 8:41 pm

    Whoops, I did it again… Not 16′ but a 12′ TH.

  • Kathleen
    April 11, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Of all the entries so far, I like this one the best. I like the two floor-to-ceiling closets, possibly for clothes in one and a pantry in the other. I like having the bathroom at the back of the tiny house. If I were to make any changes to suit my own preferences, I’d probably replace the two benches and table with a narrow desk and chair, somewhat like what I’m sitting at now at my daughter’s in my own “space” at her house. It’s multipurpose for both a desk and laptop and also for eating. I hope this one wins.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:37 pm

      Hi Kathleen,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments!
      I like your idea about the narrow desk and chair; I am seeing it setting under that large window where the booth is now, and having a beautiful view (am I picturing it right?).

      I originally was designing this house with either a couple in mind, or with a single person who would want to have a little space to entertain a guest or two, so that is why I opted for the booth.

      Thanks again, and have a good one!

  • April 12, 2015, 2:55 am

    I really like your use of Sketchup features to make surfaces invisible to show featured space.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:39 pm

      Hi Hans,

      Thanks for your comment! I just saved a copy of the interior design, and then added the exterior to it and saved it as a second file. :^)

  • Denise
    April 12, 2015, 3:05 pm

    This is a nice design. I’m curious, is there a way to reach the TV from the loft (to adjust volume, for example, if the batteries in the remote go out)? Or would you have to climb down the ladder from the loft bed, reposition the ladder to be able to climb up to the TV platform, then back down and up again? Those who are more daring might be willing to stretch across that open space, but without knowing how far that is I’m just curious and thinking from a practical standpoint.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:42 pm

      Hi Denise,

      Thank you for your comments!
      I would not recommend reaching across from the sleeping loft to the storage loft; it is a 2’8″ gap from ledge to ledge. I would probably just plan on keeping a spare pack of batteries for the remote “just in case”. :^)

      • Denise
        April 14, 2015, 10:39 pm

        You are absolutely right, Alena, and in keeping in line with the tiny living ethos of everything having a dual purpose, I’m ashamed that I didn’t already realize the need for extra batteries in the nightstand…

        Oops~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I hope to get at least a couple of belly laughs from those with a moderately naughty sense of humor, before getting blasted for my slightly risqué innuendo. I personally believe that making even one other person laugh out loud per day is worth offending a few others, especially when it’s ME that I’m making fun of.

        For those who missed the battery innuendo altogether, never mind!

  • Chris
    April 13, 2015, 12:57 am

    This design reminds me of a truck sleeper berth. A lot. Once you get to about 120″ deep, you start seeing bathrooms in the back and bunks oriented laterally along the wall with a front-center entry. In a truck, the dinette would flip down into a bed, but the wee loft is a good space saver for loft lovers. Good and tight design.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 6:45 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your comments! I’m glad to hear that it is a practical and space saving design! I’m curious, how much height is there inside of a truck? Thanks again!

      • Chris
        April 14, 2015, 7:14 pm

        Depends on the truck. They range from about 4-ish feet in a low-rise sleeper (flat-top) — just enough to sit up in the bunk, all the way up to condo sleepers that have bunk beds in them…..maybe 9 feet tall? I never measured mine, but the tallest I would put at about 9 feet. I can reach to about 8 feet, and it was definitely higher than my reach. I always used the top bunk as a huge shelf, even tho the space felt more comfortable with the top bunk flipped up and out of the way.

        If I would have had the longer version with the shower and toilet like this one, I would have been all set!


  • Dean
    April 13, 2015, 11:43 am

    Denise – Looking at the second interior picture, notice how the gap compares to the width of the kitchen sink below it.
    Based on that, I am going to say it appears that gap is around 20-24 inches.

    • Alena Nikole
      April 14, 2015, 7:26 pm

      Hi Dean,

      Thank you for your comment! I wish it were possible for you all to see the actual 3D Sketchup file, but alas, I do not know yet how to create a video presentation with it (if there is a way to do that). But the width of both of the closets (next to the front entrance, and the second one between the booth and the bathroom) are 2 and a half feet wide each.
      The one by the front door is 6’10” high (as that is the height of the ceiling below the sleeping loft) and the other closet is right around 8′ high (that is the ceiling height in the bathroom).
      Thanks again for your comment!

  • Dean
    April 15, 2015, 2:46 am

    You’re quite welcome, Alena.
    That is quite an inventive use of space.
    You are a very gifted architect.
    Thank YOU for sharing your wonderful design with us. =)

    • Alena Nikole
      April 15, 2015, 5:46 pm

      Dean, thank you again so very much for your generous compliments!
      It was my dream for a long time to become an architect, but I was unable to pursue that as I could not afford the time or money for the schooling. (Being a single mother can be challenging.) The tiny house movement, and my interest in mobile dwellings has given me an alternative outlet for that passion. Though I know I will never be a licensed architect, that means a lot that would you would give me such high praise. Again, thank you!!

  • Stacey
    April 21, 2015, 2:10 am

    This is remarkable! Hard to believe so much can be accommodated in such a small space. I’d love to see more of your work – do you have a website?
    Also, would like more info on the toilet.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Alena Nikole
      April 26, 2015, 3:42 pm

      Hi Stacey,

      Thank you for your comments! Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you.
      I am currently working on creating a website to launch my tiny house design business, so hopefully I will be able to return soon with a link for you. (Thank you for your interest!)
      The toilet is a Laveo Dry Flush. Here is their web site:


      Thanks, and have a great day!

  • Allin
    October 30, 2016, 1:49 pm

    Was wondering if you could get in touch with me and let me know how we might be able to work on building one of these, For my personal use . Thanks, Allin

    • Natalie
      October 31, 2016, 9:59 am

      Hi Allin, I recommend contacting Relax Shacks and seeing if they have her contact info 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

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