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Denise’s 8×12 Tiny House Design

Denise Eissler is sharing her 8×12 tiny house design with us as part of our 2015 8×12 tiny house design contest.

I’m excited about submitting my 8×12 tiny house on wheels for your contest. This is a custom designed TH that my builder, Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, envisioned (with a lot of specific input from me, and in keeping with the design aesthetics of my front home and yard). He’s one of the few TH builders who’s enthusiastic about creating custom builds of all sizes, and in fact this was the smallest one he’s ever created. This TH was born from the idea of offering it as a backyard vacation rental in the highly sought after downtown area of Austin, TX. It was designed, built, delivered, and furnished in approx. 8 weeks, and after hitting the vacation rental market in Oct 2014 has already hosted over 60 separate sets of travelers – some individuals, some couples, some choosing it for a unique option to a hotel room, and some visiting specifically for the purpose of trying out tiny living before making the decision to build their own or have someone build a TH for them.

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Denise’s 8×12 Tiny House Design


Images © Denise Eissler & Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

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Images © Denise Eissler & Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses


Images © Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

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Images © Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses


Images © Airbnb

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Images via Airbnb

Here is what I’m especially proud of:

* 5 stars across every category among all guests who’ve stayed (see feedback from previous guests on my airbnb listing, along with numerous photos of the finished product: www.airbnb.com/rooms/4280376

* Constant feedback on guests’ amazement that it feels so open for the size, and in fact many are surprised to hear that it’s only 8×12…even after staying in it for a couple of days! The fantastic placement of large windows on every wall, and spanning two sides of the loft, along with the side entry door (with glass insert) provide maximum outdoor views no matter where you look, and the fantastic queen sized loft, accessed by a unique staircase design (that now seems to be copied in other builds), along with the fantastic headroom in the loft while fully sitting up (due to the angle of the shed roof, direction of bed placement, and upper windows) gives the illusion of far more space and openness. I hear this comment repeated again and again when happy guests depart – most with a vow to return or refer their friends.

* Some guests reserve a stay with questions about whether or not a tiny house is right for them, and they leave saying variations of “this stay made us more sure than ever that living in a TH is the right choice for us”. If an 8×12 can convince people who were previously skeptical of the “claustrophobia feeling” that many have when viewing some of the traditional dollhouse models with peaked roofs, tiny loft beds, and front entries with narrow hallways online, then I’m even more convinced this TH was a true work of art that achieved – and even exceeded – it’s intended goals.

My builder, Greg Parham (owner of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses) has agreed to my request to submit this property on behalf of both of us. In addition to the unique design/build of the house, we also entered into a unique agreement where he built the house and permanent elements, while I sourced and bought all the appliances, furnishings, and fixtures…allowing both of us to concentrate on what we do best and ultimately create a TH that was more affordable for me/the buyer (no need to pay someone else to shop for me, especially when I’m quite comfortable with my own design aesthetics), and quicker/easier for the builder to create (he got to focus on his core competencies of construction, design, and woodworking/craftsmanship) without having to deal with placing orders and tracking all those extra items, which takes a lot of time and attention away from the actual build. This type of partnership may not work for everyone, but I’m surprised that no one else has thought of dividing the labor in such a way. The final outcome has received a tremendous amount of excellent feedback from readers of various websites and blogs that have picked up on and posted it.

Please consider the “Hip East Side Tiny Pad” (airBNB listing title), submitted by owner Denise Eissler in Austin, TX and designed/built by Greg Parham of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses for your 8×12 Tiny House Contest.

8 documents (drawings and sketch ups) attached, plus 30+ photos of finished product available in above link. Look forward to seeing how it all shakes out!!!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 30 comments… add one }
    April 8, 2015, 11:07 pm

    love your tiny house. How much does it weigh? I have a boat trailer converted to a regular trailer with two wheels so wondered what the weight of yours is. thanks so much

    • Denise
      April 9, 2015, 5:34 am

      Hi Hunter – I would love to answer that question, but I honestly don’t know! It was delivered to my home by the builder “empty”, as I had the furnishings and appliances shipped to my place to keep the weight down during transport (thereby ensuring that delivery costs would be less). For some reason 3,600 empty sticks in my mind, but I don’t want to be quoted on that in case I’m way off. I know the custom built trailer has far more capacity than that, but since I don’t plan to take it on the road I didn’t pay as much attention to this detail as I probably should have. My apologies…hopefully Greg with Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses will see this post and be able to reply with a more accurate answer.

  • Bev
    April 8, 2015, 11:29 pm

    This is a cutie! I did not like the floor plan on paper because I could not visualize having enough space for a livingroom. After seeing it “in person” here, I can see how cute it is and plenty roomy enough. Adorable little house. I also love the yard. Very creative space inside and out!

  • Denise
    April 9, 2015, 5:51 am

    Thanks so much, Bev! It can often be difficult to convey one’s “vision” on paper, but after a lot of dialogue with my builder, Greg (who’s in another state), he had the idea of pulling up my home and backyard on Google Earth to actually see exactly where the TH would be placed, as well as see the overall look of my property, before proceeding with the design. I think those efforts show, as this tiny house was definitely designed to integrate into the property where it will likely reside for a very long time. I’m happy to see it every time I step outside of my back door, so that makes it a success in my eyes 🙂

  • Mimi
    April 9, 2015, 7:56 am

    I love this tiny house! I admire you for doing it! I never could live quite so small. Where do you keep your clothes and stuff? Is there a closet? Great job on making the most of the small space! 🙂

    • Denise
      April 9, 2015, 11:48 pm

      Hi Mimi – maybe you didn’t read all of the text – this tiny house was built as a backyard vacation rental (and is placed in the backyard directly behind my smallish 1940s bungalow where I live with my two dogs and a roommate), so an abundance of storage for full-time living wasn’t necessarily needed. Instead, I opted for lots of windows and a sense of openness so guests would have a “larger” experience in this tiny house.

      Also, if you look closely at each of the photos above, you’ll see that there is a closet (complete with hangers) to the left of the kitchen area…the clothing hangs above the portable air conditioner.

      Thank you so much for your kind words and complimentary feedback! Although I don’t live in this tiny house full time myself, I stay in it overnight periodically (just to take fresh looks at ways to constantly improve the experience for my guests), and I spend a lot of time in it nearly every other day since I clean and restock it myself in between each one of my guests.

  • Cahow
    April 9, 2015, 12:01 pm

    Oh-Oh! I smell some SERIOUS competition with Anastasia’s theoretical contest entry and this ‘In Reality’ entry!!!

    Denise: Well done! Well done! I’m sure that you will garner many friends and accolades about your tiny home for the thoroughness of your entry. From perspectives, an actual build, reviews from people staying here…you’re the Real Deal!

    This is a neutral comment about the stairs (no bashing, please!)–if you are incredibly fit, the alternating stairs work. However, if you’re like me, who has a permanent 30% loss of motor skills in her left leg from a car accident, there’s NO WAY that I could get up those stairs. As it is, when I encounter stairs, the only way that I can get up or down them is to lead with my damaged leg while gripping a handrail, and then lowering myself down to the next step with my good right leg. After over 30+ years of dealing with this minor disability, I’ve got it mastered on normal stairs, but, it precludes me from climbing up ladders or alternating stairs. ;(

    Like I said, this is MY problem, not someone else’s. But, it does warn any future tiny home owners to be mindful of future injuries and what that may prevent them from doing.

    • Denise
      April 10, 2015, 12:01 am

      So sorry to hear about your climbing limitations, Cahow! It is true that tiny house living, especially with a loft, and even more so in a super tiny 8×12, does pose particular challenges to the elderly, injured, those in poor health, and various others. I’m sure that my tiny pad precludes guests in any of the above categories from staying here while on vacation, but at least they’re able to see photos and know what to expect before booking a stay here. It’s certainly not for everyone, but for those who the place does accommodate, they certainly seem to love it!

      I saw an incredibly cool post for a HIGH END bed that raises and lowers from the floor level (for sleeping) to the ceiling (for “stowing away” during the day) like an industrial elevator, on some website a few months ago that was brilliant…if one has the $20k or so that the price tag indicated. It’s still fun to view these creations with awe, though, and be impressed by the creative and technical innovations available…even those that are only for the wealthy consumer.

      • Cahow
        April 10, 2015, 12:18 am

        I deeply appreciate your kind words, Denise. Considering the fact that my initial prognosis when I woke up in hospital was “…you’ll NEVER walk again and will be wheelchair bound for life!”, I’m THRILLED that I recovered enough to find ladders and alternating stairs an inconvenience. 😀

        I marvel at the people that I see with missing limbs and those blade runner legs doing dancing shows, skiing, and running marathons…all with a HUGE smile on their faces! They are MY heroes and I figure if they don’t whine and complain about what they can’t do but focus on what they can do, then I have NO room to complain.

        And I remember vividly that bed that you are referencing; it was very hi-tech and very, very cool. Fortunately, I can still tumble into bed, which I’m about to do right after I post this reply. LOL

        Good Luck! I hope you win, Denise. <3

  • Junk Orama
    April 9, 2015, 2:50 pm

    I can’t find the link to download the sketchups and design drawings. Can you update with those links please?

    • Denise
      April 10, 2015, 12:09 am

      Hi Junk Orama,

      Since the designs were created by my builder, you would have to contact him to discuss downloading the full plans. Out of respect for Greg Parham and his work, it wouldn’t be right for me to give away his designs (even if I had access to his full sketchups) without his blessing. You can contact Greg Parham at Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses – his contact info is easy to locate with a quick google search – to discuss your request. He is aware that I submitted this house for the contest, so shouldn’t be caught unaware if you explain where you saw the house in your email or phone request.

      I’m glad to hear you like the design enough to want to receive more detailed information!

    April 9, 2015, 4:29 pm

    thanks Denise,
    I’d like to throw this question out to any one that knows about towing vehicles. My car, ford focus wagon 2005 says in owners manual it can tow up to 1000 lbs. what exactly does that mean to me? can something weigh 3600 lbs and still be towed by this car? i also have a 6 cyl ford econoline van 150 that i know for sure towed a 4500 lb Boat for hundreds of miles. it has a factory tow package on it with a transmission cooler , heavy suspension etc. But the truck gets 20-24 miles a gallon and the car gets 31 miles a gallon but has an auto transmission and is 4 cyl, oh and truck is auto transmission also. Now, can some one explain in simple language what towing weights and gross weight of item towed means? I’m not a dummy just can’t get into my head all these numbers and ratios tongue weight etc etc. all means in the end, Help! please.

  • Marsha Cowan
    April 9, 2015, 11:24 pm

    This has always been one of my favorite tiny houses. I love, love, love, the swing! The kitchen is great, too! Everything is beautiful and well organized. Great job!

    • Denise
      April 10, 2015, 12:14 am

      Thanks, Marsha! I remember your name and reading your sweet feedback after a previous post a few months back, and want to thank you again for the virtual “thumbs up” on my little tiny pad. Lots of love and attention went into the initial design, and continues to go into it as it constantly evolves and improves with every new addition, no matter how small 🙂

  • Marsha Cowan
    April 9, 2015, 11:28 pm

    How clever to lean a wall to get more upper space on a small footprint! Beautiful tiny house!

  • Denise
    April 10, 2015, 12:21 am

    Greg really outdid himself when adding that unique architectural element. I gave him free reign to make it “funky”, and I love so much that he took me seriously! I’m sure it’s not to the tastes of everyone, but I absolutely love it…and it really does make the place feel even larger and more open inside!

  • April 10, 2015, 12:30 am

    Being in my 60’s I don’t feel safe climbing ladders…so I love your double stairway to Heaven. However I would feel safer if there was a railing mounted to insure one would not roll off the bed.
    I love the layout and storage nooks. Plus the sofa hanging from heavy ropes. Cool…very Cool.

  • Denise
    April 10, 2015, 1:43 am

    Thanks for your feedback, Jean! I’ve received comments about adding a railing due to concerns about rolling out of bed in previous online discussions, but not a single person who’s stayed and slept here has indicated such concern (and I assure you that my guests are quite open with their feedback, especially those who are considering their own tiny houses). That leads me to think the photos must display a more “daring” sleep experience than how the space actually feels in person, but regardless I do respect your opinion and hope I don’t come across as defensive about it in any way.

    Personally, I’m always prepared for the possibility of hearing this, and I’ve vowed that as soon as a guest provides this type of feedback I’ll react with a design change…yet after 60+ sets of individuals and couples later I’ve still not heard one mention or even a fleeting thought about the roll-out concern. More surprisingly (to me, at least) is that no one has had a problem with the alternating tread staircase either, and to be honest I thought it would be more likely that I’d hear something about the stairs from one of the few very petite guests I’ve hosted by now. Some say they just take a couple of climbs to get used to, but to be on the safe side I decided to provide a basket with multiple pairs of hospital socks (you know, the kind with anti-skid bottoms?) to offer more traction on wood floors and stairs, and everyone gets a huge kick out of the fact that they’re available…and nearly half my guests put them to use too!

    The hanging love seat (with no legs to limit space) makes sliding suitcases of any size underneath a perfect luggage stowing solution. One single guy – who apparently wasn’t a huge fan of all the decorative throw pillows – found the stairway cubby holes to be the perfect place to store all of them during his stay. I love seeing the various creative ways people make the place “their own” during their visits 🙂

  • Shannon
    April 10, 2015, 9:46 am

    I LOVE this house! Definitely my favorite contest entry and one of my most favorite TH designs ever. It makes very tiny look truly livable and I think, with a few personal preference tweaks, I could definitely do this sweet little place full time.

    • Denise
      April 11, 2015, 5:27 pm

      Thanks, Shannon! Scores of past guests seem to agree with you wholeheartedly 🙂

  • Alessandra R
    April 10, 2015, 9:40 pm

    LOVE THIS DESIGN!!!! If I’m ever in Austin (hello SXSW!!) I know where I’d like to stay!!!

  • Denise
    April 11, 2015, 5:30 pm

    It was booked solid for SXSW this past month. I hope to see you soon in the future, whether for SXSW or any other time of the year for an Austin getaway!

  • St.Patrick Williams
    April 17, 2015, 1:15 am

    Do you known how tall is the Tiny house?

  • CuriousMiss
    April 19, 2015, 10:58 pm

    Pfft, how this this one not win the design? It had everything and it had real pictures included because he actually MADE it, and it was beautiful! I mean this one is pretty much the one that won the contest but beefed up and super cute.

  • Denise
    April 20, 2015, 7:32 pm

    Thanks for your lovely and positive feedback, Curious Miss!

    This TH actually offers some features that are quite a bit different from many others of this size, however, including: a functional staircase with storage instead of a ladder (that doesn’t compromise or sacrifice a comfortable living area), kitchen and bathroom on opposite ends of the house instead of situated right next to each other on one end, a FULL bath – including separate sink – instead of a “wet bath”, and a loft with queen size bed that both people can sit up in without bumping their heads (plus windows on two walls and a landing for the nightstand).

    Many people comment about preferring some of the above features on many tiny house sites. However, the judges and other voters obviously thought another design was better. Congratulations to the winning design!

    I, too, would love to see photos of the other design entries after they are built, and I hope that many of them will be featured on this site and others after they’re completed. Maybe Alex will consider doing a follow-up piece in the future, so those of us who aren’t as conceptual visually will be able to enjoy seeing how the sketches have transformed into really cool tiny homes for their new owners!

    • Cahow
      April 20, 2015, 7:51 pm

      Denise: since you are SO good with responses, I’m asking you: “Did someone “officially” win?” If so, I must have missed the announcement by Alex.

      If you aren’t the official winner, you won 1st place in my heart! <3

  • Denise
    April 20, 2015, 8:37 pm

    Ha Ha Cahow…you are such a love! Nope, I didn’t know a winner was announced either until receiving an email notifying me of the new comment by CuriousMiss above. Instead of an announcement, it looks more like the old post was simply updated with the info, but not sent out. Since the contest details were emailed proactively to the whole member database, I would have thought the winner announcement would have been emailed proactively as well. Doubtful, though, because if that had happened I’d have to assume that my email address was manually removed beforehand. The winning designer, however, found out a couple of weeks ago…

    Not very professional in my opinion, nor very appreciative to the many people who submitted designs and were probably just as curious about the outcome. Perhaps the outcome had already been pre-determined? In any case, this was a brilliant way to get a lot of hits to a blogger’s site without having to create any new content for a couple of weeks, and instead having the readership submit all the content for awhile.

    It’s important to learn something new from every experience, and this was my new gem of wisdom for the day 🙂

    • Cahow
      April 21, 2015, 9:48 am

      Virtual (((Hugs))) to you, Denise, for being such a trouper. 😀

      Yes, “Live & Learn” is the lesson to be gleaned from this experience. I agree with your synopsis of the entire submission process. ‘Nuff said, on my part. 😉

  • Anthony McCarthy
    June 20, 2016, 12:00 pm

    This one is the one I’m going to adapt. I’ve been waiting for one this good. I’ll order the trailer this week.

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