When Matt and I decided we wanted to build a tiny house we weren’t familiar with many designers. In 2009 we bought original Jay Shafer plans for the Tarleton model. Originally designed to be built on a trailer, the Tarleton, like many of Jay’s other designs, featured a loft space for sleeping. Having never built anything before, besides a shower platform which is terminally unsquare, we wanted to follow the plans as closely as possible.
A loft never seemed like a bad idea for us.
Our loft, which is over the kitchen and the bathroom space, is a little bit bigger than the original design. This is because we built our home on a foundation which allowed it to be slightly larger than the footprint of a trailer.
Once the loft was complete we needed to make some choices for the design and functionality.
Our first choice was to add FLOR to the loft. FLOR are modular carpet tiles made of recycled fiber and rubber materials. We had always loved the product but because of the expense waited until we were decorating the tiny house to use it. That way we needed less. We chose a bright spring green to add a pop of color to our space and to match the stain we used on the counter tops. And we liked the idea of a soft surface on the loft floor.
As an added bonus, FLOR is durable and Piglet can use it as a de facto scratcher without harming it in any way. We decided to put it on the storage loft floor, the rungs of our ladder, and on her loft access platforms as well.
Read more after the cut.
Once the FLOR was in place we needed to figure out a bed solution. The original plans suggested “building” a bed out of foam. While this sounded doable the thought of sleeping on a foam mattress of our own design as we entered our 40s didn’t sound comfortable long term. So we measured the loft and considered our options.
Our first thought was to purchase a nice air mattress. We camp frequently and have always found air mattresses comfortable but we decided against it because the mattress would need frequent maintenance to make sure it stayed inflated properly. Also, no feeling is worse than sleeping on a deflating mattress with an unseen hole.
Because of an air mattress failure I learned the hard way that sleeping on the rubber floor of a Honda Element is extremely uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be in this position in the middle of the night on our mountain.
Then we had an idea that I consider a stroke of genius: a futon mattress. Long gone were the days of uncomfortable dorm style futons. We wandered into a local Futon store in Asheville and learned all about the new manufacturing techniques. We tested out a number of options and ended up with a really nice full size futon with springs just like a traditional mattress making it one of the most comfortable things I have ever slept on.
There is enough room for a queen sized mattress up in the loft; however, we opted for the full size to give us some space on either side of the bed to put things like battery powered fans, my glasses when I sleep, and my inhaler for asthmatic emergencies. Matt and I easily fit on the bed and don’t find that we are in each other’s ways at all. Your mileage may vary. Piglet is the biggest bed hog in our house. It is amazing how much room a 9 pound cat can take up if they try hard enough.
The ladder was the final consideration for the loft. So here is a secret: I am terribly afraid of heights. I don’t even have to be that high off the ground to have a panic attack. Before we had a permanent ladder in the house we leaned a construction ladder up against the loft. I could get up the ladder no problem but when it came time to get down I couldn’t do it. After a lot of tears and with a promise to hold the ladder I made it back down to ground level. Not wanting to deal with that again, Matt went about constructing a ladder.
It was originally intended to be temporary and we would eventually build a more graceful ladder but as it turned out a design of 2X4s was perfectly functional. With the addition of the FLOR we also though it was attractive so we never bothered to build another ladder. To make our ladder even more useful we added eye hooks to the top of the structure. These eye hooks match up to J hooks that we installed on the front of the loft. A matching set is on the front of the storage loft as well so we can move the ladder to access whatever we need up there.
I know a lot of people would prefer a single story tiny home or a set of stairs to access a loft or second story, but I really love our ladder and loft. With depth perception issues I have often struggled with going down staircases but the ladder makes me feel secure because I can back down and climb hand over hand. The loft is also a great retreat not only for sleeping but for reading and watching TV or movies on our tablet. Piglet also enjoys sleeping in the loft all day long.
What kind of sleeping arrangements do you want in your tiny house?
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