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Randy Farnsworth’s 8×12 Tiny House Design

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Randy Farnsworth is sharing his 8×12 tiny house design with us as part of our 2015 8×12 tiny house design contest. I’ll let Randy explain his design with you.

Please find attached my submission for the 8×12 tiny house contest. I have designed a tiny home based on the time honored salt box but with a 90 degree twist giving it somewhat of a chalet feel.

There is a 3/4 wet bathroom with a lavatory (a must with my wife as she finds toothbrushing where meals are prepared verboten). An alternating step ladder stair to the loft would make any midnight trip to the facilities easier and safer.

In the loft built in cabinetry that complements the angles of the roof hold clothing and bedding with adjustable shelving and dividers. Headroom in the loft is approximately 6′-2″ to the peak. Headroom in the kitchen and bath is 7′-0″ and the framing space shown allows for 4×4 with 3/4″ decking.

The large roof plane will allow for an ample solar array for off grid siting or the use of skylights as shown would allow for ample daylighting. A large deck expands living space and allows for entertaining.

I’ve been reading about tiny houses when a search would mainly turn up the results “Jay Shafer” and “teardrop trailers”. 

Randy Farnsworth’s 8×12 Tiny House Design


Images © Randy Farnsworth

Randy-Farnsworth-002 Randy-Farnsworth-003 Randy-Farnsworth-004 Randy-Farnsworth-005

Images © Randy Farnsworth

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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.
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Lee
    April 9, 2015, 3:51 pm

    I think this is one of the best designs I have seen! (and I have seen hundreds…kind of overdose on small house dreaming) Being female, I totally understand your wife’s dislike of brushing teeth in a kitchen sink, (blech) and the necessity for a bathroom sink. My favorite part of this design is the great use of vertical space and windows to balance the limited floor area. This would be just the kind of place I would enjoy building someday! Cheers.

  • jose verdi
    April 9, 2015, 6:07 pm

    Simply amazing! what an impressive way to make it so useful and comfortable!! 100Pts!!!

  • Cahow
    April 9, 2015, 6:10 pm

    First of all: THANK YOU, Randy, for sticking to the rules of the contest and presenting us with an 8′ x 12′ tiny house that doesn’t include A) a basement; B) bump-outs or wings; C) Roof Top terrace, or any number of other sneaky-pete ways of increasing the square footage of the contest.

    Right after A-Frame homes, the classic Salt Box Roof design house is my 2nd favourite home. In our farm town of yore, there was a row of Salt Box tiny homes that were built after WWII. Each time my Granpa went into town to the co-op, I’d BEG him to drive down that street with the Salt Box homes. Oh, how I dreamed of living in one of those when “I grow up!”

    Pretending that I ‘could’ climb up the ladder to the loft, this is tied in #1 place for me with Anastasia’s tiny home. Great design, nice execution, LOVE the roof line, and of course, the MONSTER deck to hang out upon. Oh…and I think you could actually live 24/7 “Up North” in this home,too! LOL

  • Michael
    April 9, 2015, 7:01 pm

    8’x12′ may be something for a weekend/holiday but for permanent living it seems to me too small. I don’t like sleeping lofts because they are
    hot in a tropical climate and wet baths either because its a mess to clean up. Sorry

  • G Randall
    April 9, 2015, 10:57 pm

    Thanks for the comments. This was an enjoyable design exercise trying to squeeze so much into so small a space. I usually work on much larger projects (my most current “real job” project was a 124+ cubicle farm open office plan).

    I liked that the criteria weren’t limited to a trailer mounted design so I could take advantage of the added height that made the loft less “cocoon” like. I’m 6′-5″ so the thoughts of just sitting up in most tinys’ lofts gives me a headache.

    And yes 8’x12′ is very small but that was the contest and the challenge, if I remember correctly last year’s contest was 8’x8′ so there is always the possibility of something percetibly worse.

    @Cahow so true about the”Up North” I either envision a drenching rain or something akin to licking the frosty flagpole in A Christmas Story.

    • Cahow
      April 9, 2015, 11:52 pm

      Hi, G. Randall. Well, your vision of “Up North” is sadly correct at the moment. ALL of the local television has been pr-emptied because of the LIVE coverage of drenching rain, baseball sized hail and an unknown amount of tornadoes that have wiped entire tiny towns completely off the map. 🙁 (this is in the Chicago-land area, btw.)

      (The frosty flagpole from A Christmas Story happens is also a certainty, along with frozen car doors and outdoor knobs that ‘eat’ your skin!)

      Best of Luck in the contest!

      • Kim
        April 14, 2015, 4:56 pm

        Cahow, I completely agree about this one being “Up North” possible. Our little piece of utopia is in North(ish) Western Michigan (Reed City to be specific).
        Snow load is something that requires consideration, and if it’s not winter then bugs must be contended with, the delightfully large deck could only be improved by the addition of a roof and screen walls…but then you’d be back to “sneaky-pete ways of increasing the square footage” *grin*. This one really gives me something to consider as we’ll be putting our first tiny cabin on the land later this spring, and then others as we go.

  • Lisha
    April 9, 2015, 11:28 pm

    This is my favorite! I love the larger loft and the windows. This is a design I would love to build for my northern needs!

  • Patty
    April 10, 2015, 12:31 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this layout! Exremely functional and inviting!

  • April 10, 2015, 12:52 am

    Not a fan of ladders since I am older and like my wine…but really like your clean design. The deck is really awesome.

  • Ray
    April 12, 2015, 6:10 pm

    Imaginary and excellent design. I get so tired of seeing the usual tiny design aesthetic, a crate with a gable. High points for your TH design profile and interior. With a limited 8 x 12 floor plan, it’s difficult to place a separate shower, opting for a wet room.

  • G Randall
    April 15, 2015, 11:09 pm

    Thank you all for your reviews and comments. I love Kim’s idea of a screened porch. Here in TN the weather is great most of the year but the bugs are as bad as the weather is nice. And a screened porch doesn’t technically count toward a home’s area since it is not heated/cooled finished space. 😀

    Here are a couple more notes on the design and materials I envisioned for this TH, some of the materials may cause a frown or two. But I do think of durability, economy, and the long term survivability of a product. The shower pan would be a RediTile PVC pan or similar. These come in an astounding array of sizes with drain locations just about anywhere you would want to connect, and they need no special waterproofing prior to tile. The shower walls could be any waterproof material; corrugated roofing although the sharp edges might discourage its use, FRP (fiberglass reinforced panel), solid surface material, or stainless steel.

    Use a ceramic RV toilet instead of a residential and you would add 6 or 8 inches to the floor space in the bath. Same with the sink although it is nice to be able to wash one’s face without water dripping off their chin onto the floor. And add a small awning window for ventilation.

    There might be a way to shield a humanure toilet from the spray and that would provide a sizeable shower bench.

    I also could envision a tansu stair to the loft for extra storage without additional loss of floor space.

    Just a few more musings, and hindsight.

  • Trish
    April 16, 2015, 8:19 am

    NICE. Love the modified salt box roof line. This one is definitely in my things-to-consider folder

  • Greg Scott
    April 16, 2015, 10:17 am

    G Randall – Can you Please tell us what computer drawing program you are using ? I have lots of ideas but I cant find an affordable tool to help
    me express and document my ideas etc.

    • G Randall
      April 16, 2015, 10:40 pm

      @Greg S –
      First full disclosure I am a daily CAD user and after writing this I look back and see I’m a bit long-winded. I use AutoCAD Architecture and Revit with a little SketchUp thrown in. I work in healthcare space planning, design, and facility management and the software I use at work costs over $10K. So I LOVE FREE SOFTWARE

      MY TH was modeled in SketchUp version 8 FREE. It is easy and accurate and the .skp files can be imported into many CAD packages. In addition Trimble hosts the 3D Warehouse that contains so many (over 2 million in 2008) fixture and other models. The plumbing fixtures, stove, sink/faucet, bed, and table and chairs were all imported in to the model with one click once located. This cut the design and modeling time on this TH to between 3 and 4 hours. Watch the tutorials on YouTube.

      If you are looking for a real CAD program DoubleCAD XT by IMSI is pretty good from the little I have tried it. It natively imports the SketchUp files into a 2D format. And best of all it is FREEEEE! It is free even for commercial use. Search DoubleCAD and you’ll find a link to the download page (IMSI/Design).

      I’m not sure what your budget is but free is always good. If you use SketchUp for personal use its free, for commercial purposes then the cost is almost $600 USD. TurboCAD LTE, DoubleCAD’s evolution, is supposed to work like AutoCAD LT and is available in a less than $200 USD version, pro version $500.

      If you have no preconceived notions of how CAD is supposed to work then you’ll probably love the less expensive options. They draw straight lines, curves, etc. and watch the tutorials.

      Experiment and have fun.

  • arawinda
    April 16, 2015, 10:31 am


  • Dave
    April 16, 2015, 1:07 pm

    Nice TH G Randell,
    I see this is a basic ,eat, sleep, come and go house but…..
    Like many TH’s has no place to hang out and relax….no mini couch,etc…..in rough weather it would be tough to be “cooped up”.

    • Cahow
      April 16, 2015, 7:18 pm

      Dave wrote: “…in rough weather it would be tough to be “cooped up”.

      Dave, don’t you know: it’s ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA…and any place else that a tiny, tiny home is located! No bugs, no critters, endless sublime weather for outdoor cooking, bathing and sleeping…

      (this was written tongue-in-cheek, by the way) 😉

  • treehouse in paradise
    April 16, 2015, 7:35 pm

    Congratulations, Randy. Love the salt box style and deck. You stayed with the 8×10 format and did a great job. I, personally would go with some kind of built in couch/bed/bench with padding, and storage below, instead of the small table/chairs. I can pull up a small table/tray or eat on my lap easier than I can give up a place to lounge. With that said, I could live in this. Congrats, again! 🙂

  • G Randall (Randy)
    April 16, 2015, 11:21 pm

    Thanks everyone for the likes and the constructive comments. And most thanks to Alex, Andrea, Deek, et al, for the opportunity for all of us to showcase our dreams, desires, and doodlings. There were so many good designs, diverse imaginations, and so many good ideas that were on display in this contest. Hats off especially to Anastasia for her concept and the incredible product research in her TH. I’ve reviewed her entry several times and I see something new every time.

    After reading all of your comments I’ll work on luxuriating the interior a bit. A downstairs lounge and micro theater would be apropos. TV trays anyone? Although as I mature I find my lounging is spelt n-a-p-p-i-n-g.

    Thanks again and looking forward to the next.

  • Brian
    April 17, 2015, 4:30 pm

    I don’t get the design, no living space,,you have a bathroom ,kitchen,dining table ,bedroom and deck and no place to just kick back when it rains, night time and winter

  • Anastasia
    April 19, 2015, 9:52 am

    It’a cute, functional, and elegant. Well done, and congratulations!

  • Cahow
    April 21, 2015, 12:17 pm


    I wish there was a bit more notice and fanfare of the winner of this contest compared to the hype ‘of’ the contest. I only found out that there was a winner on a comment and had not a Scooby “WHO” had won; I had to dig-dig-dig like a gopher to find out who won the coveted title and swag.

    Good luck in the future with all of your designs, Randy. Job well done!

  • George Sewell
    June 6, 2020, 11:01 am

    Would like to know if any has been constructed and if plans are available for purchase

    • Natalie C. McKee
      June 7, 2020, 5:44 am

      Hi George — not that we know of, I’m afraid!

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