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Zoku Loft: Hybrid Micro Home for Work and Living

This is the Zoku loft, a hybrid micro home design for work and living.

In only 269 sq. ft., you get a multi-functional space with a kitchen, living area, dining area, bathroom, bedroom, storage, desk, and more.

Would you live in a tiny apartment like this in a big city to make rent more affordable? I would! How about you? Let’s talk about it in the comments. Please enjoy, learn more, and re-share below. Thank you!

Zoku Loft: Hybrid Micro Home for Work and Living

ZOKU Micro Loft 001

Images © Ewout Huibers

ZOKU Micro Loft 002 ZOKU Micro Loft 003 ZOKU Micro Loft 004 ZOKU Micro Loft 005 ZOKU Micro Loft 006 ZOKU Micro Loft 007 ZOKU Micro Loft 008 ZOKU Micro Loft 009 ZOKU Micro Loft 0010

Images © Ewout Huibers

Learn more: http://livezoku.com/


Our big thanks to Doug Rooks for sharing!

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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!
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Deadrock
    December 22, 2015, 11:38 am

    I’ve seen this one before (not sure if it was on this site), and really, really liked it. Still do. Great ideas here for a tiny or small home, and it looks doable even for a DIYer. But if it is predominantly IKEA then the prices could be good enough to save yourself the labor and headaches, especially if you know nothing about construction! The little vid showing the clever spaces and storage is genius – helps us understand so well what we’re looking at.

    My favorite is the sleeping area – I’ve always had pedestal beds with storage underneath, but once I started researching small home living I have seen such good ideas for even MORE under bed storage. Full closets, sitting areas, beds that lift up to the ceiling, etc. This one here is lovely, with its ability to become private, and stairs that appear and disappear as needed. Although I’m not sure how old it might get, pulling that thing out several times a day. I think I might be surprised how many times I would be doing that, even though in theory I would only need to pull it out once at night to go to bed. Naps, changing bed linens, a cat that prefers to sleep on the bed off and on during the day – might have to leave the stairs out, and keep pushing them in when I need access to the storage underneath. But it might not be a problem.

  • mildred lane
    December 22, 2015, 2:35 pm

    Have any of u had a problem building your tiny home w/ the city or county planning commission? I have a lot in the city and I called the city planning commission yesterday and he said the tiny home has to have a foundation. I explained it would be on a trailer etc. but he said that I could not do it. Aafter Christmas I am going to check w/ my lawyer etc.

    • signalfire
      December 23, 2015, 2:48 pm

      Mildred/Troy – I keep wondering when we lost our way with regards to ‘what we’re allowed’ to do – all these codes are in violation of the Constitution; the law of the land is ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ along with the amendments and these local codes (and the 2 million tax laws) are in direct violation of that. While they are ostensibly to protect us from ourselves, in reality they are prohibitions against free will. We’ve been programmed somehow to feel that living as we want, frugally and within our true means (not with a usurious loan from a criminal bank) will not only affect other people’s ‘property values’ (i.e., the huge amount other people need to pay a bank back to cover their bad choices, and using housing as an investment vehicle rather than a dwelling) but it’s as if we’re robbing a bank directly; we’re criminalized by wanting to live in a tiny home and can find ourselves in jail, our house destroyed, fined and declared a menace to society from a perfectly valid and safe composting toilet system – even though we now know how to do this safely, germ theory having been discovered…

      Some may feel that I’m over-reacting, but I truly feel we’ve let our rights be usurped by ‘code enforcers’ and local authorities who refuse to keep up with the times; people who are held harmless if they simply parrot preexisting codes to you while they steal your rights away. These are the same people who will arrest homeless veterans rather than provide them (for less tax money spent) alternative housing. Now, the cabins that our forefathers were born in would be illegal… Time for a mini-revolution, or a class action lawsuit.

      • Troy
        December 24, 2015, 11:18 pm

        Signalfire: Tiny house people enjoy certain freedoms at this point because they are still a minority group, who happen to find a bit of a loophole in the system. Imagine if we had whole neighborhoods full of tiny houses that that local government could not tax or regulate because they were not classified as homes in the traditional sense?

        And just think if we had whole cities of tiny homes where nobody paid any taxes, and we had no building codes or zoning, would we really be better off? Who’s going to pay for fire protection when your tiny house goes up in flames? Who’s going to pay for the roads to get to your tiny house, and plow those roads in the wintertime, and fill the pot holes or run power lines or otherwise provide for essential services? Property taxes also pay for education in many areas, and new schools and facilities to educate our children. I don’t think that any of us would want to be without these services either. We can’t have it both ways.

        Tiny house people are beating the system, and feeling pretty smug about it. Feels pretty damn good, yes? How do you think the person that’s paying $3500 a year in property taxes, and $1000 a month in interest payments is going to feel about you beating the system, and getting by scot-free, while enjoying all the services he does, but not paying for them? Maybe better to just keep quiet, and politely say thanks for making my life better.

        Fact is the more people that do this, and complain about how heavily regulated the system is, the more likely they are to lose the exact freedoms they are striving so hard to enjoy.

        We are better off just quietly sitting on the sidelines, and feeling smug we found a little loophole in the system, and are part of a very small minority who enjoys certain freedoms that most of America do not. Also be aware that someone else is really paying for our freedom. It’s the very regulations that most of us have to comply with that actually allow tiny house people to enjoy the freedom they do now.

        My beef is I own three rental properties, and pay upwards of $9000 in property taxes every year. I pay an additional $3000 in insurance. I have to comply with all kinds of regulations as to property setbacks, how big or small I can build, etc. What kinds of materials I can use, etc. I feel I should be able to put a tiny little 300 ft.² house on wheels in my backyard without having to jump through all kinds of hoops, and being taxed even further. This part of the system feels over regulated to me. I feel I pay more than my share.

        This is a lot different than putting up a tiny house on a city building lot as Mildred is proposing. In this case you’re now creating neighborhoods of tiny homes, and there are far greater reaching ramifications here.

        Anyway, I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said about this. I feel like I just scratched the surface.

        • Denise
          December 25, 2015, 7:20 am

          Hi Troy,

          We pay money in City, State and Federal taxes for the roads police and fire and property taxes for education. Probably 25-45% gets spent on these actual services, the rest goes to paying employees/the bureaucracy in administering these ‘services’. This bureaucracy has become an industry of itself and the result is a level of taxation that has gone to extortion and theft, it is not reasonable.

          Instead of telling people who make a valid complaint about a very real problem and telling them to be thankful for the privilege of being overtaxed and over-regulated and wanting to make changes to those things, perhaps we need to look at the *conditions* that allowed our city, state and Federal governments to become so powerful that *they* and not you can determine what you do with your own property, taxing you at extortionate rates. From what you have said, it appears you are already dealing with this sort of thing.

          I do believe we (tiny house people as well as all homeowners) need to get involved in government (as icky and time consuming as it is) starting at the local level and start forcing our officials to return back to fiscal and constitutional responsibility. This is going to mean standing our ground and requiring that our officials adhere to our Constitution and start loosening the death grip of overreaching regulation and taxes at all levels, starting with city. We need to break these people of the mindset of if they need more money to just tax people and regulate them more. If they cannot be broken of this mindset, then we need to hire the right people to replace them who understand that every dollar taxed is off the hard earned labor of a working American and that money has sweat behind it. That, and that a purchased piece of property is sacred because it is owned and as long as what a homeowner does is not harmful to others, no city official has the right to tell the person who purchased that property what to do with it.

          I do say the above with some knowledge as some dear friends of mine who has purchased a home within their means were priced out of it over the years due to rising property taxes; taxes that had become so high they no longer were able to afford the home and were forced to sell it. It should not be that way in America. That tells me government as a whole has gotten way too big, powerful, overreaching and greedy.

      • Denise
        December 25, 2015, 6:41 am

        Signalfire, I agree with you 100%. The problem is how do people get together a class action lawsuit as ‘We The People’ or have a mini-revolution?

        • signalfire
          December 25, 2015, 1:56 pm

          Thank you, Denise. In reality, I don’t think you can fight City Hall, at least not to this extent and in the present atmosphere. I advocate the Zeitgeist Movement and a Resource Based Economy, which I recommend everyone here read up on – but it won’t happen in my lifetime, not unless we have a wholesale global economic crash followed by a bit of sanity setting in. Don’t hold your breath, in other words. Meanwhile, I’ve ‘gotten over’ my housing needs and money reality (living on SS only, disabled and now on my second cancer diagnosis) by living with a wonderful 100 year old (!) elderly gentleman in my preferred climate, San Diego. I trade rides, help around the house because he’s functionally blind, and companionship for housing; if I were to change out to living alone again, I’d love to build a tiny house and rent land for it whilst ‘hiding’ it as a glorified garden shed or something; the alternative being a van dweller but I really don’t like traveling that much.

          I’ve seriously considered filing a class action lawsuit but one against the AMA (American Medical Association) regarding ‘standard of care’ chemo and radiation recommendations for persons diagnosed with cancer; it negates full informed consent – but that’s a thread for another time and place. In the meantime, there are a few places in the US (some town in Texas I believe that is welcoming tiny homes with open arms) that have gotten with the program; perhaps others I’m not aware of. Now the places with jobs and a thriving economy need to get real with regards to optional housing arrangements, and by this I don’t mean the extremely expensive ADUs that are starting to be permitted. Housing shouldn’t cost more than about $20K, anything after that is ego, fashion, legal permitting and enforcements (50K for a sewer hookup???) and usury.

          Obviously I think the worry about ‘taxes and who is going to pay for the roads’ a silly one – we seem to have plenty of money for bombs and overseas military adventures, so I’m pretty sure if we forced the government to do so, it would be able to come up with money enough for EMTs, fire departments, schools and bridge repairs. Obviously, they can’t be bothered now to sanely prioritize and so my interest in doing things ‘their way’ is extremely limited. Tiny home dwellers put a very small demand on goods and services – one of the largest being a school system (and I advocate homeschooling, which we’d be more able to do if one income was enough allowing one parent to stay home with the children, but an overwrought mortgage and consumerist society preclude this in a perfect Catch-22); but most TH dwellers I presume would be childless, and should be taxed only to the extent they actually make use of the infrastructure – not the 6K a year I used to pay for a small condo, or the 10K some people in some states pay in property taxes for a grandiose matchstick-built McMansion. After all, how much infrastructure does an off-grid TH use compared to bare land property taxes? Hardly any more at all, that I can see. I’m perfectly happy paying bare land taxes plus a little bit for a tiny home parking spot… is that enough to satisfy the ‘smug’ accusers?

          I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes – “I still don’t understand why you have to pay money to live on the planet you were born on…”

        • signalfire
          December 25, 2015, 2:06 pm

          Oh, and one other comment – I used to work for a ‘code book publishing company’ – every ten years or so the local towns would publish a new code book, adding new codes and deleting archaic ones. This led to my present disgust with everything ‘code’; one of my favorites that was being deleted that probably originated circa 1910 – ‘Goldfish shall not be allowed on public conveyances unless they can be made to hold still…’ Now, I’m not sure exactly what event caused this particular law to be considered, written, voted upon by your friendly local city council and finally put into the law books, but it just goes to show you how ‘these people’ think (if you could call it that…). Hard to take them seriously, in other words.

  • Misty
    December 22, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Do you know the minimum square footage for a home in that area? If it is small enough and done right, a home on a foundation could also be mobile.

  • Kathy
    December 22, 2015, 5:13 pm

    I just grabbed my quadrille drafting paper to see if I can adapt this *genius* puzzle bed/clothing storage/pull out stairs to a THOW. It is so clever I can hardly stand it! This might be just what I need to blend first floor sleeping and the usual loft bed and ladder.

  • Troy
    December 22, 2015, 5:15 pm


    I think you brought up a topic that needs a lot more input and attention. The entire appeal for most of us building tiny homes is they are considered mobile devices and fall outside the normal restrictions and requirements of a conventional house. That is to say they are not subject to property tax or building codes, and this is one of their greatest appeals.

    In my area, and in many other areas of the country, the local zoning and planning commissions have no idea how to assess or categorize them. I think you need to look very closely at what defines a mobile device versus a permanent device in your area. This is key. Tiny homes in some ways are nothing more than oversize travel trailers. You would not tax a motorhome for example, or would you have a zoning and planning commission tell you how to renovate your RV. Generally there is a minimum and maximum size requirement, so I think it makes sense to check into your codes.

    Typically under 400 ft.² is considered mobile. And while we all familiar with “mobile homes” they typically fall outside this criteria, and are wired permanently and have permanent sewer systems, separate addresses, etc.

    The local planning and zoning commission may have specific requirements for temporary structures to prevent you from buying a city lot and putting an RV on the property permanently, particularly if they determine your intention is to stay there permanently. Watch out here. You are generally much better off parking your tiny house on someone else’s property with an existing house.

    I’m running into problems right now with my local borough assessing office. Their criteria seems to be intent. I used concrete piers and 4 x 4’s as stabilizers, and this caught their attention as something that was permanent. I explained that this is no different than a class a motorhome, and it requires stabilizers. I simply used concrete piers and 4 x 4’s as they were cheaper than commercially made stabilizers. I think you’re going to run into similar issues. I think contacting an attorney is not a bad idea, and what I will end up doing myself, as there is legal distinction and definition between what makes something mobile and what makes something permanent. The local planning and zoning commission cannot argue with the law, however your tiny home looks.

    Again, contacting an attorney I think is a good thing and then adhering very closely to the guidelines. Typically this is going to means portable power and portable water, along with a minimum size. Don’t assume or guess though! Find out when defines mobile in YOUR area. Once you start adding things like a permanent deck, a greenhouse, permanent sewer or permanently wiring the place, then you start crossing into a “grey” area that’s going to cause you problems. Bottom line is you want to keep it mobile even if you don’t plan on moving anytime soon.

    Hope this helps!

  • Michael
    December 22, 2015, 6:54 pm

    Although I am not a big fan of studio type living spaces this is one I like.
    Main reason is that you have separate sleeping and working spaces.
    It could be also a layout for a small cabin instead of the mostly used sleeping lofts which I don’t like at all.
    Great idea is the location of bathroom, working desk and even bicycle storage underneath.
    Well done.
    They are right its much better than the uniform hotel rooms, too.

  • CathyAnn
    December 22, 2015, 8:58 pm

    This is one of the best small apartment layouts I’ve ever seen. I could very easily live there – no problem. I like how the stairs move out of the way, and the storage underneath them. The list is long because there isn’t anything I don’t like. Sure wish I had a big thumbs up icon…..

  • Deadrock
    December 23, 2015, 3:13 pm

    I’m assuming everyone in the TH community has seen this, but if not, I more than highly recommend a great, touching, and thought provoking movie starring James Cromwell: Still Mine. You can find the official trailer on YouTube. Here’s a synopsis:

    Based on true events and laced with wry humour, STILL MINE is a heartfelt love story about an 89-year-old New Brunswicker (James Cromwell) who comes up against the system when he sets out to build a more suitable house for his wife (Geneviève Bujold) whose memory is starting to go. Although Craig Morrison is using the same methods his father, a shipbuilder, taught him, times have changed. Craig quickly gets on the wrong side of an overzealous government inspector, who finds just about everything unacceptable, including the unstamped wood Craig has milled from his own trees. As Irene becomes increasingly ill – and amidst a series of stop-work orders – Craig races to finish the house. Hauled into court and facing jail, Craig takes a final stance.

    • Varenikje
      December 25, 2015, 2:47 am

      Akkk! I am about in the middle of it, and I can’t stand it! How does it end! Arggh. I’ll find out soon! I’m at 60 minutes.

      • Varenikje
        December 25, 2015, 3:18 am

        From the two end notes it looks like both of them lived in their new house, finally. But I think something was cut out of the video. It doesn’t finish his comments to the judge. But then ends that both husband and wife lived in the new house in the end. Wow.

        • Varenikje
          December 25, 2015, 3:45 am

          I did a little searching around to find the end of the story. It seems the clip out of the talk with the judge does cut out some important stuff, but I found this: “How it all turns out makes for one of the most heartrending experiences of the year. Rooting for the Morrisons with tears and cheers pays off.” So they did, in the end, get their house. Yay!

        • Deadrock
          December 25, 2015, 11:22 am

          Not sure what version you were watching, but Netflix certainly has the full movie, no missing bits!

          In real life, yes, they get to live in the house. Sadly, Craig died not too long afterwards (he was 92 by the time he and Irene were allowed to move in, after all), but Irene didn’t have to live too long without her beloved husband – she followed him 6 months later. They died in 2013.

          There’s a great article in Canada’s Globe and Mail (you can go to [www] dot theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/all-i-wanted-to-do-is-build-a-house/article4346687/) about the massive brouhaha, published in 2010. Here’s a snippet:

          …Mr. Morrison broke ground three years ago – at 88 – for a bungalow on land overlooking the Bay of Fundy near St. Martins, a seaside village east of Saint John. And thus it was that Mr. Morrison got into trouble with the law for the first time in his life.

          In the past two years, building inspectors have hauled Mr. Morrison into court six times, each appearance more harrowing than the last. A couple of weeks ago, the provincial agency that employs building inspectors demanded that the court forcibly remove Craig and Irene Morrison from their home, that the house be bulldozed, and that Mr. Morrison be found in contempt of court – meaning, almost certainly, imprisonment.

          Mr. Morrison worked long hours into his 92nd year, fixing the inspectors’ long lists of defects. But for the court, he made his position clear: He would not vacate the house. If the court found him in contempt, he would go to jail.

          In a memorable account of these proceedings, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal writer Marty Klinkenberg reported Mr. Morrison’s lament: “I thought this was a free country, that we had liberties and freedoms like we used to have, but I was sadly mistaken. … All I wanted to do is build a house, and I was treated as if I was some kind of outlaw.”

          Again, highly recommend this movie. Funny, sad, touching, romantic – it has something for everyone, including the usual stupendous acting skills of James Cromwell. He became a vegetarian after filming “Babe” – I wonder if he became a TH advocate after filming this?

        • Varenikje
          December 26, 2015, 2:20 am

          @Deadrock Yes, I did find “the rest of the story” and it is hard to understand what could have been motivating the regulators with all of what they went through. They publish the name of the inspector. Do you suppose he still does for Canada what he did then?

        • Deadrock
          December 26, 2015, 12:02 pm

          Well, this all happened within the last 5 years. So unless the public embarrassment forced him to quit, move, or change his name, Mr. Mercer might still be working for the same office in St. Martin’s, New Brunswick he always was. You could do a little online research and see if he’s listed in the employee roll of the government offices there. But if he IS still working in the same office, I expect steps have been taken to make sure he’s kept safe from any angry mob of outraged movie watchers contacting him and harassing him.

          Mind you, I did have some sympathy for him, at least how he was portrayed in the movie. He started out being polite and trying to make Mr. Morrison understand that he was just doing his job and following the rules – rules he didn’t make – and he was met with disdain and disrespect. That’s going to ruffle anyone’s feathers and make them a whole lot less likely to be sympathetic to your cause. Plus the guy was in a lowly position and had no power to decide he was just going to let somebody break the law, and still hope to keep his job. It would have started a chain reaction of other scofflaws flouting the building code with the idea that the gov’t is going to look the other way and let them get away with it, and certainly not all of them would have had the skills and taken the care that Mr. Morrison had, and then there would have been chaos and lawsuits and all the things that the government (and the rest of us) have good reason to fear. So it could have been handled better on both sides. In the end, the judge decided in favor of Mr. Morrison not so much because he had right and reason on his side, suggesting the government needed to consider overhauling the building codes and regulations, but because he didn’t want to be the guy known for having tossed a 92 year old man and his dementia-suffering wife out on the streets.

        • Deadrock
          December 26, 2015, 12:09 pm

          Although now that I re-read the article, I think the building inspectors were contracted by the town, not employees of the town. So finding the agency that employed Mr. Mercer might not be very easy to do after all.

        • Deadrock
          December 26, 2015, 12:26 pm

          Just for grins, and because clearly I have nothing else to do right now (plus I really dig researching stuff), I searched for Mr. Mercer to see if he still worked in New Brunswick. He is indeed still employed as a building inspector – I won’t supply the name of the office he works for, in case anybody wants to sling any arrows his way, but he’s obviously not in hiding. Maybe not that many people watched the movie, and it’s been a few years since the case made the local papers, so I suppose the dust has settled and he’s moved on. Besides, we don’t really know what the guy is like in real life – he might not have been anything like the tight sphinctered bean counter that we saw representing him in the movie.

        • Varenikje
          December 28, 2015, 3:22 am

          I agree, far be it from me to take a Hollywood movie’s version of a situation as the Gospel truth! Thanks for the additional insights!

  • Glema
    December 23, 2015, 5:46 pm

    I like the disappearing stairs and all the nooks and crannies you’ve created for storage. Great job thank you for sharing. Alex thanks again for another fine job! God bless and happy trails!

  • Rue
    December 29, 2015, 4:05 pm

    Those pull-out stairs are indeed sheer genius. I have the feeling I’d end up leaving them out most of the time, and maybe use the closet space underneath as seasonal or occasional access storage.

    Anybody know what the space over the hall and bathroom is? Crawl space storage beyond the bed, may Even?

    • Rue
      December 29, 2015, 4:07 pm

      *maybe. Curse you, autocorrect! 😛

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