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Nine Tiny Feet Introduction

Posted June 13th, 2008 by Michael Janzen and filed in Design

One night while falling asleep I was noodling over some stuff I’d been reading about the tiny house movement. I had just finished reading Jay Shafer’s tiny house books while on a business trip to Santa Monica. Living in a smaller space sure was making a lot of sense to me, reduced maintenance cost, easier to clean, more time to do the things with the people I love.

But then I wondered how small could a house be and still meet most of the basic requirements, bed, bath, kitchen, work space, lounge space, etc. Like I said I was lying in bed so I imagined how much space I took up lying in bed. That seemed like a good starting place because who would want to sleep standing up? I’m six feet tall and about two feet wide in some places and one foot wide in others. I guessed about nine square feet would be the starting place and then I’d add on square feet for the other stuff. About that time REM took over and I crashed.

But in the morning when I started to draw a picture of the nine square feet required for sleeping I realized that maybe I didn’t need any more space if I added a loft and bay windows. These spaces are not normally included in square footage calculations so it seemed fair to add them and keep my official square footage to nine square feet.

After several concepts and foam core models I landed on this design. I’ll share more of the design as I refine the idea but as you can see the interior floor measures 40″ X 32″ which is actually 16 square inches less that nine square feet (1296 square inches). There is a big porch in front and the sleeping loft extends over both the porch and house under a 24:12 pitched roof (not pictured here). The toilet I’ve select is a small composing toilet used in small sail boats called the Air Head. A seat would cover the toilet when not in use. The refrigerator is a 12V DC cooler made by Koolatron. They make bigger models but I like the P20′s exterior dimensions. The kitchen bay window would also contain a sink and stove. In the opposite bay window a Dickinson Marine fireplace (like the one Jay Shafer uses in his Tumbleweed houses), would be used for heat. Storage will be minimal but I suspect I’ll add in some cabinets once I get started in building it. Electricity will be from solar panels.

I plan to build the Tiny Free House first and then move onto this project. But this project will brew on the back burner all the while and I’ll post design progress as I make it.


No I don’t intend to live in it. Building something like this will be an interesting journey and I plan to use it as a home office some or all of the time. I may also use the Tiny Free House as an office too, I just haven’t decided. The other reason is to show people how small, small can be. I’m beginning to develop a theory that nine square feet is all we really need and that every square foot after that is for added comfort, vanity, or people.

So the short version… I’m building a nine square foot house to explore the possibility to satisfy my own curiosity and explore my own values. If successful I hope it will act as a tool to help other people see that the least is the most.

2 Responses to “Nine Tiny Feet Introduction”

  1. pearl says:

    nine square feet, are you kidding me. Where would a woman have a friend over for tea. Your house might be nice in a pop-up style version to serve as emergency shelter for something like a flood or hurricane situation. The house if it could be connected together to form a cluster for a family in such situations would be good. Come up with something bigger for real people to live in. Where would the dining table go? Also what about having one so that the bed is on the lower level. Actually, I like your tiny houses and have come to your site many times. Only the Bible teaches being blessed and tiny house might not qualify. Proverbs 24:3-4 speaks of all the chambers being filled with all precious and pleasant riches. Come up with one that is 55 square feet, think of it as grace house, as 5 is the number of grace. Keep thinking and keep creating. pearl

    • Michael Janzen says:

      Thanks Pearl.

      The point of nine tiny feet is to test the extreme limit, not serve as a real house, but be able to function as a real house. I will build it eventually when time and money make themselves available.

      I like your 5 reference and yes 55 square feet would be far more comfortable.


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