A Norwegian Tiny House - (19.4m²/209 sq ft) / by Jamie Warne


A QUICK NOTE

Firstly, a happy new year to all my readers, and I hope the festive period has been good to you!
Just a quick bit of housekeeping - I've made changes and put more effort into this months blog entry, and I'd appreciate some feedback on things you like, things you don't like, and things you want to see in future entries. Here's what's new:

  • Clickable table of contents (unimportant sections not included)
  • Embedded interactive Google Earth/Street View images for prototype reference
  • Each section contains only one or two images, with the rest in a dedicated gallery section (so you can now look at all the renders in one place)

INTRO

So... having stumbled upon a photo of a traditional cabin in Norway among the many archipelagos, it led me on a 4 day scouring of Google Earth for more. I think it's fair to say that I wasn't short on inspiration! Whole coastal communities are lined with red fishermans cabins. I'd not considered red for an outdoor cladding colour before, but it really suits the locale, especially since many of the traditional cabins had green sod roofs. And what's more, there is an abundance of the most beautiful coastal scenery I've ever seen, along with unspoilt villages and island communities full of traditional huts and fishing sheds. Pretty spectacular! So with all this in mind, I tried my hand at designing a tiny Scandinavian cabin of my very own...


A History Lesson

... but first, a history lesson! Something I immediately wondered about these fisherman's cabins is why they were painted red. Turns out my guess about red being the cheapest colour to produce was actually right! It was seen as a sign of wealth if you were able to paint your house yellow or even better, white, which were much more expensive paints to produce, hence why red houses are much more common. There is a little more too it though, the colour houses were painted was also down to geographical area, and the resources in that area. So houses in farming and fishing areas (where income is lower) were usually red because they had easy access to fish oil and ochre needed to make the red paint. Yellow is made in a similar way, but is slightly more expensive. White needed zinc (a very expensive mineral to acquire in those days). In actual fact it was not uncommon to see multicoloured houses, with the most prominent elevation of them painted white to show wealth, and the rest red.

Above: Sommarøy, Troms county, Norway   |   Imagery by Google

You'll also note that they are almost exclusively built out of wood. Brick and mortar doesn't take too well to the extreme cold and salt water spray of such northern coastal areas. Paying particular attention to the Norwegian fisherman's houses called "Rorbu" around Lofoten, these were usually seasonal in account of the fishing trade (the winter seeing a surge in fishing, usually for cod). These houses consisted of little more than bunkbeds, basic facilities, a store room, and a hole in the ground! Due to the obvious need for easy access to the water, most were built on wooden poles, jettisoning out partly into the water. Nowadays, most have been given a new lease of life, and have since been converted into holiday cottages for tourists.

Above: Reine, Nordland county, Norway  |  Imagery by Google  |  (Just spend a while exploring the Street View above, it's incredible!)

With regards to sod roofs, these are traditionally made using several layers of birch bark (for waterproofing) with the earth placed on top to secure it. In log-cabin designs of early architecture, all this weight helped to draughtproof the cabins by compressing the logs. The earth is also a fairly decent insulator. One downside of such roofs is the amount of effort involved to build them, but in the olden days it was seen as a community activity to help build your neighbours roof (the practice of community help for big projects is called "dugnad"). Nowadays, modern turf roofs usually substitute the birch bark for bitumen, with an added drainage layer to regulate the moisture content.


Floorplan/Layout

So armed with inspiration, my thoughts turned to how best to recreate a slice of Norway. Immediately I wanted to modernise the interior, but I was still very keen to keep the outside aesthetic traditional, as far as practical. Something I'm also keen to do in my designs is to keep the volumes as small as possible. Wherever a wall can step in to follow furniture or sections of the structure, I will do so. So with this design you'll note it is made of 4 main volumes - the lounge and dining area (7.7m²), the attic (5.4m²), the wetroom (3.3m²), and finally the kitchen area (3m²)  - each getting progressively smaller than the previous room. As always, natural light is also a big consideration to factor in to my designs, and so is practicality of the space. So have I managed to stick to my principles? Well, let's take a tour around the cabin and find out!


The Kitchen

It's a pretty tiny kitchen, but that doesn't prevent it from being a useful space. Clever drawer storage under the top cabinets holds a whole heap of cutlery and utensils, or perhaps even spice jars. These drawers pull forward and drop down at an angle, making for quick and easy access, whilst clearing the limited space elsewhere in the cupboards for larger objects. Speaking of cupboards, there are only 4 of them - 3 above the counter, and 1 large one below. This large one is accessed underneath the sink, with a bi-fold door and single leaf door allowing significant access to the cookware inside. The other space underneath the counter is taken up by a built-in fridge. There is no oven in this design, but there is an electric induction cooktop on the counter. Without losing the log burner, I couldn't see a way to have a standard oven in the kitchen, and there wasn't anywhere else for the log burner to go. Still, I think this set-up works for most meals, just don't expect to be making a lasagne, or baking anytime soon! Anyway, I've used up every available wall space with hanging rails for pans, large utensils, and mugs, and there's also a shelf above the log burner for big pots. Finally, a large, deep sink has been added as that is something I can't live without!


The Lounge/Dinette

Moving onto the biggest room of the cabin, the lounge and dinette is split in two - albeit not with a solid wall, but a bare half-framed stud wall. I wanted to seperate the two areas, but still allow plenty of natural light into the back of the cabin (where the lounge is). It was key to try and keep the cabin as open plan as possible, yet still try and form seperate areas. Hence why the kitchen, despite being open to the lounge, feels like a seperate room because I've decided to clad the walls witha different material than the rest of the cabin (treated birch ply). Anyway, back to the lounge, and it's a very simple area; a 2 seater sofa and TV console form the basic set-up. There are also 2 sets of shelving (one of which is formed from old pipes) to store a myriad of books and decor items. A sea-based rug completes the look, with a painting of a lighthouse adorning one of the walls.

Moving across to the dinette, this lovely little area would make for a charming place to sit and eat or work, with windows on three sides to admire the view and let in loads of daylight. And if there is too much light, blinds on every window can be pulled down to control it - which will also help reduce backlighting if you're trying to watch TV in the lounge. Anyway, the dinette actually serves two other purposes - storage, and as a spare bed! Under each seat is plenty of space for seasonal gear and less-used items, whilst the gas-lift table can be lowered, and foam inserts put on top to form a guest bed!


The Wetroom

Completing the tour of the downstairs, we have the wetroom. Much like most of my designs with a wetroom in, it features a generous shower, a toilet, and large washbasin. A skylight admits natural light, whilst providing loads of privacy, with conveniently placed pendant lights for nights and overcast days. Oh, and there's a heated towel rail which not only keeps your towels dry, but helps keep the room at a steady temperature. A quick note on wetrooms and why I always choose them over big bathrooms. Most of my structures are designed for only 1 or 2 people to live in, so a normal bathroom always seems like wasted space. On the other hand, wetrooms provide a good alternative, and are much easier to clean in my opinion!


The Attic

And so onto the final room of the cabin - the attic. I've always wanted a bedroom in an attic, but never had the chance, and since this cabin is pretty small, it seemed like a good choice here! I spent a long time on another variant of this cabin design, which had access to the attic via a set of open winder stairs. I ended up abandoning this one because the headroom in the lounge was restricted by the stairs, and also wasted space - so instead I decided to go for a complete redesign to the version you see today. This means that the attic is now accessed via a movable ladder. Whilst not ideal for a lot of people, a ladder at my age is no problem, and the fact it can slide over out of the way means it's a HUGE space saver! In order to prevent any accidents, I've added both a handrail to the ladder itself, and also to the access hole. The latter handrail is removable, and is intended to be put in place only once you go to bed for the night. I've designed it to be as light as possible, so that it's easy to put in place, whilst still maintaining structural integrity and safety.

Anyway, the attic boasts 2 dormer windows - one a traditional pitch dormer, and the other a catslide roof dormer with three windows. This admits tons of natural light, whilst increasing headroom - making it a really pleasant place to sit and admire the view from. There's also plenty of room for clothes storage, and whilst I have only shown a little bit, it would be easy to add more; Either adding more storage cubes to the back wall, the end of the bed by the pitch dormer, or either side of the access hole.

As an additional note, similar to bathrooms, bedrooms are an area that I feel can be made as small as practically possible. Whilst you may spend 1/3rd of your life in bed, you'll also be asleep for the vast majority of it, so why waste the space? I'm sure it's a split topic of debate, but that is my personal take on it. I'd much rather allocate more space to daytime activities, where it is far more useful.



Final Thoughts

I think it's fair to say I've mostly kept the design true to my original aims - the outside aesthetic very much resembles traditional coastal huts in countries such as Norway and Sweden, albeit having larger single pane windows, and the proportions of the building are in-keeping with the modest accomodation of the Rorbu huts. The interior, whilst keeping it all wooden, has lept forward into the modern era - with birch ply lining the kitchen walls which seems to be a popular trend at the moment. But I've also given hints to huts of the past, with the log burning stove taking centre stage, and the simple yet functional handbuilt furniture (with the exception of the sofa and wetroom). So overall, could I see myself living in this cabin/tiny house? Sure, why not! Would it fit in amongst the traditional Rorbu? I'd like to think so, yes!

And so that brings us to the end of this months entry! I'd like to know your thoughts about this blog - especially the changes I've made for this one - What would you like to see in the future? Any improvements you can think of?  Maybe you have an idea for a tiny architectural space? Whatever it is, please post your thoughts in the comments below, or email me using the icon at the top of every page - I'd love to hear from you. As always, don't forget clicking any image will bring it up in a large lightbox. Oh, and scroll down for any component credits.

See ya next month!
Jam.
(p.s. I'm aiming to permanently produce one blog entry per month, on the first day of every month - so you know when to come back for more!)

model component credits

Kitchen

  • Utensils, Pans & Pots - Henko, skink
  • Electric Induction Cooktop - GromitW.
  • Log Burner Stove - T S.
  • Chopping Board - Jonny H.
  • Toaster - SketchUp
  • Stove Kettle - daedra1k
  • Tap - Neno69

Wetroom

  • Shower - pedro
  • Shower Drain - jhopra
  • Towel Rail - enga
  • Towel - Nick L.
  • Toilet - iprichardson
  • Washbasin - iprichardson
  • Toilet Rolls - Brad97
  • Toilet Roll Holder - Santa
  • Shelving - Aaron C.
  • Old Plank Door - A_J_ARB

attic

  • Folded Clothes - LLiana Elizabeth, DouglasWayne
  • Desk Lamp - Sketchup
  • Duvet - Donatien
  • Rolling Ladder (altered) - FDW INC

lounge/dinette

  • Cushions - MeasuredMove
  • Toy Boats - KennyKing
  • Tableware - CMetric
  • TV - SketchUp
  • Books - Cassol, Benedict
  • Canvas Painting - 5000 objets
  • Industrial Shelving - Katia M.
  • Couch (retextured) - SketchUp
  • Notepad & Pencil - TP
  • Rug - Megan Styles

Other

  • Boulders - Intresto, liao3131
  • Jetty Components - IDW
  • Outdoor Lamp - DomGee
  • Firewood - TommyK.
  • Pendant Lights - SketchUp
  • Lighthouse - Torch
  • Roller Blinds - Marlou M.
  • Row Boat - Olek
  • Front Door Handle - lgithero