After hours and hours of building the yurt platform, and slightly fewer hours setting up the yurt itself, we had a big, round, empty space to make our own. I think this fact is often understated and underrated when considering what yurt life might be like—when you move into a new yurt, you have the absolute freedom to design your own home. Entirely. From the ground up. Absolute freedom is amazing. It was also a little daunting. These are the considerations we recommend for planning, designing, and building in a tiny space, whether you’re building the inside of a yurt, a tiny house, a van, a boat, a spaceship, or wherever else you’re downsizing to.
Acknowledge That Your New Tiny Home Is So, So Small
There are some pretty big yurts on the market, with room to build interior walls, bedrooms, and bathrooms. We have mixed feelings about this—I mean, do you want to live in a circular home or a home with right angles? Your choice of a yurt seems to answer that question. Anyway, we do not live in a big yurt. Instead, we opted for the 20-foot diameter yurt, which, pulling high school geometry out of your pocket and dusting it off, you know means we had 314 square feet to work with. Every inch counts.
Decide What You Need Room For
The basic needs of the yurt or tiny house are obvious—a kitchen and a place to sleep. (Maybe they’re not so obvious. Maybe you live somewhere amazing where you want to just have an outdoor kitchen all year long. Maybe you like sleeping under the stars.) The spaces/areas we wanted in the yurt were a bedroom, a kitchen, a living area, a dining area, bookshelves, storage space, and room for a woodstove.
This might seem pretty straightforward. But consider your own situation. Maybe your guitar falls under “storage space,” but maybe you play enough that you want a dedicated, or multiuse space for practicing an instrument. Maybe you hate the idea of walking to an outhouse in winter and so you want space for a toilet solution. Maybe you need to ensure you’ll have plenty of space for comfortably doing yoga (can you do yoga comfortably or is it by definition uncomfortable?). For instance, in my dream yurt we have just a few more feet so I could have a writing desk, separate from the kitchen table. Which takes us to the next consideration.
Prioritize Your Tiny Space According to Your Lifestyle
This consideration has two aspects. First, prioritize what will actually be included inside the yurt by deciding the type of lifestyle you lead and what you can live without. I’m a writer, but ultimately decided I could live without a dedicated writing space. The kitchen table would suffice. We have no problem with using an outhouse, so we didn’t need to include toilet space inside.
Second, prioritize the size of these spaces according to your lifestyle. We like to cook, so we knew we wanted plenty of counter space, and a proper four burner stove and oven. If cooking isn’t that important to you, maybe you don’t need such a large kitchen. If you really, really like to cook, maybe you want to opt for a full-size oven, where we chose a diminutive range from an RV. We also like to entertain, and so wanted to ensure we had comfortable-ish seating, and we like books and have a ton of them, so needed space for shelves.
Maximize Your Space
Every inch counts. Everything you build necessarily reduces the floor space available for you to move around on. When you’re designing the kitchen counters for instance, decide carefully how deep they should be. How big of a bed do you need? We downsized from a queen to a full. We also sought to maximize storage space—we lofted the bed so we have a closet and storage underneath, and we built our “couch” as a bench with storage inside. Consider also your woodstove, if applicable. Remember to account for the size of the hearth pad and the required minimum distance between the hot stove and anything around it. Our hearth pad, for instance, is 16 square feet. That’s a solid 5% of our total area.
SO. These are the fundamental considerations we recommend when planning the inside of your yurt or tiny home. Email us if you have questions or if there’s something else you’d like us to cover. We’d love to hear from you! thatyurt (at) gmail (dot) com