Apr 092011
Yurt with the Gurvansaikhan Mountains behind, ...

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Yurt type folks (“Yurters” is now officially a word. I said so…LOL!) tend to eschew convention and embrace the odd, the unconventional. That is one of the good things about a yurt…after erecting the kit you have a blank canvas with defined edges to use for your yurt interior layout.

It is also one of the (few) bad things about a yurt. Without a really good imagination a BLANK canvas with absolutely no visual direction can be intimidating. I know it was to me. It doesn’t have the direction provided by a conventional home with floor plan already done, where decisions are limited to what to do with each already created space (room).

Without affecting the “yurt lifestyle” of an interior layout too much, let’s go over some practical considerations of how you might do a floor plan in your yurt.

Note for the “extreme yurter”…go for it, but there might not be too much in this article to benefit you. While I applaud and encourage the folks who want to cook on a wood stove vented out the center ring, have an outdoor privy and shower, and use either a wringer clothes washer or washboard, dry clothes exclusively with sunshine 12 months a year, and wash their dishes in the nearby creek..it is not for me… and I wouldn’t have a clue how to plan an interior for that extreme of a lifestyle. This is written for those who want to go in that direction…soft-on-the-land, sustainable living…without going back to 1800.

Yurts scream for an open floor plan, but practical concerns want SOME walls for privacy, if nothing else to close off the ultimate private area…the bathroom. Company over for dinner doesn’t usually want to watch folks using it while they eat…LOL.


Beyond the bathroom, a yurt can be as open as you want, and most folks want a completely open design…the round space begs for it, as does the skylight. With that openness comes a few issues that can be dealt with using thought and imagination.

The JuicyMaters yurt is 25% closed (the bathroom, naturally, which is also the laundry), 25% semi-open (or semi-closed, depending on perspective) for the kitchen, and 50% wide open…the sleeping/dining/living area(s).

Before getting into the appearance and likes vs dislikes of your interior design, let’s look at some practical matters.

I’m a design/build kind of guy. I HATE plans, finding I am better at starting with a basic idea and seeing how and where it should go as it happens, rather than by pre-planning every little detail. With that said, there are some things that have to be decided before doing anything inside the erected yurt kit.

Since inside walls are limited (in my case just two for the bathroom and a half-wall that separates the kitchen from the sleeping area) there are holes to be drilled in the floor. In conventional housing you can route things like plumbing and electrical throughout the house by running it in interior and exterior walls, walls that do not exist in a yurt. There also are some things that have to come through the floor regardless of housing type, such as toilet and shower drains and, typically, gas lines for clothes dryers and stoves. In most homes with a gas water heater that gas line will come through the floor as well, though in my case both of my tankless water heaters, one for the radiant floor heat and one for potable water, are in the crawlspace underneath the house.

Because of the lack of walls, those items usually run inside them have to be relocated. In my case, I put the electrical overhead (except the service line from the meter base to the electrical panel, which runs under the yurt and up through the floor into a bathroom wall), running it up out of the electrical panel and along the bathroom wall to the perimeter wall of the yurt, where it follows the tension cable around the perimeter to the locations where it either follows the rafters up to my track lighting, or follows a snow/wind kit stud down to a switch or outlet.

An added benefit of running your electricity in this manner is that all of your yurts electricity (except bathroom fixtures and plugs) is run where you have access to it for maintenance or changes with none of it being inside a wall. It is exposed from the accessibility standpoint while being easily hidden from an interior design point of view.

Pre planning the location of all of your plumbing fixtures is much more important than pre planning your electrical. I ran all of my plumbing underneath the yurt in the crawlspace(actually through the floor joists) to a point where it was directly below where a connection would be made. From an appearance standpoint this is important since a hot water line popping up through the floor in the middle of the kitchen, 2 feet in front of the sink, would look rather odd. Pre locating all of your fixtures becomes even more important if you decide to install hydronic radiant floor heat as I did. In my 30 foot yurt I have just a little bit over 700 linear feet of half inch pex tubing between my sub-floor and finished floor, installed accordion style with the runs 1 foot apart, to provide heat. Unless Russian roulette is one of your favorite games, you absolutely must preplan all of your plumbing holes in the floor before covering up the tubing. No matter how well you intend to keep track of where all the tubing is run, you will forget about one little tubing run and that is where you’ll drill a hole right through the pex tubing. That is called a headache that even Tylenol won’t fix.

Plan your plumbing, drill your holes through the subfloor, and then install your floor heat tubing. It will save you headaches on down the road.

Do not ask me how I know this.

This covers the main points of the practical aspects of your plumbing and electrical. In the next article we will go into some “under yurt” details.


All about Bob the nutjob!

Bob is a N Georgia blogger, homesteader, yurt liver, self-sufficiency nutjob, pig farmer, political activist, politician baiter...and the best damn cook you know that doesn't make a living at it.He can be followed onTwitter. You can also "Like" our Facebook page.

  2 Responses to “Yurt interior layout…practical considerations”

Comments (2)
  1. I just found your site and really enjoy the Yurt articles. My family will be relocating to Texas in a year and want to put up a 30 foot Yurt with side rooms to be added at a later date. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated. Are there any other “Yurt Information” sites that you would recommend?? I believe the Pacific Yurt Company has the best site and selections. Thank you for any information you can give.

  2. Hi Lois…glad you found JuicyMaters and like it. I try to keep it both informative and entertaining.

    There are several yurt sites around the web, but most are either commercial for yurt companies, or, if personal sites, address yurt living far more than yurt interior design and construction.

    Two sites you might try are http://www.livingintheround.org, a site maintained by Becky Kemery, author of the book “Yurts: Living in the Round”, and http://www.movingtoak.blogspot.com/ , a blog by and about a family that moved to Alaska from the lower 48 so the wife could go to medical school, and who built a yurt for their family to live in while there.

    You are already familiar with Pacific Yurts, and if you spent much time wandering around the Yurt Yak section of JuicyMaters you know I promote them HARD. It’s not that I make any money off advertising for them…I don’t…it’s just that after living in their product for a year and a half I’m a big believer in them, both the product and their superb customer service.

    If you have any specific questions I’ll either have an answer for you or will find out the answer. Thanks for stopping by…and keep coming back!


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