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Need some inspiration for creating an outhouse? We’ve got you covered. This outhouse design is a modern twist on a traditional outhouse idea. The great thing about this one is that it is not only beautiful, it’s functional annnnnnnd it smells GREAT. 



I tried to come up with a pretty name for our outhouse.  No such luck.  So I called in the troops (that’s you) and this is what you came up with :

The Ruby room, the sunshine mission, the pooter scooter, stinky chicken, the sand box, the Mary Jane, the reading room, the dump truck, the library, the la la, the back house, the thunder box, the deuce den, wooden throne, peepee palace, poopy portal.

The good news is that you can create an outbuilding just like this one and it will be no where near icky.   Don’t call it an outhouse.  Give it a love shack name.  It changes everything.   Try it.  Then get back here and tell me what you named your palace.



Many cities & municipalities will allow you to build a small outbuilding under the size of 10′ x 10′ without a building permit.  Double check first.  Jail won’t be fun.  Never ever never never evvvvha (Taylor Swift never) never make a building inspector or town official mad.  It is sort of like the classic childhood memory where you learned to never ask your Mom to brush your hair while she was mad.  Big mistake.

DIY OUTHOUSE : Outhouse design ideas : How to build an outhouse. Tips for smell, toilet layout and walls.

Here’s the good stuff on why it is awesome to have an outhouse :


Yup.  It smells good.  What’s the secret ?  Wood shavings.  The outhouse becomes a self composting, eco toilet.  Every time you use the loo, you put a scoop of wood shavings in. It is the alternative to a water flush. We also periodically put a refresh of shavings as a top layer too. At the end of the summer, we leave everything as is, until spring. By the time spring has sprung, everything is composted to earth. It is so composted, it doesn’t smell. We dig it out ( using a shovel, through the toilet opening) and dispose of it for a fresh summer start. If we were to build another outhouse, we’d be smarter next time and make a trap door at the back, to open, and dig out from there.

It is of course, not necessary, but we also burn our fave incense, purely for the enjoyment. It is seriously the best smell on earth. We have used the same brand of incense for 20 years. We have it here in our shop. We also use this one outside around the pool, cabin and treehouse.

2.   SINK

Yes.  We added a sink.   The toilet doesn’t flush, but the sink runs with nice clean water.   A reclaimed old porcelain sink.   I stole it from the same guy that I stole this one from for our treehouse. A sink with running water in an outhouse.  What an oxymoron.  We tried to keep the true authentic nature of an outdoorsy outhouse.  Sort of.


Lighting is something to pay attention to.  It can make or break a peepee palace room. We started with an up-cycled chandelier and recently changed it to our fave lighting.


Twigs are your friends.  We made our toilet paper holder from a branch. These are the worlds worst old photos. New life goal… take updated pics of the outhouse this summer 🙂



Old stained glass windows that hinge out on a stick.  Nice and breezy.  We lined the windows with screening.  No creatures are allowed in the outhouse ladies room.  Stamped it.   My girlfriends and I hang out in there.  No joke.  With glasses of wine.  The kids have no idea where we are.   Neither do the flies.


Therein is where the magic happens.  The vent thingy {you can see it in a few of the photos}  keeps the ‘air flow’ going out the pipe.  Think of it like a chimney pipe.  Minus the smoke.  It is what makes an outhouse smell awesome.  For an outhouse.  It works like a charm.  I don’t know about you, but if an outhouse smells bad, I’m not going in it.  I would rather do a wilderness tinkle.  Gross, but it’s the gospel truth.


We dug a hole.  A fairly deep one.  I say we.  I had nothing to do with that whole digging business.  Ewwwwhhh.  However, number two was my number one business of solving.   Why?  I didn’t want to smell a thing.  I wanted it to feel like a place that was fresh and clean.  No ickyness allowed.  Steal my idea.  It works.


The outhouse shelves are important.  People like to sit in there and just stare.  No joke.  Go ahead.  Build one.  Then talk to me.  It is really quite entertaining in an outhouse.

We mix up the outhouse decor every year.  Sometimes we load the shelves with books.  Sometimes candles.  Sometimes nakedness.  Not my nakedness.  Shelf nakedness.  Always beautifully labelled hand soap and white crisp hand towels. We did the same in our porta-potty this year too. We have the extra porta potty for weddings and events.

9.   WALLS:

We kept the walls as natural wood for a long time.  It looked fine.  Then life changed around here.  I became a white paint loving trollop and painted everything that didn’t move… white.


Happy outhousin’…

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  1. Reesa says:

    Another name could be the phone booth (since everyone is on the their phone while sitting on the throne!)

  2. Colleen says:

    LOVE your outhouse! I know I’m super late to the party, but ours that is near our cabin is our “spiffy biffy”😄 Looking to do an update and came across these pretty pictures. Love it!

  3. sherry webb says:

    Hi. Love your outhouse but have seen several people ask for details on building, as I am interested in. The one link I found just leads back to the original article with no building instruction. Please share.

    • Hi Sherry,
      Yes, we need to do an updated post on the outhouse with layout plans too. Great idea! It is a simple, yet very effective design.

      Hope to get to it this summer, and we will hopefully put it into a wee ebook/plan too.


    • Hi Sherry
      We are in the midst of creating an ebook with all the details. Hopefully we have it ready for August. If you would like to email me at lynne@lynneknowlton.com … I can let you know when the ebook plan book is ready 🙂 Cheers !

  4. Marguerite says:

    I’m having an outhouse built- and thinking i want to add on an outdoor shower- off its side wall. Do you think this is a good idea? Does it really not smell. even on the outside?

    • Hi Marguerite,

      An outhouse is such a fab idea. Ours really doesn’t smell. We also keep it very clean and don’t use it a lot a lot a lot. We dig it out every spring (and it is basically just earth at that point) It is important to have the vent release out the roof as well. This is a really old blog post, but now you’ve inspired me to do an updated one with all kinds of hot tips 🙂

  5. Scott says:

    This is amazing! Seriously great work on this!!!

    Wondering where can I find the Design Plans for the building/outhouse?

    I want to build one.

    Thanks so much!

  6. Danielle says:

    Also, any chance you could share the dimensions for this, or your building plans???

  7. Danielle says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I have been looking for ideas for one that isn’t weird. Love this!

  8. Emma says:

    Love your outhouse, love ours too, “The Little House BEHIND The Little House on the Prairie”. It is really little, barely enough room for one person to turn around. Painted it white inside, tarted it up with a nice porcelain canister to hold the potting soil that goes in after the human deposit [keeps the stinky away]; original artwork; tp in a metal canister so mice can’t use it for nesting [tp left for more than 20 minutes becomes shreds]. It always has a clean “carpet”, woven placemats from GoodWill. They can be tossed after they get too grungy looking. I make sure they’re 100% cotton so they can go in the compost pile.

    We thought about a sink or washing up station with water, but decided against it because it could encourage people to put added water or other materials [beyond human material, toilet paper and potting soil] in “the hole”. So there’s a little basket on the door that has hand sanitizer, biodegradable wipes and bug spray. Folks can wash with soap and water back at the cabin.

    LH never stinks, always looks nice, has one job, does it well, we’re so glad to have it.

  9. Katie Coffield says:

    So you just dug a hole? You didn’t have to put anything in the hole?
    So you just went to the bathroom in the hall wiped put the toilet paper down there and it just decomposed enough overtime that it didn’t fill up?

  10. Sayra Slife says:

    Loved seeing your beautiful potty house! While constructing ours I came across yours! We found old fencing that was laying by the side of the road in a nearby neighborhood.. Asked the owners if we could come take it away, they said yes and now we have a wonderful peepee shed for our guests right next to our guest house that had no bathroom. Now, in the middle of the night, they won’t have to trek all the way up to our house to use the bathroom. I want to send you a; picture to inspire others. IT turned out so nice and the wood has that aged patina. IT has a “commode” I found at the Goodwill, really a night stand. The compost bucket fits perfectly hidden inside. We put a toilet seat on the top and found a wonderful sink to go inside too, laying on the side of the road the day we were going to pick up the fencing. My husband installed it using more of the old fencing. Would love to send you a picture! Sayra

    • vanessa says:

      please send me a picture… were considering spending upwards about $8,000 to put in a bathroom next to our guest house, but h=this is looking like a much better idea! need help ! ~Vanessa 🙂

  11. Nikki says:

    Beautiful! I’ve never built anything in my life! LOL are there detailed plans on how to build this anywhere on your blog?

  12. sue says:

    3 metal coffee cans stacked and taped together with the bottoms of the top and middle cut out works well holding 4 rolls of toilet paper then either seal it with a plastic lid or create a wooden one to hold the paper securely. This keeps the critters out and keeps it very clean!.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I love this idea! You inspired me to make over our outhouse at the cabin. I hope you don’t mind I added your page to my post so I can show others your awesome ideas. (Still learning blogging etiquette.) I’m definitely saving this page for when we have to build a new one.

    • Hi Stephanie,
      I just popped over to your blog and admired your outhouse awesomeness. 🙂

      You did a FAB job with your outhouse and your blogging etiquette. Woot woot!

      I’m totally curious about your outhouse toilet. It looks like a regular toilet but without running water. HMMMmmm.. How do you use it? I’m totally the curious cat here.

      We are still using shavings in ours and it works like charm. Whoop! whoop!

      Lynne xx

      • Stephanie says:

        Well, that’s the funny thing. It is a “real” toilet but there is no tank and the inside of it looks like it was smashed out with a sledgehammer. Yep. Smashed. With a sledgehammer. There are so many things in this little cabin that have been done very…uh…”creatively”. So yes, it is a tried and true outhouse. 🙂

  14. […] a place where people wouldn’t mind going.  So I checked out Pinterest and I was inspired by the outhouse this blogger built.  Awesome […]

  15. Sharon says:

    Good idea!!!

  16. Ernie Garza says:

    I am starting a photo studio out in the country. i have a composting toilet indoors (five gallon bucker, swdust) but was looking for something with more capacity when I have a large group over. I love your design and ideas and will start constructing soon. I may decide to make it portable to transport to various functions. I am sure it will be a big hit!

  17. […] with any reno project, there are realities.  Pfffft.   An almighty throne can be a challenge.   It’s worth it.   You’ll have years to enjoy it.  The non-shitty version of […]

  18. […] We do have an outhouse, which is mighty fine. […]

  19. hello lynne, it’s like you dropped out of the sky for me!! see my website – this an event venue with no pavilions, bathrooms, etc. it’s for those who want a natural event in gorgeous surroundings. can’t afford to put in an approved septic system for weddings and parties. struggling with how to handle this issue. have lost bookings to folks who don’t want portapotties at all. really can’t blame them. have thought about outhouses and there you were. i am curious about your idea for making them portable, on wheels. please let me know more. thanking you in advance, pattie

    • Hi Pattie !

      I saw your website, and it looks gorgy gorgeous !

      We have had weddings here for family and rented porta-potties too. Everyone avoids them (even when they are half way decent) and goes to our outhouse. LOL.

      Do you definitely want one on wheels? I think it is do-able, but I love that ours isn’t on wheels too.

      Basically, the base of it would be a big metal square box (deep and wide) and you would need an mini opening/door at the back to empty it once a year.

      That sounds gross, but really, after it sits for a year and composts with all the saw dust, it sounds worse than what it is. I’m sure you could have a septic dude drain it for you too. Whew.

      The shavings/sawdust really do a great job. The vent also works fab too. (pipe up the side of the outhouse that vents out of the roof).

      It smells and looks DREAMY in there!

      I hope that helps !

      • hi lynne, thanks for the quick response. would like portability (but may decide against it) due to infrequent heavy rains that cause some flooding and for convenience and proximity. but what i’d be creating is just another form of portapotty, wouldn’t i???? so i’ll probably create one like yours in a high spot in an unobtrusive but convenient location. it sounds as though yours is “classic construction” with only a deep hole below your concrete pad. – is that right? no periodic compost removal? very grateful for any info and advice.


        • Yes, mine is a classic construction with a deep hole below the concrete pad. We do periodic compost removal too. We let things sit (ewwwwh) over the winter for 6 months and then shovel it out. It is literally like earth and not stinky. Yup. I asked. I haven’t done that job. YUCK.

          Hope that helps!

  20. Jacki says:

    Google-searchin’ for outhouse ideas as we design a shelter for our composting toilet. Lucked on your site. What a super fun read. Not to mention outhouse design. Can’t seem to find anything more inspired online other than moon shapes on the door. We just moved our family from the ‘burbs to the woods and put up an off-grid geodesic dome. And you can’t just stick a shack next to it. WWBD? (What would Bucky-Fuller do?) Not sure, but your outhouse pictures sure gave us more to work with. We had the sawdust, already. But not the twig t.p. holder. Or the curtains. Or the pretty (read: not Home Despot orange) buckets. Think we’ll call ours the shouthouse, since ours will be a shower/outhouse combo. Though I might steal Oval Office from your commenter, Janet. Our shouthouse will, in fact, be oval. Because you can’t just put a square next to a dome, either. Joining the outhouse revolution. Even though I’d call it a movement. If you know what I mean. Thanks, again. – Jacki (Watch it happen here: postconsumerlife.com, which you can delete from this comment if it seems like I’m trying to increase my current readership of 43, 40 of whom are my family and friends. Just thought I’d give you some context, if you’re interested.)

  21. […] curve.  Trying to figure out a tree house washroom has been a challenge.  For now, we have an outhouse aka wooden […]

  22. […]    You have to pee in unmentionable places.  It’s not dignified.  The Queen would definitely frown on it.  There are no options for […]

  23. Laura says:

    I have found my people! I plan to build an outhouse near my barn for the ladies that ride here and no I don’t want just ANY old outhouse – I want one with a front porch and white paint and candles (battery operated becaue I am the safety officer here) and a place to change into riding gear and yes, an outhouse that could be used as a place for sipping wine. Your outhouse design is zactly what I am looking for and now i can show the men folk that I am not the only one that believes sheer curtains might be needed in the ‘wine closet’.

    • Hahaha Laura
      I missed your comment and a few others and found them over a year later. TODAY.

      I just laughed out loud at …


      Lynne xx

      • Laura says:

        so glad you found my comment! I did build a wine closet and it is lovely. I can’t upload a pic but I will tell you it has a front porch with rocking chair, a glass pane door, a beautiful window, and a fanzy schmanzy PVC vent system. Candles to be added later. My friend placed deer antlers at entrance and we now refer to it as ‘The Lodge’. 🙂

  24. Ken DeLoach says:

    I love the outhouse and want to build one like it. Could you provide some sort of plans which include the measurements and dimensions.? (Door size, window size, sq ft., etc. thank you

  25. Yay – I love your outhouse post!! I never thought to use wood chips for the smell, GOOD idea! I have this linked to my outhouses project post too today, it’s a keeper!!

  26. Kathy says:

    Gorgeous outhouse! Thanks for all the tips and tricks. My one comment is that while I love the candles, it seems rather dangerous to use them in a building with only one door!
    Nonetheless, the entire post was inspirational. Thank you!

    • Hi Kathy
      I agree that it probably looks kinda scary having those candles in the wee outhouse. I lit more for the photos than I normally do.. and I always keep them in a glass container. I am married to Elmer the safety elephant. LOL. xx

      • Kathy says:

        Ah-h-h, I see! Thanks for the reply. Anyway, I’m so tickled to see a “romantic outhouse.” Now that is something I never knew existed. Awesome.

  27. […] am an all cotton, white linens lovin’, funky outhouse crazed – […]

  28. Rosa Tackett says:

    Very creative use of twig for holding toilet paper roll. The Ikea sheer also add to the look of the windows without hurting your pocket.

    PS: Love your style of writing as well.

    • Cheers Rosa !
      Twigs are so handy for so many things, aren’t they ? Toilet paper rolls, curtain rods, coat hooks, drawer pulls.. ahhh. Have you used the ikea sheers yet? They are so easy to ‘hem’ too. I just cut them with scissors and puddle them a bit on the floor. Done. So easy.

      Lynne 🙂

  29. Stacy Gordon says:

    Absolutely loved your blog. Dashed against it while searching for some of the best home blogs out there and impressed I am. Anyway, your outhouse plan was lovely but no shame admitting I was paying more attention to the humor than to the design details!

    • Hi Stacy
      Sorry I didn’t respond sooner… your comment was in my spam folder. Waaaahierd. Geesh, I hope you are legit.
      Thanks for the beautiful blog compliment !!

      Have a fantastic Easter weekend…
      Lynne !

  30. Linda Bryant says:

    Did you build the outhouse or buy it? If you purchased it, can you let me know from where? We live about 20 minutes south of you.
    Thanks for this blog. Perfect timing for our outhouse planning.

    • Hi Linda,
      Our contractor ~ Chris Wilkes built our outhouse. He is the same contractor who built our treehouse too. He is one really nice man and he is a master of outbuildings 🙂

      He doesn’t go on line a whole heck of a lot, but you can reach him on his cell phone : 519-369-8721
      The outhouse is his design. Pretty cool, huh ?

      He also has an outhouse and treehouse on his property. He is known locally as a ‘master tree house builder’ 🙂

      Don’t ask him if he has any spare sinks sitting around. I already stole them all from him. LOL.

      Cheers !!
      Lynne x

      P.s. You are 20 minutes south of me? Where are you ? We are practically neighbours ! LOL.

  31. Lina says:

    OK…you got my attention! I never thought that I’d be reading a post about a DIY biffy (I googled that) in this day and age! Your blog seems like lots of FUN–love it! =D Also love this font…what is it?

    • Hi Lina !
      This font is called architects daughter. Isn’t it awesome ? I love how simple it is to read and yet still a bit funky and fun. Just like us 🙂

      Are you near Toronto ? Would you like tickets to the Home show ? Or do I need to fly somewhere in the world and deliver them to you ? Like Barbados. I would be happy to hand deliver them there. 🙂

      Lynne xx

      • Lina says:

        I agree–fun & funky!!

        For better or for worse, I do live in Toronto. However, should i fly somewhere else to meet you for the tickets? 😉 That’d be FUN! But, yes, I’d love some tickets to the Home Show! 🙂

  32. Kelly says:

    Oh, I love it! It’s so beautiful. Now I would definitely use a place like that..heehee. My son (i know random) watches a cartoon and one of the characters is called “little nutbrown hair” yea..thought that just somehow tied in. Wish I could go to the home show 🙁

  33. Rachel says:

    Love your blog and the photo apps…hides my bad photographic skills 🙂
    Am in midst of bathroom renovation–inside not outside!

    • Hi Rachel,
      So happy that you adore photo apps too. They save our butts on photos don’t they ? I adore ’em.

      I am writing a free ebook right now on photo apps and how to use them, my favourites, and other cool stuff.

      It will be free to my blog subscribers. An exclusive thaaaaang. It should be out next month or sooner if I get my butt in gear 🙂

      Cheerio !
      Lynne xx

  34. This is the first outhouse I have ever seen that has never scarred me for life. That’s nicer than my main floor washroom that is er, has been on my to fix up list for oh 2 years now.

    I know there’s a good name in there somewhere. Let me have some wine and get back to you!

  35. Janet says:

    “The Oval Office”
    You’re welcome. Ha ha
    It really is the most beautiful outhouse I have ever seen (or smelled). Stunning. And that’s not a word i would use for an outhouse every day 🙂

    • Ah Schmanks Janet !

      You may be the only person in the comment list that has actually witnessed the oval office outhouse experience first hand.

      Who knew that an outhouse could be kinda fun ? 🙂

      Get back here ! *tapping fingers , tapping toes *


  36. Tunde says:

    You are so creative! Love it!

    • Thanks Tunde,
      Now I need to learn some photography skills. You know how to rock the photography world. I wish that could rub off on me. LOL.

      You aren’t far…. time for a treehouse visit this summer and a *photo shoot * 🙂 ?

      Ohhh hells yah.

      Lynne xx

  37. Kristen says:

    Lynn, I really liked yesterdays post about an epic childhood. It brought back many memories and it was fun to read all the others posts that were added. It makes me wish our kids could have had the childhood I had.
    Love your blog 🙂

    • Thanks Kristen !

      I don’t normally do back-to-back blog posts but I had a time constraint for the free tickets. ha !

      Wasn’t that fun tho? I had so much fun reading through everyones memories too. It sparked new ones. What a TRIP down memory lane !

      We are the baby boomers 🙂

      Lynne xx

  38. Suzanne says:

    Your outhouse is beautiful, just give it a french name, everything sounds better in french. Maybe salon du nature, or something like that.

    • Good thinkin’ Suzzzzz ! Another blog reader Tracey added a link to a list of outhouse names too. I added them into the blog post. What a hoot !

      Salon du Nature may just get painted on the outhouse porch this summer 🙂

      Lynne x

  39. Michelle Clark says:

    Hi, I liked your Facebook page Love the human eating scarf lol and love the ikea hacking!

    • Hi Michelle !
      You know… that knit body cocoon gave me nightmares. LOL.

      The DIY with an Ikea hack will be epic when I post it. You won’t believe how gorgeous it looks.

      Quick… get to Ikea and buy a couple of knit throw blankets. Cool stuff will be happenin’ soon 🙂

  40. Kevin R says:

    Hi Lynne,
    I have followed your instructions to the T !!! Hope you have a good day !

  41. gema kochovski says:

    Hi!!! I just liked you on Facebook. That is some awesome outhouse you’ve designed!! Wow!! There are so many pretty aspects to it. I love the stained glass the most and what a great way to keep the toilet paper covered up! What is your favourite margarita??