Creativity is essential when planning and designing the interior of your tiny house. Trying to incorporate your kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom into an average of 200 sq. ft. is tricky.
With the rise in people living tiny, there has been an increase in innovative designs that have come out to help incorporate all the features of a “normal house” into a tiny house.
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Tiny House Kitchens
A common complaint of tiny house living is not having enough room to prepare and store food. As with every other area of the tiny house, designing around your needs and activities (including cooking and eating) is vital to thriving in your small space.
When designing your kitchen space, ask yourself what are your personal needs in a kitchen. Basic kitchens have a stove, a refrigerator and a sink. Maybe you need an oven because you enjoy baking or counter space for chopping veggies and a big enough pantry to store all of your preserves. There are ways to meet all of your needs, you just have to get creative!
Use Space Multiple Ways
Use a sink cover cutting board to extend your counter space and cover up the sink when you’re not using it.
Lipper Bamboo Over-The-Sink Cutting Board
Find Tiny-Sized Solutions
Switch out bulky appliances for less bulky ones. For example, use a french press instead of a coffee maker. This one makes eight cups, and it’s only nine inches tall.
SterlingPro French Coffee Press
Find Furniture That Shrinks
Get a collapsible dining table—one that can fold in and out of the wall or counter. Or, look for a double drop leaf table like this—seats up to 6 people, but it’s only 14 inches wide.
Extendable Dining Table by Holly & Martin
Use Advanced Drawer Tech
Use slide out drawers and other tricks to store and hide pantry items. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses sells components like these toe-kick drawers as custom additions to their houses.
Buy For Versatility
Buy items that can serve more than one purpose. This EdgeStar cube has a full range thermostat, you can convert it from a refrigerator to a freezer.
EdgeStar Convertible Refrigerator/Freezer
Buy A Pre-Fab Kitchen
For those who want the full package deal, you can simply buy a full kitchenette. This comes with a two-burner stove, stainless steel sink, refrigerator, and even a little storage.
Avanti Energy Star 30″ Wide Complete Compact Kitchen
Tiny House Lofts
Nearly all tiny houses have lofts. These are an integral part of the design process.
The McG Loft by Humble Homes has a spacious sleeping loft you get to by a staircase. And, in true tiny house style, the staircase doubles as a bookcase.
Tiny House Lofts With Dormers
The design of the roof line determines the amount of space your loft will have. The two standard options for designing the shape of the roof are with dormers or without. If you want more headspace in your loft, consider adding dormers to your roof. Dormers are structural components that are built into the sloped roof and create additional space on one side or both.
- Dormers add the extra space to the structure that can make the loft feel more like a bedroom rather than just a sleeping nook.
- By adding dormers to your loft you gain more headspace and wall space, which can be great for shelving and hanging items to save space.
- Additional windows can be added with the dormers, creating more natural lighting for the loft space and the house as a whole.
- For more information on the advantages of dormers or how to add them into the design process of your tiny home check out The Advantages of Tiny House Dormers.
Tiny House Stairs
Stairs can either be in the way and a nuisance or they can be your best friend. When it comes to storage and features of the house serving multiple purposes, stairs can be a perfect ally.
They can double as hidden drawers, be used as bookshelves or fold into the ceiling to be put away when not in use. All of these uses of stairs are focused around making sure there is no empty or un-utilized space, maximizing every square inch of your tiny home.
If building a set of DIY stairs that double as storage is beyond your level of carpentry or engineering skills, there are plenty of pre-engineered kits and design plans that can help you construct the perfect set of stairs. The Tansu Storage Steps is an example of a kit that comes with the plans and materials needed for putting together multi-purpose stairs.
Tiny House Bathrooms
The bathroom is the most challenging part of tiny house design. There seems to be as many different possibilities as there are tiny houses. When you think of a bathroom, four things that come to mind: toilet, shower, cleanliness and privacy. How you work them into your tiny house depends on your personal lifestyle and preference.
Having a toilet/sink combo is a quintessential example of stacking functions. By using fresh water in the sink and grey water for the toilet, this compact toilet/sink combination conserves water and space. The folks at SinkPositive in North Carolina have created a retrofit for toilets turn them into a toilet/sink combo.
If your tiny house won’t have plumbing and an exterior waste tank, you’ll need to figure out what to do with all your waste. The best choice is a composting toilet. These are great for off-grid living and for creating fertile soil for the garden. By choosing a composting toilet, you will be minimizing utility costs, eliminating the need for a black water tank and being environmentally friendly!
The cheapest solution? Build one yourself. For illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to build a composting toilet, The Humanure Handbook is a comprehensive and easy to follow guide on the subject. But, if having a five gallon bucket with cedar sawdust in the corner of your tiny house isn’t your style, there are compost toilet options that are a little less “rugged”.
Nature’s Head offers self-contained and advanced compost toilet systems for cabins, RVs, tiny houses and other off-grid lifestyles. Separett composting toilets separate the solids from the liquids, resulting in odorless and trouble-free compost. Europeans have used them for a decade; they are just now becoming known in the U.S.
If you live in a tiny house on leased land, or somewhere where composting humanure isn’t an option, consider an incinerating toilet. These self-containing toilets convert waste into a clean and non-polluting ash. You’ll need gas or propane for power, but they are still far more efficient and environmentally-conscious than the average household water toilet. Envirolet Premium Composting Toilet and EcoJohn specialize in incinerating toilets.
Tiny House Showers
If you are staying in one spot, look into an outdoor solar shower. These free up space in your tiny house and can be adapted to off-grid living. If you want to always bathe inside, wet baths (where the shower, sink and toilet all share one room) are a compact way to have all three in one space. If you plan to be on the move most of the time, get a portable solar shower. You just hang them in the sun, and a few hours later can get the hot shower you’ve been craving.
Tiny House Heat & Stoves
With the average tiny house being 186 sq ft., it doesn’t take too much energy to heat it. When deciding on a heating system, the most important things to consider are efficiency, safety, cost and environmental impact. Figuring out which system is best for you will depend on your lifestyle and values.
The smell of a burning fire is a bonus, as well as using the top of the stove to heat things up. The initial investment of a wood-stove might be expensive (around $700) but if you chop and cure your own firewood, this could be the most economical and self sustainable way of heating. For a wood-stove that doesn’t take up too much space and is commonly used in small cottages and cabins, the Norwegian company Jotul is full of options.
Usually the most inexpensive unit to buy, The standard price for an electric heater is relatively low (around $40), but you have to pay for the electricity. CompactAppliances has a good selection of small electric heaters, a good option for temporary heating or for tiny houses in warmer climates.
Relatively inexpensive and easily available. Dickinson Marine offers small, compact propane heaters that are efficient, aesthetically pleasing and popular among tiny house owners.
For pros and cons of wood stove or propane check out Tiny Wood Stoves’ article on Wood vs Propane.
Tiny House Windows
When shopping for windows you have to think about the style you want, how they will open, where they will be positioned and what type of frame you want.
Windows can be expensive new. A cheaper option may be to buy salvaged windows. New windows range from $50 all the way up into the hundreds, depending on style and size. If you have a Habitat For Humanity store nearby, you can find salvaged windows there for as low as $20.
Double check the quality and durability of used windows. Make sure the windows are tempered (treated by heat or chemicals to increase strength) if you plan to take your house on the road.
One drawback of older windows is that they aren’t insulated as well as modern ones. The money you save buying salvaged windows you might end up losing in the long run due to extra heating costs.
For those wanting to save money up front and go the DIY route, TinyHouseDesign shares the story of a man and his process of building his own tiny house windows. With a step-by-step photo montage, Andrew at TinyHouseBuild outlines how to flash and install a window properly.
Tiny House Doors
Size might be an obstacle when choosing a front door for your tiny house. Exterior doors come in standard sizes of 30, 32, and 36 inches—because your house is tiny, you may need a door that’s smaller than that. A custom fit door can be expensive and difficult to build. Happily, tiny house designers have tips for working with standard door sizes to make them fit to your tiny house.
Design your house to have room for a standard door.
Standard sized doors can be big in a tiny house, taking up space from the interior of the house. A door with a big window, that swings out rather than in, can be a way to incorporate the larger door while adding additional aesthetics.
Make a standard door fit your tiny frame.
Instead of making your house fit the door, make the door fit your house! Shave off a few inches here and there without sacrificing wall space from the house. Don’t go too small—it’s your house that’s getting tinier, not you.
This site offers low prices, high quality and hundreds of doors to chose from. These unique doors are commonly used in tiny house building.
Buy an RV door
Tiny House Furniture
When looking for furniture for your tiny house, think of three main things:
Small. Compact. Multifunctional.
Sticking to these three features will save space and add flexibility to your tiny house. A few ideas:
An ottoman is a great example of multi-purpose furniture. It can be used as a foot rest, table top, extra seating, and as storage for books or blankets.
One Allium Way Ottoman.
A day bed is another piece of furniture that’s space-efficient and has multiple uses. Buy one with a trundle and it’s two beds in one.
Zipcode Design Daybed with Trundle.
If you aren’t sleeping in a loft, a murphy bed is an expense worth considering—the space that’s your bedroom by night can be a living space by day.
Wallbeds Murphy Bed
Loft and Bunk Beds
Use vertical space better with a loft or bunk bed. A bunk bed has an upper and lower bed—if you have kids of different ages, you can get one where the lower bed is bigger. A loft bed is just a bunk bed without a lower bunk.
DHP Full Loft Bed
Cots or Folding Beds
Think of a folding bed as a murphy bed without a cabinet. A lightweight camping cot would be the inexpensive way to go, but you might want to splurge for a little more comfort.
Milliard Premium Folding Bed with Memory Foam Mattress
A bench can be both a place to sit, and a place to store stuff.
Andover Mills Storage Bench.
Custom Multifunctional Furniture For Tiny Houses
With the increase in the idea of “less is more”, the demand for compact and versatile furniture has also gone up. Many companies now create flexible and space efficient furniture that can perfectly fit into tiny house living. You can also go DIY.
This crafty blogger and her husband turned an old wood pallet into a compact seating solution with underneath storage.
Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life shows how to build a simple and efficient closet drawer system than can be custom-made to fit your space.