Andrew Woolbert on November 12, 2014 7 Comments Long before your dreams of living in a tiny house can ever come true, you need to actually plan the thing. While you can purchase ready-made designs or even prefab models, many got into tiny houses because they had ideas unique to themselves. While it’s important you keep those personal touches, think about the following design tips too. 1. Tape the Design Out There are a number of different ways you can design your tiny home without spending a lot of money on professionals. Software has become an incredibly easy and affordable way to create your own home from scratch. That being said, it helps to get a feel for your creation before you spend too much time and money on it. One way to do this is to actually tape out what your home will entail on the floor of either the trailer you’ll be building it on or the home you’re currently living in. Tape out the areas where you’ll be able to walk, so you have an idea for how comfortable it will actually be to move around. Otherwise, you may finish building the house of your dreams only to realize it’s a nightmare. Learn How to Join the Tiny House Movement 2. Use Fold Down Options One standby of tiny house architecture is fold down furniture. This generally refers to desks and tables, though with a little imagination, you can probably think of all kinds of ways this particular feature would be beneficial. As an example, think about how much space you’d need for a dining table. If you could fold it into the wall when you’re not using it, though, all of a sudden space isn’t such an issue. Many people do this with benches as well, though there are no limitations. Best of all, this is an easy DIY solution to saving space. All you need is the wood for the desk/table/bench, a couple hinges and a locking mechanism to keep it in place. 3. Use Your Walls Efficiently Along the same lines, don’t forget how helpful your walls can be. The tiny houses with the most going on inside them tend to be the ones with walls that were designed to play a vital role. Your kitchen is a great example of this. The more items you can hang or otherwise store on the wall, the less clutter you’ll have on your kitchen countertop. This means less mess and more room to do your cooking. But also think about how much drawer space you would need for your utensils, when it would be so much more efficient to store them vertically. Any wall that isn’t serving a practical purpose should be made into shelving. This will put it to good use, even if it just means holding onto a few books or tools. 4. Keep Things Clear Above the Waist Although the kitchen may be an acceptable exception, it’s generally good advice to keep “clutter” below waist level in your tiny house. This will give you a greater sense of space and allow you to move around without your shoulders and arms constantly running into things. 5. Go with High Ceilings Similarly, be creative with your ceilings. If you’re building on a trailer, you’ll need to pick one that allows you to give extra height to your tiny house, but the effects will be well worth it. Shed, gable or any other kind of ceiling that reaches as high as possible will make any tiny house feel a lot bigger. However, it will also give you more space to install windows and bring in natural light, saving you money and making for a charming appearance. Low-sitting furniture will go a long way toward giving you the feeling of greater space too and more real-estate on your walls. 6. Install Plenty of Windows Aside from bringing in natural light, windows will also help make the home feel bigger. If you plan on building your home on wheels and traveling with it often or simply having it parked out in a rural area, windows are a great way of enjoying Mother Nature from the comfort of your tiny house. 7. Choose Light Colors Many tiny house owners also use light colors to help their inner space feel more expansive. While the floor and exterior can be any color you want, make the ceiling and walls something a bit light. 8. Use Mirrors Yet another way to keep your tiny house feeling large is with strategically placed mirrors. You’ll want at least one option that can show you yourself from head-to-toe, but this can also increase the visual size of your home as well. Some tiny house owners have even made an entire wall a mirror. They’re also great ways to help spread light throughout the tiny house. 9. Give Every Space More than One Purpose Another common trait of tiny houses with a lot to offer is that no space is given just one job. So, for example, you may have a couch area for relaxing during the day or sitting to do work on your computer. At night, though, you might be able to flip it out into a bed. With a kitchen table that folds into the wall, you could also have another area where seats can flip out into a guest bed or the cushions are removed for extra storage space. The idea isn’t to use all your space for as many purposes as possible so that you can fit more clutter and things you won’t need, of course. Just be mindful of making the most out of every space in your tiny house so day-to-day activities don’t become an unnecessary challenge. 10. Downsize This is probably a good place to talk about the importance of downsizing. Many people invest in tiny houses because they want to get rid of the unnecessary elements in their lives that take them away from what really matters. Living in a tiny house, by itself, is generally considered “downsizing” one’s life. But when designing your new home, keep in mind that the less you bring into it, the more you can do with it. Designing a home is going to be much more difficult if you’re constantly thinking about where all your books will go, how you need a spot for the sewing machine and more room to hang all your pictures. Be courageous in getting rid of the unnecessary and you’ll get a better tiny house in return. 11. Avoid Partitions One way you can get more from the space in your tiny house is by keeping unnecessary partitions out of it. This is how you get a home office, dining room and guest bedroom all in one. For the most part, try to keep permanent walls to the ones that surround your tiny house and the one or two you need for a bathroom. 12. Utilize Sliding Walls However, if you do decide more walls are necessary (for example, if you have the need for more than one bedroom), then consider using collapsible or sliding walls. When people need their privacy, the walls are there to help. When privacy isn’t necessary, though, having mobile walls means your square footage feels much greater. Curtains can also be used for this same purpose. They’ll be far more affordable too. 13. Don’t Forget about Storage Even though we belabored the point about cutting down on what you don’t need, you’ll still need enough to make storage an important part of your tiny house. In fact, remembering the importance of storage is considered important advice any time you build or buy a home no matter what the size. Think about all the possessions you plan on bringing into the tiny house with you and then add a little extra space. As we touched on earlier, you can hide your storage all over the place, from the floor boards, to your seating options to under your bed. Again, though, don’t let your storage become a crutch for keeping/buying items you don’t actually need. 14. Consider a Deck While it may take away some of the square footage from inside your tiny house, having a deck can make a huge difference too. For one thing, it gives you an easy way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. It also functions as an extra room if you just need a little time by yourself. Decks also provide a natural connection to the outside world, which can help fight off any impending feelings of claustrophobia. 15. Odorless Composting Composting has become a popular method of waste management for tiny house owners. While many people may do it for “green” reasons, it makes a lot of sense for those living in tiny houses. A lot of them don’t own the land their tiny house is on or otherwise have restrictions with what they can do with/on it. This makes keeping a compost pile or otherwise dealing with garbage in a productive way a real challenge. However, if you make room for a small self-contained compost bin in your kitchen design, your problem is solved. You can purchase a bacteria composting bucket, like the Bokashi Bucket, and compost most of your kitchen scraps including meat and fish, any dinner leftovers, egg shells, dairy, and coffee grounds. These systems won’t attract rodents or insects, not even fruit flies. The odor from the bin is very low, and most people describe it as a sweet smell similar to the odor from wine making. If you have a larger space that you’d like to dedicate to composting give worm composting a try. You can purchase red wiggler worms online or find them after most storms on the pavement and they’ll through anything. Best of all, they operate without odor and you can even seal the container (with air holes, of course) to assuage any worries you may have about them escaping. Then just slide the container under a bench, in a cupboard or wherever else is convenient. 16. Loft Beds One very common design technique for tiny homes is the loft bed. It’s an especially attractive feature for those homes on trailers because they don’t need a whole top floor, yet they can still give enough space to sleep comfortably. This way, too, if your spouse wants to sleep while you wish to stay up a while longer, this doesn’t have to be an issue. Loft beds are almost always the way to go because your bedroom is the one place you really don’t need to be standing up to use. 17. Use Space under the Stairs If your tiny house is big enough to include a second level, you might be using stairs to get there. In that case, make sure you optimize the space below the stairs, too, as opposed to just installing a solid staircase. You can have a simple crawlspace, drawers that extend out or just leave the area wide open. 18. Combine the Bathroom and Shower Taking a note from many rooms on trains, a lot of tiny house owners have combined their bathroom with their shower. Both are necessary to a home, after all, but when separated, they can take up a lot of space. Fortunately, using your toilet while it’s in a shower is no harder than the conventional way and taking a shower with a toilet in the stall isn’t difficult either. In fact, with the seat down, you can enjoy your showering while sitting. 19. Explore What Others Have Done There’s no plagiarism in the world of tiny house design. Every year, as the culture grows, more and more tiny house owners are finding awesome ways to do more or better with their houses. So although you may have your “dream house” already outlined out in your head, you don’t want to end up kicking yourself later when you realize an opportunity you missed out on. Thanks to the Internet, it couldn’t be easier to explore all the options that are available to you. This also means connecting with others. If you’d really like to figure out a way to have a desk in your home office, a dining room table and an ironing board, but can’t seem to find a solution for your space, you’re almost guaranteed that someone online will have an idea. Tiny house owners love to help each other out, especially those who are just getting started. One of the best parts about building your own tiny house is that there are few, if any, rules you need to play by. So the above advice should be seen as that and nothing more. Build the home you’re excited to live in, but at least consider how these tips may help make life in your tiny house more enjoyable. About Our TeamAndrew Woolbert is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. His career and passions led him to become an affiliate manager starting in 2010. He is primarily interested in using technology to improve lives through the transparent flow of information.Comments nancy freeman says August 30, 2015 at 3:31 am can a trailer that has been ordered for a tiny house on wheels be used for most any design of tiny home on wheels…..for example, if after you receive your trailer, you change your mind about the home design….will it still work? also…..will companies take them back and re imburse for the trailer as long as the cost of shipping will be charged back to customer? Reply Heidi Ellis says October 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm Don’t double stack your storage, meaning you need to move 5 things to get to the item you need. Focus on the storage necessary and group like items together. Really examine what you use and how you it! My second tip is tricky but worth it. I fold and store my clothing in sets. For example, early in the morning you get out of bed to go walk the dog. Instead of pulling a shirt from one drawer and pants from another, try folding your clothes in a shirt/ pants combo. Open the drawer in the morning, pull out the first set, put it on and get going. It’s easy because you took the time to plan ahead when you fold your laundry. Reply Richard Drake says February 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm Is there blueprints available for tiny houses in storage areas? Reply Steele says September 29, 2017 at 2:37 am Great tips! I liked that you say that if you have a tiny house the space under stairs can save the situation. I live in a small one and this spring I’ll finally have time to do some remodeling with my house, so maybe I’ll follow your advice and will put something there. Reply Ivy Baker says November 27, 2017 at 9:54 pm This is some really good information about building designs for a tiny house. I like that you pointed out that you should add a lot of windows to the home. I didn’t realize that it will help space feel bigger. It seems like you might need to have a professional help you come up with a design. Personally, I wouldn’t want to feel like I was living in a cave. Reply Bobbie says November 26, 2018 at 3:46 pm A few ideas…pullout shelves or drawers under the stairs makes it easy to locate stuff in the back especially if they are 24″ deep. Use loft space for things not used everyday like a washer dryer combo. It’s not used everyday so don’t use main floor space for it when that can be used for other things used daily. Built-in cabinets for glasses…think medicine cabinet type. Place glasses one up..one down. You’d be surprised how much space it saves. Designate a seasonal storage space in the loft for blankets, clothing, coats, etc Install 12″ deep x12″ high cabinets (like those over the stove or refrigerator) around the ceiling perimeter. If you don’t have a loft this could add up to 45 sq ft of storage. Mobile stairs…by putting the stairs in wheels you can use them to access dual lofts without having to use a ladder on one side. Reply Nida McGovern says April 6, 2020 at 4:33 pm Perfectly written articles, Really enjoyed looking through. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment * Name * Email * Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.