Jessica Sommerfield on November 20, 2015 2 Comments Studio apartments and tiny homes are perfect for singles and small families who enjoy a minimal, mobile lifestyle. Small living has many advantages, but one challenge many face is the typical open, single-room floor plan. Standing in one place provides a view of every corner of it. This isn’t so bad when it’s just you or your family, but when you entertain, the fact that your bedroom is visible from the living room, or you’re unable to hide a single dirty dish in your kitchen (unless you stash them in your compact dishwasher) can be embarrassing. Although you can’t change the actual structure, there are tools and techniques for arranging your tiny home into two or more “zones” which function like separate rooms and eliminate the embarrassing aspects of an open living area. 1. The Entrance: Controlling the Focus One of the differences between tiny houses and large houses is that in a large house your entryway usually opens up to a foyer area. Since the entrance to your small space ends up being the entrance to your entire space, you might not think you have control over what your guests see first, but you do. Arranging your living room furniture so it faces and includes the entrance is one approach many people prefer, since the living room is, after all, the room you usually decorate with the most care, and designate for entertaining. Another approach is to create a unique entrance area. This is accomplished a few different ways, using items such as: Screen dividers or shelving units that block immediate view of functional, non-aesthetic areas A bench and coat rack The key here is not to create a completely blocked-off space, but to take control over which living area is the point of entry and first focus. 2. The Layout: Determining the Flow Without walls, it can be challenging to determine where to put your dining room table versus your couch, but use the existing structures to guide your layout plans. A dining table logically goes near the kitchen, the bedroom area is placed farthest from everything else for privacy, and the living room or work space is more flexible. Think of each room in a house and the pieces it includes as one unit: these units are yours to arrange in a pattern that determines movement from one to the next in the same way walls determine the flow of traffic. Here are a few things to keep in mind while determining layout: Where are outlets located? Zones that require the most lamps and electronics will need priority access. Which area receives the most natural light? It might be the best location for the living room or work area. What is the orientation of built-in areas like kitchen appliances and bathrooms? Plan zones out from them. Don’t try to do this all in your head–break out a sketch pad, or if you’re feeling artsy, make cut-outs of each zone or even the pieces of furniture to help you visualize the big picture and how it all fits together. 3. Zoning: The Basics As easy as the concept of layout planning seems, there are ways to mess it up. The first has to do with spacing. Creating unique areas for each “room” makes it tempting to cram in as much furniture as possible. Before long, your living area can look more like a packed furniture showroom than a home. The standard space for a pathway of travel throughout your home should be three feet. In addition, you’ll need appropriate spacing between individual furniture pieces with at least one clear access point into each zone. Another temptation when playing with the new-found freedom of unique zones is to get carried away with too many themes and color schemes. While each zone can function as a separate space, it is still a part of the whole. To avoid clashing or getting too busy with color patterns, keep it simple. Stick with neutral furniture, unified wall décor, and simple pops of color here and there, relying more on changes in texture, lighting, and orientation to signal subtle changes between zones. The one area you can get a little more creative with is area rugs, since they aren’t immediately visible from the whole room. 4. Transitions: Closed or Open Do you prefer your dining room to feel like a part of the living room, kitchen, or closed off from both? How you position each unit determines its relationship to the rest of the units in the room. A closed living room would look like its own distinct area and have specific entry points, whereas an open living room may have its pieces spread out a bit more, facing different directions, and by positioning, include other zones (such as a dining area or desk) into it. The right techniques and tricks go a long way in creating either seamless or sharp transitions between each zone in your open layout. Consider the following to help you accomplish your goals: Area rugs Nothing beats an area rug’s ability to subtly and tastefully create a distinction and transition between zones. What’s more, they can become mini-focal points to gather other pieces around. Modular shelving Cubed shelves can be stacked as high or low as you like, in any shape imaginable. If stacked low, they can double as table surfaces for lamps and other décor; if stacked high, they form easy barriers between zones. For more privacy, you can use baskets or books to fill up space, or keep certain blocks open to encourage communication and visibility between areas. Beyond their use as a zoning tool, shelving units provide double duty storage for two adjacent areas, a priceless quality in small spaces. 5. The Bedroom: Segmenting for Privacy The smaller your living area, the more visible and conspicuous the one non-negotiable piece of furniture is: your bed. The first step in maximizing the privacy of your sleeping area is to designate it to the quietest, least-trafficked area. Next, you’ll want to utilize a combination of these techniques. Screen dividers come in many patterns and artistically separate the bedroom from the view of other areas. A lofted bed frame puts distance between you and the rest of the room while utilizing otherwise wasted horizontal space. The underside can often double as an office area with bookshelves. Drapes or curtains. It’s easy to mount curtain rods or wire to partition off your bedroom, or for a classier look, install pull-down shades. Tiny house living is appealing for many reasons, but it is not without certain annoyances. You can remedy the issue of having no segmented areas in your living space by using these zoning tips. Your creative touch along with smart zoning tactics can transition your tiny house into a true home.