When Stan and I built our first house, it was 976 sq feet. Our reason was totally due to finances. My parents had bought 25 acres and we each built houses on the farm. Eventually, between all of us, we acquired nearly 100 acres and we built 4 houses, a huge barn and 3 smaller barns. My parents and my youngest sister and her family still live on the farm. My other sister and I, after living out there 19 years, sold and bought different homes.
Anyway, our original house would be considered a "tiny home". I was the one who designed it and drew it out. My Dad would help his Dad on his carpentry jobs. Papa was a farmer and carpenter. Dad eventually became an engineer. So what I lacked, he knew. He could take my drawings and build it. None of our husbands had any carpentry experience or skills but Dad taught them and now all 3 of them could build a house from the ground up if they needed to. They were born with a talent for it and Dad trained them. We began our house in 1981.
So I began with a basic footprint of 24 x 24. I tried to always use multiples by 4 and 8 because plywood sheets are 4 x 8' and lumber comes in 8' lengths. We had an open floor plan. The kitchen was in one corner with a laundry closet. The dining room and living room were the front part of the house and the stairs were in the 4th corner. We heated by wood stove and had no air conditioning for the first 3 years as we built. We lived in it as we built it too. As soon as it was in the dry, we moved in. It took the whole 3 years to finally finish our tiny house.
|From Home Building|
I chose a salt box design so the stair went up to a loft bedroom with closet and bathroom. There was a ladder to the loft over the bathroom. Not too long after we finished it, we decided to keep going. We went across the front of the house with a 2 story addition. The upstairs added 2 more bedrooms. The downstairs was a new den. We had a 1 story wing coming off each end. One side was the entrance hall and small office. The other side was a large downstairs master bedroom, walk in closet and large master bath. It took us nearly 15 years to complete all the phases. It increased our home size to over 2300 sq feet.
|From Home Building|
So that was the story of our tiny house. And we learned a LOT from that experience. I learned that I don't really want to live in a tiny house if I can help it. It may be a great for some people and it may be a necessity for some people and I give them due respect. But it's not for me. If I can help it, I need some room.
Here are some pros and cons to a tiny house:
1) Less expensive to build, to maintain.
2) Property taxes and insurance would be next to nothing
3) Less housework
4) Some are mobile (like mobile homes, campers or wooden homes made with wheels)
5) Less footprint, i.e. don't need as much land.
6) You spend less on furniture, knick knacks, clothes, etc because you don't have a place to store it.
7) By necessity you have to learn to be organized and neat. You can't leave shoes laying in the floor because there is no room around them. You can't throw clothes on the couch because there is no other place to sit. You can't leave dishes in the sink. Everything has to be taken care of immediately and put away because it gets in the way; is in constant view; and, you can be living in a rat's nest in two shakes of a rat's tail!
1) Ability to maneuver in some of these smallest tiny homes would be a problem. I'm nearly 6' tall and not a small person. I'm disabled. So stairs, climbing ladders, crawling, etc gets harder the older you get.
2) Absolutely NO storage. Forget having storage. Have a couple of changes of clothes, 2 pairs of shoes and that's about it. No storage for seasonal decorations, books, hobby stuff, etc, etc. It's minimalist living at it's worst. Here in SC we need 2 seasons of clothes: summer and winter. Summer would be bathing suit, shorts, capris, sandals, cool tops. Winter would be coats, jacket, sweaters, long pants, warm tops, shoes/boots. Then there are the clothes for working out or for yard work. And my husband has work boots and work clothes. We are not extravagant on clothes and I certainly don't have a hobby of collecting shoes or purses like some women do. But we still need a walk in closet for me, a closet and chest of drawers for him, and a coat closet at the minimum.
3) Not enough room for pets.
4) We found out when we owned a 35' 5th wheel camper with 3 slideouts, that moving it from place to place always left us with maintenance issues. Let's face it, it puts stresses on a home (camper, wood built on wheels, trailers) that aren't natural and it causes problems. The wind can tear off shingles, rolling and pot holes adds stress on seams and nails. My husband was always having to fix the roof or seams from leaking because the drive would cause something to give. So he could expect to spend one day of our vacation fixing something. We even left it at the beach in storage but the weather and the tractor moving it in and out of storage still caused maintenance issues. In the end, it was too small to be comfortable and too much maintenance and constant care and was not economical.
5) With a larger home, you have space to organize. You can organize your kitchen cabinets and your closets and garage or attic. I.e. I have a closet just for our coats and jackets, gloves, hats, sunscreen, insect repellant, dog's leashes and harnesses, totes, garden shoes. I have another closet that is just for seasonal decorations. I have shelves with boxes marked with each season. I have a baking center in my kitchen and a large "small appliance bay". I also have pantry cabinets and pots and pans drawers. You have room to have a little inventory and to have it laid out and organized. Remember The Closet in Malcolm In The Middle? It had so much stuff in it that if you opened it, everything fell out on top of you? I have enough storage so I don't have "The Closet". Everything has a place. I have a place for our coolers and lunchbags. I have a place for the vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies, etc. In a Tiny House, where do you put some of these necessary supplies and items?
6) With a tiny house you can go stir crazy real quick and you will find yourself going out just to get out of those 4 walls. You may be spending your time (and money) going to coffee houses, restaurants, book stores, library, shopping, gym, etc. I can make a pot of coffee at home but a coffee maker may be too big for some tiny houses. I can cook a home cooked meal, wash the dishes in the dishwasher. A tiny house may not have pantry space for ingredients, a stove/oven/microwave, normal sized refrigerator, dishwasher, or the place to store pots and pans, mixing bowls, etc. I can stay at home to watch TV, read, work on my laptop, play with the dogs, cook, etc So I'm not claustrophobic in my larger home. I don't have to go out of my home to do anything that I like to do. It's all right here and it's efficient because I can be at home with my dogs curled up beside me while working on my laptop and have the laundry going at the same time. It's convenient, efficient. And, for an introvert like me, it works well.
You can see, that having a larger home is my choice. You can go too big and it begins to get beyond what you can financially and physically care for. But that's another subject. The great thing about America is you have choices. If you choose to have a larger home and can afford it, then more power to you. On the other hand, if you prefer living in a smaller space, it makes sense to you! Most of us have to choose based on our economic position. Right now, I can't afford a 5,000 sq. foot home. Not just the purchase price, but the maintenance/remodeling costs, the insurance, the property taxes, the paid help to care for it (house cleaner and/or landscaper, pool maintenance, etc), increased utilities. And, at our age, we couldn't do the work on such a large house alone. So if we could find a great deal on a 5,000 sq foot house, we would have also take into consideration the other increased costs. Then there was the time, in our early years, where we couldn't afford any more of a house than our 976 sq foot home. I can't tell you how thankful we were to have that little house. A house that we built. How much we learned from it. God was so good to give it to us and then He blessed us with a larger home on the farm, then a larger home after the farm and our largest home now. In our 37 yrs of marriage we have moved up to a 3,000 sq foot home. At each step we were happy, blessed and thankful. We worked hard and took care of our homes to the best of our ability, I think God saw that we did our best and were grateful for His gifts. The trick is to be thankful and content in whatever situation you find yourself. If you can only afford a small apartment or a small house, do your best to make it your home, to maintain it and enjoy it. Look for the good. Instead of crying because you don't have a 2nd closet, be thankful that you are able to save money because you don't have room to store as many clothes as you are tempted to buy. Instead of crying because you don't have a big kitchen, be thankful that you have an electric/gas stove, a refrigerator and indoor plumbing because our ancestors didn't have that! The old saying, "I was sad that I had no shoes until I met someone who had no feet." There is always a silver lining. It's how you look at it. You can make yourself miserable or make yourself happy. Have you seen the home improvement show, "Livable"? They go into homes that are in such bad shape - they are unlivable - but the hosts put so much work into it cleaning it, fixing it and remodeling it and it becomes a showplace. If you find yourself in a home that you consider unlivable, work to make it livable. You can always clean, declutter, put out a vase of flowers, wash the curtains... little things that make your home shine even if you can't afford major remodeling.
OK, I'm stopping with the lecture and I'm ready to show you some ideas for smaller homes. I culled the Internet for pictures of small home ideas for decorating and organizing. How to make the most of your small home. There are many ways to store items in new ways and furniture that does double duty. There are ways to make your small space feel larger. I really appreciate all the ideas human beings come up with to make your home more efficient and more beautiful and I thank you for sharing your ideas with the rest of us.
Instead of a large couch, how about a loveseat? Notice the cabinets on each side for storage. But they are painted the same color as the wall so it it blends in.
How about making shelves or cabinets in the 2x4 walls like this one. My Dad did this in some interior walls in his house.
Don't waste that space at the end of a hall. Here they added a cabinet and some shelves.
Think outside the box like hanging these drawers and shelf over the towel bar.
Every inch of the wall around the window is used for additional seating and shelves. That space would otherwise be an unused wall.
How about the space above doors?
If you don't have a closet, make one. This large shelf has a curtain to cover clutter.
Use the space behind a door. Notice the upper shelves are thicker/deeper than the lower shelf and pot rack. That's because it goes over the door.
Bunk beds for a child's room is an old idea but some of these are done in new ways. In this one, the stairs take more room than a ladder but is easier for access.
I like how they squeezed in these shelves over the bathtub. This bathtub is not too wide so those shelves can be reached.
Under a bar, instead of bar stools, you can add additional shelves and some recycle bins.
If you have a small bathroom, a pedestal sink takes up less room but you also loose storage. A vanity gives you some cabinet space that hides bathroom clutter. In this bathroom, they used the pedestal sink but they have a medicine cabinet, a shelf just over the sink and a shelf over the commode. There is hidden storage in the pot and planters too.
I love how they kept the old fixtures and made this small bathroom charming. The wallpaper is beautiful and the pink and green really go well with it. Notice the chair is used like a shelf and there is a wicker basket under the sink. This is a beautiful bathroom but if you don't keep it clean and picked up, it won't look any better than a junk bathroom. Remember, you can get away with almost any style as long as you keep it cleaned and decluttered.
A well done bedroom that accommodates 4 children with the builtin bunk beds and there is a small shelf at the head of the bed for books. As their mother, I would hate to have to change sheets on those upper bunks.
I've always wanted a library in my home. I was a big book hoarder until ebooks came out. Now I'm an ebook hoarder and no one has to know! Anyway, if you have a little alcove, you can use it to make a library. The beautiful china cabinet used for books and the smaller bookshelves hold plenty. Then they added a perfect sized chair and a reading lamp for the space. I do see unused wall space. It is a charming space but the wall behind the chair could have had a floor to ceiling bookshelf for more book storage instead of artwork. But that might have made it feel overpowering. You can choose whether you want more book storage or more charm.
This small bathroom has no storage so they used the wicker shelf and the wicker picnic baskets. Wicker tends to get very dusty in a bathroom but it can be placed in the shower and sprayed clean too. I also like the shelf built in to the pedestal sink with a towel bar. Using the mismatched lids was a great idea.
In small spaces, furniture scale is important. Your couch, chairs, tables have to be just right. Not too big and yet, if it's too small it can be uncomfortable. Not overbearing and fits you like a glove. I think this picture shows it. You have a table with 2 chairs, a couch, chair and coffee table. The only thing that is too big, in my opinion, is the coffee table. A lot of people make this mistake. You need a good walkway between your seat and table so you can get in and out without knocking your knees.
I like the builtins beside the bed and how it becomes a table at bed height. Also the bed base is part of the builtin. Builtins take up less space than free standing furniture. Also they used an old wardrobe for a closet.
Multiple towel racks on the door. Don't forget to use the doors!
A great builtin in corner desk with bookshelves.
Here is an under-stairs pantry. They used a couch table as a microwave stand and added varying depth shelves. They also used wicker baskets and I love the white trash can which could be for dog food, recycling, or other bulk items.
This small kitchen has great cabinetry. The bar gives you working and eating space but they lost storage that could be under the bar. The pot rack gives storage for some big pots and if you have some that you are proud of, display them!
As long as you keep your bed made then this is a great combo. The sheer curtain gives you an illusion of privacy. The builtin divides the rooms, as do the drop down ceiling over the bed. I like that the TV can face the living room of the bedroom. The couch is trim and perfect scale. You get comfortable seating with no excess. The coffee table seems a waste of space. I would use something with or cabinet or small ottoman with lift up seat.
This small bedroom still has style. I'm not a fan of a bed pushed tight against the wall unless it's absolutely necessary and I don't think it was here. It's hard to change sheets on a bed tight against the wall, although a twin bed wouldn't be so bad since you can reach across it. The stripes give it good dimension. The room feels taller and longer.
Whether to fold or roll towels? Here is a fun shelf that holds towels.
This small kitchen has it all. There is sink, gas stove, full refrigerator, oven and microwave, as well as two bar stools. Very good use of the small footprint.
Here is a coffee table that has either ottomans or curtained storage underneath. And there is room enough between the coffee table and loveseats. The shelves can be moved (versus builtins) which is good for rentals. It has open shelves, drawers and cabinets. I like how they used matching boxes to store and hide clutter.
Another library room! They could have run a 6" shelf over the door for some more book storage but I love the floor to ceiling bookshelves! It's also a sun room with the windows and atrium doors. The builtin banquette gives you seating or a place to lay down and read. There are drawers beneath it too.
This small living room has gorgeous builtins, coffered ceiling and a small (make that tiny) fireplace. It's a classic look but with a lot of storage. Again the coffee table is too large with no additional storage beneath it. The couches are a little overstuffed for the space. But they did a great job on this room.
If you don't have a linen closet, but have the space, make one with deep shelves. You can put a curtain or blind over it. This one gave them great storage. Notice how they had to cut out a space for the light switch. And they didn't stop there. They added some blue shelves on the outside facing the sink.
Another kitchen that has a small foot print but has a lot of umpf! A stove top, unusual vent hood, oven, sink. You can't see the refrigerator and I don't know if there is a microwave. There is no dishwasher which would be a problem for me. But the window seat is a great idea. Why not have a space to relax while something is simmering.
This small bedroom is obviously an attic room. The builtins allowed for more space. The under bed storage is nice and so is the shelf by the bed. Is that a hobbit door?
You don't have to have a huge mirror over the bathroom sink. This mirror on an arm will do the trick and it tilts.
A pedestal sink takes less room but you lose some storage. The mirror may be a medicine cabinet and then there is little shelf built into the wall to the right of the sink. The shelf above the commode holds towels. It's just like one in a hotel room.
Adding a shelf over the door gives you some more storage.
If you have high ceilings, you can use them for storage. This cyclist stores his bicycles like works of art hanging from the ceiling.
This kitchenette can hold whatever you need in a minimum of space. You could use this in a guest house, in a master bedroom or a small apartment.
Did you know that there are washer/dryer combos? You put dirty clothes in one machine and it washes them, then dries them so that you take out the clean, dry clothes at the end of the cycle. That saves the space of having 2 machines. Putting one underneath the bathroom cabinet gives you laundry in a small space.
If you have an alcove, you can make it into a great office space like this one.
This laundry closet uses it's space well.
Pocket doors should be used more often. I have several pocket doors in our house and we love them! They don't take up space and in small spaces that can mean a lot! This small bathroom is gorgeous!
You can purchase shelves that slide over the commode to give you some added storage.
This small rectangular sink is pricey but perfect for that small powder room.
This coffee table is perfect. It's narrow so there is room to walk on either side of it and it has drawers for storage. The couch and chair are perfect scale. The builtins are great.
Here is an alternative to a ladder.
This bathroom is so neat! I love the wall hung sink. If you don't have room for double sinks, this might be an alternative. The bathtub is up higher than normal. The wall sconces are great! I also like the chair rail big enough to be a shelf.
Linen storage doesn't have to be in a closet. Use a piece of furniture.
Notice the shelves on the outside of the doors face the kitchen. Then, the shelves reverse to the inside of the door for the laundry items.
Do you need extra seating every once and awhile? How about using it as wall art until it's needed?