10 Tricks to Borrow from Tiny Houses

by Mariela Abreu | Feb 28, 2017

by Melissa Cowan, Houzz Contributor

A lot of innovative, space-saving design solutions have been born out of the tiny-house movement, and there’s no reason you can’t use these ideas even if you’re not living in one. They’re applicable if you’re living in a small space such as a studio apartment or want to use an area for more than one purpose — combining a work and dining area, for example.

The first thing to take into consideration is how you will be using the space. Will it be used primarily just to crash at night? Or will you be using it a lot during the day, maybe as a space to work from home? Once you have thought about the space’s purpose, then you can incorporate design ideas from tiny houses into your own home. Here are some of the best features of tiny-house living to take away.

1. Built-in sofa with storage There’s no reason why you wouldn’t make use of a built-in couch for additional storage. It makes the perfect hideaway for items you won’t be using every day, such as files or mementos. There are a number of ways to add storage to your sofa, such as through removable seats with storage space inside, side drawers, pullout baskets and shelves.


Tiny Houses 1: The Tiny Project, original photo on Houzz

2. Fold-down standing desk. If you won’t be working from home all that often but want to give yourself the option, a fold-down standing desk could work well. Here, a panel folds down from the wall to make the standing desk. When it’s not in use, it allows for full use of the couch below.


Tiny Houses 2: Tiny House Company, original photo on Houzz

3. Retractable bed If you have limited floor space but relatively high ceilings, a retractable bed can be a smart solution. In this clever tiny house, the bed is raised and lowered remotely so the space below can be used for other purposes during the day. This option may be chosen if a ladder is impractical due to mobility issues, or if you just don’t like ladders.

While retractable beds aren’t the cheapest option, they do add significant comfort and practicality to small spaces. When this bed is needed, the remote-controlled hoist and track system that’s built into a full-height storage wall lowers the bed down to rest, turning the living room into a bedroom. There’s no folding or packing away involved either.


Tiny Houses 3: Tamara Armstrong, original photo on Houzz

4. Storage walls This storage wall, which acts as a closet in the same house, can be accessed when the retractable bed is hoisted up. When the doors are closed, you would barely know the wall contains a closet. While it may be handier to have your clothes in the bedroom, there’s nothing stopping you from using other walls to house them.

5. Loft bed. If you’re not a fan of a retractable bed, or want a cheaper option, a loft bed can be another good way to make use of vertical space. Loft beds are great for providing a real sense of separation between different areas of the house. Plus, who doesn’t want to feel like they’re in their very own fort?


Tiny Houses 4: Plastics Make It Possible, original photo on Houzz

6. Space-efficient stairs. If you don’t like the idea of climbing up a ladder to your loft bed, perhaps try space-saving stairs. In general, staircases can take up a lot of space, so smart designs like the one pictured can be a genius idea. Or if you don’t want to put your bed up high, you could consider storing possessions you don’t frequently need to access up in a loft instead

7. Stairs with storage.If you do want the comfort of a full set of stairs, you can use the staircase for extra storage. Storage doesn’t need to be limited to built-ins or cabinets. Make use of the hidden empty space in less obvious places, such as shelving under stairs or understair cabinets or drawers.

8. Coffee table storage.Another space-saving solution for the living room is a modular storage unit that functions as a coffee table or even extra seating if required. Best used if you’re not planning on keeping many decorative items on top of your coffee table.


Tiny Houses 5: Michelle Jarni, original photo on Houzz

9. Extra kitchen prep space. The pictured kitchen sink holds a double basin, but laminated wood and plywood boards that fit over the sinks create extra prep space when the sinks aren’t in use. Use the extra space when you’re cooking, and then pull the boards back out when you want to wash up. An ideal setup.


Tiny Houses 5: Michelle Jarni, original photo on Houzz

10. Pull-out dining area. The kitchen can double as a dining area with a pullout dining table. Store it under a kitchen bench, and then pull it out for a dining table for everyday dinners or entertaining. This particular table also functions as a kitchen bench for preparing meals. The double-sided set of pullout drawers can hold kitchen essentials in the front three drawers.

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