When we began designing La Casita we knew we needed to think seriously about space management. I remember wishing there were more blogs dedicated to advice on designing and living in a tiny house, not just constructing one. Now I’m living the tiny life and I want to provide useful advice to those out there embarking on this exciting endeavor. Here are a few suggestions from our experience and what influenced us in our design and build. While each tip may not be useful or of interest to you, I hope it helps to inspire and assist in your tiny house design, build and overall living experience.
1. Create a visual of the size space you wish to live in. Have fun with it! Try building a cardboard version of what you want and play around with what you think is best for your lifestyle! Cedric and I took painters tape to our bedroom floor in our rental apartment to figure out just how small we could live. Creating a visual will give you a much better picture of the physical space and how much of that space you truly need.
2. Identify your needs. What are your specific requirements for a good life? Do you love to entertain? If so plan your kitchen and living space accordingly. Do you work from home? Make sure to create an appropriate office space. For us, good life means good food! We love to cook so we made sure La Casita had a kitchen that could accommodate our need to make delicious meals!
3. Windows windows everywhere! When you live in a small dwelling windows make all the difference. They open up cramped areas allowing natural lighting to extend an opening effect. Without sufficient windows you’ll end up feeling like you live in a box creating a claustrophobic experience. Only warning: make sure you place them logically in to your design or you might end up with a funny looking exterior that creates an unbalanced look.
4. Don’t forget storage! Look at what you own, decide what’s important to you and plan, plan, plan for it in your design. Not only will this allow you to organize your space more readily once you move in, you’ll also notice how open your space can feel with the right amount of organization. We did not design storage in to La Casita and it has caused a lot of headaches for us. As we’ve come to find out, it’s easy to feel cluttered in a tiny house and I will never again underestimate the enjoyment of an organized space.
5. Travel! Explore! Find other small space dwellings and visit! Go camping for awhile and find out what you really need to be comfortable and happy. Cedric and I volunteered on organic farms for nearly a year and had the opportunity to live in yurts, studio apartments, tents and even travel vans! It allowed us to achieve a better design and helped us to figure out what it was we truly desired and required in our living space.
6. Take a cue from theater design! Visual boards are essential elements to the staging, costuming and acting aspect of any production. Create your own visual boards to assist and inspire your design. Be creative! Come up with any and all design ideas that you want to consider in your home. Whether you use old fashioned board and glue or websites such as Pinterest you’ll find that having created these visuals will help sustain enthusiasm in your design and build. We taped magazine cut outs all around the house during construction to inspire design and map out specific areas. It helped inspire us and keep us visually motivated.
7. Connect! Find other blogs, attend workshops, and contact fellow tiny house builders and dwellers. Ask their opinions and perhaps they’ll even give you a tour of their home (beer bribery has also been known to work wonders at achieving access to tiny house tours). In our experience, the tiny house community is friendly and helpful. Most people want to share their experiences and help out fellow soon-to-be tiny house dwellers.
8. Create a check-list. This will help you to organize the building process and make it easier to realize specific goals. It can seem overwhelming at first but ultimately it will help drive your construction. A list gives you a realistic idea of the amount of work you have to do plus it’s super satisfying when you can look at a goal and check it off! Anything you can do to keep motivated is very important to the designing and building process. For a fantastic example, check out Ryan’s for his tiny house build!
9. Call in help! Organize work days and ask your friends to come out and help you at appropriate stages of construction. It’s a refreshing and fun way to fuel a build, especially after months of construction by your lonesome self. Cedric and I had a Saturday Roof Raising Event and invited friends to join because not only was it a community experience, we also believe that the positive energy our friends lent to the building of La Casita transformed it from a house to a home. We can look at many parts of our home and give thanks to the help our friends provided in creating such a beautiful space.10. Have fun! Enjoy the process and though frustrations will come up, as they do in any project, keep positive. It’s not always easy to stay motivated over the course of months it takes to build a tiny house but remember that the end product is all yours and having a cozy, safe space to come home to is the ultimate reward!