Remodel Makes Tiny Seem Big

Many times the focus of a tiny house is on a build; start to finish. A number of times though these new constructs put blinders on the option of renovating a pre-existing structure. Much can be said of making a tiny house or small house more functional through renovation. Just ask Atelier Drome, LLP architects who rethought a Seattle 1950s mid century home and crafted a very stylish, highly functional, 21st century space from it.

Ravenna 1

According to Atelier Drome the clients wanted to make better use of the home and make the space more usable without increasing the actual footprint. In order to do so the finishes, the kitchen, the bath, and the storage areas, all needed to be updated. One of the most effective additions was that of a new, sliding glass door in the second bedroom cum office allowing natural light from the outdoors to the indoors while also creating a new entrance/exit. A folding wall system was also added separating the entire room from the main living area. This allows the owners to open up the entire space to the exterior but still have privacy for the bedroom when needed.

Ravenna 4

To house a few of their collections display storage and hidden storage was added including built in shelving in each of the bedrooms and living spaces. In this vein a touch of innovation was added to the bathroom where additional storage was added above the shower accessible by the bedroom closet. To make sure the home was energy efficient and space conscious the architect(s) also added energy saving appliances including a washer/dryer combo and an on-demand hot water heater.

Ravenna 2

The addition of stainless steel appliances, clean lined birch cabinetry, ceramic tile work, floating shelves, and formed concrete countertops, allowed even more storage while giving off a modern aesthetic that is neither too similar to a larger, colder space or in direct competition with the original mid-century design.

Ravenna 3

In an effort to increase the function of the tiny house a new deck was added which provides additional living space for more comfortable weather. The deck itself raises up like a platform to reveal a dual purpose: a direct landing from the interior and a bench edge to sit on when enjoying the green space of the backyard.

All in all the Ravenna remodel is a successful one showing how a little bit of planning, a new use of materials, and an understanding of both form and function can make the task of living in a tiny house that much more feasible.

Your Turn!

  • Have you considered renovating instead of building from scratch?
  • How could you repurpose your current space?



  1. Andrew, what is the sq. footage of this house? Are there any before/after floor plans?

  2. I’m surprised more builders don’t incorporate recessed shelving in the walls when building—this would provide lots of room for storage/decor, and free up bodily space.

    • the old houses used to have built in cupboards etc. mine is 150 year balloon house and it has almost nothing.

      takes time and materials and can’t be done prefsb

  3. I started with a 250 sq ft house and have been renovating since day one. The first thing I did was remove a wall dividing the kitchen from the main/only room. Now I am adding a second story. I call it the installment plan. I’m slowly adding to make it affordable and to respond to my needs as I discover what my basic needs are. Check out my blog if you are interested

  4. I’m currently living in 1285 sq ft. Buying 558. No, not tiny – but certainly smaller. And needing lots of work. For instance, it doesn’t have a kitchen. Oh, it has a ROOM that was once a kitchen and will be again. But, at the moment, no cabinets, no sink, no stove, no fridge, nada.

    Something else it won’t have is a mortgage. Hurray! The money I would have spent on that will go for renovations like a covered deck to hold the solar panels I’ll be moving from here. They certainly won’t all fit on the house.

    There will be lots of renovating going on. One idea I came across, recently, was that of putting the pantry in the kitchen ceiling: lower the ceiling [making room for a bed-loft above – I hope] and install wooden doors instead of sheet rock. The doors latch into the ceiling. The shelves are attached to the doors, so when you lower them, there are your dry goods hanging down at eye-level. Then, a second door lowers to reveal 2×6’s covered by heavy-duty clear plastic. Insert your cans above and they roll down to an opening at the bottom. Instant rotation by expiration date!

    I’ll be scouring tiny house sites for more ideas as I proceed.

    First, I’ve got to get my bid for the house accepted, buy it and move in. Once those hurdles are passed, let the renovations begin!

  5. I built a 14 x 28,2×6 walls living area s s, stand up loft with a 2rear, hip wall gives a lot more store usable storage in loft at little cost extra cost. Heats with small amount of wood. Never feel like in camper trailer. bump out for dinning table leaves a lot of room in mid house and never feel cramped. Lesson learned, Don’t try to make house so tiny but try to make it not feel tiny with wise design such as added 2 ft hip wall so loft is much more useful. Will shealy

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