Posts Tagged Design

Create A Minimalist Home And Take Back Control

Create A Minimalist Home And Take Back Control

minimalist house


The way you decorate your home matters; it’s an extension of yourself. When you walk into a room, you’re met with colors, trinkets, furniture, art, and décor that speaks volumes about the person who lives there. Your home gives you a feeling, and you want it to be a good one!

A minimalist’s house, in particular, is meant to deeply reflect the person who lives there and increase positive feelings in their life. And who doesn’t want that?

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I wanted my house to reflect what I truly value, which led me to move into a tiny house about a decade ago. Today, my home and everything in it is intentionally designed to mirror who I am.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is A Minimalist Home?

What is a minimalist home

When you think of a minimalist home, what comes to mind? A stark house with bare white walls? While this look has its aesthetic pros, a minimalist home does not necessarily have to mimic a particular look or vibe.

A minimalist household is simply any home that has been intentionally designed to support the lifestyle of its owner. Turning your house into a minimalist home means evaluating your clutter, furniture, color scheme, and décor to identify if the feelings they bring you are the ones you want. It’s about creating a holistic space.

what makes a minimalistic house

A Minimalist House Is Clutter Free

A Minimalist House Is Clutter Free

Decluttering is one of the first things people think of when it comes to creating a minimalist house, and it’s often one of the first steps you should take when trying to make your house a minimalist one.

A messy home leads to higher levels of cortisol, harming your emotional health, and puts a strain on family life at home. This doesn’t sound like a peaceful, holistic home to me.

I’ve found that getting rid of clutter reduces my stress and gives me freedom to focus on things I care about. The beginning of creating a minimalist home that fosters a peaceful environment is to get rid of your stuff.

30 day declutter challenge

Minimalist Homes Give Each Room A Purpose

Minimalist Homes Give Each Room A Purpose

The art of minimalism and essentialism is about eliminating the excess and only leaving room for the things that add value to your life. You can apply this same mindset to every room of your household by evaluating the purpose that each serves.

minimalist designed rooms have a purposeI’m pretty ruthless in my tiny house; I don’t keep much around. I’m a practical guy, so I’ve designed my home to match that. Each room has just about enough space to live comfortably and have access to all of the essentials — bathroom, kitchen storage, and the like.

I don’t feel the need to add flashy décor or unnecessary furniture to my house, because that isn’t me. I’m perfectly content to live a simple life, and my house matches my personality in that way. That doesn’t mean that someone who fills their space with ornate artwork or vibrant colored beanbag chairs is inherently less of a minimalist, as long as those things have purpose in their home.

Analyze the purpose you want each room to serve — that purpose could be practical as “I shower here” or as abstract as “I want this room to foster an inviting feeling.”

Ask yourself

  • How do I want to feel in this room?
  • How do I want others to feel?
  • What adjectives describe this room?
  • What activities will take place here?
  • What is the purpose of this room?
  • What items will aid that purpose?
  • What do I like about this room?
  • If I could change one thing it would be?
  • Does the furniture match the purpose?
the purpose of stuff

Minimalist Homes Support Your Hobbies And Passions

Minimalist Homes Support Your Hobbies And Passions

In a minimalist house, not only does each room of your home have a purpose, your stuff has a purpose as well. There are many methods out there in the minimalist world for decluttering your belongings and nailing down the things of value.

To simplify this, the stuff you keep around should support your hobbies, passions, and who you want to become. For me, that looks like a huge bookshelf in my tiny house where I keep all the books I’ve read and hope to read in the future. My books are a staple in my minimalist household, as they’re my most favorite hobby.

Fill your home with things you love. Keep the guitar you always play, add photos of your friends to your wall, or add a desk to support your love of writing. Whoever you want to be, let your belongings echo that.

tiny house book reviews
minimalism book reviews
homesteading book reviews

A Minimalist House Reflects Your Personality And Style

A Minimalist House Reflects Your Personality And Style

Minimalist homes do not have to be void of style and personality. In order to truly create a holistic space that mirrors you, it’s important to match the color, décor, and general vibe to who you are.

Timeless Furniture For Your Minimalist HomeThis comes down to all elements of style: color scheme, the placement of things, posters and wall art, photographs of family and friends, and more. As mentioned before, it’s a pretty common misconception that a room has to be plain to be considered minimalist.

I’m a huge proponent that any room that has been stripped to its most true elements and is not excessive or overbearing is a minimalist space. Fill your room with color, art, or handwritten quotes that uplift or inspire you. Just don’t let your décor be absent of purpose, and make sure it mirrors who you are at your core.

A Minimalist Home Is Cozy And Warm

A Minimalist Home Is Cozy And Warm

Minimalists can sometimes get a bad rap for creating spaces that are barren or bleak, but I don’t see minimalism like that at all. I am a firm believer that our lives should be comfortable, so much so that I wear the same outfit every day just because its comfortable for me!

Pursuing comfort in big and small ways has greatly improved my quality of life. Minimalist houses can easily be made into cozy, warm, intimate havens. Each room of your house has the potential to foster warmth and comfort if you’re intentional with how you fill it.

Make your house cozy

  • Add soft blankets
  • Add cozy throw pillows
  • Light candles
  • Use essential oils
  • Add house plants
  • Opt for brighter wall tones
  • Play with low lighting
  • Curate an outdoor hangout
  • Hang photos on the walls
  • Set out a favorite book
the basics of hygge

Five Tips For Creating A Minimalist House

Tips For Creating A Minimalist House

I took this opportunity to chat with my friend Mia Danielle about everything that goes into creating a minimalist space. What’s awesome about Mia is that she really understands that there is more to creating a minimalist house than how much stuff you get rid of.

Here are five solid tips for to help you curate a home that isn’t just minimal, but that holistically serves you in all areas of your life:

Purchase Timeless Furniture For Your Minimalist Home

Purchase Timeless Furniture For Your Minimalist Home

Ostentatious pieces aren’t the move in a minimalist house, as they quickly become unusable. Trends come and go, and flashier items will go out of style more quickly. One way to make the most out of what’s in your home is to target timeless pieces of furniture and décor.

classic timeless furnitureLike I said before, this doesn’t mean your home needs to be bland or plain. There are many timeless pieces that have color, flair, and character. It simply means that when making a purchase, think through the longevity of the piece more so than its immediate use.

Imagine the life of the new couch you are getting for the living room: A cream or beige couch may outlive fads longer than a green couch would. When furnishing your space, consider the way each piece can be used if you move, if styles change, or if you change. Invest in pieces that can change with you.

Journal About Each Room In Your Minimalist Home

Journal About Each Room In Your Minimalist Home

Writing down your thoughts can be helpful when curating your space. Spend a few minutes in each room, grab a clean piece of paper, and write down how the room makes you feel.

Do the dark walls in your living room make you feel claustrophobic? Do the hard chairs in the kitchen feel uninviting? Do the stacks of papers in your office bring you stress?

Identify your culprits. Then, take some time to read back what you wrote and begin coming up with ways to alter that feeling. Start with small changes, then let your ideas grow from there.

bullet journal challenge

Use Heat Mapping In Your Minimalist House

Use Heat Mapping In Your Minimalist House

Heat mapping is a fairly easy trick for creating a minimalist home. The way it works is that every time you use an item, say a product in your bathroom or a kitchen appliance, you set that item aside from the rest of your things. Eventually, your most used items will all be set aside, making unused items easy to identify.

In this way, you begin to clearly see the distinction between what is essential in your life verses the things you never touch. This is a valuable way to begin to control clutter in your minimalist home and fill your space primarily with the things you need.

mia danielle

“With heat mapping, I’ll have all of my bathroom products in one group, then as I use something, I move it to the side. I do that for about a month. At the end of the month, I see the things I haven’t grabbed and throw them away.”

– Mia Danielle, Podcast Host

Listen To Your Gut When Creating A Minimalist House

Listen To Your Gut When Creating A Minimalist House

Listening to your inner voice for guidance is key when creating a minimalist home. If your goal is to foster a space that makes you feel good, then you want to stay in tune with yourself and gauge when you feel good or when you feel bad.

After you’ve decorated in the ways you see fit, walk into each room of your home and observe how you feel. If you feel a sense of emptiness or overcrowding, or if the room isn’t giving you the positive feeling you were hoping for, listen to your gut about making a change.

mia danielle

“Whenever you feel at peace in your space, when you feel happy, and you get that moment when you look around the room and just smile, that’s when you know you’re at the right place for you.”

– Mia Danielle, Podcast Host

Add Personal Touches To Your Minimalist Home

Add Personal Touches To Your Minimalist Home

A minimalist house is not complete without personal flair. Integrate items that represent who you are into your minimalist look. You can decorate with memorabilia and embed small touches of sentimentality into an aesthetic base of simplicity.

This might look like

  • Creating a photo gallery
  • Adding art to your wall
  • Displaying family heirlooms
  • Framing letters or cards
  • Hanging maps where you’ve lived
  • Displaying sheet music you like
  • Decorating with travel mementos
  • Framing family recipes
  • Display kids artwork
adding personal touch to minimalist home

The Best Way To Make Your Home Minimalist: Use Your Five Senses

Best Way To Make Your Home Minimalist

One of the best ways to create a fully minimalist, holistic home is to incorporate all five of your senses into your space.

This means thinking about your home as more than where you put your furniture and as a holistic experience that brings all of your senses to life. Let’s break down each of your five senses and learn how they can be used in a minimalist home.

What Does A Minimalist House Look Like?

What Does A Minimalist House Look Like

Naturally, visual aesthetic is the first things people think about for a minimalist space. As mentioned before, a minimalist house does not necessarily have to abide by particular colors and tones, but these elements do often help with the mood of the room. There’s a reason the experts repeatedly do what they do.

Visual elements of a minimalist house

  • Accent with warm or cool tones
  • Use consistent materials
  • Negative spaces contrast tones
  • Buy large furniture, not small
  • Use concealed storage
  • Leave trinkets off of tables
  • Add house plants
  • Opt for multipurpose furniture
  • Lead with white tones
  • Incorporate splashes of color
minimalist homes look cozy

What Does A Minimalist House Feel Like?

What Does A Minimalist House Feel Like

Consider how you want your home to feel — what textures and tactile elements can help you curate a household that is pleasing to your sense of touch? Add things to your minimalist house that evoke a cozy, homey, restful feeling.

Tactile elements of a minimalist house

minimalist homes feel inviting

What Does A Minimalist House Smell Like?

What Does A Minimalist House Smell Like

Science says that our memory and sense of satisfaction is directly linked to our sense of smell. Fragrance is powerful, and filling your home with rich, ambrosial scents can make it feel like a far more peaceful space.

Aromatic elements of a minimalist house

  • Light candles
  • Diffuse essential oils
  • Use a wax warmer
  • Roast coffee beans
  • Hang dried herbs
  • Boil cinnamon sticks
  • Boil lemon rinds
  • Use cleaning products
  • Absorb odors with baking soda
  • Clear trash regularly
  • Utilize activated charcoal
minimalist homes smell nice

What Does A Minimalist House Sound Like?

What Does A Minimalist House Sound Like

You can also use sound to curate a peaceful, minimalist household. Music, relaxing noises, and reducing excess chaotic noise can help you to create a fully holistic house.

Euphonic elements of a minimalist house

  • Open windows to hear sounds
  • Spin your favorite vinyl record
  • Display musical instruments
  • Use a sound machine
  • Encourage conversation
  • Make time for silence
  • Eliminate background noise
  • Invest in quality insulation
  • Reduce echos with rugs & pillows
  • Grease squeaky hinges
displaying musical instruments in minimalist home

What Does A Minimalist House Taste Like?

What Does A Minimalist House Taste Like

Taste might seem like a wild one to address when talking about your house, but it can actually play a big role. There are many small food details that you may not think about that can make your house feel more like home.

Flavorful elements of a minimalist house

  • Keep quality food in the fridge
  • Set candy or mints on coffee tables
  • Brew fresh coffee in the morning
  • Healthy snacks
  • Bowl of fruit
  • Afternoon tea
  • Carafe of water
  • Meal prep for simple meals
  • Cook healthy dinners
aroma of fresh brewed coffee in minimalist house

Your Turn!

  • How do you hope to feel in your minimalist house?
  • What will you change to curate that feeling in your home?

Backyard ADUs: What’s The Big Deal And Why You’ll Want One

Backyard ADUs: What’s The Big Deal And Why You’ll Want One

Backyard Accessory Dwelling Units


If you’re searching for a place for your loved one to live nearby but want to forgo the madness of rent and mortgages in today’s housing market, accessory dwelling units are an awesome option. I’ve seen many families build ADUs on their property for elderly parents who want privacy, yet can’t live alone. I’ve also seen ADUs used for children who move back home, or as a private place for extended family to stay when they visit.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

After years of helping folks design and build their dream tiny house, I’ve learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of the process, what mistakes to avoid, and what tricks to employ to make your ADU the best it can be.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Are Accessory Dwelling Units?

What Are Accessory Dwelling Units

An ADU is a smaller house that sits directly behind your main home, but is still on your property. There are tons of different building types for backyard ADUs, including:

Examples of Backyard ADUs:

  • Backyard tiny houses
  • Backyard cottages
  • Garage conversions
  • Prefab accessory dwelling units
  • Small detached mobile homes
  • Small detached container homes
  • Granny flats
a backyard accessory dwelling unit

Some ADUs have full bedrooms, bathrooms, or kitchens. Some are simply open rooms with studio space. The possibilities are endless with your backyard ADU, and the design and building style you choose is going to be dependent on your purpose for the building.

Why Build A Backyard Tiny House ADU?

Why Build A Backyard Tiny House ADU

I’ve spent a lot of time helping my friends design tiny houses, but wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of building ADUs so I could share that with you.

Last week, I reached out to two ADU design companies to ask the nitty gritty questions about what you should make sure you understand before building an accessory dwelling unit. These experts had a lot to say — let’s talk about what they shared.

ADUs Can Be Used To House An Elderly Parent

I’ve seen many folks build accessory dwelling units for their elderly parents. It’s a wise way to keep your parents close in their retired life, while still giving them their own private house.

With an ADU, your parent feels like they can live an independent life, but still access help when needed. Design the space to accommodate their needs in old age, like including wheelchair ramps or easy access to kitchen and bathroom spaces.

ADU tips“Design your ADU using universal design. Widen doorways for wheelchair accessibility, build the bathroom so you can add hold bars later, build to future proof for needs down the road.” – Caitlin Bigelow, Maxable Space

Boomerang Kids Live In ADUs Instead Of Moving Out

Building an accessory dwelling unit for your 20-something child is also becoming an extremely popular choice. With the cost of living getting more expensive every year, young professionals are desperately searching for alternative methods to find affordable housing.

With an ADU, your kids can have freedom, privacy, and independence without throwing rent down the drain each month. You also get to keep your loved ones close, but not too close.

Backyard Tiny Homes Make Great Guesthouses

Housing family and friends is another common reason I’ve seen people build ADUs. If you have substantial savings, a smaller primary house, and a lot of land, a guesthouse might be a helpful way to create a space guests can call their own.

With a separate guesthouse, family can stay for holidays, birthdays, or weekends without feeling like they’re invading your space or overstaying their welcome. It gives loved ones their own private living space, which can be a peaceful escape when you’ve had a little too much time together at family gatherings.

Backyard Tiny Homes Make Great Guesthouses

Backyard ADUs Provide Rental Income

People will make anything a rental property these days — from a backyard treehouse to a converted cargo trailer to their childhood bedroom. Building an ADU is a great way to get on board with this common trend.

Turning your ADU into a rental property can help you make a little extra money on the side. Whether you want to list it on Airbnb or rent it out long term, creating a rental property out of an ADU is a positive investment.

ADU tips“I’ve been a landlady for about 12 years with different long-term rentals, and renters always need more storage! Work with your designer to add storage to the outside of the unit.” – Lynette Padwa, Maxable Space

ADUs Increase Your Property Value Substantially

Many of my friends have built accessory dwelling units to raise the value of their home. They can really pay off when it’s time to sell.

Accessory Dwelling Units add value to your propertyWhen done well, detached ADUs have the potential to increase your property’s overall value by 20 to 30%. Additionally, a national housing survey by Porch recently stated that properties in major metropolitan cities like LA or New York City that have ADUs are listing at 35% above the price of properties without.

In today’s work-from-home culture, ADUs are hot commodities. People are seeking small spaces to rent to professionals and travelers, detached work-from-home offices, and tricked out guesthouses. This makes ADUs assets for realtors and homeowners alike.

ADU tips“Take out a home equity line of credit to unlock full revenue potential on the property. We see folks do this, and the cashflow they receive from that rent check each month covers the loan payment and much more, especially in expensive cities.” – Whitney Hill, Snap ADU

How Much Does An Accessory Dwelling Unit Cost?

How Much Does An Accessory Dwelling Unit Cost

Providing a one-size-fits-all cost breakdown is impossible with ADUs. The total cost of the project will depend on where you live, if there are any obstacles with the land you’re building on, what jobs you hire out and what you do yourself (building, architecture, installation), how you design your structure, how large it is, and many other factors.

how much do accessory dwelling units costI’ve heard of ADUs as cheap as $50,000 and as expensive as $400,000 — the range is huge. The best way to determine how much you’ll need to build your backyard dwelling is to look at examples similar to what you’re envisioning.

You can refer to local builders in your area, online listings of similar projects, or ask friends or neighbors in your community who may have built an ADU property.

Accessory dwelling unit is an umbrella term for so many types of housing. A backyard cottage will require an entirely different budget than a converted garage. Look to local projects that mirror what you want and talk to your builder to get an idea of the cost of your project.

ADU tips“The biggest thing people misunderstand is cost. There’s a lot of misinformation online about the price tag of these projects. Partner with a design company to understand what you can actually afford.” – Lynette Padwa, Maxable Space

Ideal Floor Plans For An Accessory Dwelling Unit

Ideal Floor Plans For An Accessory Dwelling Unit

It’s also hard to know what size is best for accessory dwelling unit, or what to include when designing one. The ideal dimensions can be contingent on many factors.

Consider how much land you have to work with, what you’re using your ADU for, the legal dimensions allowed in your jurisdiction, and property line setbacks, among other factors. Think about what will work for you.

ADU tips“The life of ADUs will go through different iterations in the 20 or 30 years you’re in your house. You may start out with your mom in there, but 10 years from now you may be renting it out. Design your space with the future in mind.” – Lynette Padwa, Maxable Space

Accessory Dwelling Unit For A Couple

30 x 24 ADU Floor Plan #1

30 x 24 ADU cost: $144,000

Accessory Dwelling Unit For A Couple

Consider this floor plan if you’re thinking about using your accessory dwelling unit as a guesthouse for family and friends. With room for a queen bed, open kitchen and living room, washer and dryer, and full bathroom, this ADU design feels like an entire house of its own.

ADU Guesthouse with Mudroom

22 x 28 ADU Floor Plan #2

22 x 28 ADU cost: $123,200

ADU Guesthouse with Mudroom

The attached mudroom makes this floor plan extremely unique. A backroom extension is an awesome way to connect your ADU to the outdoor elements and have your kids wash up or change after a day of play. With an open living room and kitchen, bathroom, and room for a queen bed, this design makes a perfect pool house or guest home.

tiny house floorplans for adus

Two Bed, One Bath Accessory Dwelling Unit For Family

25 x 25 ADU Floor Plan #3

25 x 25 ADU cost: $125,000

Two Bed One Bath Accessory Dwelling Unit For Family

This design includes a wide open living room and kitchen with room for two bedrooms and one bathroom, making it the perfect size to house family around the holidays. Each bedroom is spacious with room for a queen bed and its own closet — great for extended family.

One Bed, One Bath ADU Floor Plan

37 x 24 ADU Floor Plan #4

37 x 24 ADU cost: $177,600

One Bed One Bath ADU Floor Plan

This floor plan merges the living and dining spaces, while the kitchen has a nook of its own. The bedroom is private and has room for one queen bed, with the bathroom directly connected. This design is perfect for a guesthouse or a place for grandma and grandpa to live in your backyard.

barndominium floorplans
living in a yurt

Two Bed, One Bath ADU Floor Plan

32 x 24 ADU Floor Plan #5

32 x 24 ADU cost: $153,600

Two Bed One Bath ADU Floor Plan

This two-bedroom, one-bathroom ADU floor plan is another option perfect as a guesthouse for relatives to stay or in-laws to live in permanently. The primary bedroom has a walk-in closet while the secondary bedroom has a smaller closet; both rooms fit queen beds. The kitchen serves as the point of entry, which opens into the living room.

ADU Garage Conversion, 2 Bedroom Floor Plan

25 x 25 ADU Floor Plan #6

25 x 25 ADU cost: $125,000

ADU Garage Conversion 2 Bedroom Floor Plan

This ADU garage conversion has room for two bedrooms with queen beds, a bathroom, and an open kitchen and living room. The floor plan is ideal for someone who wants to build an apartment on top of their two-car garage and is a great way to incorporate an ADU in smaller properties and urban settings.

free aframe floor plan kit

ADU Convert Garage, Boomerang Kids Apartment

25 x 25 ADU Floor Plan #7

25 x 25 ADU cost: $125,000

ADU Convert Garage Boomerang Kids Apartment

The ideal floor plan for a child who isn’t quite ready to move out, this converted garage will give your kid freedom and independence while not being far from home.

The design rests atop a two-car garage with room for a bedroom, bathroom, and living room with barstools and a large couch. They can have friends stay the night and enjoy privacy in their backyard ADU.

Three-Car Garage Converted Into ADU

32 x 25 ADU Floor Plan #8

32 x 25 ADU cost: $160,000

Three-Car Garage Converted Into ADU

Convert your three-car garage into an accessory dwelling unit with this prime floor plan. A two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment rests on top of your three-car garage and includes an open kitchen and living room with two closest and a dinette. This design makes the perfect guesthouse!

designing your tiny home

Four Tips For A Smooth ADU Building Process

Four Tips For A Smooth ADU Building Process

After designing your dream floor plan, it’s time to build your ADU! I’ve had friends start construction on a property they love only to hit major roadblocks later on. These easy checkpoints help prevent problems down the line.

1Tip One: Connect With A Local ADU Building Company

Building an ADU on your own is the easiest way to make the project take longer and cost more. The devil is in the details, and there is plenty of room for mistakes if you’ve never taken on a huge construction project before.

It’s helpful to have an expert’s input when it comes to things like zoning and building laws, installing heating and cooling systems, alternative energy sources, and other complicated details. A simple Google search can connect you with designers and builders in your area that can help you navigate the construction process of your ADU.

2Tip Two: Check The Feasibility Of An ADU On Your Land

Make sure your land can handle an ADU before you start building. Many expert building companies will help you undergo some kind of land analysis process to help you understand if an ADU will fit on your land.

They’ll also assess any problems that could drive the price up — like wanting to build on a sloped hill, underground pipes that inhibit the foundation, or rough terrain. This pre-analysis is crucial and will help you decide if an ADU is a worthy investment on your property.

ADU tips“Assess where the utility lines run, do I need to upgrade the electrical panel, are there access issues, does the sewer run downhill or uphill — these things can have a huge impact on cost. Ask these questions before starting the build.” – Mike Moore, Snap ADU

parking a tiny house

3Tip Three: Get A Permit To Make Your ADU Legal

When it comes to ADUs, getting the legal go-ahead can be dicey. Each state has their own set of zoning and building codes that they follow for traditional dwellings, and some have additional codes for detached dwellings.

cracking the codeYou almost always need a permit to make your ADU legal. This is another reason why it’s recommended to get help from an experienced builder who can help you read between the lines of your city’s building laws and walk you through the permit process.

Most ADU permits are managed by the governance of the city. City websites sometimes have a checklist of all the documents you’ll need, and each of the rules your ADU plans need to follow to be approved.

Here’s an example of an ADU permit checklist for San Jose, California. Look into the planning, building, and code enforcement department in your city to find a similar checklist.

Talk to the building company you’re partnering with and let them help you with the permit process before you break ground. You can also defer to our tiny house builders directory to see if your state has laws in place specific to ADUs.

4Tip Four: Assign A Mailing Address To Your ADU

In most cities, it’s recommended (or required) for ADUs to have their own address independent of the main house or property. The reason for this is fire safety. If firefighters need to get to a particular location quickly, trying to figure out which building on the property to go to wastes time.

Having an individual address for your ADU is also helpful if you have a parent, child, or long-term renter living in the backyard dwelling. It helps letters, cards, and bills not get mixed up as easily when there are two separate addresses.

Oftentimes, ADUs are given a ½ fractional number that is adjacent to the existing main address. Contact the Mapping and Property Management Division (MPM) in your respective jurisdiction for questions about setting up an address for your ADU.

How Do I Get Electricity, Water, HVAC, And Sewage Service To My ADU?

How Do I Get Electricity Water HVAC And Sewage Service To My ADU

A common question I get about ADUs is how they get the essential utilities: electricity, water, sewage, heating, and cooling. Basic utilities are typically required by law as a building code standard, so integrating them into your ADU is a must.

I’ll walk you through how to get each of these to your ADU so you can live comfortably in your backyard tiny home.

Electricity For A Backyard ADU

When it comes to power, you have several options here. Again, work with your builder to help decipher the route that works for your needs, your land, and your bill. Options for getting electricity to your ADU include:

Electricity Options For Your ADU:

tiny house electrical

Connect Your ADU To The Main House’s Power Source:

You’ll want to check the amperage to the main house before connecting the two units. Amperage is the amount of electric power that you have coming into the house in total.

Your main house will most likely have a total amperage of between 60 amps and 200 amps. With newer houses, it’s likely the home will have 200-amp services. Older homes may have less.

An ADU may need up to 100 amps to operate, so it’s vital that you to consider the amperage of your primary dwelling before connecting it to your ADU to ensure you have enough power for both properties.

Giving Your ADU Its Own Power Source:

Sometimes it just makes more logistical sense to give your ADU its own power source. This is smarter if your main house doesn’t have enough amperage to power your ADU, or if you plan to rent it out and don’t want to deal with splitting the bill each month.

electric meter for aduIf you choose to go this route, you will need to install a dual meter panel on the main house.

Keep in mind that creating a power supply for your ADU that is separate from the main house is not cheap. Purchasing a new panel, creating a new electrical service, and wiring can all run the price up. But depending on where the power lines and poles are in relation to where you want to put the ADU, it may be cheaper to run separate lines.

The price will vary, but I’ve seen power companies run up to 250 feet of power lines for free if you maintain a power service with them. So if there is a power pole close by, you might save money by going separate.

But if hooking up to the main unit is simpler, I’d recommend that route to save money. Talk to the building company you’re partnered with to figure out where the power lines are to create a plan that’s best for your wallet.

Power Your ADU With Solar Panels:

Another popular option for powering an ADU is solar panel installation. This is an amazing option for the environment and your lifestyle. I’ve been powering my tiny house with solar panels for over seven years now. Not having a power bill for almost a decade has been incredible.

ADU with solar panelsMost people would love to have solar panels on their property, but it gets expensive quickly. Some cities still require you to be grid connected, so you have to pay that cost along with the costs that come with going solar. The startup cost for buying and installing solar panels, battery packs, and other accessories is typically around $30,000 or more for an ADU.

However, this is a one-time payment, which will eventually be matched by the monthly electricity bill. There is also a tax credit you’ll receive down the line, but you will still need the cash flow for that initial installation cost. To me, this made the long-term investment in going solar on my own tiny house worth it.

Heating And Cooling Your Accessory Dwelling Unit

Every ADU unit needs to have a good heating and cooling source. The most effective means of heating and air conditioning a backyard tiny house are ductless, mini-split heat pumps. I’ve installed two mini pump systems myself, and it was actually easy! There are DIY kits available that are super simple and relatively affordable. Mini pumps are cost effective and can heat and cool all in one unit!

mini split system for an aduThese split pump systems work by using an indoor unit that is connected to an outdoor compressor. The outdoor compressor heats or cools the air depending on the season, then sends that air directly into your accessory dwelling unit.

If you’re working with a builder, it’s highly likely they will work with you on installation of a mini-pump. However, it’s also possible to install a mini-pump system DIY style if you’re tackling the project on your own. Mini-splits are the easiest installation for confident DIYers.

Setting Up Sewage Service For An ADU

In most cities, you can simply tap into the sewer connection between the city sewer line and your primary dwelling, and connect it to your ADU. However, the cost of the sewage system is going to actually depend on where the ADU sits on your land in relation to your primary house.

However, for more remote locations or those who want an ADU on wheels, you may need an alternative sewage option. If you’re unable to connect your ADU to the main sewage line, I’d suggest installing a septic system. It’s worth noting that in some places, because of the type soil or municipality laws, you may not be allowed to have a septic.

style advice“If your ADU sits up higher than the main home or lateral sewage line, that’s ideal. You won’t need to add a sewage pump. If the ADU sits lower than the main home you’ll have to add a sewage pump — usually about a $5,000 increase.” – Mike Moore, Snap ADU

Some cities require you to be on their sewer system and won’t grant septic permits easily. In general, if there is a sewer line on your street, you’ll be required to tap into it. But for those out in the boondocks, this isn’t an option, so septic is the way to go.

Work with your builder to determine whether or not you’ll need your own septic system or if you can tap into your city’s main sewage line. Or, if you’re building on your own, look into the rules for sewage maintenance within your municipality.

septic system install

Water Systems For A Backyard ADU

Water is the easiest utility to set up in an ADU. It’s similar to sewage in that you typically connect your ADU to the city’s main line. It’s the easiest, most cost-effective way to get water to your dwelling, especially if your ADU is stationary and in a permanent location.

getting water to an aduIf you’re in a remote location or want your ADU to be mobile, you’ll need an alternative water system. Getting water without a direct connection usually means setting up a water tank. Water tanks require scarcity.

The average American uses around 100 gallons of water per day, so if you’re going to use a water tank as your primary water source, you’ll have to be cautious about how much water you use.

Tanks work well for ADUs without their own bathroom, like an office or studio space. However, you might not want to go this route if grandma lives in your ADU or you’ll be cutting her showers short.

Talk to your builder about whether or not it’s best to hook up to your city’s main water line or set your ADU up with its own water tank.

Additional Resources For ADU Homeowners

Resources For ADU Homeowners

For the ADU Coalition’s list of builders and designers, click here.

design and build collection

Your Turn!

  • How will you design your accessory dwelling unit?
  • What will you use your backyard ADU for?

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

Tiny House Office Setup Guide: Work from Home in a Small Space

tiny house office


With more and more people working from home these days, I’ve been asked about my tiny house office—how do I stay productive? How do I work from home in a small space?

One of the biggest things that attracted me to tiny houses and simple living in the first place was having more control over how I worked and earned a living. I wanted the flexibility with my time that a remote job and financial freedom could bring.

But remote work from a tiny house isn’t without challenges. Planning and organization make all the difference. Here’s how I set up my tiny house office, and a realistic overview of how to create a small workspace that works!

My Tiny House Office: How I Stay Productive

How I Stay Productive in my tiny house office

I’ve been working from home for over a decade now—being self-employed, I don’t have an employer that I visit. That means I don’t have to leave my tiny house (ever) if I don’t want to. While this control over my work location is excellent, I’ve discovered over the years that working from a tiny house office is HARD.

To be totally candid, I don’t always work from my “tiny house office.” I often work from either a coffee shop or a coworking space. I like the shift of being able to go into a designated workspace when I need to be productive. But that said, it’s not always realistic. There are times when I need to work from home, like when the weather’s bad or if I only have a few things to do, so I’m free the rest of the day to spend how I see fit.

Working Remotely In A Tiny House

working remotely in a tiny house

If you live in a tiny house on wheels, you may also be working remotely from the road. The freedom and flexibility of the tiny life allow you to work from anywhere you want in the world. Plus, a tiny house means fewer bills. You can live on less. But of course, you still need to find a way to earn something, which often means working remotely in one form or another.

I know many people who switched to a work-at-home job when they downsized to a tiny house just because they wanted to change their lifestyle. Some people are willing to take significant pay cuts to enjoy that quality of life.

The thing about tiny houses is that the space is very limited, so you will rarely see a dedicated tiny house office. Often it will be a desk or workplace set up on a countertop, in a closet, or on a drop-leaf table on the wall. Because you’re trying to maximize your productivity (and minimize your work time), you must keep your tiny house office organized, no matter the setup.

Elements of a Good Tiny Home Office

elements of a good tiny house office

There are certain elements that every great office has, no matter the size. It’s essential that you incorporate these features in your tiny house office because it will make a practical, functional space. If you want to get the most accomplished and own your schedule, you’ll need to create an office space designed with everything you need.

Here’s what I suggest when you set up your small space office.

Desk or Workspace

Desk or Workspace in a tiny house

If you’re spending 8 hours a day on work, you should have a designated space to work in. Having a desk is crucial. Many people are comfortable working from a laptop on their lap for a few hours per day, but if you’re working full time, this position can begin to take a toll on your back. Generally, you’ll need a desk and perhaps even a standing desk solution so you can enjoy the benefits of healthy ergonomics while working.

You’ll need a desk that’s big enough for your computer and screen, and that is large enough to accommodate the work you do. If you use a lot of paper for your job, you may need a bigger desktop.


  • Wall-mounted
  • Fold-away
  • Seated desk
  • Standing desk
  • Adjustable height desk
  • Lap desk


Making your own dropleaf desk is simple

  1. Determine the size desk you want and location.
  2. Purchase the right-size fold-down brackets.
  3. Choose your desktop material.
  4. Cut desktop material to size.
  5. Determine the height and mount brackets.
  6. Attach desktop.

Natural Light

natural light in atiny house office

I really like natural light, so I have a lot of windows in my house. Believe it or not, I have 21 windows in my 150 square foot tiny home! I also love working outside. My outdoor home office often consists of a setup on my picnic table in my patio area. I feel more focused with sunlight, and it definitely helps boost my mood.
natural light in a tiny house office

Comfortable Seating

Comfortable Seating for a small office space

Again, this is where some people think it’s feasible to work from anywhere in any position. Often an office chair seems like an unnecessary investment, but if you’re working for several hours a day, you need to be comfortable, even in a small space. Look into the best ergonomic office chair you can find, with plenty of lumbar support. A comfortable chair is well worth the investment (and you can always use it as extra seating in your home).
tiny house office comfortable seating


storage space in a tiny house office

tiny house stoarge ideasI keep a minimalist office. I don’t use a lot of paper or extra items. I easily store most files within my computer. Depending on your work line, it’s important to plan enough storage and space to have room for all the items you need to do your job well.

If your job requires books, files, or certain supplies that aren’t digitized, be sure to plan room for what you need. Be realistic about the items you need to keep (especially paper) and form a plan to store the items and keep them organized.


tiny house electric power outlets

tiny house electricalIf you’re building your tiny house, it’s crucial to plan plenty of power outlets wherever you think you will need them. Since you’re building your house to suit your needs, you have control over the placement, especially if you’re doing the building. So take advantage of the situation to add plenty of outlets. You don’t want to string cords around your house, especially if floor space is limited.

Also, consider the amount of power you will need to use work equipment. If you’re using solar off-grid, you’ll need to be sure you’re powering enough to charge all your devices, run the lighting you need, and accommodate any resources like a printer.

Internet Connection

internet connection in a tiny home office

We live in a world where almost all information is in the cloud and can be accessed remotely. Having internet access means you can travel around and still do your work. Internet access is vital, especially if you live in a tiny house on wheels or a skoolie. You’ll need to ensure you have a strong hotspot device so you can get internet from (almost) anywhere.

If you need details on setting up the internet in your tiny home, I’ve created a guide to off-grid internet access. This post will help you plan for internet access from your tiny home office.

off-grid internet for tiny houses


tiny home office lighting

While natural light is essential to a productive workspace, there will be days when the sun isn’t shining (and, of course, nights, where you’ll need light too). For those times, you need to have good lighting for your workspace.
I have LED puck lights on my workspace, which keep the area bright and easy-to-use. Good lighting is vital to prevent eyestrain and stress. You’ll feel much better about your work when you can see well.

Wall Space

wall space in a tiny home office

tiny house office wall spaceDepending on the tiny house office space you have, it can be useful to have a whiteboard, calendar, or bulletin board on the wall. Again, it’s dependent on the work you do, but keeping important information front-and-center can help keep it from falling by the wayside.

My Tiny House Office Setup

my tiny house office setup

As I said before, I have a minimalist approach to working in my tiny house office, so I keep my setup simple—my computer, my phone, and sometimes my bullet journal. As you can see below, I often work outside, and other times I work inside my tiny house.

ryans backyard tiny house office
ryans tiny house office setup

While I don’t have many office supplies and equipment, I need a few things for my office. As with my tiny house furniture, I try to be very careful about what I purchase. I make sure I get exactly what I like, and I’m willing to spend more on high-quality. I’d rather buy an expensive item once than several inexpensive items over and over.

My Tiny House Office Equipment Recommendations

best home office laptop

Laptop: MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010 15.6″ Ultra-Thin

Of course, you can get any laptop you like and feel comfortable using. Some people might prefer a MacBook, while others may have other brand-preferences. I encourage you to get a high-quality, lightweight laptop, especially if you plan to work in multiple locations. A Microsoft Surface or an iPad Pro can also be very valuable for remote work.

folding laptop stand

Folding Laptop Stand

Of all my work items, I get asked the most about my laptop stand. This simple design is inexpensive, folds flat, and allows you to change from a sitting to a standing desk in seconds. It works great for small spaces because it’s so easy to use and store.

logitech wireless mouse

Wireless Mouse

I, for one, am not a fan of the trackpads on most laptops. While they’re sufficient for using the internet, if you’re doing design work, organizing spreadsheets, or clicking around documents, it’s often worth it to invest in a wireless mouse. You’ll get greater precision, and it’s a little more user-friendly than most trackpads.

logitech bluetooth headset

Logitech Bluetooth Headset

For many of us, a big part of working remotely are video conferences and calls. Communication is essential when you’re working from a distance, so I suggest investing in a quality headset. The wireless aspect is excellent, so you aren’t tethered to your computer. If you need privacy and silence while you work, you may want to look into noise-canceling features too.

portable headset case

Headset Case

Should you invest in a headset, I suggest investing in a storage case, especially if you’re working on the go. This case is semi-waterproof, so it will protect your headphones if you take your tiny house office outdoors too.

bluetooth keyboard

Bluetooth Keyboard

Again, depending on your personal preferences, you may want to get a wireless keyboard. A detached keyboard is ideal for working in different positions, or if you work from a tablet and need a keyboard to be efficient. I type faster from different angles, so I like the remote keyboard when working on a document or post.

keyboard case

Keyboard Case

Like the headset case, the keyboard case protects your Bluetooth keyboard from damage and allows you to transport it when you’re on the go.

cellphone stand

Cell Phone Stand

When I’m working from my tiny home office, I like my cell phone front and center. I often add notes through my phone, take calls, listen to music, and more. Having a cell phone stand helps keep my phone screen in easy view while I work—no worries about it falling off a small desk or balancing it on my laptop.

Setting Up Your Tiny House Office: Ideas & Inspiration

tiny house office ideas and inspiration

Once you have the right components, your office is all about finding the setup that helps you work the most productively. For some, it might mean working outside sometimes. For others, a designated, organized office space (even small) may help you feel focused.

These tiny house offices have many great features and ideas. As you can see, they range from very simple to more complex setups. Hopefully, they give you a good idea of what you need for a great office in a small space.

tiny house home office ideas
tiny house office inspiration
inspiring tiny house office spaces
tiny home office photos
tiny house office ideas
tiny house office examples

Choosing a Spot for Your Tiny House Office

Choosing a Spot for Your Tiny House Office

Should you put your office in your loft? Work from your kitchen counter? While your space choices might be a bit more limited in a tiny house, I would suggest you do your best to strategically locate your tiny house office near a window. Getting the natural light will help you stay alert and focused while you work.

In these tiny home office examples, you can see how windows really make a small office feel expansive and much larger, whether it’s a loft office or a spot under the stairs.

where to set up your office in a tiny home
tiny home office with a view
office location in tiny home
office setup in tiny house
tiny home office location
office under stairs in tiny home
tiny house office location
tiny house stairs

Make Use of Any Space

Make Use of Any Space in your small office

With a drop leaf desk or a small table, you can turn almost any spot into a workspace. With most tasks on a laptop, you don’t need a huge space to get stuff accomplished. A small corner of your tiny home can make an excellent satellite office or work-from-home space.

space in a tiny house office
tiny home office space
organizing space in a tiny home office
making the best use of space in a tiny house office
making use of space in a tiny house office
how to build a tiny house

Office Nooks and Closets

tiny home office Office Nooks and Closets

The “cloffice” or closet-office has become a popular solution for working-from-home in any size space. Whether you have a small nook in your tiny house or want to convert a closet into an office space, you can easily do it with only a few adjustments. The nice aspect of an office nook is that you can tuck it away or close the doors when you aren’t working, especially if it’s a converted closet. Tucking your office away can help you shift out of work mode (something that’s so important if you’re trying to balance working from home).

Here are some examples of well-organized small office nooks.

tiny home office in small nook
office nook in tiny house
office set in tiny home closet
tiny house office in a closet nook

The other nice aspect of the “office nook” is that you will often have built-in shelving across the top of the desk. This allows you to organize books, files, or if you prefer, décor to create an inspiring and workable space.

small office nook
office nook in small house
tiny house office nook in closet space
small office setup in tiny house

Floorplans To Inspire Your Tiny House Home Office

tiny house office floorplans

Now that you have an idea of various ways to build out your own tiny home office, I’ve drawn up some free tiny house office floorplans that hopefully allow you to work from home and still feel comfortable. Glance through these plans to discover a layout that will be most conducive to your lifestyle.

Two-Bedroom Tiny House With Home Office

Two-Bedroom Tiny House With Home Office

two bedroom and office floorplan for tiny homeThis first floorplan that stands out due to the placement of the office space. It’s an entirely separate walled-off room. This can be helpful if you have a family with children running around and are seeking a quiet space to work. You could leave the entryway into the kitchen entirely open, or even build a sliding door to close the space off.

The inclusion of a queen bed and twin bed in the loft area allows room for a couple and child, with a connected family room, kitchen, and bathroom with a standing tub. One important thing to note about this layout, though, is that the office only includes one desk.

Tiny House With Home Office For Couples

Tiny House With Home Office For Couples

tiny home with office for couplesIf you’re a couple who is looking to work from home full time, this plan might benefit you. With two lofted queen beds, the floorplan has room for a couple to live full time and have friends come stay. The back-to-back desks create a work environment for two side by side.

However, if your work style, pace, or desired environment looks different than your partner’s, a design with two desks sharing one narrow space might not be ideal.

Home Office In Your Family Tiny House

Home Office In Your Family Tiny House

family sized tiny home with home officeThis floorplan separates the kitchen from the living room, and the living room from the home office and bathroom. It’s a fairly sweet setup for a family, as the design allows for two lofted twin beds across from a queen bed. If you’re seeking a traditional home feel in a tiny house, this floorplan could be the way to go.

Using walls to separate each room can actually give your tiny home a fuller feel. One downside of this plan is it only has room for one desk in the office space, but this could work well if you only need an office for one.

Private Home Office In Tiny House With Loft

Private Home Office In Tiny House With Loft

Private Home Office In Tiny Home

One benefit of choosing a design like this is the open kitchen and living space. This type of space is good for families who want to have a central area for shared meals, games, or watching television. The office is strategically positioned in a corner of the ground floor, keeping it as far as possible from the commotion.

This setup has two lofted twin beds perfect for children, as well as a queen bed for parents. There are two nooks for a closet and a washer and dryer to meet your family’s needs.

Tiny House With Home Office And Loft

Tiny House With Home Office And Loft

Tiny House With Space For Home Office And LoftAnother plan that works well for a family, this design keeps the family room and kitchen connected yet separate. The kitchen and living room are open, with room for a full dining table and television.

I work from home most of the time or in coffee shops, so I like to have a dedicated and defined workspace. This office is intentionally placed on the opposite side of the house and walled off from the rest of the ground floor, giving you the privacy you need to get work done.

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny Home

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny Home

Home Office In Two-Bedroom Tiny HouseIf you and your spouse or partner both need a fairly spacious work environment, try this floor plan which has room an office with two parallel desks. The idea here is to separate the office from the rest of the tiny house even more than it already was.

The living room and kitchen are entirely connected, with the bathroom in its own enclave and the office on the opposite side of the floor. This gives you and your partner more room to be productive.

Tiny House For Family With Home Office

Tiny House For Family With Home Office

Tiny Home For Family With Home OfficeWith space for three twin beds, this floorplan is fairly unique. The living room is the biggest, most spacious section of the design, giving your family room to watch movies together, host parties, and make memories.

The tiny home office is separated from the main section of the house to give the worker a sense of privacy. While there is only space for one desk, the design allows more room in the kitchen, living room, and bathroom.

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Loft And Home Office

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Loft And Home Office

Three-Bedroom Tiny House With Home OfficeThis last floorplan is the only one I’ve drawn up to include three separate bedrooms, perfect for large families who also want to have extended family come stay. On the ground floor, the design allows for a bedroom with a twin bed as well as a bathroom, closet, and a connected living room and kitchen.

The home office is attached to the kitchen, which might be better for those who like to work in a noisier or social environment than those who prefer to work in peace and quiet.

Office Organization in a Small Space

office organiztion in a small space

As I said before, I take a very minimalist approach to working from home. This means I don’t have a lot of “stuff” tucked into drawers and setting around my workspace. But of course, my work doesn’t require a lot of accessories and office supplies either. If you engage in certain hobbies (like crafting) or you’re dealing with paper projects in your office, you may need some more robust organization.

Keep Your Desktop Clean and Tidy

Keep Your Desktop Clean and Tidy

One thing I love about the desk below is how neat and tidy the space is. The magazine organizers and file boxes blend in with the décor, making it feel uncluttered, even with a lot of stuff on the desk.

keep your desktop tidy and clean
designing your tiny house ebook

Use File Boxes to Corral Papers

Use File Boxes to Corral Papers

These file boxes and cabinets are excellent for keeping your papers hidden away. Paper clutter is the biggest issue for a tiny house office, so keeping it under control is crucial. I really like the roll-away printer too.

using file boxes to organize papers
corral papers with file boxes

Set Up a Designated Spot for Everything

Set Up a Designated Spot for Everything in your home office

Every item in your office should have a home and should be something you use. For example, sometimes we might think we need to have paper clips or a stapler on hand, just in case we need them. But if you rarely work with paper, then that’s another item to store. Pare down to precisely what you need for work, and then make sure each item has a home.

designated spots for storage in office
store office items in designated spots

The Backyard Tiny House Office: Setting Up a Satellite Office

backyard tiny house office

Recently, the idea of a tiny house AS an office has become quite popular. I see many people who are setting up small houses or even sheds as backyard office options. Should you consider a satellite office if you’re working from home?

There are a lot of pros to the idea of a tiny house office or a shed office. Now, if you’re new to the concept of the tiny house office, you might be thinking: can I use a shed as an office? How do I convert a shed into office space?

Some people have converted sheds into actual tiny homes. The legal aspects of living in a shed vary from place-to-place, but the advantage is that a shed is usually pre-built and not uncommon. People have them in their yards everywhere, and you usually don’t need a permit to set one up.

If you outfit a shed, a trailer, or a pre-fab tiny home with electricity, insulation, and lighting, you can easily convert it into a nice workspace. People like this option because it creates a clear boundary between home life and work life. You’re still “commuting” to a different spot to work, and it can help you shift your mindset into work mode.

If you have a tiny house already, a shed or trailer can work as a tiny satellite office. A separate office may be beneficial if you’re living with another person and need to focus and stay productive while you work.

backyard tiny house office