I’ll sometimes catch myself fantasizing about living in a 400 square foot home, which is hardly surprising since lately I’ve been binge-watching Living Big in a Tiny House. I love the idea of making the best possible use of your space, which is so beautifully evidenced in this YouTube series and the Tiny House Movement — and at the heart of what I want to share today.
I’m not alone in my mild obsession of optimal space usage. It’s the hallmark of Tiny Homes, the magnetic pull of annual spring-cleaning traditions, and the cornerstone of the minimalist movement. And while there are numerous, fantastic benefits, what most people are after — whether they’re looking to do more with less or reduce their carbon footprint — is to get more life out of their space and enjoy the time they spend at home.
Of course, you don’t need a tiny house or minimalist décor to do that. Every square inch of your space is precious if you treat it that way. The true appeal of these movements is all about a state of mind, how you want to feel in your own home.
You can achieve the same clean, simple feeling by taking an intentional and deliberate approach to decorating. By using your existing space thoughtfully, you can achieve a beautiful home that nourishes your soul.
Applying Tiny House Principles to Your Home
Tiny houses are known for their clever use of space. The best designed tiny houses use every square inch of space while at the same time creating an immediate sense of calm upon entering.
The principles of tiny house living are largely repurposed from the minimalist movement.
When you think minimalism or modular, maybe you picture plain Scandinavian interiors, or maybe high-end Italian chic?
While both styles expertly apply principles of minimalism and modular design, they aren’t for everyone, and other options exist. It’s not all blonde wood and flat-weave area rugs, or polished concrete and top-grain leather.
You can go with traditional, transitional, or eclectic décor, or use a bold colour palette without losing out on the benefits of tiny house living.
Tiny house living and minimalism are both about living more simply. They use smaller spaces and fewer items to create a calm environment, which opens us up to enjoy being in the moment, spending time with loved ones, and moving easily around the space.
But you don’t need to declutter your entire home or downsize to a 400 square foot trailer to get those benefits.
You can enjoy a sense of peace, calm and clean in any house, of any size with any decorating style. It all comes back to intentional décor choices, something a professional decorator can help you with.
Unfortunately, sometimes tiny home owners run into many of the same decorating problems that the average homeowner does. They take a DIY approach.
Of course, my bias is coming out here, but there are some serious issues with DIY that are often overlooked. And I get: the majority of tiny house owners have downsized in order to save money; they take pride in having built their home with their own hands; and they want to reduce their carbon footprint through recycling and repurposing items that would otherwise end up in landfills.
And I’m on board with all of these things! When my clients express an interest in investing in pieces they’ll never have to replace or sourcing eco-friendly pieces and sustainable fabrics, I’m all in.
The issue is that doing it yourself — without the background knowledge of construction, design, etc. — means you often end up with dorm room quality instead of the sophisticated, soul-nourishing style you had your heart set on.
When you don’t love the space you’re in, you end up either avoiding being there at all or just feeling down whenever you’re in that room because it isn’t giving you that feeling of peace you wanted.
But think about those tiny house principles again. It’s about shedding the stress and worry that comes from managing too much. When you work with a decorator, you’re shedding all those worries about longevity, because you know you’re getting quality items.
A decorator’s role is to help you achieve your desired style, so you feel exactly how you want to when you walk in the door of your home. It’s a decorator’s responsibility is to help you find durable, well-crafted furniture.
Invest in Crafted Quality
I’ve put together a few decorating examples from tiny house living and minimalism to show how you can achieve the same results of clean and simple living in your existing home.
Under the Staircase Storage
Tiny houses are known for their creative storage spaces — from how much can be stored under the stairs, to how many drawers can be stashed into a pantry. I love the way tiny house homeowners consistently turn oddly shaped or inaccessible space into usable storage.
The way I achieve the same result for my clients is by designing custom closets for them. Contrary to what you might think, most of the custom closets I design are for reach-in closets. Who doesn’t have at least one of those in their home?
Adding in drawers, hooks, and shelving at different heights results in new-found space for things that would otherwise conspire with all the other shoved-in items to make a big, energy-draining mess. As you’ve heard me say before: take control of your space.
Once you start to think about it, it really is exciting to envision all the closets in the house that could benefit from a makeover: hallway closets, foyer closets, spare bedroom closet, even the linen closet!
Be warned, though, once you start, you’ll want to do all your closets!
Hidden Storage Seating
Tiny houses are filled with clever seating, because they double as a comfy seat and a storage solution. These dual-purpose creations are a great reminder of how creative you can get when working with custom furniture. A custom bench with storage is analogous to the tiny home double-duty sofa.
I work with my clients to apply the same ideas to other pieces. I recently worked with a client to create an upholstered window seat with built in storage. She was looking for extra storage in the master bedroom without adding unnecessary furniture, like a chest of drawers. We opted for a custom bench and killed two birds with one stone.
Going custom also makes it easy to create convenient storage options. For another client, I designed a bonus feature by recommending drawers instead of a lift-up seat. This made it easier for her to open up a specific drawer to grab something small rather than rummaging through an entire chest. She loved that she only needed to complete one step instead of two, and it didn’t require her to arrange any seating to do it. The great thing about going custom is that you can specify furniture to any need or taste.
“When you feel good about your decorating decisions, you feel good about your home.”
— Saree Parry
Convertible Sofa Bed
Another item you see pretty often in tiny homes is a sofa bed. When I tour showrooms, I’m always impressed at how the industry has evolved to keep up with the demand for style and function.
Today, sofa beds come in more sizes and styles than before. Gone are the days of ugly sofa beds upholstered in rough dull-coloured tweed! Now, you can find or custom order a beautiful upholstered armchair that easily opens up into a single bed. They come in all styles for all décor. You can even customize the fabric to ensure that it fits into your existing décor.
This kind of motion furniture is ideal for those who don’t have a spare bedroom, since this type of bed can stylishly fit into common spaces. And it also works well for unique arrangements such as in a spare room used as an office during the week, and a guest room on weekends.
Folding Dining Table
Tiny houses rarely have a dining room to speak of, so it’s essential for the dining table to fold away.
Dining tables have come a long way in design and convenience! Forget having to store the leaves at the back of a hall closet and lug them out for family gatherings. Instead, you can choose a dining table with stacked leaves that will automatically position themselves into place when you open the table.
This type of table is practical and convenient for those who love hosting events and gatherings; they provide sufficient room for entertaining, leaving the space quiet and clean the rest of the time.
Want the benefits of tiny house living without downsizing? Contact us for a complimentary in-home design consultation.