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Interior Design: How to Make Your Tiny House Look Big

Interior Design: How to Make Your Tiny House Look Big

9/17/15 (1 year ago)

Interior Design: How to Make Your Tiny House Look Big

One of the challenges we faced when designing our tiny house on wheels was making it feel big inside even though it is only 394 square feet (smaller than a one bedroom apartment).A lot of thought went into lighting, color schemes, storage and decorations. We wanted our home to feel warm and inviting, not cold and cluttered. The greatest praise we can receive when someone new tours our home is them saying "I think that I could live in a place like this". Here are some design decisions that can help you make your tiny home more expansive and livable:

Lighting

Many are used to lighting their traditional homes with floor or table lamps. This becomes an issue with a tiny home because you want as much floor space as possible so you need to alleviate anything that gets in the way. Make use of low profile LED recessed ceiling lights, these have come a long way in their ability to mimic warm natural light. Many come with toggle lenses so that you have control of where the light shines, like on a piece of artwork. Also some are dim-able, which can really make your home cozy and warm in the evenings.

Natural light

Strategically placed windows in your tiny home can serve a variety of purposes. For instance, you may find people installing sunroof windows or vast picture windows in order to make their home bright and give the illusion of space. One thing to consider before placing a lot of windows in your home is thinking about where you are going to park your home. If you will be living by other people, you will need privacy and that means covering those windows with visual clutter like drapes and cafe curtains. One way we got around that issue is by making the majority of our windows obscured glass, because curtains look heavy and they take up room.

Another option would be to place windows at the highest part of your home (for those without a loft like our design). This way you get that much needed natural light reflecting off your ceiling and casting a natural glow throughout your tiny home.

Nix the visual clutter

Many tiny home designs that I have seen, feature a very open floor plan. This is wonderful if you have nothing to hide, but most of us do. I don't think many of us really like the idea of seeing the toilet brush, laundry soap, cleaning/office/pet/crafting/toiletry supplies, clothing, coats etc. out in the open all the time. Just imagine sitting on your couch in the evening and trying to mentally block out all that clutter. Or having to move that clutter out of the way to do something and then put it back...every single day for as long as you live in that tiny house.

We absolutely did not want our tiny home to have visual clutter, so we designed a lot of storage closets and hidden compartments for our essentials. We also kept all of our cabinet hardware low profile and consistent throughout our home so that your eye does not rest on any place it shouldn't. We also kept the cabinet door heights consistent so that your eye doesn't jump up and down with each new visual plane. 

Also to be considered is the type of wall material you use. You will see tiny homes using wood planks or panels to line their inner walls. While this evokes a cabin feel to your home, it will add visual clutter by way of horizontal/vertical lines all along your walls and ceiling as well as those dark knots in the unfinished wood. You may not think it adds a lot, but just look at the finished product and see how much you notice just the walls. One way to minimized this effect is to paint the walls and ceiling a unified color instead of keeping the wood natural.

Color palette

When choosing interior colors for your tiny home, the sky is the limit. Everyone has their own idea of what they can live with. Some want it neutral and some want a variety of bold colors. What you need to keep in mind though is that your choice of color will either draw attention to things or fade them into the background and you can use that to your advantage.

Ceilings in a tiny home are usually lower than a normal home. Flat white is always best to make your ceilings seem taller. Walls will feel like they are closing in on you if you paint them a dark shade, but if you want a cozier feel in a particular room, like the bedroom, then a darker feature wall color may be the way to go. 

Another trick is to paint adjoining rooms the same color so that they appear to be one large room. For instance, since our living room and kitchen shared one half of our tiny house, we painted them the same color combination. You may also consider using a neutral color in varying intensities throughout your tiny home to make it a more unified space (we chose shades of warm gray throughout).

Decoration

Less is more. Choose the items that mean the most to you or are great conversation pieces in the open for all to enjoy. We have two small bookshelves in our design for this purpose. It displays a few cherished books, photos and items we bought on our travels. We also purchased a digital picture frame and scanned all our photos so that we don't have albums and photos cluttering up our precious wall and floor space.

Another trick is to display items that are precious only to you but you don't plan on keeping forever, on the inside of your closet door (like greeting cards from loved ones, artwork from little kids, or quotes that keep you motivated). By doing this you can see them everyday when you get dressed and then they are out of sight when you close the door keeping your tiny home clutter free and freeing up precious wall space for art.

Furniture

Always think dual purpose for any furniture you put in your home. For instance, we have the following:

  • Couch: Where we sit to watch movies, where a guest can sleep, where I work on my computer

  • Ottoman: A footstool, another seat for guests, and inside is another nested stool for a two for one

  • Kitchen island: Stores all of our pots, pans, dishes, silverware. Can be used as a table for my crafting projects or eating dinner. It also has our flat screen T.V. attached to one side for viewing in our living room.

  • Bed: For its intended use of course, but we also store clothes in storage boxes underneath our bed so we don't need a dresser, and that saves precious floor space.

There are other space saving ideas online that you can include in your tiny house interior design that I didn't include in this blog. These are just a few of the ones we did that had the most impact on making our tiny home feel more spacious.