Get inspired to downsize with these tiny house ideas and unique ways to incorporate them into your home
Inspired by Lester Walker's 1987 book “Tiny Houses,” the tiny house movement continues to thrive today. The tiny house philosophy embraces downsizing to live in homes that are 400 square feet or smaller. The movement focuses on saving money, reducing waste, and living a minimal yet meaningful lifestyle.
Many people choose to build their own tiny houses, hire a local custom builder, or buy pre-built houses. That said, tiny houses come in many forms. Since those who live in them tend to be adventurous and free-spirited, there's no end to the genius design solutions they come up with.
We've compiled a list of our favorite tiny house ideas to inspire every homeowner to be more space-conscious and eco-friendly. Read on for ways to implement a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle in your own home, too.
Modern Tiny House Ideas
Downsizing doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. With a little ingenuity, you can take inspiration from tiny houses to fit lots of modern home features into a small space.
Geometric and sleek, minimalist rooms feel airy and spacious, and often incorporate natural-looking neutrals or basic black and white palettes.
2. Large Windows
Often included in modern-style homes, large glass windows let you feel especially at one with nature. They also let in more natural light, reducing the need for electricity.
3. Luxury Cabin
Modern luxury paired with the rustic aesthetic of a log cabin combine to form the ultimate cozy getaway.
4. Floating Staircase
Since many tiny houses include lofts, a ladder or staircase is often a must—a floating staircase can be the way to go for a clean and sleek look in any modern space.
5. Smart Home Tech
By lowering your budget on other expenses, a tiny home is the perfect opportunity to invest in smartphone-activated appliances and lighting as well as a high-quality entertainment system. Owners of large homes can also benefit from the convenience and energy savings from this technology.
Eco-Friendly Tiny House Ideas
Tiny house living focuses on less waste and energy consumption. To reduce your carbon footprint, here are some pieces of inspiration from tiny houses to make any size home even more eco-friendly.
6. Off-the-Grid Living
Lots of small homes are designed to be self-sufficient, saving money on electricity, water, heat, and more. Living disconnected from public utilities can also help reduce the negative environmental impact caused by consumption and waste.
7. Rainwater Collection
Harvesting rainwater is a fantastic way to increase your home’s sustainability. A DIY rainwater collection system can provide a primary or supplementary water supply to help cut down on water consumption.
8. Green Roof
A green roof is another way to embrace sustainability. It’s a waterproofing system covered with a layer of vegetation on the roof of a house, helping to cool the house, filter air, and add to biodiversity.
9. Attachable Greenhouse
Many tiny houses include nearby or attached greenhouses to keep vegetables, fruits, and herbs protected year-round. Growing your own food helps homeowners in every house type become more self-sufficient.
10. Solar Panels
Because they don’t require as much power as traditional houses, tiny houses lend themselves well to solar panels as a sustainable energy source. However, clean energy benefits all house types. Hiring a solar panel company can help you determine how to best install them.
11. Composting Toilet
To reduce waste, a composting toilet turns human waste into compost. It creates an environment for aerobic bacteria to break down the waste. Many house builders who are passionate about sustainability include composting toilets in their homes.
12. Tankless Hot Water Heater
Also known as demand-type water heaters, tankless water heaters provide hot water only as needed instead of using a storage tank. They can help increase energy efficiency in your home.
13. Reclaimed Wood
Lots of tiny houses are constructed from recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood can be very beautiful as decor pieces in bigger houses too, helping you create a stylish, rustic look.
14. Salvaged Windows
Another recycled material that some tiny house builders use is salvaged windows. In your own home, you can use old windows as singular light sources, or let even more light in with an eclectic wall full of old windows.
Tiny House Kitchen Ideas
A well-stocked kitchen is essential for many homeowners—so how do you make the most of a tiny one? Here are several ideas for a successful small kitchen.
15. Compact Appliances
Compact kitchen appliances, such as apartment-sized or tiny house-specific refrigerators, wall ovens, microwaves, and dishwashers, help save space in a tiny kitchen or any meal prep area where there’s limited space.
16. Raised Kitchen
A raised kitchen provides the opportunity for storage space underneath and helps to differentiate it from other areas of the house.
17. Minimalist Kitchen Design
Every homeowner knows that making even the most simple meal can create a huge mess in the kitchen. That’s why minimalist design with only the absolute necessities is often a must if you have a tiny home or small kitchen space.
18. Kitchen Wall Storage
If you run out of storage cabinets, why not hang up pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils on any free wall space around the kitchen?
Tiny House Bathroom Ideas
The bathroom can be overlooked in a tiny house but it’s an important room to consider. If you have a tiny home or just a smaller house, here are some common features and ideas to fit all the necessities comfortably into a modest bathroom.
19. Incinerating Toilet
An incinerating toilet, which burns waste instead of flushing it, is a popular small house feature. It doesn’t require connection to a sewer system, and is an efficient, quick way to get rid of waste in eco-friendly, small living quarters.
20. Outdoor Shower
To save space inside a tiny house or cabin, an outdoor shower is always an option to consider. Outdoor showers are especially desirable house features in more secluded, natural areas.
Instead of installing bulky doors to separate the bathroom from other areas of the house, consider a simple curtain that will save space while maintaining privacy.
Tiny House Storage Ideas
Storage, storage, storage: it’s likely one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about tiny houses. Here are some genius tiny house storage ideas you can use to fit all the necessities comfortably into any space, big or small.
22. Under-Bed Storage
Hide clothing, cleaning supplies, and any other necessities in a hollow under a platform bed that is easily accessible.
23. Hidden Storage
In the walls, under furniture, overhead compartments, you name it: with some ingenuity, there are plenty of nooks and crannies you can convert into hidden storage spaces.
24. Storage Underneath House
Underneath a raised house is a great place to install a storage compartment for outdoor tools and other items.
25. Staircase Storage
The staircase tends to take up a significant amount of room, so it’s a good idea to maximize the space and make this area multifunctional with under-staircase storage compartments.
26. Under-Seating Storage
Couches and chairs provide even more opportunities to sneak in storage. You can install compartments or easily place storage bins under all seating arrangements.
27. Over-Bed Storage
Floating cabinets and built-in shelves above the bed can be stylish and practical storage additions. Just make sure to leave enough room for your head!
Tiny House Space-Saving Ideas
Hidden storage isn’t the only way that tiny house owners maximize space. If you find yourself wishing for more room in your own home, here are some additional tips and design choices that can keep your house from feeling cramped.
28. Modular Furniture
Modular furniture can be arranged in multiple ways as well as assembled and disassembled as needed to fit the needs of a living space. Plus, it can quickly be moved to save room.
29. Built-in Drawers
Instead of taking up space with a full dresser, building drawers directly into the wall or underneath furniture can be a creative way to add clothing storage space.
30. Lofted Bed
Lofts are popular in tiny houses because they save space, but an added appeal is that they’re incredibly cozy in any house. A lofted bedroom space can create a comfortable nest above your home’s living area.
31. Reading Nook Loft
If you’re an avid reader, a reading nook is a must in your home. A reading nook loft is a great book-lover’s hideaway that you can fit above your living room.
32. Sleeper Sofa
A sleeper sofa includes a pull-out mattress, doubling as a bed. Combining the sofa and bed structures into one will free up space elsewhere in the house.
33. Lounge Loft
Instead of the bedroom, some tiny houses include the lounge or living room area raised above the rest of the space. This creates an intimate and comfortable lounge loft, a cozy addition you can recreate in your own home.
34. Kids’ Hideaway Loft
Another loft idea is a kids’ bedroom or playroom. Parents know that kids often need their own space to play and retreat to, which is the perfect use for a newly-installed loft.
35. Sliding Ladder
A small ladder is a space-saving alternative to a loft staircase. Bonus points if the ladder is sliding or detachable to easily move it around the house and free up even more space.
36. Folding Furniture
Drop-leaf tables and fold-up beds that you can easily hide away in a closet allow you to free up additional space when the furniture isn’t in use.
37. Retractable Staircase
A staircase that folds or pushes back into the wall allows you to save space without sacrificing the convenience of stairs.
Tiny House Design Ideas
Just like with traditional houses, interior and exterior design are big considerations when it comes to tiny houses. Here are some inspirational tiny house design ideas to think about if you have a tiny home or just a smaller space.
38. Bright Exterior
Make up for small square footage with bold color: A brightly colored home is sure to be eye-catching. Get help from a local exterior painter to get the job done quickly and flawlessly.
39. Tiny Lakehouse
A small house on the edge of a lake is an ideal minimalist getaway that will encourage you to enjoy the nature around you.
A distressed wood exterior creates a rustic look, the perfect addition to a house surrounded by trees.
41. Chic and Urban
For tiny houses and small homes in more urban areas, a chic look with sleek paint and trendy, large windows is the way to go.
42. More Mirrors
Inside a cramped living area, incorporating large mirrors can help create the illusion of more space.
43. Farmhouse Style
Farmhouse is the rustic aesthetic that's continuously in style. A small, farmhouse-style house further embraces simplicity and rustic charm.
A-frame houses are triangular and simple to build—perfect for a tiny home or truly unique full-sized house. The highly sloped roofs are also excellent for snow management.
45. High Windows
Windows are a must to increase natural light in small spaces—however, if you prioritize privacy, narrow windows near the ceiling can be just as effective.
46. Sloped Roof
An asymmetrical house with a single-sided, sloped roof can benefit from easy snow and rainwater management.
A practical way to benefit from mood-boosting sunlight while illuminating your living room is to install a skylight on the roof of your house.
48. Shade Awnings
To help regulate temperatures and give yourself a respite from the sun, consider hiring an awning installation company to place retractable shade awnings over the house's windows.
Many choose to heat their small houses with old-school, wood-burning fireplaces. A fireplace company can craft the perfect fixture that will add to the rustic charm of your traditional home, cabin, or farmhouse.
50. One Accent Color
In a small room, it's often a good idea to keep interior decor simple—tiny house owners show us how to do just that while still adding personality. If you have an area with limited space, consider a single accent color repeated throughout.
51. Black and White Color Scheme
Elegant and contemporary, a predominantly black and white color scheme makes any house, tiny or otherwise, appear more sophisticated.
Tiny House Feature Ideas
Tiny house builders can get incredibly creative when it comes to adding unique features and rooms while still maximizing the space. Here are several fun features inspired by tiny houses that anyone can incorporate into their home.
52. Outdoor Deck
The outside of a house is often just as important as the inside. A pop-out deck is an ideal gathering space addition. Professional deck and porch contractors near you can help create the perfect plan.
53. Recording Studio
For all the musicians out there, a tiny house, converted shed, or extra room can make for a private and efficient recording studio.
54. Sliding Glass Doors
Sliding glass doors are a staple of many modern tiny houses. Local sliding glass door installers can help you integrate your own home seamlessly with the great outdoors—bonus if the glass door looks out onto a breathtaking view.
55. Wraparound Porch
Though it's one of the more uncommon and involved tiny house additions, a wraparound porch adds scenic seating for all. Wraparound porches are also especially favorable features for farmhouse, Southern, and Victorian homes.
56. Rooftop Deck
What could be dreamier than lying on top of your roof to admire the stars or watch the sunset? A rooftop deck is the perfect addition for tiny house dwellers or any homeowner who loves to stargaze.
57. Tiny Home on Wheels
Tiny homes on wheels are practical and easy to move whenever needed, making them excellent for nomadic lifestyles. RV owners can also benefit from the convenience and freedom of living on the go.
58. Home Theater
A roll-up screen and projector not only saves space, but it also makes a practical home theater for a whole family to enjoy in the living room.
59. Backyard Art Studio
Perfect for secluded concentration, a backyard art studio can fill a creative's tiny house, outdoor shed, or occupy one of the rooms in a bigger house.
Tiny House Building Ideas
You can build a tiny house from a wide variety of materials to get different looks and repurpose old structures—a budget with common tiny house costs can help you decide which type will work best for you.
Interested in making the switch to a tiny home? You can build a tiny house from a wide variety of materials to get different looks and repurpose old structures. Here are just a few building ideas.
60. Shipping Container House
Popular for their versatility and helping people save money on materials, converted shipping containers present nearly endless possibilities for tiny houses.
61. Converted Trailer
Converted trailers are common for tiny homes because they’re more affordable than stationary structures and provide the benefit of mobility.
62. Backyard Shed Retreat
A backyard tiny house created from a shed can make a nice dwelling for guests or additional family members.
63. Tiny Houseboat
Tiny homes make great houseboats. If a life on the water is for you, a floating house is one consideration.
64. Tiny Cob House
A cob house is crafted from a natural mixture of sand, clay, and straw that is extremely sturdy—these houses usually have thick, curved walls. The labor to create them is intensive, but the result is truly unique.
65. Cozy Cottage
A little cottage-style house is quaint and right at home surrounded by greenery.
66. Micro Cabin
A tiny cabin getaway creates an idyllic oasis in the woods. As of 2021, the cost of a modest, 200-square-foot cabin is only around $25,000.
67. Tiny Treehouse
Some creative builders have managed to bring their childhood aspirations to life with livable tiny houses in the trees.
68. Beach Shack
If you like to fall asleep to the sound of ocean waves, a tiny house by the beach could be the vacation home of your dreams.
69. Bus House
Some have even converted old buses into tiny houses. With creative and resourceful planning, a bus can transform into one of the most unique living spaces.
70. Prefab Tiny House
Last but not least, prefab tiny houses are great choices for ready-made, luxury homes with the major minimalist living benefits.
How to Use Tiny House Ideas in Your Home
Tiny houses are compelling for many, but not everyone can downsize so drastically. There are lots of reasons why tiny house living might not be feasible for you—for example, your local zoning laws may restrict building or your family may not be able to comfortably live in one.
However, tiny houses can still inspire with their space-saving and minimalist tips.
If you’re thinking about building a tiny house or making your own home more self-sufficient and space-saving, the sky's the limit. If you’re not sure where to start, hire a building professional or home remodeling contractor to help.