Tiny House, Big Living: It's Possible With These Genius Space-Saving Hacks

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As seen on HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living, folks around the country are opting to ditch their spacious homes for a cozier, clutter-free lifestyle. They’re saying goodbye to all the excess and making the choice to live with only what they need and love. If you’ve ever thought, “Maybe I could be happy in a smaller space,” but you just couldn’t take the plunge, we’ve got a few space-saving storage solutions that might just change your mind.

Adorable Beach Cottage

Adorable Beach Cottage

We love this adorable beach cottage from SignaTours, an RV company in Tampa. The whole living space is roughly 195 square feet, and that cute little porch and awning are removable.

Taken by Tiny Living  

Tiny Movie Home Exterior With Filmmakers

Tiny Movie Home Exterior With Filmmakers

When documentary filmmakers Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith set out to make a movie about people living in tiny homes, they became so intrigued with the lifestyle that they built their own 130-square-foot cabin. The film, TINY: A Story About Living Small, premiered on March 9, 2013.

This talented young couple was in the process of making a documentary about tiny homes when they were so inspired that they decided to build their own 130-square-foot home.

Teeny, Tiny Homes

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Discovering a Simpler Approach

"We've all been sold on the idea that what we want is a big house," says Joan Grimm, co-owner/operator of Portland Alternative Designs (PAD). "But more and more people are realizing that they don't want to work 12-hour days to be able to afford a home they never get to enjoy because they're so busy working."

Better Sense of Self and Community

International relief worker Gina Bramucci, who travels for work much of the time, calls this 136-square-foot PAD on Grimm’s land "home" and an arrangement that benefits everyone. "Tiny-home living encourages community," says Grimm. "Instead of every home having a lawnmower, five homes can share one lawnmower."

Private Woodsy Retreat

It's 125 square feet with no real cooking or bathing facilities, but Sandy Foster's cabin in the woods affords her luxuries she wouldn't have in a city apartment, including acres and acres of quiet space all around her.

Chic, White and Serene

Inside, a palette of pure white keeps things simple despite Foster's preference for overstuffed furniture and layered decor.

Container Living

Built to be transported, light, sturdy shipping containers like this one by Leed Cabins make ideal dwellings for people who like to move, if they’re willing to live small. Photography by Daniel Sokol

Sleek and Compact

This design proves that you needn't sacrifice style for the benefits of super-small living, either. The finishes in this unit are as sleek as any you'd find in a luxury apartment. Design by Leed Cabins; photography by Daniel Sokol

Pico Dwelling

When engineer and artist Steve Sauer decided that his one-bedroom apartment was actually more space than he needed, he converted a basement storage unit in a Seattle apartment building into a 182-square-foot "pico dwelling."

Clutter Control

Living in such a small space forces Sauer to carefully and continually edit his belongings. But he doesn't mind it — quite the contrary. "It leads to a more thoughtful life," he says. Photo courtesy of Steve Sauer


Tiny Inspiration

When documentary filmmakers Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith set out to make a movie about people living in tiny homes, they became so intrigued with the lifestyle that they built their own 130-square-foot cabin. The film, TINY: A Story About Living Small, premiered on March 9, 2013.

Closer to Nature

"Our favorite thing about living in a tiny house is the way the outside landscape fills up the interior space," says Mueller. "Our window-to-wall ratio is also really high, and I love the way each window frames a different view. There's something about living in a small space that makes the outside world feel that much closer, even when we're tucked cozily inside." Photo courtesy of TINY: A Story About Living Small

Small Duplex Design

Originally designed as a writer's studio, this 272-square-foot duplex by Gravitas, LC is easily adapted to a permanent dwelling, and the architectural plans are available from the firm's website.

Petite-Sized Getaway

The studio includes a sleeping area, kitchenette, bath and workspace, notes Gravitas' Mark Wagner. The owners of this particular unit sometimes rent it out as a B&B, a good way to test-drive small-space living. Photo courtesy of Gravitas, LC

The Small House Movement

The small house movement started roughly a decade ago, but the economic crisis rapidly accelerated its growth as people began to re-evaluate their lifestyles, craving the simplicity that comes with scaling down. At a fraction of the average house price (some a mere $20,000), these structures eliminate the hassle and potential pitfalls of a mortgage. Plus, they force their occupants to pare down their belongings to the essentials and devise innovative solutions to make the most of every inch.

Petite Appliances

Full-size ranges, double-bowl sinks and side-by-side refrigerators simply won't fit. In their place: mini versions that don't hog space, such as this two-burner stove stacked on top of an oven (with storage tucked behind, to boot).

Modular and Folding Furniture

Furnishings that can be collapsed or tucked away when they're not in use give a small home the flexibility it needs. The drop leaf on this table, which sits snug with the wall so as not to waste floor area, folds up or down depending on the homeowners' needs.

Carefully Chosen Furnishings

Those who inhabit tiny houses don't have the luxury of expansive sofas, clusters of chairs and nests of tables, so what they do have needs to count. Tucked into a bright, sunlit nook, this chair can act as a solo reading retreat, a spot for guests to sit, a perch for doing office work on the computer and much more.


Maximizing vertical space in a tiny home is crucial. Enter the loft, which often is used as a sleeping area. Some have built-in beds that fold up during the day to make room for an office or play area, and others hold inflatable mattresses or futons.


Tiny houses redefine the term "mobile home." For lifelong nomads, one of the most enticing factors of these structures is their potential for portability. Many are outfitted with wheels that allow them to be pulled behind a vehicle and then parked at the next destination.

Think About Space Creatively

Professional pastry chef Mark Wynsma has a tiny kitchen with just 10 inches of counter space, a few little cabinets and a single drawer. To make up for the lack of storage, he stashes his cooking tools in his freezer, under the bed, in clothes closets and in a trunk in the living room. "The kitchen island is the real savior in making my space functional," says Wynsma. "The key to making a big piece work in a small space is having the bottom of the island open and the marble top white." Photography by Liana Walker

Tuck It Away

To create a home office in her tiny home, Killy Scheer of Frisson Design hung a curtain from the main room's ceiling. When the curtain was open, the office felt spacious enough for both work-at-home spouses. When it was closed, Scheer and her husband could forget work and enjoy their living room. Photography by Killy Scheer

Tons of Shelving  

Living in a Small Space Documentary

Living in a Small Space Documentary

When documentary filmmakers Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith set out to make a movie about people living in tiny homes, they became so intrigued with the lifestyle that they built their own 130-square-foot cabin.

One of the home’s best features is the smart shelving that makes room for books, pictures, kitchen items and more. They kept storage in mind during the design process, and the end result offers plenty of space for the essentials and then some.

Shelving That Wows

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Going Global

A built-in shelf doesn’t have to be floor-to-ceiling books. Display a favorite collection, such as the well-loved globes featured here.

Behind Glass Doors

Simple trinkets become works of art when displayed behind the beautiful glass doors of this built-in.

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Buffet Style

Because built-ins can be designed to cater to your needs, the options are almost endless. In this Asian-inspired space, the homeowners included a built-in buffet with custom lighting to show off their art collection.

From: Jo Ann Alston

Photo By: Peter Rymwid

Art Smart

White-washed built-in shelves are the perfect backdrop for the fun pop art pieces and decorative knickknacks this homeowner loves to display.

Simple Symmetry

Two matching built-ins flank the mantel, making it the focal point of the room.

From: Amy Studebaker

Climbing the Walls

A built-in bookshelf designed to look like a staircase offers a unique design with added storage.

Photo By: Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images

Book Nook

With a stunning bookshelf on either side, bookworms can cozy up with their favorite reads within reach.

From: Celebrity Communities

Photo By: Photo Credit: Jeffrey Aron Photography

Perfect Fit

Perfectly situated around the TV, this built-in was designed to make the most of the living room wall.

Photo By: Trevor Tondro

Statement Piece

Navy built-ins with wallpaper backing make a major statement in this eclectic space. Closed cabinetry beneath the television provides the perfect place to hide electronics and unsightly cords.

Photo By: Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty Images

So Much Storage

If one wall of shelves doesn’t seem like enough, consider covering an entire room with built-ins. The dramatic effect will certainly make an impact, and just think of all the added storage!

From: Aldridge & Tanno Architects

Free Up Floor Space  

Neutral Color Scheme

Neutral Color Scheme

Neutrals don’t have to be boring! This relaxing, cool color scheme suits its small surroundings perfectly. The tones offer a soothing oasis from the great big world.

Photo by: Don Hamilton Studio

Don Hamilton Studio

This light-filled home utilizes wall space to hang extra chairs, trays, mugs, cooking utensils and more. And by keeping the interior light, the entire space feels bright, airy and plenty spacious.

Smart Small Kitchens

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Storage Galore

The open shelves above and narrow cabinets on each side of the refrigerator make great use of all the available storage space in this small kitchen design. Photo courtesy of Lowe's Creative Ideas

Photo By: Lowe's Creative Ideas

Going Glass

An easy way to visually expand a kitchen is to add glass. Upper glass front cabinets and pull-out pilasters for spices on each side of the range provide storage and add beauty to this smaller kitchen.

Waste Not

Every surface is utilized in this kitchen to maximize space, such as the wall-mounted knife rack and a magnetic message center on the end of a cabinet. Design by Rachael Franceschina; Photography by Betsy Maddox

Shelf Improvement

A combination of well-designed open and closed storage gives homeowners lots of options for keeping kitchen essentials close at hand. Photo courtesy of Lowe's Creative Ideas

Enhanced Range Design

In this 13x16 kitchen, the range was built into the cabinetry for a custom look and butcherblock countertops provide extra prep space. Photography by Charlotte Jenks Lewis

Gourmet Quality

To create a gourmet kitchen in a 68-square-foot space, Designer Karen Needler installed a compact, pro-quality range and stove. Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry takes advantage of the height and provides plenty of storage for culinary essentials.

From: Karen Needler

Double Duty

A small kitchen peninsula serves multiple purposes for storage, dining, and food prep. Design by Jarret Yoshida

Photo By: Jarret Yoshida

Roll-Away Furniture  

Trendy Portable Home Interior Living Space

Trendy Portable Home Interior Living Space

Courtney Trent of Courtney's Good Cottage designs trailer interiors for movie stars and high-powered executives. She insists that you don't have to sacrifice comfort or luxury to live in a small, moveable space — you just have to figure out how to get the most out of every square inch.

In this petite trailer, small space does not equal small style. A contemporary interior boasts a comfy sofa with plenty of throw pillows to go around. But despite the stylish look, designer Courtney Trent also considered function. A table on wheels works as a dinner table or desk, and overhead storage makes great use of normally unused space.

Kitchen Table Options

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From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)



From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)


Photo By: Chris Amaral © 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.




From: Trish Beaudet


From: Barry Dixon

Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)



Photo By: Brian Kellogg ©scripps Networks, LLC


Photo By: Andrew Bruah







From: Anissa Swanzy





From: Charles Faudree

Photo By: Photo Credit: Jenifer Jordan © Gibbs Smith, Charles Faudree Interiors, Charles Faudree, Jenifer Jordan (photographer)


From: John Lyle

Photo By: Edward Addeo ©Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo


Photo By: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)

Storage for Days  

Small Urban Apartment Interior

Small Urban Apartment Interior

Living in such a small space forces Steve Sauer to carefully and continually edit his belongings. But he doesn't mind it — quite the contrary. "It leads to a more thoughtful life," he says.



Hooks for cooking utensils, high shelves that make the most of vertical space, and a cooking station with plenty of drawers and mini, built-in appliances keep clutter at bay in this tiny home.

10 Small Kitchens

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Bright and White

This compact kitchen benefits from an open plan design that incorporates an eat-in bar. Rich wood barstools balance the glossy cabinets and white countertops for a fresh look. A sleek pendant light and recessed lighting keep the space feeling open and bright.

Gourmet Minimalist

Few things are as helpful as good old reflective, expansive white when you are trying to make a small space feel bigger. Combined with high ceilings, stainless counters, a light-colored, mosaic -tile backsplash and a large window that floods the room with natural light, this small apartment kitchen feels anything but cluttered, even though its footprint is tiny. The sleek linearity of the space adds to the perception of roominess and functionality.

Sleek and Chic

For this contemporary California loft space, Velvet Hammerschmidt Design of Santa Monica tucked a Bulthaup kitchen under a steel stairway that leads up to the second floor. The cooking takes place on the back wall while an 11-foot Carerra marble island does double duty as a prep area on one end and a kitchen table on the other. The island divides the kitchen from the rest of the living space while the towering ceilings, light wall color and reflective stainless provide an airiness. Photo Credit: Velvet Hammerschmidt Design

Let in the Light

A U-shaped layout offers efficiency when short on space. This modified U places the refrigerator just out of sight on the right. A half-wall with countertop and stone base hides the workspace from the living area while letting light and conversation pass unobstructed. All the essentials for cooking and cleaning are within arm's reach. The horizontal drawer handles are long enough to double as towel racks and the large floor tiles make the kitchen look bigger than it is. Photo Credit: Haier

Waste Not

This entire kitchen -- oven, cooktop, sink, storage drawers and prep area -- is neatly contained in a large, boldly contemporary island situated smack dab in the middle of this open-design Amsterdam apartment. On one side of the island is a living area and on the other is a dining space. Multi-utility is the theme of this space. Even the range hood serves a dual purpose, doubling as a shelf for stemware and supplies. Photo Credit: Katie Lips

Cottage Casual

Here we have a pass-through galley kitchen designed in the classic schoolhouse style. Open to the dining room and a large sitting-room window on one side, the orderly space is well lit and uses light colors to create the feeling of roominess. Quintessential early 1900s flush-mount fixtures and a subway-tile backsplash extend the period feel. And there's even room for a desk and computer station on the near end. Photo Credit: JAS Design Build

Go Retro

The vintage feel of this kitchen was preserved thanks in large part to the '50s style refrigerator, while Mediterranean tile lines the walls. Mercury-glass mirrors were added to the cabinet doors in order to brighten the tiny space.

A Shining Example

Making use of any available natural light in a small kitchen is key — a well-placed, glossy backsplash catches the window light, reflecting it throughout the space.

Marbled to Perfection

Galley-style kitchens can be wonderfully utilitarian, especially in apartments. But particular attention must be paid to the aisle -- both the walkway and the raised cabinets. Too narrow a space can make you claustrophobic. To avoid that pitfall, a wall of built-in cabinets flush with the large refrigerator were constructed at one end of this kitchen. A large window provides plenty of light to bounce off the bright white marble counters. The sink, oven and refrigerator are in an easily navigable triangle. Photo Credit: Sub-Zero

Quaint and Cozy

Clever storage space and a wall-mounted bar give this small kitchen function and style.

Love this space? Steal the look.

Let the Sun Shine

Designer Sarah Richardson gives this small, open, white kitchen a cheery feeling with pops of sunny yellow while the gray stone floors ground the space.

Island Living

Clutter is the enemy, especially in a 675 -square -foot condo. A splash of aqua tile captures your eye and melds nicely with the tinted -glass wardrobe on the right and the overall white decor. A small island separates the kitchen work area from the apartment's living area while the blonde wood floor unifies the various spaces. Photo Credit: Jennifer Buktaw

Country Cooking

Tasked with designing an easy-to-navigate work-space, Stephanie Young of Design Spectrum created a galley-like kitchen with cooking, storage and sink areas within a step or two of one another. A pullout pantry not only saves space, but also spares you the frustration of rummaging through a cluttered closet. The kitchen is equipped with a large sink, stacked modern appliances, rich floor-to-ceiling cabinetry designed for storage and targeted overhead lighting. Photo Credit: Kevin Scott / Design Spectrum

The Color Purple

With a carefully laid plan you can tuck a homey, country kitchen into a small area. Creating the impression of spaciousness is the key. In this case, glass-front KraftMaid cabinets in a vanilla -bean glaze provide airiness while underside lighting removes many of the shadows. This apartment benefits from a large window that floods the kitchen with an abundance of natural light, giving the designer flexibility to incorporate darker colors, including a red oak floor, plum walls and green granite countertops. The kitchen is raised six inches and is separated from the living space by an "eat-in" bar that seats three. Photo Credit: Jennifer Dickert

Hidden Storage

With only 162 square feet of available space, every inch of this kitchen was used. Six inches on both sides of the range, which might have been considered negligible in a larger kitchen, were topped with marble and used for a pull-out spice drawer on one side and utensil storage on the other.

Contemporary Cool

How do you fit professional appliances into a tiny space? Challenged by unusual angles and cramped quarters, these homeowners designed a narrow workspace footprint where every inch of space was an opportunity to be creative. Using blonde wood, stainless steel and spot lighting the kitchen has become an organic work of modern art. The table is a harmonious extension of the island, where the sink sits. On the left of the oven is a tambour door that rolls up to expose pullout shelves for the KitchenAid mixer and other appliances. Photo Credit: Martha & Michael Stano

Keep It Simple

Simple Ikea racks were installed for additional storage in the pint-sized kitchen. A vintage-inspired decal is a playful touch on the freezer door.

Modern Farmhouse Style

A vaulted ceiling, clean white walls and a front door with large glass panels help make this small kitchen and living area feel bright and open. White Shaker cabinetry conceals a small refrigerator, full-sized dishwasher, microwave and toaster oven. A farmhouse sink and barn-style pendant lights speak to a modern farmhouse aesthetic — as does the open shelving with beadboard backing. Saddle-style barstools provide additional seating.

Fun and Functional

Turquoise Le Crueset cookware provides a jolt of color to this neutral small kitchen. A stainless steel gas range and refrigerator pack a lot of function into this small space.

Photo By: Photo Courtesy: Dan Piassick © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Industrial Wonder

The sunny yellow cabinets make this small kitchen feel brighter. The sunny color, along with the industrial-style lighting, gray tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances creates a balanced, modern kitchen.

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