6 Storage Secrets From Tiny House Dwellers

We asked tiny home residents and designers how they squeezed as much storage as possible out of their ultra-petite pads. Steal their ideas to maximize your own space.

Hidden Storage in Tiny Toybox Home Kitchen

Hidden Storage in Tiny Toybox Home Kitchen

Photo by: Mieke Zuiderweg

Mieke Zuiderweg

Every day we hear chatter from people talking a big game when it comes to living tiny. One of the biggest concerns is deciding what to do about all the stuff and where will it go? Just because you are living in a box it doesn’t mean that you have to think inside one. We sought creative yet practical advice from minimalist pros, Airstream dwellers and designers who have some big ideas on tiny home storage. 

Paring Down

When Frank Henderson decided to go small, he sought the advice of Chicago-based designer Paul Schultz. Together they assessed what Henderson’s storage requirements would be, concentrating on wants versus needs — without sacrificing style. Schultz suggested that Henderson categorize his possessions into three lists: essentials, non-essentials and shared items. From there they were able to customize his new digs, dubbed the Toybox Home. 

Tour the Toybox Home

See All Photos

Behind the Design of the Toybox Home

Living Room

Living Room, Reconfigured

Multipurpose Pieces

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Kitchen

Cabinet Alternative

Hidden Storage

Food Cubes

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Fold-Down Dining Table

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Makeshift Home Office

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Ladder to Loft

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Sleeping Loft

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Bathroom

“After completion of the three lists, minimum quantities were assigned to each item,” says Schultz. “Four plates, 10 shirts, 20 books and so on.” 

Then they had to decide where it would all go. 

Multiple Personalities 

Versatile Sofa With Storage Inside

Versatile Sofa With Storage Inside

Photo by: Mieke Zuiderweg

Mieke Zuiderweg

To open up space and avoid the cramped and cluttered experience associated with many tiny home designs, furniture in the Toybox Home doubles as storage and/or has multiple uses. For example, the sofa boxes double as storage containers and can be rearranged to serve multiple functions. 

“The kitchen table quickly transforms from meal mode to work mode to sleep mode, and the utility closet in the bathroom doubles as a clothing closet,” explains Schultz. 

Jamie Mackay, founder and CEO of Wheelhaus, also recommends making your furniture work a double shift. 

“Buy a coffee table that offers storage inside; get a bed with dresser drawers underneath; decorate with gear; hang skis and bikes like art,” says Mackay.

In EcoCabins, built-in seating benches double as storage trunks.

Lofty Goals

Staircase and Window Seat in Tiny Home

Staircase and Window Seat in Tiny Home

Photo by: EcoCabins

EcoCabins average a little less than 200 square feet, yet they use every single inch in an economical fashion, hence the company’s name. 

“Adding a sleeping loft seems obvious but is often overlooked,” says Kellie Smith, product coordinator at EcoCabins in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Also, put storage under the stairs that lead to the loft.” 

Diane Graham of Sprout Tiny Homes endorses loft stairs with built-in drawers, along with a space underneath for hanging clothes. 

Murphy’s Law

Under-the-Bed Storage in Tiny Airstream Home

Under-the-Bed Storage in Tiny Airstream Home

Photo by: Monica Bennett, Just5MoreMinutes.com

Monica Bennett, Just5MoreMinutes.com

When Claudia Pennington and her husband Garrett of Pennsylvania shrank their footprint by 1,000 square feet, storage was at a premium. They found that beneath the bed was prime real estate. 

“We use this space to store a lot of stuff, including shoes and our clothes drying rack when not in use, of course,” says Pennington. 

Photographer Monica Bennett spends much of her time in a 31-foot Airstream with her husband and scrappy dog Oliver. The entire top of her bed lifts up with hydraulic arms and exposes a huge area for storage underneath. 

“At the foot of the bed, there is a little door that lifts down, and I put Oliver's blanket and toys in there,” Bennett explains. ”It serves as his little den while we all hang out in the Airstream; he really likes it.” 

Graham votes for a Murphy bed. 

“It turns your sleeping space into a living space and you don’t even have to make the bed every day,” she laughs. 

Now We’re Cooking

Food Storage Cubes in Tiny Toybox Home Kitchen

Food Storage Cubes in Tiny Toybox Home Kitchen

Photo by: Mieke Zuiderweg

Mieke Zuiderweg

The custom-built Toybox kitchen is one of the smartest uses of space we’ve ever seen. The need for a pantry was reduced by creating a food cube shelf that not only holds 18 cubes of food, but also houses the kitchen's electrical outlets and LED strip lighting. Kitchen appliances, including the stovetop, are all plug-in and can be stowed away, leaving more open counter space. 

Instead of visible cabinets for additional storage, the Toybox home has a deeper wall between the bathroom and the kitchen area. This wall hides extra cabinet space and reduces the appearance of clutter. 

Though a lot of tiny home companies will customize your new home, not everyone is working with their own designer, which will require you to get creative. 

“Hang appliances under cabinets to free up counter space beneath,” recommends Mackay.

Smith recommends simple solutions such a lazy Susan in the pantry, along with retractable pantry drawers to store small appliances (toaster oven, griddle, etc.), which will free up counter space. The space will also feel less cluttered. 

And we love Smith’s idea of installing drawers in the kick plates of your kitchen cabinets — completely dead space that would otherwise go unused. 

Looking Up

Tiny Airstream Kitchen With Smart Storage

Tiny Airstream Kitchen With Smart Storage

Photo by: Monica Bennett, Just5MoreMinutes.com

Monica Bennett, Just5MoreMinutes.com

Smith says that it’s important to use all your wall space as high as you can. 

“Build storage cabinets and shelves up high near the ceiling,” advises Smith. 

Mackay agrees. 

“Don’t be afraid to go vertical to find some available storage space,” he says. 

Cool Tiny Houses on Wheels

See All Photos

When Wedgies Are Welcome

Slice of Heaven

Wedge Salad for Two

Packed With Goodness

Stay Wired

Wedge Exterior

Taking the Show on the Road

Game Changer

Kitchen Envy

Bless This House

Got Wanderlust?

Mad for the Nomad

Love Shack

Baby Steps

Wagons, Ho

Green Machine

Pajama Party

Flower Power

Unique Features

We Jam Econo

Tiny Dancer

Stairway to Heaven

Wheels on Fire

Come on Get Happy

Window on the World

Table for Two

View From the Top

Special Purpose

Keep it Clean

Rocky Mountain High

Tiny Before Tiny Was Cool

Tasty Waves & Cool Buds

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Whistle Stop Tour

Sweet Dreams

Dinner Time Options

Head Space

Food Truck

Almost Paradise

Let the Sunshine In

Sunnyside Up

Let’s Go to Grandma’s House

Street Legal

Holy Roller

Going to the Chapel

Photo By: EcoCabins

Next Up

Maximize Small-Space Storage

Use cabinets and shelving in smart ways to create storage in your small spaces.

9 Things You Never Thought You'd See in a Tiny House

A two-story tiny house that tilts onto its side? Anything is possible. 

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

Inspired by HGTV's Tiny House, Big Living, we're sharing even more tiny homes that are big on storage.

Small, Shared Kids' Room Storage and Decorating

An 8-by-10-foot shared Brooklyn bedroom for twins? Yes, it can be done with creative use of vertical storage space and multi-purposing tricks.

6 Tiny Houses That Squeeze Function Into Every Square Foot

These homes featured on HGTV's 'Tiny House, Big Living' are small on square footage but big on function. Take a tour, then decide: Would you spring for a home sweet tiny home?

Small-Kitchen Makeover

Before, Sarah and John's small Brooklyn kitchen could be used only for cooking. Now four people can dine comfortably thanks to smart storage and better use of available space.

7 Tiny Homes That Will Spark Your Sense of Wanderlust

Pack your bags now, because after seeing these tiny homes, you'll never want to go back.

The Property Brothers Spent the Night in a Tiny House -- Here's What Happened

This is the true story of two tall brothers living in one tiny house for 24 hours.

Tiny Manhattan Studio Remodel

Designer Jarret Yoshida transforms a tiny New York City apartment into a chic living space with stylish storage solutions.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.