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

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

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

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Behind the Design of the Toybox Home

The one-of-a-kind Toybox Home is the result of two guys running into each other at a Chicago reclaimed materials store. Frank Henderson, a music student, met Paul Schultz, a designer, and the two decided to design and construct a tiny house where Henderson could live while in school. It was created with the concept that home should be a fun place inspiring creativity while also providing peace of mind. The home’s exterior features include an energy efficient thermoplastic roof plane (TPO), natural cedar siding and colorful corrugated fiberglass.

Living Room

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

Living Room, Reconfigured

Here, the sofa cubes are arranged against the walls to free up floor space. They can even be configured as a bed.

Multipurpose Pieces

The versatile sofa boxes double as storage containers.

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Kitchen

When he designed the Toybox, Schultz used lighter wood to make the space feel more open. The folding table has plenty of room for two. Above the bathroom doors is a sleeping loft.

Cabinet Alternative

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

Hidden Storage

Sliding panels reveal the Toybox’s hidden storage. When closed, they offer a clean, minimalist look.

Food Cubes

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. 

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Fold-Down Dining Table

In the kitchen, a table flips down for mealtimes. When it’s not in use, it can be folded against the wall and out of the way.

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Makeshift Home Office

“The kitchen table quickly transforms from meal mode to work mode to sleep mode,” explains Schultz. 

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Ladder to Loft

A ship's ladder (which can be stored in the living area when not in use) leads to the 6' x 7' sleeping loft.

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Sleeping Loft

Made with assorted woods, the loft can accommodate up to a king-size bed. Three awning windows allow a breeze to flow in.

Photo By: Mieke Zuiderweg

Bathroom

In the bathroom, a low-flow faucet pulls out from the countertop and clips to the wall, converting the space into a shower. A closet behind the shower wall holds a water heater and provides storage space for clothing.

“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

The versatile sofa boxes in the tiny Toybox Home double as storage containers.

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

Designed by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison for EcoCabins, the “hOMe” boasts a unique staircase with built-in storage that leads to a heavenly master sleeping space.

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

Photographer Monica Bennett takes her scrappy dog Oliver wherever she goes in her tightly packed Airstream, which has hidden storage underneath the bed and a place for Oliver when he is road weary.

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

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.

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

Spices, utensils, potholders and more are stored on the walls of this tiny Airstream kitchen, freeing up the limited counter space.

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

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When Wedgies Are Welcome

We love the Wheelhaus Wedge exterior for its marriage of rustic and modern design elements. High trapezoidal windows on the sides ensure privacy, while the mostly glass front floods the Wedge with natural light. 

Slice of Heaven

Inside the Wedge, a large sliding glass door opens to a private deck, which increases living space. We think the gas fireplace feature, which also comes in electric, is just heavenly.

Wedge Salad for Two

The Wedge’s tiny kitchen features a two-burner cooktop, a built-in mini fridge, microwave oven, a dishwasher, Caesarstone or granite countertops and high-grade cabinetry.

Packed With Goodness

The Wedge’s bathroom was designed for maximum storage without compromising aesthetics. Each features top-of-the-line glass showers, vanities with stone countertops and Kohler fixtures.

Stay Wired

Just because you go off the grid doesn’t mean you can’t update your Facebook page by the fire. Each Wedge comes wired for cable and Internet. Mini gas-burning or electric fireplaces and AC can also be added.

Wedge Exterior

Rustic elements, such as weathered wood, meet with corrugated metal to create an attractive exterior in harmony with the natural surroundings.

Taking the Show on the Road

The crew at Escape Homes has been constructing cabins for many years and recently decided to go mobile. The result is the Escape Traveler, a luxury cabin that qualifies as an RV.

Game Changer

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the Escape Traveler has definitely upped the ante in the tiny house game. If you’re curious about the construction, check in to Canoe Bay in Chetek, Wis.

Kitchen Envy

We must confess that the Escape Traveler’s kitchen is nicer than a lot of ours. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is unparalleled thus far.

Bless This House

As if complementing the environment surrounding it, the Escape is constructed with our Mother Earth in mind utilizing the greenest and most sustainable materials on the market.

Got Wanderlust?

While the Nomad’s Nest model from Wind River Tiny Homes will go just about anywhere you like, it is designed to stay put, not be pulled like an RV. However, should you decide to pull up stakes, this home can be toted to a new location whenever you like.

Mad for the Nomad

Though the exterior screams Davy Crockett, the interior’s designer touches include hip light fixtures, stainless steel appliances and faux stone flooring.

Love Shack

This model was customized for a pair of newlyweds, but Wind River can easily install a loft or bunk beds. We love the industrial hanging light cages.

Baby Steps

A tiny wood staircase leads to the Nomad’s bedroom, while French doors provide natural light and an open space perfect for enjoying the great outdoors in style.

Wagons, Ho

The Wohnwagon hails from Austria and is constructed from natural, recycled and a few new materials. The exterior is covered in naturally waterproof larch wood, which is known for its durability and attractiveness. 

Green Machine

The Wohnwagon features spruce paneling or other woods indigenous to the region. Walls are insulted with wool, which naturally controls humidity. There are solar panels mounted on the roof with a recharging battery pack beneath the floorboards.

Pajama Party

The sleeping area features hidden storage that can be used to conceal twin bed rolls or dirty laundry. Fold-down shelves maximize space and pull-out drawers act as a nightstand. 

Flower Power

Solar panels heat water for the shower and greywater is filtered through the green roof and is reusable within 24 hours. Clean water is stored under the floorboards.

Unique Features

We love the recycled tile in the tiny home’s shower. So far, less than 10 Wohnwagons are in existence making each one unique.

We Jam Econo

We love the EcoCabins “hOMe” model not only for its sleek exterior but also for its functionality. Inside this tiny beauty you’ll find a fully functioning kitchen, a sleeping loft and a modern living space.

Tiny Dancer

Every inch of an EcoCabin is designed with form and function in mind. This award-winning model features plenty of built-in storage, fold down tables and a cozy sleeping loft that we adore.

Stairway to Heaven

Designed by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison for EcoCabins, the “hOMe” boasts a unique staircase with built-in storage that leads to a heavenly master sleeping space.

Wheels on Fire

Who says that you have to compromise on taste? It’s hard to believe that a four-burner gas stove can be packed into one of these tiny mobile homes.

Come on Get Happy

The one-of-a-kind Toybox Home is the result of two guys running into each other at a Chicago reclaimed materials store. Frank Henderson, a music student, met Paul Schultz, a designer, and the two decided to design and construct a tiny house where Henderson could live while in school.

Window on the World

The eco-friendly Toybox is one of the most original tiny homes we’ve ever seen. It was created with the concept that home should be a fun place inspiring creativity while also providing peace of mind. 

Table for Two

When he designed the Toybox, Schultz used lighter wood to make the space feel more open. The folding table has plenty of room for two. Above the bathroom doors is a sleeping loft.

View From the Top

This view from the Toybox’s sleeping loft provides a bird’s-eye view into the living space where module seating serves as storage and can also be arranged to form a bed.

Special Purpose

Every element of the home serves a purpose. Sliding panels reveal the Toybox’s hidden storage.

Keep it Clean

The bathroom is unique in that the entire space acts as the shower. We like this “self-cleaning” element.

Rocky Mountain High

Greg Parham of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses likes keeping things simple, earth-friendly and affordable. After discussing your wants, Parham will translate that into your needs and custom build you a home that suits both.

Tiny Before Tiny Was Cool

Tumbleweed Houses laid down its roots in 1999 basing their business model on the concept that homes could roll and lay down roots just like its namesake. All models, like this Mica, can be customized in-house or they will help you out with a DIY kit. 

Tasty Waves & Cool Buds

Mica owners enjoy the freedom that tiny house living affords owners to wake up just about anywhere they can find a (legal) parking space.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

From the streets of Manhattan to the Oregon coast, your Mica kitchen will serve you wherever you wake.

Whistle Stop Tour

Tumbleweed’s Elm features a custom arched window above the door reminiscent of an old-fashioned train caboose. The full porch and lancet window give this exterior design the charm and elegance that started it all.

Sweet Dreams

Customize your Elm with optional dormers in the loft for added space, light and cross breeze.

Dinner Time Options

From cooktops to full stoves, these Tiny House RVs have a range of options to suit your most adventurous cooking ambitions. This Elm features a two-burner electric cooktop.

Head Space

Tumbleweed Houses are designed to weather all seasons, climates and personalities. The Cypress makes use of the most interior space, by incorporating a recessed corner porch affording the interior living area more space.

Food Truck

This Cypress kitchen was customized with a “nook” kitchen and two-burner gas cooktop with an external propane tank. There’s no need for a special permit to tow.

Almost Paradise

Named after one of our favorite trees, Tumbleweed’s Linden screams outdoorsy, though it does it with subtlety. The tiny porch is a great place to sit and watch the sunset or the local wildlife.

Let the Sunshine In

The Linden’s roof takes advantage of two full dormers that not only let the sunshine in, but also give it more space. It’s the perfect spot for relaxing or hosting fellow glampers.

Sunnyside Up

The Linden’s kitchens are completely customizable and take advantage of a ton of natural light, which is why you came out here in the first place, right?

Let’s Go to Grandma’s House

There’s no longer any need to go over the river or through the woods to get to grandma’s house. Conceived as an eldercare solution, NextDoor Housing Drop Homes park loved ones right in your backyard yet afford you both independence and privacy.

Street Legal

Drop Homes are not only ADA compliant and street legal but also available to rent making them a great solution for the temporary of a loved one. 

Holy Roller

We just had to include this adorable rolling house of holy. With destination weddings all the rage, this beauty will come to you or EcoCabins will help you acquire your very own.

Going to the Chapel

In this case, the chapel can come to you.

Photo By: EcoCabins

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