These 10 Tiny Homes Make a Huge Case for the Small Space

These 10 Tiny Homes Make a Huge Case for the Small Space

By Duncan Nielsen
In her new book “Living Little,” writer and editor Hannah Jenkins counts the ways—and the reasons why—we’re drawn to small spaces.

Tiny homes, trailers, rooftop apartments, and prefab cabins—the typologies may vary, but together they represent a growing trend toward a simpler, smaller way of living. The motivations to downsize are many, says Living Little author Hannah Jenkins—and they include the high cost of urban areas, and the desire to live affordably on one’s own. But one thing’s for sure—"It most certainly does not mean we have to compromise on design and quality of life," she writes. Read on for a peek at just a few homes from the book that prove you can live large with a small footprint.

A Barcelona Apartment With an Inner Courtyard

Dark, disconnected from the outside world, and heavily partitioned, this once-dingy apartment is now unrecognizable thanks to great design. Located in a charming old building amid narrow, leaf-strewn streets in Barcelona’s Gracia district, the apartment has been transformed by YLAB Arquitectos into a free-flowing, contemporary, and tastefully eclectic holiday home. The courtyard—undoubtedly the property’s best feature—floods the interior with natural light, and the owners sought to capitalize on this valuable aspect in the home’s refurbishment. The heart of the design involved reviving the previously static inner courtyard and transforming it into a semiexterior garden. Dotted with a selection of custom planters, it imparts vibrant greenery to the space and connects the dwelling with nature and the outside.  

High in the Colorado mountains, this completely off-grid home cleverly fuses art and functionality. Home to a young couple and their two dogs, the eye-catching dwelling showcases the impeccable craftsmanship and creative flair of its occupants. Greg and Stephanie Parham built San Juan Tiny House to include a wavy roof, an angled front prowl, barn wood siding arranged like the rays of the sun, blue ombré shakes on the rear wall, reclaimed materials throughout, and a collapsible front porch, which features a fold-up deck and fold-down awning. On the inside, clever solutions maximize square feet and storage.

Defined by an abundance of warm timber accents and an overall sense of intrigue, the aptly named Pine Flat residence by architecture firm A6A resides inconspicuously on the top floor of a 19th-century building. Inside, platforms, partitions, doors, and storage stitched together by plywood installations contrast the white, loft-style ceiling. Adding to the apartment’s congenial feel are heightened windows on the west side, which bathe the space in natural light while also offering views. 

Despite its relatively small footprint, House MM in north Amsterdam boasts significant internal volume. Chris Collaris Architects transformed a once-old-and-decaying brick house by using every inch of the allocation plan to the new home’s advantage—made possible by the clever mitigation of restricted roof heights. The outcome is an increase in volume that results in a spacious interior. Finished with protective wax-coated pinewood cladding in black, the home's exterior is clean lined and makes a bold statement standing out almost brazenly among its more mellow peers. This timber cladding yields only in precise areas for large windows throughout that invite light in and present delightful views, with full-height glazing that opens onto a terrace overlooking the gardens. 

Fed up with modern-day society’s obsessive pursuit of things rather than lived experiences, Michael Lamprell, the designer of this cabin in Adelaide, Australia, set out to create an antidote to what he quips is a "craziness we’ve brought upon ourselves." In 160 square feet, CABN Jude  includes space for a king-size bed, toilet, shower, heater, two-burner kitchen stove, full-size sink, and fridge. The interior is clad with light-colored wood, which helps to enhance the sense of space. Large windows bring plenty of natural light, while the clever design means everything the resident needs is within easy reach.

A Flat With Floor-to-Ceiling Kitchen Mirrors in Barcelona

This 645-square-foot apartment by Miel Arquitectos, known as Piso Pereiv44, was designed for short stays. The two bedrooms in all white breathe a strong sense of calm and boast innovative designs. Repurposing old materials and removing part of the existing brick have afforded a clever configuration that allows a built-in wardrobe and desk space in each room. To further maximize the use of space, all piping and wiring are enclosed in a platform timber floor, which also give the interior an interesting elevated aspect. A prominent feature of the apartment’s design is the large mirrored wall that sits opposite the kitchen. The wall pulls double duty: presenting doorways that lead to the bathroom while reflecting light from the window into the main living space and kitchen. 

Casa Parasito effortlessly provides accommodations for two people in a cleverly unique location: the rooftop of a city building in San Juan, Ecuador. El Sindicato Arquitectura wanted to not only provide a home, but also contribute positively to the densification challenge that the city’s inhabitants face. The design concept hinges on an A-frame facade. Within, an interior layout is marked by a rectangular core—also the main social/living space—from which all other utilitarian spaces, such as the kitchen, dining area, bathroom, bed, work area, and storage are accessed. 

This compact vacation home by TACO—or, Taller de Arquitectura Contextual—is immersed in southeastern Mexico’s wild landscape. The home is designed for a pair of young adults, and the firm’s objective was to achieve a reflective and contemplative place that links the occupants with the surrounding environment. The result is an intuitive, functional, and simple living experience that offers great spatial warmth. 

This innovative residential addition by Best Practice Architecture was built to give an aging family member a safe, well-designed, and private dwelling. In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the family, the space also needed to accommodate future use as a rental unit, studio, or office. Converting an existing garage was the perfect solution. Carefully placed windows and skylights provide lots of daylight, while exposed rafters create a loft-like atmosphere. A short walk through the entryway reveals the bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room. A lofted space above the bathroom can be used as storage, an office, or sleeping quarters. It also opens to a private back deck. All of these details come together to create an inviting, open-concept accommodation, making the relatively small footprint of this granny pad feel much larger than it really is.

A modern take on the Scandinavian grill house, FLEXSE by St. Petersburg–based designers SA Lab is a sophisticated micro dwelling with an impressive list of seasonal adaptations. The cozy and comfortable modular house is the ideal place to retreat to during winter months, given its cubby-hole ambiance. In warmer weather, cuddling up inside can be exchanged for lounging on the open terrace outside. The modular design is adaptable for different purposes—it can serve as a sauna, a guest dwelling, and even a complete tiny house.

Living Little: Simplicity and Style in a Small Space
Be they small or tiny homes, flats, apartments or storefront properties, cottages, rural or rooftop dwellings, caravans, or cabins, this book is the perfect source of inspiration for those short on space who are yearning for strong doses of ingenuity and style.
Save

Stay up to Date on the Latest in Tiny Homes

Discover small spaces filled with big ideas—from clever storage solutions to shape-shifting rooms.