The Solar-Powered Orchid Tiny House Has a Gorgeous, Light-Filled Interior

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Nashville–based New Frontier Homes recently completed the Orchid Tiny House—a 290-square-foot off-grid home with amazing lighting design.

Built in Nashville and delivered to an artist living in Los Angeles, the 20-foot-long Orchid Tiny House is a stunning example of small-space architecture. New Frontier Homes used engineered lumber to bolster the framing and ridge beam of the stick-framed house. A steel beam installed along the cantilevered roof provides additional support and stability.

"The roof, which we refer to as a ‘self-stick modified rolled roof,’ and which works like a rain screen, is built with the same dimensional cedar as the siding. This was incredibly challenging. All of the cedar pieces for the roof were raised off the siding and separated by three-quarter inch, so they look as if they are floating," says New Frontier Tiny Homes founder David Latimer. 

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To protect against water penetration, the walls and roof are assembled with three-quarter inch pressure-treated OSB sheathing, Typar housewrap, an ice and water shield, asphalt paper, furring strips, and stained penofin cedar.

To protect against water penetration, the walls and roof are assembled with three-quarter inch pressure-treated OSB sheathing, Typar housewrap, an ice and water shield, asphalt paper, furring strips, and stained penofin cedar.

They tiny house connects to the outdoors with clerestory windows, floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, and a garage door that opens up an entire wall.

They tiny house connects to the outdoors with clerestory windows, floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, and a garage door that opens up an entire wall.

The house is powered by solar panels.

The house is powered by solar panels.

The entrance to the Orchid Tiny House.

The entrance to the Orchid Tiny House.

The house has an open floor plan, and the main living lounge doubles as a second bedroom at the front of the house. The kitchen and dining table are located on a raised platform in the middle of the house, and the back of the house features a bathroom and a main closet topped with a lofted sleeping area. 

Ladder steps lead up to the living area.

Ladder steps lead up to the living area.

The interior walls and ceiling are clad in three-quarter inch maple plywood.

The interior walls and ceiling are clad in three-quarter inch maple plywood.

Latimer says that his designs are heavily influenced by Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics. "Both of these traditions use very clean lines, and elegant open spaces, uncluttered by cabinetry and shelving and knick-knacks. The use of texturally nice natural materials gives spaces a warm, inviting, and homely feel." 

The furniture, the hand rail, the ladder, the HVAC box, and the sofa/bed combo are made of walnut.

The furniture, the hand rail, the ladder, the HVAC box, and the sofa/bed combo are made of walnut.

The kitchen table and chairs are from West Elm.

The kitchen table and chairs are from West Elm.

What really makes the Orchid stand out from other tiny homes is its LED valance lighting. "I’m obsessed with light," says Latimer. "I focus a lot of energy on maximizing natural light and really making a unique, functional, completely controllable lighting design program." 

Many of the furnishings were custom designed and built by New Frontier Tiny Homes.

Many of the furnishings were custom designed and built by New Frontier Tiny Homes.

"Lighting design is really important. There is something about valance lighting that creates a feeling of expansiveness. Not only is it beautiful and sexy, but it kind of tricks the mind into a feeling of more space," says Latimer.

"Lighting design is really important. There is something about valance lighting that creates a feeling of expansiveness. Not only is it beautiful and sexy, but it kind of tricks the mind into a feeling of more space," says Latimer.

Inspired by his experience during the 2017 solar eclipse, Latimer installed valance LED strips on the cantilevered front porch and almost every interior area of the house. Each light has an individual dimmer switch, so residents can create different moods and make the interiors as bright or dim as they like. "With LED valance lighting, the source of the light is not visible, which gives the interiors a soft, sensual glow," says Latimer.

The kitchen and dining area is located on a raised platform in between the bathroom, bedroom, and living lounge.

The kitchen and dining area is located on a raised platform in between the bathroom, bedroom, and living lounge.

All of the storage is hidden. 

All of the storage is hidden. 

Latimer custom designed and built a sofa bench, with storage space underneath, that can be pulled out to reveal a bed. A HVAC cabinet in the living space doubles up as an armoire. 

A king-sized bed fits snugly in the loft.

A king-sized bed fits snugly in the loft.

The air conditioning unit is concealed within a closet.

The air conditioning unit is concealed within a closet.

The owner sought an elegant toilet solution, so the team opted for a Cinderella incinerator toilet—a product Latimer refers to as the "Rolls Royce of non-flushable toilets."

The owner sought an elegant toilet solution, so the team opted for a Cinderella incinerator toilet—a product Latimer refers to as the "Rolls Royce of non-flushable toilets."

"A lot of tiny house designers/builders try to cram a bunch of shelves and high cabinetry for added storage. This closes off an already small space. I like clean lines, and I don’t want to see clutter. I want to see the beautiful shape of the home, the finishes, the lighting, and I want it to look and feel clean," says Latimer. 

David Latimer, CEO and founder of New Frontier Tiny Homes

David Latimer, CEO and founder of New Frontier Tiny Homes

Project credits: 

Architect of Record: New Frontier Tiny Homes / @newfrontiertinyhomes

Builder, Interior and Lighting Design: David Latimer, New Frontier Tiny Homes