22 September 2020

Here’s how people living in a tiny home make their space seem big, according to those who designed their houses themselves

Bela and Spencer Fishbeyn live in a 300-square foot tiny house in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains.

Ryan Tuttle

They document their tiny house life in their blog, thisxlife.

They found the trick to living in a small space is to make it perfect for what you actually do on a daily basis. “Try to create your space exactly around your life,” they said.

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

“Focusing on clever convertible furniture sounds good on paper but it’s very difficult in real life,” they said.

Most tiny houses use a full-sized loft, which maximizes square footage, but Bela and Spencer said it limits the space’s usefulness and expansiveness.

The kitchen and bedroom. Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife



They put their master bedroom over the tiny house’s fifth wheel hitch, which gives them full standing room. A giant picture window “opens it to the outdoors and makes it feel expansive.”

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

“There’s also a geometric fixture on the ceiling that somehow it makes it feel as though the room is floating through the sky,” they said.

Underneath the bed itself is a bed frame with hydraulic lifts, which gives them an extra 100 cubic feet of easy-access storage.

They added giant windows all throughout their tiny house to break down wall barriers and bring in the outdoors, they said.

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

For their daughter’s room, they used an L-shaped loft to create a more private space and a natural play area in front of her bed.

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

“She can sleep soundly upstairs while we have full access to the rest of the house and added ceiling space,” they said.

However, they recommend building in an extra vent fan in a closed off loft to circulate the cool air from your HVAC.

“Remember that your small space isn’t in a vacuum,” they said. “People who live in small spaces often have access to lots of outdoor space.”

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

“Our tiny house really doesn’t feel like a tiny house at all,” they said. “We can always open it up to the outdoors and the indoors and have everything you’d expect from a traditional home.”

Courtesy of Bela, thisxlife

Their storage space is hard to come by — every inch needs to be maximized, and that means getting inventive with DIY shelving.

Tiffany the Tiny Home

“We have organizers everywhere that allow us to organize drawers and cabinets to stack our items vertically,” they told Business Insider.

Courtesy of Tiffany the Tiny Home

Stacking vertically helps them use all of the space and keeps them more organized, they added.

They also have built-in storage everywhere in their home, thanks in large part to shelving.

Tiffany the Tiny Home

It’s why their bookshelf is so handy, they said: “In our tiny home, everything has its place.”

They love to travel but avoid buying souvenirs. “We compromised by sending ourselves postcards and keeping them in a small album in our bookshelf.”

Tiffany The Tiny Home

They added that this trick is both cost- and space-efficient, and helps them remember their most cherished trips.

Their leaflet dining room table, which collapses to leave more room when not in use, also “makes a huge difference,” they said.

Courtesy of Tiffany the Tiny Home

But their favorite tiny hack was putting a projector in their loft — no need for a TV here. “This totally makes up for the small couch in our home,” they said.

Courtesy of Tiffany The Tiny Home

They also found that the small size of their bathroom soaks up more moisture. A vent leading directly outside for the exhaust fan makes it easier for moisture to get in.

Courtesy of Tiffany the Tiny Home

They ended up solving the problem by getting a dehumidifier, which removes moisture from the air and reduces the sulfur smell from the water, Tim wrote in a separate blog post.

Like the Fishbeyns, they utilize their outdoor space for things that may be limited by their small indoor space. They said they have a space for yoga, a hammock, and “crafting and tinkering.”

Tiffany The Tiny Home

They kept their kitchen and bath on opposite ends of the house, which they said helps separate smells, opens space, and works with entertaining.


“When you have the bathroom on the same side of the house as the kitchen, it can close in the space and create a ‘hallway’ effect to make the house feel smaller than it actually is,” they said.

The bathroom door doubles as a ladder to a lofted closet above the bathroom. It has 66 inches of hanging space and four small storage drawers for their clothes.


The ladder/bathroom door is one of the few multi-functioning items in their tiny house, they said. But, “If we did it all over again, we would have built a slightly longer trailer and had a small closet in the bathroom,” they added.

Regardless, they said they’re very content with the design of their tiny house.

They were also deliberate with long, slim windows high on the walls. “They bring in diffused natural light without dominating the space and adding unwanted heat in the summer months,” they said.


“The slimmer profile of the windows up high funnels light in nicely and replicates what recessed ceiling lighting would do,” they said. “Having the natural light come in all day has been a big help without needing to turn lights on until the evening.”

There are also additional picture windows at the top of the walls — “where we wouldn’t have been able to use the wall space as storage, so it would have been empty anyways,” they said.

Jenna Spesard built her 165-square-foot tiny house, currently parked in Whidbey Island In Washington, from scratch.

Photos by Guillaume Dutilh

After four years of tiny house living, she moved into a 500-square-foot cottage with her husband and now uses the tiny house as an Airbnb and vacation home.

Spesard runs the blog Tiny House Giant Journey.

When it comes to utilizing space, “Every inch counts,” Spesard told Business Insider. “I measure everything before I bring it into my tiny home.”

Photos by Guillaume Dutilh

She opted for open shelving in the kitchen, which she said can help the area feel larger.

Courtesy of Tiny House Giant Journey

Spesard also uses magnets to keep kitchen accessories on the walls, such as spices and knives.

Tiny House Giant Journey

A magnetic spice rack and magnetic strip for knives keep clutter off the countertops and out of the drawers, she said in a YouTube video.

“Utilizing the space in between rafters and in the corners of the room for storage is also a good idea,” she added.

Photos by Guillaume Dutilh

Clothing storage has proved more of a challenge for her, “but if you use the Marie Kondo folding method you can fit a lot of clothes into a tiny space,” she said.

Photos by Guillaume Dutilh

A few years after building the tiny house, Spesard wanted a downstairs bed option for guests. She and her husband decided to DIY their own futon.

The bench underneath the window folds out into a bed. Tiny House Giant Journey

Any purchased futon wouldn’t be the right size, she said. So, they fashioned a futon out of two storage ottomans, a bench, and hinged plywood.

She also created a folding table that, when not in use, looks like a chalkboard on the wall.

Tiny HOuse Giant Journey/YouTube

Another “space saver” was putting her bedroom in a loft.

Photos by Guillaume Dutilh

“[Lofts] are also therapeutic,” she wrote in a blog post. “A compact loft can act like a cocoon for the human body.”

For her dog, she included a small bathtub for doggy baths and extended her loft just enough for a dog bed at the foot.

Tiny House Giant Journey

The dog’s bathtub doubles as Spesard’s shower stall, but is too small for a human to bathe in, she said.


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