To live successfully in a tiny house (and not lose your mind), you need to be two things: neat and creative.
If you let your house get messy and cluttered, you'll find yourself with nowhere to sit (or walk) in no time. Luckily, I've always been a bit of an OCD-freak when it comes to being neat and organized, so that isn't a problem for me. In fact, the fact that everything has to have its own designated space makes me seem a little less neurotic.
Then there's the obvious need for creative use of space. When you only have 160 square feet to work with, you have to start thinking outside of the box (since you're basically living in one).
For instance in my house, I only have:
- 1 kitchen cabinet (yes, ONE)
- 1 kitchen drawer
- 1 two foot wide clothes closet
- 1 bathroom cabinet
That means, I can't be spreading out a bunch of kitchen stuff like you normally would, with a cabinet for dishes, a cabinet for pots/pans, a cabinet for glasses, etc. Same thing in the bathroom, bedroom... you get the idea. Instead, you have to get creative!!
So, in my attempt to be an amateur MacGyver (with help from my builder on one), here are my top five tiny house hacks. And be sure not to miss the FREE list of products that I used for these hacks at the bottom of the post!*
1. Hidden Storage
If there is spare room anywhere in your tiny house, you can use it for storage. Doesn't matter if it's under something, over something, on the back of something, in the floor, or dropping down from the ceiling. If there's space, use it!
In my house, my builder put storage cabinets underneath my couch, inside of the stairs going up to my loft and even in the floor of my loft! Under the couch, I use storage baskets for my DVD's and my Wii, board games and a few random things like my tool kit and a spare blanket. The stair cabinets are great for baking ingredients, spare wine glasses, my supplements and a LOT of books! And in the large open space under the stairs, fabric storage bins hold more of my foldable clothes like pajamas, jeans and yoga pants. The storage bin in the floor of the loft contains a lot of little bins that organize my "small" clothing items like socks, underwear, hats and a few wristlets/clutches.
2. A Functional Closet
So since I am not a "minimalist" by far when it comes to my wardrobe, I needed a way to make a pretty decent amount of clothes fit in a closet that is only TWO FEET wide. It was a challenge to say the least. But with a few hacks, it is possible!
First, I actually ordered something "AS SEEN ON TV." I don't remember how I even knew about these things... but I remembered that I had seen these hangers that held like 6 or 7 garments on each hanger by cascading them downward (they are actually called "Wonder Hangers" and you can get them HERE). I planned on using them early on, so I asked my builder to purposely install the clothing bar up high within the closet. So with each one holding 5 garments (I guess I was a little too hopeful), I used about a dozen of them and fit a LOT of clothes in the closet. It still wasn't enough room to fit everything, so I divided it up into summer and winter clothes and put the out-of-season clothes in storage bags that have been vacuum sealed and are stored in my secondary loft.
Then there was the question of shoes. This actually ended up being a bigger puzzle for me because I didn't just want a giant pile of shoes at the bottom of the closet but I had nowhere else to put them. My solution?
Well more specifically, the kitchen section of Wal-Mart. I knew there had to be some kind of shelf that I could wedge in between the walls of the closet but after looking in several home goods stores and coming up empty handed in their closet and organization departments, I had an epiphany. I thought there has to be something in the kitchen section for organizing kitchen cabinets and such, so I checked good ol' Wal-Mart and ta-da! The little plastic shelves that are sold for stacking spices, dishes, etc. just happened to be exactly the right size to fit across my closet! I just tilted them to the side, put them in the closet and then when I straightened them out, they wedged in perfectly for a tight fit. I used two - one on top of the other - to create three separate spaces for shoes. Because my closet was deeper than the shelves, I also had additional room behind them to set my taller shoes like my rain boots and cowboy boots. And even had room to store my dad's guitar!
3. Stow-away Laptop
Since I am a writer and I work from home, a workspace is important. I didn't have enough room in my tiny house for a desk unfortunately, but I do have a small breakfast bar that I can sit at (as soon as I get around to buying a tiny barstool) and I can also sit on my couch and work with my trusty ottoman (see next hack). But when I'm not working, I didn't want my laptop, power cord, mouse and mouse pad just sitting around haphazardly on the kitchen counter or the couch. Remember, tidiness is next to godliness in a tiny house!
So, I found this super cool shelf at IKEA that is the perfect size to stand my laptop up in as well as store my cords and mouse. And the curtain wire this is mounted across the front helps to keep everything in place, even when my house is traveling down the road!
4. A Multi-Functional Ottoman
If you've read some of my other tiny house posts, you probably already know about my ottoman that fell straight from the heavens. It really is the perfect hack for several issues - space for my office supplies, a place to eat, a place to work and extra seating for guests.
Since the top is a comfy cushion, I can use it for additional seating. The compartment on the side is perfect for my remotes and coasters, the filing cabinet inside and drawer below hold all of my office supplies and files. And the height is perfect for eating or typing when I'm sitting on my couch. The best part of all? It fits exactly into the space between my closet and my stairs, so it rolls out of the way when I'm not using it!
5. Jewelry Rack
This was something that I admit, even I hadn't really thought about until late in the game. So... where exactly AM I going to keep all my jewelry? I don't have a dresser anymore and I have too many necklaces and earrings to try to put them all in a box or drawer organizer (not to mention finding a spot for the box or drawer organizer). But then I realized that the wooden key rack that as my mother's (that I thought I was going to have to get rid of because I had no place for it) could serve as a jewelry rack! I recruited a talented designer friend of mine and after changing out the mirror for some metal meshing, adding a few more hooks and of course, painting the whole thing purple, it is now a gorgeous, functioning jewelry rack that hangs in my bathroom!
*All links in this post and on free PDF are affiliate links.
Have any good ideas for other tiny house hacks? Share them in the comments below, I'd love to hear them!