How to find tiny house inspiration
Part 1 | A step-by-step guide to designing your tiny house
After receiving such positive feedback on my last article (Thank you btw!) I thought I’d continue the inspiration with a step-by-step guide to planning and designing your tiny house as a non-architect. This guide talks to everything we’ve learned so far on our journey. I’ll be breaking this down into a few newsletters to avoid an all-at-once overload in your inbox.
This article should fill your brain abrim with possibilities. Enjoy exploring the architectural globe, and don’t restrict yourself – now’s the time to let your imagination run wild before putting more practical pens to paper (We’ll cover that step later in the series). So here are 5 ways to help create a visual foundation that will shape the direction of your future tiny house… from floor to stargazing ceiling.
1. Create a Mood Board
Let the pinning begin! A mood board tells the story of what you love when it comes to the look of your home – it helps lay the foundations that will shape your build aesthetic and floorplan… be it a two-bedroom off-grid nordic cabin or an Airbnb-friendly pod in your backyard. Park the technical brain for now and let your taste do the talking.
I’d recommend building your mood board in the digital sphere by utilising one of the platforms below. Corkboards are cute, but nothing beats the convenience of digital that allows you to easily add, edit and evolve your thinking over time.
This app is for both Desktop and Phone and has a gargantuan library of home inspiration. Once you sign up for your free account you can search and browse Pins (Pinterest’s word for images), saving the ones you like to your own boards. Name your board’s things like Rooflines, Deck, Kitchen, Bathroom, or even just Tiny Houses to start with. You can easily update them later. For ideas take a peek at my Tiny house interiors board.
iPhoto (Apple) / Google Photos (Apple/PC)
If you’re browsing the web, flicking through a magazine or out exploring and spot a house you like, then your phone’s photo storage is a great option. Create folders to organise your images for easy access, avoiding the doom scroll to find the picture of that showerhead you loved last year on vacation.
Corkboard – go oldskool
Ok, I had to include it to save the comments coming flying in! Head to your local stationers and grab a corkboard, pins, scissors and post-it notes.
2. Seek out inspiring photography
There are 1,000s of tiny architectural images to be found online. Look through Google Image Search as well as the more visual social media channels like Pinterest and Instagram.
Head to your local bookshop or library to discover an abundance of beautiful and inspiring books devoted to cabins and tiny living spaces. If you’re like me and you can’t stop talking to colleagues, friends and family about your tiny adventures, the book gifts will start to roll in thick and fast. :)
I’m far from being the first person to share a tiny house journey with the world. There are 100s, ok possibly 1,000s who’ve taken the time to document their experience through video on their own YouTube channels. There are also dedicated YouTubers travelling about and profiling different tiny builds across the globe.
Here are a few channels worth a look:
Living Big In A Tiny House
With over 4.4 million subscribers and hosted by New Zealander Bryce Langston, this would have to be far and away the most-watched tiny house channel. Enjoy story after story of people living and loving the tiny house dream.
A slightly broader channel that features 100s of videos about alternative homes – from living off-grid to micro-apartments in the city, from homesteading to self-built tiny houses, sustainable living, and everything in between.
Never Too Small
This channel is dedicated to small-footprint design and living – it features award-winning designers and their micro apartments, studios and self-contained projects. It will give you a wonderful window into the world of sustainable, small-footprint living.
Beau Miles – Secretly building my wife a $60 cabin
This isn’t a tiny house channel as such, but Beau is a great storyteller and makes for great watching. I particularly enjoyed this episode where he decided during COVID times to build his wife a ‘Junk Cabin’ in the paddock without her knowing for just $60!… with his 6-month-old daughter as an accomplice.
4. Listen to Podcasts
There’s a lot to be learned from conversations. Step outside for a park walk and immerse yourself in a few of these faves.
Tiny House Conversations
Australian tiny houser and yoga teacher Lucy Lichtenstein interviews tiny house dwellers, builders and adventurers on her Podcast. She does a good job of making those who may not be so comfortable in front of the microphone relaxed and chatty.
Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast
Quite the industry veteran, Ethan Waldman’s podcast features interviews with tiny house experts, pro and self-builders, and more.
Candid Tiny House
Shannon Schultz’s Australian podcast hasn’t been updated in a while, but there’s some sound nuts n’ bolts advice to be found in her interviews with people who have built tiny houses on trailers made by her partner Fred – who also loves a good chat!
5 . Book yourself a tiny house escape
OK, that’s enough searching, reading, watching and listening – nothing beats the experience of actually staying in a tiny house to know if it works for you. Treat yourself to a weekend escape in a tiny house. Here are a few favourite providers I’ve experienced that may just be your local…
Unyoked (Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom)
This was my partner and my first tiny house experience when we stayed in beautiful Oberon NSW last year – just one of the many locations Unyoked now has tiny accommodations available to book. It was magic. A 15 minute walk down a trail filled with butterflies brought us to our very own valley for 2 nights. Their style is more ‘glamping’ and showcases good coffee, bed linen and most importantly, an amazing copper rainshower.
Rare Stays (Global)
Some truly drool-worthy abodes to explore here from Iceland to Indonesia. Among the mega-mansions, you’ll find some tiny design excellence, like The Bide ultra contemporary stay pod in Dorset, United Kingdom.
Yes, they are a multi-national mega organisation these days with a load of commodity-style stays, but Airbnb does have a sizeable range of welcoming tiny accommodations on offer – they even have a treehouse category. Try this hot tub hottie in Tasmania.
A sneaky final tip – Connect with the community and seek out in-person exhibitions showcasing the latest tiny house innovations and building designs. There’ll be talks by industry experts too – on everything from the latest legalities around permanent tiny house living, solar systems, toilet systems and loads more.
If I’ve managed to hold your attention to this point then wonderful! Thanks so much for reading and I hope you’re feeling appropriately ‘tiny inspired’. Please share any useful sources of inspiration or stories of your own journey in the comments below.
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Very readable, practical and still a bit of magic too 🪶🌻
Wonderful insights, thank you!