Inevitably when you're watching one of those tiny house reality shows (we know you know which ones we're talking about, HGTV!), a buyer who's looking at a tiny house says something along the lines of, "Well, there isn't much space/storage room, is there?"
That's a given when it comes to a tiny house (or tiny room). The clue is in the name, after all -- a tiny house just isn't going to have a lot of room, especially for storage space, and especially for the little extras that can make your house feel bigger.
But thanks to modern design, there are a lot of ways you can maximize space in a tiny one without sacrificing any of the attributes that make it attractive -- or tiny.
Invest in lots of windows ...
One of the best ways to make any room feel bigger is by lighting it up, wall to wall, corner to corner. This is usually easiest to do by adding windows, which can be especially effective when placed high up toward the ceiling in a tiny house, leaving room on the walls.
More windows do take up space, of course, but if living somewhere that feels light and airy is important to you, then windows are the very best way to accomplish that goal.
... Or floor-to-ceiling shelving
Of course, you'll want to think strategically about your layout because with every decision you make to add something, you'll probably be forgoing something else you might like. So instead of a lofty window, maybe you'd rather install a wall of shelving where you can stash books, plates, clothes, whatever you want to stash.
Put shelves or hooks on your doors
Doors that swing open and shut aren't always the best idea in a tiny space (more on other options below), but if you really love that aesthetic, then you can still maximize space by adding some storage options to those doors. Hooks can work on either side of the door, and shelves can be a good option for the side of the door that swings away from the room (so you don't end up smashing the shelves on a wall). They can be a storage spot for bags or coats or whatever you might need.
Use space outside
If your main level living spaces are limited in size, investing in large outdoor space where you can eat, set the kids up with homework, or just settle down and read can make living in your home much more livable. A large deck or patio might be a great answer! Including an outdoor cooking space for grilling or baking outside could be a fabulous addition, but if you don't want to go that far, seating for several people can go a long way toward making you feel like your house is richer in square footage than it actually is.
Let there be skylights
When your wall space is already taken, one excellent way to add light to a space without adding windows is through skylights. After all, you probably aren't going to hang shelving from a sloped roof; it's real estate that you can't really do much with except for let in some light, so if you feel like windows just aren't cutting it, consider installing a skylight or two. Worried about water with skylights? Fear not, skylights have come a long way in the last decade - Just hire a trusted contractor for a guaranteed wet free light filtered room
Lose the walls entirely ...
Open spaces tend to look bigger than walled-off spaces -- consider the trend of having a kitchen/dining/living room space that flows into each other; it makes all three areas feel more spacious than they really are. Even though walls only take up inches in reality, they seem to have a disproportionate effect psychologically.
A totally open tiny house might not be feasible for you, and there are definitely other options if you have to have walls or room dividers of some kind. But if you can, open up as much space as possible to give yourself the illusion of a bigger room.
... Or use lots of sliding doors or curtains
If you must have divided space, hanging curtains or installing sliding doors can be an excellent alternative to a wall, which takes up more room than either one. Plus, with a curtain or sliding door, you can keep the space open when you want to feel like your tiny house has more square footage than it really does, then draw the curtains or slide the door shut when privacy is more important than airiness and space.
Add a loft
Now this one might be geared towards Tiny Homes, but could be reimagined and apply to a garage or guest houses as well: Most tiny homes don't have room for two full stories, but a common solution to the issue of space is found in lofted beds or bedrooms. A loft in a tiny house can often accommodate a queen-sized or even king-sized mattress, and when you're asleep, it doesn't matter if your body is physically close to the ceiling; you won't notice at all. Some people even sleep better in a space that feels cozier and more enclosed, once they get used to it.
If you can add a loft to your tiny house and use it for a bedroom or storage space, you'll be freeing up that much more floor space and giving your place a little boost in terms of feeling bigger than it is.
Turn under-stair space into awesome storage
Most spaces beneath stairs are under-utilized. Rather than just shoving a bunch of stuff under the stairs and closing the door for a few years, try an under-stair closet. Or maybe you can create small cubbies with drawers or basket. Perhaps that space will be where you put your bookshelves. Whatever you do, don't neglect that prime real estate under the stairs -- it's not just for pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter anymore.
Use mirrors wisely
Wall space is usually at a premium in a small space, but one very intelligent way to use that space is with mirrors, even if they're serving as a backdrop to a shelf. While windows are one of the best ways to let more light in, mirrors reflect and bounce back the light that's there, plus they can make your tiny home feel twice as big when they're placed correctly.
Don't box in your storage
Optical illusions are a fabulous way to make your tiny space feel bigger. Even though you might not actually be saving space, using doorless cabinets is one way to help maximize the space in your kitchen (especially if you hang a mirror behind those plates or appliances). On a similar note, using a hanging rod for a closet instead of building an actual closet with a door does actually save space while also making the room appear bigger because you can see around the "closet" to the walls.
Consider a breakfast bar
Instead of a dining area inside, one nice solution for small kitchen is to build a breakfast bar that connects to your kitchen counter. It's just a little bit of extra space, but having somewhere to sit and drink your coffee or tea while getting ready for the day -- or winding down with a beer or glass of wine at night -- can make all the difference in making a place feel like "home."
Put lights under shelves
Natural light is all well and good when the sun is out, but when it's hiding or down for the night, you might need to boost the light in your space using artificial means like actual light bulbs. Not all light fixtures are maximized for small spaces, but you can often find some good places to put light when you look underneath shelves, drawers, kitchen cabinets, and other storage spaces. You can get some nice, bright lights for relatively cheap and save yourself the headache of figuring out what kind of lamp will be small yet powerful enough to suit your needs.
Look underneath for storage
Another time when it pays to "look underneath" is when you're seeking out storage space. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much storage is available when you can think creatively about it. Can you hang some baskets underneath your sink to hold cleaning supplies? Could you add drawers under your bed or sofa where you can keep extra blankets, bedding, or clothes? Some creative tiny-house enthusiasts are even able to find storage space underneath bathtubs -- so crawl around for a little while and see whether you can identify any storage opportunities that you've been quite literally overlooking.
Murphy beds are back...
If you haven't lofted your bed, then a murphy bed -- a bed that folds out from a wall -- can be another excellent option for a tiny space. Many areas offer specialists who can make custom murphy beds that look like a desk or a table when they're folded up, then unfold into a spacious and comfortable bed when it's time to sleep. This way you can make your bedroom multitask as a dining room or study area, only getting out your bed (which, let's face it, is probably one of the biggest items of furniture most of us own) when it's time to use it.
...And fold-out desks and tables are in
Beds aren't the only items of furniture to get the fold-out treatment. Fold-out tables and desks can work very nicely with limited space, and they work exactly like it sounds: You fold them out when you're ready to use them, then tuck them away when you're all finished until you need them again.
By being conscious of the space you're using in your home and doing your best to help every square foot multitask depending on the time of day, you'll find that you have a lot more room than you originally thought.