tiny homes Photo: coco+kelley/Flickr

Tiny homes are everywhere — and with good reason. It’s possible to live large in a smaller, more efficient residence. Sometimes this is a money-saving measure for a desirable metropolitan area. Sometimes it’s just in the interest of simplifying one’s life. Countless YouTube videos on this topic rack up millions of hits, and FYI Network recently featured not one, but two tiny house series: “Tiny House Hunters” and “Tiny House Nation.”

But not everyone is ready to live in less than 200 square feet of space. Still, tiny home principles apply to any type of home. The Washington Post just published Architect Caswell Daitch’s essay “How to Live Large in a Tiny House” about what she learned while building her vacation home as part of the “not-quite-so-tiny house movement.” She incorporated principles of tiny house living into her construction, and it paid off.

We’ve scoured Caswell Daitch’s expertise for tiny house tips when searching for your own home.

Seek a simple external footprint. “Use a simple structure (think barn). You will save a lot of money using a simple structure, all those fussy bump-outs cost money. Quite simply, that is why barns have always been built that way. They wanted a lot of space — for little money.” In other words, try to find a big rectangular floor plan over a winding series of rooms.

Nix interior walls. “The enemy of tiny houses is interior separation walls. Yes, it is important to close off the bathroom and maybe the bedroom, but everything else has to share the great space or it won’t be a great space because the budget will be eaten up by all of those rooms.” Nooks and soffits are well and good, but they won’t make your space feel larger.

Look for height — and don’t fill it with stuff. “Height is also really important in making this a truly great space (why the standard ceiling height in this country is 8 feet is a concept I will never understand). Eight feet is okay in small rooms, but when the room expands in plan it needs to expand in height, too.” Some people love loft spaces, but just open height gives the illusion of more square footage.

Windows, windows, windows. “The other really effective thing I did to maximize the space was to use lots of windows. That way I get to sort of steal the exterior space, too, for my house.” This doesn’t just mean external windows. Are there opportunities to add windows or glass to doors and cabinets?

Happy hunting and please share your tiny house ideas @buzzbuzzhome.

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