benches for a thousand uses

In a tiny space, an indoor bench will become your best friend. Anyone who has occupied small square footage understands the value of multiple uses for furniture — and benches fit that description.

Right-sized benches for a tiny house or small space. (Dot & Bo)

Right-sized benches for a tiny house or small space. (Dot & Bo)

Place an indoor bench.  Set a bench by your door, in a great room, near a dining table or anywhere you want seating or storage. There are a thousand uses, including some realistic and not-so-realistic ones.

Reality:

  • Place to throw your coat or grocery bags.
  • Underneath storage for many shoes you own.
  • Apparatus for those step-up or dip exercises.
  • Additional seating, with a cushion, for daily use.
  • Perfect spot for any mail, magazines or books.

Fantasy:

  • A pristine mid-century piece to balance your decor.
  • Where you place a vase and daily fresh flowers.
  • Additional seating only when guests come over.
  • Gallery of  your evolving, most-loved objets d’art.
  • Part of your always-ready photo shoot.

Show me bench love. Dot & Bo (log-in) curates a wide variety of benches so you can plan ahead.  They are made from long-lasting materials like steel and wood, rather than sawdust and glue.

We checked earlier today and some of the “here today, gone tomorrow” picks are shared below. (By the way, Tiny House Joy isn’t sponsored, affiliated, paid or given discounts by this company.)

Bethel Slatted Bench: Black birch legs and ashwood top. 60" W x 18.50" D x 14.5" H (Dot & Bo)

Bethel Slatted Bench: Black birch legs and ashwood top. 60″ W x 18.50″ D x 14.5″ H (Dot & Bo)

Black Fusion Bench: Elegant wood top and steel legs. 48" W x 15" D x 14" H (Dot & Bo)

Black Fusion Bench: Elegant wood top and steel legs. 48″ W x 15″ D x 14″ H (Dot & Bo)

Natural-Style Wood Bench: Eco-friendly bamboo wood. 22.5" W x 11" D x 15.75" H (Dot & Bo)

Natural-Style Wood Bench: Eco-friendly bamboo wood. 22.5″ W x 11″ D x 15.75″ H (Dot & Bo)

Sabrina Slatted Bench: Espresso, Asian hardwood. 40" W x 18.25" D x 16.25" H (Dot  & Bo)

Sabrina Slatted Bench: Espresso, Asian hardwood. 40″ W x 18.25″ D x 16.25″ H (Dot & Bo)

Mudroom Bench: Wood with rattan baskets. 36" W x 14.25" D x 28.5" H (Dot & Bo)

Mudroom Bench: Wood with rattan baskets. 36″ W x 14.25″ D x 28.5″ H (Dot & Bo)

Jacob Steel Bench: 100% stainless steel and industrial. 46.5" W x 15.3" D x 16.5" H (Dot & Bo)

Jacob Steel Bench: 100% stainless steel and industrial. 46.5″ W x 15.3″ D x 16.5″ H (Dot & Bo)

your desires in a great room

We’ll admit the term “great room” seems odd for a small space. Yet there is a central and open area in all tiny homes, right when you pass through the front door.

Great rooms express your desires and priorities, whether that’s spending time with family or friends, having a meal, watching TV, or even working at your computer. So great rooms need to serve multiple functions, without getting too filled up.

Here are some different great room treatments, for you to start thinking about arranging your own tiny or small house — and for maximum joy.

This tiny house on wheels looks so inviting! Great room chairs and a window nook are easy places to relax, and the table may be used for all different reasons. (Bayside Bungalow)

This house on wheels looks so inviting! Great room chairs and a window nook are easy places to relax, and the table may be used for all different reasons. (Bayside Bungalow)

Looking down from the sleeping area, this great room features plenty of seating, a dining table and a large cabinet. Two rugs pull the traditional look together. (Kanga House)

Looking down from the sleeping area, this great room features plenty of seating, a dining table and a large cabinet. Two rugs pull the traditional look together. (Kanga House)

Can you believe this is a kit house? The modern room has an Eames chair and comfortable sofa, to watch TV. Also there's a dining table peeking from the right corner. (Rocio Romero)

Can you believe this is a kit house? The modern room has an Eames chair and comfortable sofa, to watch TV. Also there’s a dining table peeking from the right corner. (Rocio Romero)

take ladder or stairs to sleep

When moving into a small place, a second-floor sleeping loft or area easily adds usable square footage. Space, mobility and even building codes lead people to selecting ladders or stairs to get there.

Let’s look at the trade-offs between ladder climbing and stair stepping. We’ll start with several staircases already installed in houses. Then we’ll check out ladders, which are nicer and safer than you might imagine.

stairs in a tiny or small house

In Bucharest, a special green home has been on display. It offers stairs with five side storage units, leading up to the bedroom. (Soleta zeroEnergy)

In Bucharest, a special green home has been on display. It offers stairs with five side storage units, leading up to the bedroom. (Soleta zeroEnergy)

In this tiny house, built in Minnesota, well-crafted stairs look like mission furniture with separate storage drawers. (Tiny Green Cabins)

In this tiny house, built in Minnesota, well-crafted stairs look like mission furniture with separate storage drawers. (Tiny Green Cabins)

Another option is to order the Karina stairs kit, which gets delivered with railings, balusters and treads for your own or builder's assembly. (Arke Stairs)

Another option is to order the “Karina” stairs kit, which gets delivered with railings, balusters and treads for your own or builder’s assembly. (Arke Stairs)

ladders in a tiny or small house

This ladder accesses the bedroom area and also provides storage shelves. It's permanently built into a 16'x30' cottage near Blanco, Texas. (Kanga Room Systems)

This ladder accesses the bedroom area and also provides storage shelves. It’s permanently built into a 16’x30′ cottage near Blanco, Texas. (Kanga Room Systems)

In this home near Portland, Oregon, the loft ladder ascends through bookshelves into a quiet and secluded aerie. (Jessica Helgerson)

In this home near Portland, Oregon, the loft ladder ascends through bookshelves into a quiet and secluded aerie. (Jessica Helgerson)

We admire the details in this traditional rolling library ladder, which you place and arrange for an optimal climbing angle. (Tumbleweed Houses)

We admire the details in this traditional rolling library ladder, which you place and arrange for an optimal climbing angle. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Made on Orcas Island, Washington, this substantial wood ladder has large treads and several hand-holds for safety to the second floor. (David Vandervort)

Made on Orcas Island, Washington, this substantial wood ladder has large treads and several hand-holds for safety to the second floor. (David Vandervort)

go for steel cladding

We favor modern homes featuring industrial steel and glass, with open views. They are becoming a practical response to shipping containers, which are not structurally or optimally designed as living spaces.

This industrial home archetype starts with rectangles. Its rusty exterior comes from steel sheets attached to a stick-built structure. The focal point is one glass side of the home which, through windows and doors, delivers stylish views.

An old granite farmhouse connects to this modern family dining and living space, clad in Cor-Ten steel. (Dwell)

An old granite farmhouse connects to this modern family dining and living space, clad in Cor-Ten steel. (Dwell)

The Z-Glass is a classic design, with hot-rolled steel siding. The home is only 350 square feet. (Plans, Tumbleweed Houses)

The Z-Glass is a classic design, with hot-rolled steel siding. The home is only 370 square feet. (Plans, Tumbleweed Houses)

For a house on wheels, this steel-clad Mica has curb appeal. It's just 172 square feet. (Plans, Tumbleweed Houses)

For a house on wheels, this steel-clad Mica has curb appeal. It’s just 172 square feet. (Plans, Tumbleweed Houses)

linden house squeezes into yard

There’s nothing like watching a tiny house on wheels, while it’s getting gently squeezed into place. We spotted one Tumbleweed Linden moving from an original build site to a backyard, the other day.

Fortunately, this little house cleared some fences with nary a scratch. Here are several cell-phone, low quality snapshots recording the action.

Spotting one truck and one Linden home. (Tiny House Joy)

Spotting one truck and one Linden home. (Tiny House Joy)

Driver checks clearances before backing up. (Tiny House Joy)

Driver checks clearances before backing up. (Tiny House Joy)

Linden window reflects sky as it passes by. (Tiny House Joy)

Linden window reflects sky as it passes by. (Tiny House Joy)

Linden home may squeeze in here, after all. (Tiny House Joy)

Linden home may squeeze in here, after all. (Tiny House Joy)

Clear sailing of truck and home, into the yard.  (Tiny House Joy)

Clear sailing of truck and home, into the yard. (Tiny House Joy)

sheds are for people, not things

Backyard sheds have been going upscale, as they transform into extra living space for their owners. It turns out that sheds are used more frequently for space rather than storage purposes.

This 100+ square foot garden office, called the Alexander MKII, may be ordered as a kit or be fully built on site. (Dunster House)

This 100+ square foot garden office, called the Alexander MKII, may be ordered as a kit or be fully built on site. (Dunster House)

Today, research from shed manufacturer Dunster House (UK) revealed that over half of sheds get used for hobbies or relaxation. Only 43% are for storage and 4% are for aesthetic, garden appeal. Alex Murphy discussed his company’s findings with the UK Independent:

“We all know that sheds have a practical use, but hadn’t realized so many people were using them as a bolthole from the stresses and strain of their everyday lives, either to grab a bit of peace and quiet, or to relax and enjoy their favorite hobbies.”

Let’s assume similar backyard shed uses in the USA. While sheds keep getting nicer, there’s a limit to adding creature comforts because they would run afoul of local zoning and codes. Tiny houses on wheels may be a solid alternative, as they are legally able to access plumbing, water and electricity.

It will be interesting to see how the demand for traditional sheds versus more elaborate tiny houses evolves over the next few years.

building little storybook homes!

Have you discovered storybook structures around the country?  They remind us of Hansel and Gretel fairy tales, and were mostly built before World War II. Storybooks would make great little homes today.

The City of Oakland (CA) built this storybook cottage in 1927, as a fire station with full garage. It may become a museum. (Oakland History Room)

The City of Oakland (CA) built this storybook cottage in 1927, as a fire station with full garage. It may become a museum. (Oakland History Room)

These days we don’t see storybooks getting built, though some homes may incorporate gingerbread-like elements.  So Tiny House Joy decided to search for building plans with more signature features.

Storybook Homes came out the winner, after issuing The Truly Tiny Collection a couple months ago. Here are their smallest tiny cottage designs for your review.

Beesborough Studio measures 148 square feet, with a 12+ foot inside wall diameter. This space is for study or hobby purposes, rather than full-time living. (Storybook Homes)

Beesborough Studio measures 148 square feet, with a 12+ foot wall diameter. This space is for study or hobby purposes, rather than full-time living. (Storybook Homes)

Mustardseed Cottage offers 540 square feet on one level, featuring a great room, sleeping area for two, U-shaped kitchen and full bath. (Storybook Homes)

Mustardseed Cottage offers 540 square feet on one level, featuring a great room, sleeping area for two, U-shaped kitchen and full bath. (Storybook Homes)

Kestral Cottage features an 800 square foot, two-story plan. There's one bedroom and bath upstairs, and a great room with dining and kitchen areas below. (Storybook Homes)

Kestral Cottage features an 800 square foot, two-story plan. There’s one bedroom and bath upstairs, and a great room with dining and kitchen areas below. (Storybook Homes)

Gwyndolyn Cottage is a large one bedroom home, at 1,200 square feet. There's simply more space for each area, notably the great room and bedroom. (Storybook Homes)

Gwyndolyn Cottage is a large one bedroom home, at 1,200 square feet. There’s simply more space for each area, notably the  great room and bedroom. (Storybook Homes)