not so serious decor for living

In small and tiny houses, you focus on making spaces more efficient and keeping clutter away. Yet why not have a few items that bring you great joy while living in a smaller place?

It’s time to take a breather and not take this smaller-living and downsizing so seriously. En route to finding “the right” lighting, storage and entertainment, we discovered and proudly present three whimsical items.

Olive oil lamp that throws good light

All you need to have on hand is the olive oil. Long-burning glass jars, wicks and nickel elements may be ordered through Lehman’s store, which sells “simple products for a simple life.” Their largest lamp and starter package costs $34.90 before shipping fees.

Shelf escape to win admirers

Book-Escape Wall Shelves are hand-welded and made from epoxy coated steel. They fit small spaces, measuring 3.8"D x 12"W x 25.5" H. (Dot & Bo)

Book-Escape Wall Shelves are hand-welded and made from epoxy coated steel. They fit small spaces, measuring 3.8″D x 12″W x 25.5″ H. (Dot & Bo)

This kind of city fire escape definitely adds shelf character, and is somewhat useful too. In these days of “shelfie” snapshots, it struck us as the perfect way to display and share your treasures with others. The shelves cost $99.99 from Dot & Bo’s online store.

Efficient three-player chess table

This round chess game comes with three sets of plastic, felt-bottomed chessmen. Its board measures 1/8" thick and folds out to a 19" diameter. (Think Geek)

This round chess game comes with three sets of plastic, felt-bottomed chessmen. Its board measures 1/8″ thick and folds out to a 19″ diameter. (Think Geek)

Chess becomes more challenging with three players! Traditional rules still apply though supplied instructions help guide the black, grey and white chessmen in battle. We like how the board can be stored easily and folded out for play. It costs $49.99 from Think Geek’s online site.

susanka’s not so big bungalow

Architect and author Sarah Susanka is hopeful about Americans, observing that “houses continue to get smaller in their overall size but much higher in quality.” Now she’s designed a smaller bungalow to feel spacious:

  • rooms defined by ceiling heights, built-ins and visual cues
  • built-in shelving and seating nooks, in many different places
  • artistic focal points and light to draw your attention
  • visual weight by using darker colors below “chair” railings
  • repeated themes carried through the home

Check out Sarah Susanka’s new bungalow concepts below.

This new Craftsman style bungalow has been updated for modern living. It contains 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and plenty of open space. Measures 1,600 sq. ft. (House Plans)

This new Craftsman style bungalow has been updated for modern living. It contains 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and plenty of open space. Measures 1,600 sq. ft. (House Plans)

See the exterior and interior of the front entry, with the ability to pull you into the home. Note the circle etching on the front door window, a Sarah Susanka signature. (House Plans)

See the exterior and interior of the front entry, with the ability to pull you into the home. Note the circle etching on the front door window, a Sarah Susanka signature. (House Plans)

In the bungalow, there's room for a kitchen/dining area, living room and bedroom on the main floor. Upstairs is another bedroom and plenty of flexible space as well. (House Plans)

In the bungalow, there’s room for a kitchen/dining area, living room and bedroom on the main floor. Upstairs is another bedroom and plenty of flexible space as well. (House Plans)

A downstairs master bedroom is filled with window light and topped by an alcove ceiling. Note the proportional built-ins, including the bed, closets and other storage. (House Plans)

A downstairs master bedroom is filled with window light and topped by an alcove ceiling. Note the proportional built-ins, including the bed, closets and other storage. (House Plans)

The kitchen features a lower ceiling and horizontal trellis. It leads into the built-in seating and dining area which works for everyday use or company. (House Plans)

The kitchen features a lower ceiling and horizontal trellis. It leads into the built-in seating and dining area which works for everyday use or company. (House Plans)

To see how the bungalow's main floor might look and flow, architect Susanka says it shares many features from the original "Not So Big House," pictured here. (May Minazine)

To see how the bungalow’s main floor might look and flow, architect Susanka says it shares many features from the original “Not So Big House,” pictured here. (May Minazine)

board and batten suits tiny houses

We believe you know about board and batten siding. This siding may be familiar when envisioning traditional barns, old Victorians, cottages or modern homes. Remember the cladding on the American Gothic home?

In American Gothic, painter Grant Wood includes a Victorian country home with white-painted board and batten siding. (Art Institute Chicago)

In American Gothic, painter Grant Wood includes a Victorian country home with white-painted board and batten siding. (Art Institute Chicago)

How board and batten gets assembled

Even if you never pick up a hammer, it’s good to learn that board and batten is a unique siding assembly. Wide boards are nailed vertically, followed by narrow battens that cover spaces between them. Sometimes the arrangement is reversed, with battens attached first and boards covering gaps. And boards alone may be used, with overlaps to create visual interest.

Construction highlights: By placing vertical boards and battens with 1/2 inch or larger gaps, it allows for wood expansion and shrinkage seasonally. Wood should be stained or painted for protection. Builders recommend nailing through the wood, as shown. (Fine Homebuilding)

Construction highlights: By placing vertical boards and battens with 1/2″ or larger gaps, it allows for wood expansion and shrinkage seasonally. Wood should be stained or painted for protection. Builders recommend nailing though the wood, as shown. (Fine Homebuilding)

Historic board and batten houses

In 1842, Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Downing introduced 29 cottage plans with board and batten designs. The book was widely read and spread the new Carpenter Gothic style. In 1850, Downing published another tome with country house plans, some sporting porches. While best-known for landscape design, Downing’s impact on architecture comes a close second through the 19th century.

Springside Gatehouse is one of the earliest examples of Carpenter Gothic style, with obvious board and batten use. It is the only known home designed by A.J. Downing, and built after his death in the 1850s. It stands today on landmarked property in Poughkeepsie, NY. (Springside Estate)

Springside Gatehouse is one of the earliest examples of Carpenter Gothic style, with obvious board and batten use. It is the only known home designed by A.J. Downing, and built after his death in the 1850s. It stands today on landmarked property in Poughkeepsie, NY. (Springside Estate)

The Aaron Ferrey House, built in 1866, followed a design from A.J. Downing's country houses book and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While not a small Ohio home, many features can be seen in cottages built today. (Living Places)

The Aaron Ferrey House, built in 1866, followed a design from A.J. Downing’s country houses book and is on the National Register of Historic Places. While not a small Ohio home, many features can be seen in cottages built today. (Living Places)

Modern board and battens to build

These days, you may spot board and batten treatments in different homes. We selected four looks including an elegant lakeside place, cute studio cottage, barn-style garden shed and sweet garage. As you consider a new home or space, this vertical cladding could make it something unexpected.

This Washington home is made with energy efficient SIP panels. Its cedar board and batten siding and fir timber work well together. Measures 1,200 sq. ft. (Cascade Joinery)

This Washington home is made with energy efficient SIP panels. Its cedar board and batten siding and fir timber work well together. Measures 1,200 sq. ft. (Cascade Joinery)

A welcoming, country style entry is seen in this tiny house with green-painted board and batten, along with proportional door and windows. (Kanga Studio)

A welcoming, country style entry is seen in this tiny house with green-painted board and batten, along with proportional door and windows. Measures 168 sq. ft. (Kanga Studio)

Next to a 100-year old farmhouse, the decrepit garden shed was knocked down and replaced by this traditional board and batten built with care. (Barn Light)

Next to a 100-year old farmhouse, the decrepit garden shed was knocked down and replaced by this traditional board and batten built with care. Measures 160 sq. ft. (Barn Light)

Storybook cottage owners renovated their garage with board and batten, in Carmel CA. Next renovation is a tiny house, no? Measurements unavailable. (Garden Tour)

Storybook cottage owners renovated their garage with board and batten, in Carmel CA. Next renovation is a tiny house, no? Measurements unavailable. (Garden Tour)

Smaller desks for a smaller place

Don’t despair, all desk hunters! You need not resort to children’s furniture when hunting for a smaller desk. Nor do you need to become a carpenter, unless you enjoy building projects.

Here are desks of every style, with 16″-26″ depths. Since dimensions pose challenges, designers have come up with different options. We uncovered five interesting desks to give you ideas and hope.

A floating wall desk, designed by Dario Antonioni, has no legs! Measures 15.8" D x 36" W x 9.9" H. (Orange22)

A floating wall desk, designed by Dario Antonioni, has no legs! Measures 15.8″D x 36″W x 9.9″H. (Orange22)

Builder Kevin Burns gave his mid-mod Whale Desk some color flair. Measures 19" D x 49" W x 29.5" H (Custommade)

Builder Kevin Burns gave his mid-mod “Whale Desk” some color flair. Measures 19″D x 49″W x 29.5″H. (Custommade)

Hendrix is an all-pine carpenter's desk that recesses three electrical plugs. Measures 26" D x 60"W x 30" H. (Pottery Barn)

Hendrix is an all-pine carpenter’s desk that recesses three electrical plugs. Measures 26″D x 60″W x 30″H. (Pottery Barn)

The Slope Desk won a UK design guild mark for Leonhard Pfeifer. Measures 21.7

The “Slope Desk” won a UK design guild mark for Leonhard Pfeifer. Measures 21.7″D x 42.9″W x 33.1″H. (Furniture Makers)

This Butler Edgewater crescent writing desk comes with cabriolet legs. Measures 20" D x 36" W x 30" H. (Wayfair.com)

This Butler Edgewater crescent writing desk comes with cabriolet legs. Measures 20″D x 36″W x 30″H. (Wayfair.com)

adopt a tumbleweed two year old

The market for used Tumbleweeds is, uh, very tiny. Owners of a two-year old built by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company are sadly selling theirs for $47,000 used vs. $57,000 new.

The Cypress 18 Overlook for sale may be one of the most popular models and floorplans, attracting dwellers with its cottage-like hipped roof and front nook surrounded by windows.

Brand-new Cypress 18 Overlook, with the same cranberry red colored door and windows frames as the two-year old version for sale. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Brand-new Cypress 18 Overlook, with the same cranberry red colored door and window frames as the two-year old version for sale. (Tumbleweed Houses)

This new home includes a full galley kitchen in the back, with plenty of counter and storage space. Behind the door is the bathroom. (Tumbleweed Houses)

This new home includes a full galley kitchen in the back, with plenty of counter and storage space. Behind the door is the bathroom. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Imagine how you would decorate and make this empty great room your own. Besides the multi-use space, there's shelving and the loft entry in view. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Imagine how you would decorate and make this empty great room your own. Besides the multi-use space, there’s shelving and the loft entry in view. (Tumbleweed Houses)

One Cypress owner customized her interior with white paint and natural wood trim. Her nook seating and nearby chairs look welcoming for all. (Tumbleweed Houses)

One Cypress owner customized her interior with white paint and natural wood trim. Her nook seating and nearby chairs look welcoming for all. (Tumbleweed Houses)

About the used Cypress sale

The Oakland, CA sellers enjoyed using their 187 sq. ft. home as an office and sometimes guest house. They are moving to another primary residence which lacks room for the tiny home.

According to the sale listing, you may visit the Tumbleweed on May 18th or 25th, from 2:00 to 4:30pm. Learn more about the home and reach listers here.

Please note: Tiny House Joy simply admires this Cypress 18 Overlook for sale, and has no business ties with the sellers or Tumbleweed Houses.

norwegian sleeping annex or more

In Norway, a modern unit was designed and built as a sleeping annex with sweet coastal views. The open interior contains wings for a family to sleep comfortably, along with a small central living space.

We wanted to share this Tuvalu Arkitekter design as inspiration. The shape could get upsized into a complete home with dining, bath and sleeping areas. Imagine your own wood-clad modern place, with or without a view.

This Norwegian sleeping annex contains twists, which define living areas. Also its wood cladding is treated with Kebony, a bio-liquid delivering hardwood durability. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

This Norwegian sleeping annex contains twists, which define living areas. Also its wood cladding is treated with Kebony, a bio-liquid delivering hardwood durability. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

Here's one angled wing for sleeping, plus a little seating area. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

Here’s one angled wing for sleeping, plus a little seating area. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

Gaze at the distant Norwegian coast, from the right wing sleeping area. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

Gaze at the distant Norwegian coast, from the right wing sleeping area. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

A large, glassed front door leads to the left bunk beds in their separate wing. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

A large, glassed front door leads to the left bunk beds in their separate wing. (Tuvalu Arkitekter)

aaah, comfy chair for your home

Every small home needs a special decor element. We suggest the Prop Chair, a deconstructed, non-upholstered piece that’s sleek and yet comfortable.

This Benjamin Hubert design comes from “research into human behaviors and how users perceive comfort.” The chair is made from solid Ash, aero-ply for the curved back, a textile called Innofa, and polyurethane foam. Take a peek!

Lush Innofa fabric, from the Netherlands, makes this chair feel soft and sweet. (Benjamin Hubert)

Lush Innofa fabric, from the Netherlands, makes this chair feel soft and sweet. (Benjamin Hubert)

The Prop chair, in blue, has an exposed and curved seat structure in clear view. (Benjamin Hubert)

The Prop chair, in blue, has an exposed and curved seat structure in clear view. (Benjamin Hubert)

Here's the chair with green fabric, nestled in its solid Ash timber framework. (Benjamin Hubert)

Here’s the chair with green fabric, nestled in its solid Ash timber framework. (Benjamin Hubert)

Unzipped fabric reveals the foam, as well as the chair's overall simplicity. (Benjamin Hubert)

Unzipped fabric reveals the foam, as well as the chair’s overall simplicity. (Benjamin Hubert)

More info: Tiny House Joy simply admires the Prop chair from afar. Check out Benjamin Hubert or its distributor Moroso.

wow, small wall-hung toilets

For bathroom joy, we hunted around for more than simple low-flush toilets. Small wall-hung toilets captured our fancy and you might consider their minimalist appearance.

Here are cool pots from Laufen, a Swiss company with a memorable tagline: bathroom culture since 1892. They offer designer fixtures called the Palomba, Ilbagnoalessi, Living and Mimo, among others.

The Palomba fixtures recall small inlets or pebbles shaped by the eternal movement of the sea. (Laufen Palomba)

The Palomba fixtures “recall small inlets or pebbles shaped by the eternal movement of the sea.” (Laufen Palomba)

Ilbagnoalessi gets characterized by a timeless form, sparkling imagination and a hint of eccentricity. (Laufen Ilbagnoalessi)

Ilbagnoalessi gets “characterized by a timeless form, sparkling imagination and a hint of eccentricity.” (Laufen Ilbagnoalessi)

The Living design is styled on the graphical architectonic and slips into linear bathrooms lightly and sleekly. (Laufen Living)

The Living design “is styled on the graphical architectonic and slips into linear bathrooms lightly and sleekly.” (Laufen Living)

Mimo shows youthful exuberance, toying with curvaceous rotundities and shimmering surfaces. (Laufen Mimo)

Mimo shows “youthful exuberance, toying with curvaceous rotundities and shimmering surfaces.” (Laufen Mimo)

More info: Tiny House Joy simply admires these toilet fixtures from afar. Check out Laufen for bathroom designs and showroom details.

is it modern art or a home?

Sure, we gaze at smaller modern homes with awe. They often sport an open great room, bedroom and expansive views. These places feel terrific!

Even located in a rock quarry, one modern home shines. Hungarian architects Attila Béres and Jusztina Balázs spent three years building their dream home, which received an architecture award.

Yet this Hungarian home looks more like modern art than a home. What do you think? Would you live here?

A rectangular modern, with birch siding and nice glass windows, is sited on an old quarry hillside. (Hideg House)

A rectangular modern, with birch siding and nice glass windows, is sited on an old quarry hillside. (Hideg House)

The breezeway runs between the guest quarters and main home, highlighting the unusual view. (Hideg House)

The breezeway runs between the guest quarters and main home, highlighting the unusual view. (Hideg House)

It's a gorgeous evening behind the well-lit house, which abuts the rock quarry. (Hideg House)

It’s a gorgeous evening behind the well-lit house, which abuts the rock quarry. (Hideg House)

This white great room offers space to sit, cook and dine. Black appliances and chair backs create nice contrast. (Hideg House)

This white great room offers space to sit, cook and dine. Black appliances and chair backs create nice contrast. (Hideg House)

The spa bath is placed symmetrically in the enclosure, with warm colors that create a peaceful escape. (Hideg House)

The spa bath is placed symmetrically in the enclosure, with warm colors that create a peaceful escape. (Hideg House)

new england cottage, anywhere

Pining for a real New England cottage? Jamaica Cottage Shop offers styles where you imagine walking through the woods, splashing in the nearby lake, or even living year-round.

House kits get drop-shipped across the country, starting at over $20,000 for an insulated 16’x20′ cottage. You’ll need to budget for more materials, city permits and a contractor — unless you build it yourself.

Let’s take a peek at the Vermont Cottage.

The Vermont cottage looks exactly right in these woods, painted classic green. (Jamaica Cottage)

The Vermont cottage looks exactly right in these woods, painted classic green. (Jamaica Cottage)

This cabin greets you with formal french doors, multi-paned windows and cedar shake siding. (Jamaica Cottage)

This cabin greets you with formal french doors, multi-paned windows and cedar shake siding. (Jamaica Cottage)

Welcome to a cozy shelter, which features proportional windows and a hinged, barn-like door. (Jamaica Cottage)

Welcome to a cozy shelter, which features proportional windows and a hinged, barn-like door. (Jamaica Cottage)

In this cottage, the second floor loft has a bed, dresser and plenty of space. (Jamaica Cottage)

In this cottage, the second floor loft has a bed, dresser and plenty of space. (Jamaica Cottage)

This cheery interior is decorated for comfort, including cabinet storage and a futon for overnight guests. (Jamaica Cottage)

This cheery interior is decorated for comfort, including cabinet storage and a futon for overnight guests. (Jamaica Cottage)

See the stove to keep warm, seating area and hint of kitchen counter. (Jamaica Cottage)

See the stove to keep warm, seating area and hint of kitchen counter. (Jamaica Cottage)

Here's the complete floor plan for the Vermont Cottage A style. (Jamaica Cottage)

Here’s the complete floor plan for the Vermont Cottage A style. (Jamaica Cottage)

More info: Tiny House Joy simply admires Vermont cottages from afar. Visit the Jamaica Cottage Shop for more cottages, play houses and even a pond house.