tiny house with or without garage

Tiny and small houses typically lack attached garages. You park a car or truck outside, under some shelter or in a separate garage. Would you appreciate a fully attached, enclosed garage?

With garage:  There are some tiny house plans available with garages. Perfect Little House, for example, offers Salal Studio. From the outside, it looks like a full cottage and neatly encloses its studio and garage.

The Salal Studio features a 240 sq. ft.  upstairs studio with bath. Downstairs is a 338 sq. ft. garage and inside staircase. (Perfect Little House)

The Salal Studio features a 240 sq. ft. upstairs studio with bath. Downstairs is a 338 sq. ft. garage and inside staircase. (Perfect Little House)

Without garage:  Of course, tiny cottages are designed to maximize living space. Perfect Little House’s Woodland model offers curb appeal with its wrap-around porch. There’s space to sleep four people, cook, dine, bathe and hang out.

The Woodland has open-space living, two bedrooms and 1.5 baths. This popular home measures 950 sq. ft. (Perfect Little Home)

The Woodland has open-space living, two bedrooms and 1.5 baths. This popular home measures 950 sq. ft. (Perfect Little Home)

Garage theories:  Tiny house design and ethos likely drive down the demand for garages, and here are some reasons we’ve heard.

  • Seen as less green or sustainable design
  • Considered out-of-fashion these days
  • Takes up too much prime living space
  • Not worth spending money on garage

It’s possible that garages could become more desirable, depending on how tiny or small houses get used. If built as as secondary or rental unit, then a garage might be a nice extra lure for its occupants. In a single primary unit, the garage might be welcomed for extreme weather, safety reasons or storage.

We’re interested in learning more, from you.

shed ready: six ways to buy them

Congratulations! You have decided to buy a backyard shed, as a new personal office and hang-out area. It should be easy on the eyes, and wired for lights. You are considering adding heat and air-conditioning.

Yet there’s a major hurdle: you recoil at the idea of assembling children’s toys and furniture, let alone a full shed. Someone else is going to have to build this structure for you, while you somehow pay and support their efforts.

Let’s start by looking at pre-fabs, one of six ways to buy a shed. Here are three Modern-Shed examples, pretty much the same structures with different siding and placements. Pretty sweet, no?

Is this the shed of your dreams? This Moraga, CA owner had been thinking about a shed for years. (Modern-Shed)

Is this the shed of your dreams? A Moraga, CA homeowner had been thinking about a shed for years. (Modern-Shed)

In the San Juan Islands, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, one couple uses a cedar-clad shed. (Modern-Shed)

In the San Juan Islands, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, one couple uses a cedar-clad shed. (Modern-Shed)

In Seattle, a felt artisan was fed up with working in her family kitchen and this craft shed fits perfectly. (Modern-Shed)

In Seattle, a felt artisan was fed up with working in her family kitchen and this craft shed fits perfectly. (Modern-Shed)

Six ways to buy sheds

With only a little tongue-in-cheek, we identified six approaches to buying and building your shed. Your decision naturally depends on trade-offs of time and money. The list is ordered from priciest, sky’s the limit to perhaps a couple grand. Which approach would you take?

  1. The Ultimate:  Get an architect who will deal with everything, along with their hired construction crew. It’s your dream, fulfilled.

  2. The Practical:  Go to a garden place where you see nice sheds and gazebos built. Talk with the builders, place an order and await delivery and set-up.

  3. The Possible:  Pre-fab and kit sheds look awfully nice, and get shipped to your door. You pay extra for their assembly team or hire someone local.

  4. The Good Enough: You head to a place selling sheds and gazebos (see #2) and pick something that’s already built. It is good enough for now.

  5. The Active:  You find a great set of plans online and buy them! Now turn to friends and family to get materials. Hire someone local to build it.

  6. The Almost DIY:  You have plans in hand, hunt for salvaged materials, widen your circle of friends and family, and arrange weekend-only work parties.

tiny houses making a point

“What if you could build a different kind of castle?” asked ABC World News Tonight anchor Diane Sawyer.

Last night Sawyer presented tiny houses as an economic alternative to high mortgages. She focused on the realities of living full-time in a tiny house on wheels, with insights from two owners. Click to watch on ABC News.

Diane Sawyer, ABC News anchor, discusses the downsizing trend and features tiny houses and their inhabitants.

Diane Sawyer, ABC News anchor, discusses the downsizing trend and features tiny houses and their inhabitants.

Which tiny houses are shown?

Andrew Morrison shows his family home: The Morrisons created a modern, 221 sq. ft. haven filled with built-ins. They have a well equipped kitchen, two sleeping lofts, bathroom and places to eat, work and hang-out. (See a 28-minute video tour and buy house plans.)

Jay Austin shares the Matchbox home:  Jay Austin lives in Matchbox, a 146 sq. ft. home with neighbors at Boneyard Studios, DC. There’s a calm feeling inside, with plenty of kitchen space plus a full-screen TV in the loft. (See build story and a short video tour.)

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses also featured:  Throughout the ABC News coverage, many images of Tumbleweed houses get shown. Look out for the Elm, Linden, Cypress and Mica houses on wheels as well as the foundation-based Z-Glass. (All houses to buy or build.)

Something to think about, from ABC News

ABC’s Devin Dwyer explained that tiny houses are “marvels of architecture with tiny price tags, enticing buyers stressed out by full-sized mortgages.”

The idea of living with less and being mindful isn’t arcane.  When asked, Jay Austin paused and admitted he doesn’t miss much. “There are lessons for all of us,” declared Dwyer. “You may discover more of who you are, with less.”

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)