game: match up tinies & fireplaces

Smaller homes often feature fireplaces and stoves in a position of honor. Try your luck at this match-up game, with seven heat sources shown first and their seven homes next. (See answers at the very bottom.)

Seven heat sources (1-7)

1 - Heat comes from a marine gas stove, mounted on the wall.

1 – Heat comes from a marine gas stove, mounted on the wall.

2 - This nice fireplace takes up a great room wall.

2 – This nice fireplace takes up a great room wall.

3 - A protective brick nook surrounds this larger gas stove.

3 – A protective brick nook surrounds this larger gas stove.

4 - Owners can program a new gas stove, in the corner.

4 – Owners can program a new gas stove, in the corner.

5 - An older tiny house uses a massive stone fireplace.

5 – An older tiny house uses a massive stone fireplace.

6 - Please stoke your teeny wood stove, for a warm night.

6 – Please stoke your teeny wood stove, for a warm night.

7 - Now here's a small house fireplace, with river rock!

7 – Now here’s a small house fireplace, with river rock!

Seven homes with heat sources (A-G)

A = A former writer's retreat, built in the 1940s, has avoided several local forest fires. (Blue Door)

A – A former writer’s retreat, built in the 1940s, has avoided several local forest fires. (Blue Door)

B = This yellow cottage on wheels hosts happy visitors, through airbnb. (Bayside Bungalow)

B = This yellow cottage on wheels hosts happy visitors, through airbnb. (Bayside Bungalow)

C = "hOMe" has modern appeal, efficiency, storage and stairs. (Tiny House Build)

C = “hOMe” has modern appeal, efficiency, storage and stairs. (Tiny House Build)

D - This tiny ski chalet has traveled to snowy destinations, racking up 20k miles. (Zack & Molly)

D – This tiny ski chalet has traveled to snowy destinations, racking up 20k miles. (Zack & Molly)

E - Oceanside Retreat stands right at water's edge, in Freeport, Maine. (Creative Cottages)

E – Oceanside Retreat stands right at water’s edge, in Freeport, Maine. (Creative Cottages)

F - Springs Cottage brings three generations together, replacing a decrepit backyard structure. (New Avenue)

F – Springs Cottage brings three generations together, replacing a decrepit backyard structure. (New Avenue)

G - The Enesti delivers old fashioned, almost Victorian style with a simple floor plan. (Tumbleweed Houses)

G – The Enesti delivers old fashioned, almost Victorian style with a simple floor plan. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Answers here:   Avert your eyes until you have tried to match seven fireplaces or stoves with their seven home exteriors — 1-B,  2-F,  3-G,  4-C,  5-A,  6-D,  7-E

so many small and tiny interiors

Celebrate small and tiny interiors in Apartment Therapy’s recent Small Cool contest. With the interior focus, standalone houses participated and mixed among apartment cousins.

We pored over contest entries and found five stellar standalones. Check out their sweet great rooms and kitchens, below.

One Small House: 801-999 sq. ft.

Lauren's 923 sq. ft. home is located in Charlottesville, VA. She loves her cozy cottage, which is "furnished mostly with vintage pieces and objects I've found in my travels. It makes my home feel very personal." (Lauren, Apartment Therapy)

Lauren’s 923 sq. ft. home is located in Charlottesville, VA. She loves her cozy cottage, which is “furnished mostly with vintage pieces and objects I’ve found in my travels. It makes my home feel very personal.” (Lauren, Apartment Therapy)

Lauren appreciates an old-fashioned, separate living room and kitchen because they are "very generously sized given the size of the house, and there is an astounding amount of storage." (Lauren, Apartment Therapy)

Lauren appreciates an old-fashioned, separate living room and kitchen because they are “very generously sized given the size of the house, and there is an astounding amount of storage.” (Lauren, Apartment Therapy)

Another Small House: 801-999 sq. ft.

Emily's 900 sq. ft. home is located in Covington, KY. "What I love about my small home," she declares, "is that it's, well, home." Emily learned to decorate, use a saw and became engaged here. (Emily, Apartment Therapy)

Emily’s 900 sq. ft. home is located in Covington, KY. “What I love about my small home,” she declares, “is that it’s, well, home.” Emily learned to decorate as well as use a saw here. (Emily, Apartment Therapy)

Emily has an eat-in kitchen, giving it style with cool yellow chairs and bare tree limb walls. We aren't surprised this home made the top four finalists in the Small Cool 2014 contest. (Emily, Apartment Therapy)

Emily has an eat-in kitchen, giving it style with cool yellow chairs and bare tree limb walls. We aren’t surprised this home made the top four finalists in the Small Cool 2014 contest. (Emily, Apartment Therapy)

One Little House: 601-800 sq. ft.

Cristin and Zach's 676 sq. ft. home is located in Kirkwood, MO. "We've really made sure that our home is family friendly and that we all feel comfortable living life here," says Cristin. (Cristin and Zach, Apartment Therapy)

Cristin and Zach’s 676 sq. ft. home is located in Kirkwood, MO. “We’ve really made sure that our home is family friendly and that we all feel comfortable living life here,” says Cristin. (Cristin and Zach, Apartment Therapy)

Cristin and Zach's kitchen fits right into their bungalow, and is important because they have a young child at home. We like the bright and light feel here. (Cristin and Zach, Apartment Therapy)

Cristin and Zach’s kitchen fits right into their bungalow, and is important because they have a young child at home. We like the bright and light feel here. (Cristin and Zach, Apartment Therapy)

One Tiny House: 401-600 sq. ft.

Patricia's 500 sq. ft. home is located in N. Topsail Beach, NC. Converted from a 1907 residential auto garage, she decorated with "elegant and primitive designs" to fit her Victorian home and neighborhood. (Apartment Therapy)

Patricia’s 500 sq. ft. home is located in N. Topsail Beach, NC. Coverted from a 1907 residential auto garage, she decorated with “elegant and primitive designs” to fit her Victorian home and neighborhood. (Patricia, Apartment Therapy)

Patricia says she likes "to divide the space into actual rooms, using every inch for storage.". Her kitchen is well-equipped with a range and stove, microwave, full sink and separate counter space. (Patricia, Apartment Therapy)

Patricia says she likes “to divide the space into actual rooms, using every inch for storage.” Her kitchen is well-equipped with a range and stove, microwave, full sink and separate counter space. (Patricia, Apartment Therapy)

One Teeny Tiny: Under 400 sq. ft.

Adele's 240 sq. ft. home is located in Oakland, CA. "Even though my cottage is tiny," says Adele, "it has high ceilings and it's surrounded by huge windows, so it doesn't feel too small." (Apartment Therapy)

Adele’s 240 sq. ft. home is located in Oakland, CA. “Even though my cottage is tiny,” says Adele, “it has high ceilings and it’s surrounded by huge windows, so it doesn’t feel too small.” (Adele, Apartment Therapy)

Adele keeps her great room quite open, with the kitchen in the back of her home. "I've figured out a place for each of my belongings to live, so the whole space can feel as open as possible." (Apartment Therapy)

Adele keeps her great room quite open, with the kitchen in the back of her home. “I’ve figured out a place for each of my belongings to live, so the whole space can feel as open as possible.” (Adele, Apartment Therapy)

let there be led light

LED lights are artistic forms as well as energy-savers. As you plan or replace lighting in a smaller house, these lights are an excellent choice. Why not add decorative punches as well?

We scoured the interwebs to find very different LED treatments. Here are five we bet you have never seen before, which create mood lighting especially for a great room.

This special LED light is run through a white double braided nylon rope, the type used on boats. (Luke Lamp)

This special LED light is run through a white double braided nylon rope, the type used on boats. (Luke Lamp)

Designer Rebecca Asquith created this lampshade which rolls back into itself and mimics the Nautilus shell. (Design Tree)

Designer Rebecca Asquith created this lampshade which rolls back into itself and mimics the Nautilus shell. (Design Tree)

David Hakaraia honors Maori heritage with this Mahuika wood and porcelain light symbolizing fire. (Hakaraia Designs)

David Hakaraia honors Maori heritage with this Mahuika wood and porcelain light symbolizing fire. (Hakaraia Designs)

From New Zealand, Pil pendants are made from native beech and artisan blown glass. (Design Tree)

From New Zealand, Pil pendants are made from native beech and artisan blown glass. (Design Tree)

With a cone of beechwood and felt strips, this French light gets easily adjusted with felt rings. (Metylos)

With a cone of beechwood and felt strips, this French light gets easily adjusted with felt rings. (Metylos)

great rooms fit their exteriors

Great rooms are de rigueur in smaller houses, offering open space for multiple and ever-changing uses. On a practical level, furnishings should be carefully selected based on how you spend time. It’s also important to consider aesthetics, the styles that make houses beautiful and delightful.

To gain aesthetic perspective, let’s take a look at great rooms and exteriors from four homes. Some of the rooms fit naturally, while others seem a little surprising. Why not be the jury and judge here?

A traditional, yet new, small cottage beckons you with all its quiet charms. The curved roof-line, woodsy green color, white and natural wood accents bring the home together. Gilann Ridge is well-sited and landscaped in Washington State. (Ross Chapin)

A traditional, yet new, cottage beckons you with all its quiet charms. The curved roof-line, woodsy green color, white and natural wood accents bring the home together. Gilann Ridge is well-sited and landscaped in Washington State. (Ross Chapin)

In Gilann Ridge’s great room, you see a very efficient use of space with a built-in nook, side bench, well-proportioned chairs and love seat. Its yellow paint, white, tan and wood decor complement the exterior. (Ross Chapin)

In Gilann Ridge’s great room, you see a very efficient use of space with a built-in nook, side bench, well-proportioned chairs and love seat. Its yellow paint, white, tan and wood decor complement the exterior. (Ross Chapin)

"“I’ve had people knock on the door, wanting to see this house,” says Gary Beaudoin, owner and builder of a bright yellow and red-trimmed storybook home. Located in Bend, OR, the cutie measures 875 sq. ft. (Bend Bulletin)

“I’ve had people knock on the door, wanting to see this house,” says Gary Beaudoin, owner and builder of a bright yellow and red-trimmed storybook home. Located in Bend, OR, the cutie measures 875 sq. ft. (Bend Bulletin)

This storybook home is all about light. Upstairs is the great room, with a view towards the sky, sun, trees and valley below. It is arranged with a few simple pieces of furniture and creature comforts. (Bend Bulletin)

This storybook home is all about light. Upstairs is the great room, with a view towards the sky, sun, trees and valley below. It is arranged with a few simple pieces of furniture and creature comforts. (Bend Bulletin)

An oak framed and stone clad structure gets curved into a summer home, giving it modern sensibility. Light pours from skylights, windows and french doors. Located in Devon, UK, the getaway overlooks a river. (Carpenter Oak)

An oak-framed and stone-clad structure gets curved into a summer home, giving it modern sensibility. Light pours from skylights, windows and french doors. Located in Devon, UK, the getaway overlooks a river. (Carpenter Oak)

Devon's great room reveals strong bones through its interior wood trusses. The home is well-used for living, dining and also gazing at the views. There are plenty of bookshelves against one wall, as a terrific bonus. (Carpenter Oak)

Devon’s great room reveals strong bones through its interior wood trusses. The home is well-used for living, dining and also gazing at the views. There are plenty of bookshelves against one wall, as a terrific bonus. (Carpenter Oak)

In a Nomad Live micro-sized home, it's possible to set up and live inside a container-style structure with plenty of windows. The pre-fab home has a 100 sq. ft. footprint, and may be directly shipped to you. (Nomad Homes)

In a Nomad Live micro-sized home, it’s possible to set up and live inside a container-style structure with plenty of windows. The pre-fab home has a 100 sq. ft. footprint, and may be directly shipped to you. (Nomad Homes)

On the lower level, there's a small great room to sit and even watch TV. Outside views make a huge difference, as the home looks and feels far larger than its measurements. (Nomad Homes)

On the lower level, there’s a small great room to sit and even watch TV. Outside views make a huge difference, as the home looks and feels far larger than its measurements. (Nomad Homes)

10 ideas to enlarge a small house

To enlarge a small house, we present 10 design ideas for your consideration. Follow them to make your small house seem more accessible, inviting and larger than it really is.

First take a look at two examples, one cottage and one house on wheels, and see their spacious appeal. What are they doing?

Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser lives in a 580 square foot home, in Los Angeles. His great room is used for working, dining and sleeping. The bed lowers from a high ceiling, and its headboard doubles as a desk. (Dwell)

Mad Men actor Vincent Kartheiser lives in a 580 square foot home, in Los Angeles. His great room is used for working, dining and sleeping. The bed lowers from a high ceiling, and its headboard doubles as a desk. (Dwell)

 At 130 square feet, this Tumbleweed tiny house feels open with a pitched roofline and windows. It has separate kitchen and great room areas. Book this Olympia, WA house for a night, from Brittany Yunker. (Bayside Bungalow)

At 130 square feet, this Tumbleweed tiny house feels open with a pitched roofline and windows. It has separate kitchen and great room areas. Book this Olympia, WA house for a night, from Brittany Yunker. (Bayside Bungalow)

10 design ideas for small houses 

In Fine Homebuilding magazine, Architect Russell Hamlet identifies 10 big ideas that enlarge and improve a small house. Here are key takeaways:

  1. Include an outdoor room — build outside the house, to make a major impact on how your home feels inside.
  2. Invest space in transitions — plan transitions ranging from stairs, hallways and balconies to beams and different ceilings.
  3. Use contrasts in light and color — place light in the foreground with slightly darker areas in the background to create perspective.
  4. Create contrast with scale — vary the scale of objects and elements from larger than normal to smaller than normal.
  5. Organize the house into distinct zones — create the impression that it contains multiple rooms and spatial domains.
  6. Develop multiple orientations — use windows to vary the focus from nearby features to distant horizons.
  7. Accentuate the dimensions — maximize sight lines, to extend space beyond its perceived boundaries.
  8. Put illusion to work — manipulate the scale of objects; design a space that beckons visitors into an area.
  9. Use thick edges and built-ins — try counter tops, window jambs and door thresholds to give the impression of strength.
  10. Include multipurpose rooms — combine different activities that occur at dif-
    ferent times in the same space.

built-ins create new rooms

In a tiny house, built-ins effectively create spaces that feel like separate or more private rooms. There’s magic in how windows and partial walls help make tiny dwellers and visitors more comfortable.

Here are some examples of seating and sleeping areas that (we think) really work well. These nooks, alcoves and pods beckon you to take a breather.

In a silo-shaped home, bed pods fit within the rounded exterior and offer sleeping and napping space. (Montesilo)

In a silo-shaped home, bed pods fit within the rounded exterior and offer sleeping and napping space. (Montesilo)

The Tumbleweed Mica's bed gets built into a side room, complete with windows and cabinets. (Tumbleweed Houses)

The Tumbleweed Mica’s bed gets built into a side room, complete with windows and cabinets. (Tumbleweed Houses)

The hOMe's great room features a cozy alcove, easy for relaxing or watching TV across the way. (hOMe, Tiny House Build)

The hOMe’s great room features a cozy alcove, easy for relaxing or watching TV across the way. (hOMe, Tiny House Build)

This pretty nook, surrounded by windows on three sides, is the owner's favorite part of her home. (Little Yellow Door)

This pretty nook, surrounded by windows on three sides, is the owner’s favorite part of her home. (Little Yellow Door)

social seating for four

Check out this bistro table and connected seating, which supports up to four people!  Each seat folds inside the table when not in use, and it does seem like a smart addition to a tiny house.  Sit with a couple friends or work comfortably in your great room, rather than at a coffee shop.

Designed as a tiny solution

“In response to the smaller but better trend, I looked at how social seating might be improved by finding a way of making traditional tables and chairs into a single flexible multipurpose solution, explained Quad Micro Bar designer Joe Warren. “QMB combines a round bar height table with four fold-out stools to create a new type of seating experience.”

This bistro table is a great tiny house option, and this darker table top and chair finish looks Danish modern. (QMB, Etsy)

This bistro table is a great tiny house option, and this darker table top and chair finish looks Danish modern. (QMB, Etsy)

Clear coated plywood works nicely

In 2013, Core 77 Design Awards gave their DIY award to this all-in-one bistro seating design.  Today the QMB is getting sold for multiple uses, including exhibit halls and small spaces.

The Quad Micro Bar is made from birch plywood, and comes in natural, white and black colors. It could be worth the $900 price tag, and is available on Etsy.