The Essential Tiny House

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The Essential Tiny House

Tiny house desk sketch

Over the years, I’ve given a great deal of thought to what is essential in living space. What are the stripped down, basic, absolute necessities that I need to be happy in my living space.

With that said, I must admit that one “size” or flavor of tiny house will not fit all. Tiny houses are much more personal than larger spaces. You have to trim away all the superfluous to ensure that you have the amenities you need. YOU… not someone else.

Personally, I need the following in my own tiny house:

  • A full-featured kitchen
  • A full bathroom
  • A comfy place to sleep – big enough for two
  • An office area including a desk, a super-comfy chair, a multimedia computer.
  • A comfortable place to sit (other than my desk chair)
  • Storage
  • Lovely outdoor space

Now, to define each of those areas:

My Tiny House Kitchen

The tiny simple kitchen needs to have counter space for food prep and a cooking surface with at least two burners. I need a full-size sink (preferably a two-bowl one, but I could do with a single bowl. A refrigerator — a tiny one is ok, as long as it doesn’t have one of those stupid ice-tray areas that makes it impossible to keep the temperature consistent. A small freezer or a portable icemaker. I like my ice. Love it. And occasionally I make my own ice cream. I need a freezer or an ice machine. Period.

Storage space for my basic dishes and utensils. Luckily, I prefer manual tools that have multiple uses (like a good pair of knives instead of a chopper, food processor, slicer, salad spinner, etc.) I’m a basic girl. It makes tiny living easier 🙂

My Tiny Bathroom

I like being clean, personally, so the tiny houses that minimize the importance of getting the WHOLE body wet when soaping up are not for me.  I love a good soak in a tub, but that’s not a necessity. A largish shower IS. Wet-room bathrooms (where the entire bathroom is the shower) is fine with me, if that’s what’s needed to have a larger space to move around in while scrubbing myself.

Toilets – I’m still torn on this one. I want one, obviously, but I’m still trying to determine if a composting option would be a good one, or if it would make me crazy. Which one I would have to have would depend on my set-up. If the tiny house was on wheels or might be moving at any point, I’d prefer a composting version to one that requires a septic system or a “blackwater” tank. Hands down, dealing with a composting option would trump either of those with a potential movable option. If the house was to stay put on my own land, I’d spring for the septic system (and I did on my own farm).

Sink – I’ve tried to determine if I would be ok with a bathroom right beside the kitchen to use the kitchen sink for hand washing and I’ve decided that this is NOT a good option for me. I like washing my hands and I’d prefer not to have me (or guests) washing their bathroom visiting hands over the area where I prepare my food. Call me crazy.

Privacy – I’m not interested in any bathroom that doesn’t have a solid door. It can be a pocket door or a swinging door (if there’s room) but it can’t be a curtain. Period.

So, overall, I’m pretty traditional where the bathroom facilities are concerned.

My Tiny Bedroom

I love the idea of a sleeping loft, but as I get older the idea of having to “climb” to get to my bed becomes less and less attractive. I’d prefer a tiny house with a bed option that remains on the first floor. This creates a few challenges for the tiny house floor plan. A Murphy bed is always an option — but that requires a bit of muss and fuss and probably clearing space to get into bed.

When I’m ready for bed, I want to “fall” into it. I usually stay up until I’m too tired to mess with arranging things to get into bed. I also require a bed big enough for two, with space on either side of the bed for setting a tablet or book, a drink, my glasses and such. I don’t like using the floor for storage. Ever.

I don’t like trying to make a bed when I can’t get easy access to at least three sides of a bed. It’s something that makes me crazy, so It’s worth the extra space.

I have considered a few “bed in a drawer” options for a small house. Of all the sketches I’ve made thus far, I think the drawer that pushes under the kitchen/bathroom area makes the most sense for a couple reasons…

  1. It can pull out into the middle of the living area without moving all the furniture (especially when the desk is built-in above the bed pull out so I only have to move my desk chair and don’t have to clear or alter my desk in any way to go to sleep).
  2. This configuration would allow under the floor access to plumbing for the kitchen and the bathroom with a little effort (pulling the bed all the way out). It would be a claustrophobic area, but one that could be quite handy to have the plumbing on either side (with lots of clearance) of the bed slide-in area.

My pillows would be situated on the end where the handle is to pull out the bed — so I could use my computer monitor to watch a movie in bed if desired — without moving stuff!

My LARGE Desk in my Tiny House

I need a big desk, I need storage space for my desk, I need surfaces for writing, stacking and for my double (or triple) monitors and for doing what I do. I spend a great deal of time writing and working on websites and communicating with clients and family and friends via computer — so this is essential to my happiness and well-being.

A Place To Sit

As space inefficient as it may be, I probably would require an easy chair (or two — in case someone wants to sit with me). I like having a non-desk chair where I can sit and put up my feet to read, or watch a movie, or nap, or whatever. I need a comfy chair. I have to have one. Other “seating” could be a small collection of large floor pillows or stools that nest into each other (or can be used as chair-side tables) or could easily tuck away. I like the spool style stools of hardwood for such use.

Storage Space

Even with a miminal life, I want storage space. I want a place for everything. Even with my tiny wardrobe, I want it out of sight. I want cleaning supplies invisible. I want my pots and pans and dishes tucked away safely. I want my books on shelves, neatly organized!

I want clear spaces (with the possible exception of my desk, which is hopeless) and easy-to-clean and main living space. Always.

A Lovely Outdoor Space

The tiny house needs a porch, even a smallish one, that has an overhang to be able to go outside and stand even in the driving rain. I want a place to hang my wind chimes, a place to sit (preferably a small porch swing or swing-chair) and I need a great view. I like large outdoor green spaces. I like to sit outside and be inspired. I like to be able to write on a laptop outdoors. I like to journal (with an old-fashioned journal book and a fabulous pen) in the great outdoors. I like to sit and stare off into a beautiful scene. I like the outdoors.

Nature makes me happy and even the tiniest indoor space is fine with me, it’s cozy even, if I can go outside and absorb a bit of the great outdoors.

So, if you designed your perfect tiny living space… what would make YOUR “must have” list?


  1. Karen Thomason says:

    I love your ideas! I lived in my 4bd,2 bath home since my husband died. I have moved in and out several times, but kept it. But it got lonely. I love being alone but I also love things that need other people. Canasta, potlucks, bingo, etc. So, I sold my house. The problem I now have moving into a senior community is trying to get rid of stuff. I love the things that you have shown in your articles. You have encouraged me to get rid of stuff and I am going for it. I am limited in strength from recent cardiac surgery but strong in resolve! Thanks

    • Angela Allen says:

      Thank you, Karen! I’m happy to help. Rightsizing your life after a major change is never easy, but it’s worth the effort. Every time I eliminate more “stuff” I feel personally lighter — I stand up a little straighter, feel a little taller. I hope you find the same personal rewards as you move forward with your next adventures in life. Thank you for stopping by and I hope we see you around here again soon!