Top 20 Outdoor Kitchen Designs and Costs 2017

If you like cooking at home, then you surely know how hot, steamy, and smoky that kitchen can get! But what about cooking at an outdoor kitchen?

Yes, indeed, you can absolutely cook outside, at an outdoor kitchen, as well as have way more fun while you are at it!

But what if you don’t have an outdoor kitchen? Let’s build one! Warning, you are about to delight your eyes with 20 beautiful and fully functional outdoor kitchen designs to help you get your imagination going! 😉

Small outdoor kitchen near the pool

Did you know? Outdoor kitchens are quite a trend in areas with warm weather all year round. Cooking takes a lot of time and you can make it more pleasant by cooking outside. If you’re curious, take a look at the following 20 outdoor kitchen designs. But first, let’s talk about the costs involved in such a project.

How much does it cost to build an outdoor kitchen?

Outdoor kitchens can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars all the way to $50,000 and even $100,000. The main costs involved in designing and building an outdoor kitchen revolve around the following:

  • design work that starts at $400.
  • shade structures
  • appliances
  • landscape lighting in and around the kitchen
  • patio installation
  • the framework of the kitchen
  • utility requirements like drains, electrical lines and natural gas piping.

The average reported cost for building an outdoor kitchen is a bit over $9,000, most homeowners spending between $2,700 and $16,000. What does this sum cover? Well, for starters, there’s the center piece of most outdoor kitchens: the grill. Some families spend thousands of dollars on a fancy grill. A decent one costs at least $1,000 while high end products can be sold for up to $15,000. Don’t forget to purchase BBQ equipment too. Another important appliance is the fridge. A quality refrigerator starts at $500, but some people opt for a beverage cooler instead.

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Tesla Solar Roof Vs. Apollo and Dow Solar Shingles in 2017

There is a hot, new trend: BIPV solar shingle roofs. Basically, you replace traditional shingles with building integrated photovoltaic solar shingles that comprise the roof and convert solar energy to electricity. Architects, designers and builders have already been using some form of solar shingles form Apollo by Certainteed, and Dow Powerhouse, which has recently closed their doors, thus creating an opportunity for new market entrants.

But, with the recent update on the upcoming roll-out of Elon Musk’s Tesla Solar Roof, a possibility of fully-functional and 100% building-integrated (not hybrid) PV solar shingles roof is just around the corner! 🙂 Let’s talk a bit about the latest developments in the solar roofing market.

How Dow Chemical Paved the Road for BIPV Solar Shingle Roofs

In 2011, Dow Chemical has disrupted residential solar power industry by unveiling their daring and innovative solar shingles product — An elegant, roof-integrated alternative to the “old-school” bulky crystalline PV solar panels for residential roofs.

Dow’s PowerHouse BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) solar shingles were remarkably appealing, and in some sense, easier to install than traditional PV solar panels. However, after just five short years Dow is getting out of the solar shingles business. They have decided to no longer manufacture and cease selling their break-through PowerHouse solar shingles.


So, does that leave homeowners with only a single option for solar power; to have the bulky paneling installed on their roof (which often requires drilling holes through shingles to bolt the panels onto the roof, and then relying on lots of caulk around the holes in shingles for water-tightness)? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding no. That is where Elon Musk with his version of Tesla Solar Roof wants to come in and fill the vacuum created by Dow exiting the solar roofing industry.

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Top 15 Stunning Kitchen Design Ideas and their Costs – DIY Home Improvement Ideas 2017

Are you in the process of redesigning and remodeling your old, boring kitchen? If so our in-depth guide to top kitchen designs and styles should be a great starting point to ignite your imagination for kitchen design, style, and visual layout details.

From traditional to retro kitchen styles, our guide will help you visualize and conceptualize your new kitchen! The accompanying overview of costs and pros and cons associated with each kitchen style will help you weigh your options and plan your budget for the remodel of this important space in your home. 😉

Traditional Kitchen Styles

1) Classic Traditional

The first category and inherent style. It includes for our article 4 other styles. Traditional remains a very popular choice because of how cozy or homey it appears. It’s simple and not looking to make any bold statements. Traditional kitchens tend to utilize wood finishes with colors that are coordinated throughout the space. White, tan and cream are the usual colors. Patterns in a traditional kitchen are familiar and easy to relate to. The stove/oven is the focal point and there tends to be lots of cupboard space all around for noticeable storage.

Pros: it’s the classic style which is also one of the most popular, most designers and builders can implement the style and adding unique features are not seen as outlandish.

Cons: none really other than your personal style may want a more modern flavor, more bold colors are sometimes desired to represent owner’s personal style

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $25,000

2) Rustic

By MorningStar Stone & Tile

A variation of traditional is the Rustic style. This theme emphasizes wooden features and surfaces. Wood may be stained, but a clear stain that brings out the natural beauty of the wood grain is usually sought. Timber, stone and brick are all common materials to this style. Sand colored wood is possible, but rustic tends to rely on darker tones, particularly mahogany and reddish-brown.


Pros: the variation in materials to create a more bold look than ‘classic traditional’ is why this style appeals to many, a more rugged look that can be majestic

Cons: If implemented poorly or not well maintained, rustic appears worn and rough-hewn

Low-end cost for a full renovation including design, materials and labor by a licensed remodeling contractor is about $30,000+

3) Country Farmhouse

This style can be challenging to tell difference from a ‘typical traditional’ kitchen. Color is certainly a noticeable difference. Where white and light colors are typical for traditional kitchens; red, blue and yellow are within the range of thematic choices. With a country kitchen, color is more about mixing than matching.

Pros: Of all the kitchens on this list, this may be the most open and inviting, donning a lived-in look

Cons: If elegant design, minimalism and strict color matching is your version of style, a Farmhouse kitchen is not for you

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $30,000

4) Craftsman/Shaker

This style is similar to rustic, in that it places premium importance on appearance of wood, but differs from rustic in that it is unlikely to appear worn. Instead, top quality wood grains and (as the name implies) craftsmanship is the theme. Shaker cabinets and drawers, along with handcrafted tiles are what marks this theme.

Pros: emphasis on quality is top notch in this style, adding in modern touches tends to work well

Cons: None really, but can be challenging to pinpoint this style as over reliance on modern features makes for more of a transitional character than traditional

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $40,000

5) Cottage

Cottage is a bit of an eclectic mix within the traditional category, but squarely in that. The style calls back to an earlier period where modern utensils don’t fit in so easily. Cottage tends to be a style that as you hunt for antiques and certain knick-knacks, it can likely be adapted to this style’s space without being out of place. Favored colors tend to be white or light, but like the Country Farmhouse, it favors mixing over matching.

Pros: perhaps the most simplistic, yet cozy of all the traditional types; has old world charm

Cons: persons with more elegant tastes will likely find this theme undesirable

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $45,000

Contemporary Kitchen Styles

6) Contemporary

This style is perhaps the most broad on the entire list of 15. People think ‘modern’ but that is actually its own sub-category pertaining to a specific era. Contemporary is really whatever is currently popular, and so 10 years from today, that might not be whatever are the trends right now in this style. But as this is a general style, it includes general themes such as: clean, linear lines; sleek styles and focus on function than on (traditional) elegance. Minimalism tends to be the norm in today’s contemporary kitchens, but that can easily have design trends that have a noticeable flavor. This is the only entry on the list of 15 where we’ll not include pros, cons, and costs as the category is just too broad for those type of specifics.


7) Modern

Modern style is surprisingly not necessarily contemporary. It’s easy to confuse the two, and many do. But modern really refers to the style that occurred with thematic designers in the mid 20th century who were looking to break away from the traditional mold. Much of what they came up with is still with us today and is incorporated in many traditional kitchen types. Modern styles led to taking down of the extra wall in a kitchen, so person cooking a meal could still interact with people in the next room over (think parent looking after child in next room watching TV). The modern era made use of stainless steel far more than had previously been done, and utilized neutral/light colors on walls or backsplashes, while hardware and countertops were darker, to intentionally create a contrast.

Pros: Very easy to find designers and builders who can implement this style and who can likely make it unique to your own home, matching your tastes.

Cons: stainless steel is in, wood is less used, so perception of ‘natural beauty’ is lessened, but again deals with matter of personal taste

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $45,000

8) Luxury

via Heather Hungeling Design

This style is more conception than thematic. It’s contemporary to whatever the current era manifests as most expensive tools, most extraordinary details in design and richest materials available. Luxury kitchens have been with us for as long as kitchen spaces have existed. Luxury is perhaps best understood as a cross between (traditional) craftsmanship and contemporary gourmet.

Pros: being the best of the best has its merits

Cons: the average homeowner likely won’t even consider this option due to the expense

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): Not applicable as low end and luxury are incompatible. $40K is possible for luxury kitchen design.

9) Gourmet

Gourmet kitchens are like the ‘man cave’ for chefs. Luxurious spaces that take the chore of cooking and make it as fun as humanly possible. For contemporary styles, it tends to be the trendsetter for many other styles wherever function is seen as more valuable than appearance. It’s enticing just to consider the feature set for today’s gourmet kitchens. This includes (but certainly isn’t limited to): six-burner stovetop, industrial strength ventilation system, separate refrigerator and freezer, separate wine cooler, self-sustaining luxury island, stove-top faucets, warming drawer, kitchen computer or flatscreen, and gadgets galore. The list of gadgets for gourmet cooking is a lengthy article itself, as whatever type of cooking is called for, a gourmet kitchen will want specific, quality gadget just for that, such as indoor smokers, specifically styled broilers, countertop steamers, and so on. Essentially, whatever you can think a restaurant might have, a gourmet kitchen probably does have, just at a smaller scale.

Pros: for the cooking hobbyist, there is no kitchen style that beats the gourmet kitchen

Cons: the style can be very expensive and is not modest, nor relying on traditional styles

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $50,000

10) Asian

Asian is a style that embraces several far east cultural design elements. While it intuitively fits well in the ‘traditional’ category, it is for North American homeowners a contemporary stylistic choice. Wood is a very prominent material in the build, but is not rugged looking like a rustic kitchen. Similar to craftsman, but with a different ethnic version of craftsmanship. Simplicity and minimalism replace the excessive wants of the modern gourmet kitchen. All design items have either a simple (read as plain) style or an distinctly Asian bent. Trends are challenging to account for in this style, but our research finds darker colors are being included in this style more and more, including use of stone/granite backsplashes and countertops

Pros: ability to mix traditional craftsmanship with panache and contemporary features

Cons: none really, but the Asian style may not be for everyone, nor fit many households

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $45,000

11) Mediterranean

Mediterranean is the luxury kitchen of southern Europe (along the Mediterranean sea). It is traditional to that area, and contemporary for North American tastes. Well crafted tiles and patterned designs on walls, countertops and flooring truly distinguish this style from others. Texture and variety of textures are huge in this style. Similar to the Country Farmhouse, mixing is conceptually better than matching within this style.

Pros: Elegance with panache, bold textures and well conceived patterns make for a style that’s intriguing and majestic

Cons: If simplicity, minimalism and color matching are your style, then Mediterranean kitchens are not for you

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $55,000

Transition Kitchens and Related Styles

12) Transitional

Transitional kitchens are specifically conceived and designed as a mix between traditional and contemporary styles. While each kitchen style offers its own brand of creativity, transitional styles invoke creativity during implementation as a statement. Generally though, the theme of transitional is minimalism in design, and neutrality in colors. Such as shaker style cabinets and crown molding with no decorative ornaments. Mixing natural and manufactured materials is the norm. The goal of this style is to project balance and harmony. Transitional kitchens tend to be for couples/families where two themes are desired, and one style (transitional) is implemented to achieve a balance (between the two).

via Scottsdale Remodeling and Design

Pros: the best of both worlds (traditional and contemporary)

Cons: mixing two styles can appear awkward unless a pro designer is involved

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $40,000

13) Vintage

This style, similar to Retro (below), is an authentic renovation mixing old with new, intentionally. With Vintage, the choice is to be a lot like a Cottage, or perhaps Farmhouse, and utilize the tools, main cookware from the pre-Industrial Revolution era. The look is critical, but this style is transitional. Finding harmony between Old World charm and modern conveniences is what makes for a Vintage style. Perhaps all this is debatable as Cottage itself would look identical to Vintage, but Cottage isn’t assuming there is desire to appease modern tastes. Vintage does.

Pros: panache through tradition, and convenience through modern touches

Cons: Same as any transitional – mixing two styles can appear awkward unless a pro designer is involved

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): $45,000

14) Retro

Like Vintage, Retro mixes old with new, desiring to create an authentic early to mid 20th century kitchen. Think 1940’s to 1960’s style kitchen. And if having trouble imagining all the main details for each kitchen feature, then use a kitchen designer familiar with retro kitchen design. Use of stand-alone cupboards and shelving units are a staple in this theme. Old school refrigerators and black and white checkered flooring would make this theme readily apparent. While lots of contemporary gadgets would certainly appear out of place in this style, chances are good Retro will find a balance or way to include say microwave and dishwasher if at all possible.

Pros: panache through tradition, and convenience through modern touches

Cons: Same as any transitional – mixing two styles can appear awkward unless a pro designer is involved

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): Info not readily available, but likely expensive or around $50,000

15) Eclectic

This last style is the hodgepodge or miscellaneous category. It certainly can be an intentional theme, and the rebellion against needing to fit into a particular type of theme from this list. It’s finding your own style, your own colors, and going with that. Again, a pro designer can probably make that work better than non-designer type. With this style, you get to include whatever from this list appeals to you, and mix it with anything else on this list, or from your imagination. While the style is perhaps impossible to describe accurately, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done for good reason, such as reflecting a persons many travels, sense of humor or irreverence.

Pros: this style is likely to satisfy the exact tastes of the most important person, the home owner

Cons: everyone but you will find something to criticize about this style and dislike your utter non conformity to what is right and good in the world

Low end cost for full renovation (includes design, materials and labor): Very challenging to account for, but $25,000 is fair place to start

Additional Costs and Other Considerations

As a home improvement project, a kitchen renovation is great in terms of satisfaction but very expensive, compared to other projects. According to this RemodelingImage, the Return On Investment (ROI) for a kitchen renovation is good. In other words, one can expect to get back about 67% of the value they put into it. That article notes higher costs than what this article has been suggesting, but that is average range, with a median cost around $60,000 in today’s prices, for major kitchen renovation.

The general rule for budgeting for kitchen remodeling is to spend at least 5% of the overall value of your home and not more than 15%. Less than 5% would actually devalue your home and more than 15% means you are less likely to get a decent ROI from the improvement. The breakdown of kitchen renovation expenses on percentage basis is as follows:

Design fees: 4%

Installation: 17%

Appliances and ventilation: 14%

Cabinetry and hardware: 29%

Countertops: 10%

Lighting: 5%

Flooring: 7%

Doors and windows: 4%

Walls and ceilings: 5%

Faucets and plumbing: 4%

Other: 1%

While a five figure price tag is very expensive, it is yet another reason to consider a designer. Yes, that is added cost, but it usually considerably less stress and more likely to achieve whatever your vision is, and match that with builders. Renovation can also be had over time, such that the improvement is done in phases. With many of the styles, not everything needs to occur at once, and a designer can help determine what phases make most sense for the type of style you want.

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Top 10 Green Home Improvements Plus Their Costs – DIY Green Living Ideas

In today’s fractured world it is next to impossible to find one thing on which everyone agrees, but Eco-friendly home improvement choices are one of them. Green is good. Good for the planet. Good for our health. Good for the future. Green remodeling means energy efficiency, resource conservation, and a healthy indoor environment.

But some Eco-friendly home remodeling upgrades, whether DIY or done by a pro, make more sense than others. Cost is always an understandable concern. Many green choices will eventually pay for themselves many times over in long-term cost savings and increased resale value of your home. Others will never justify the increased upfront costs. Let’s investigate…

1. Green Flooring

Options abound in the selection of Eco-friendly flooring. Sustainable wood choices like bamboo (actually a grass) make attractive flooring substitutes to oak and maple. No one likes to cut down trees unnecessarily and wood flooring is also available from reclaimed wood that spent its previous life as barn siding or kitchen cabinets.

reclaimed-wood Image credits: Jetson Green

This wood lends a unique look to your flooring, but expect to pay from $10 to $15 per square foot for your one-of-a-kind reclaimed wood flooring installed.

Cork flooring is an Eco-friendly alternative to wood flooring. Ground-up bottle-stoppers are reformulated for flooring that is warm, lasts for generations and great for spills from little kids.

cork-floors-kitchen-westlake-residence Image Credits: Cornerstone Architects

Compared to reclaimed wood, cork flooring is a significantly less-costly, albeit not as stylish, economical alternative. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per square foot of cork flooring installed.

And while you are making over your flooring, do not overlook the plywood underlayment – choose plywood that employs soy-based adhesives rather than traditional urea-formaldehyde. Your home environment will immediately become healthier without the toxins that adhesive leaks into the interior air. A 3/4-inch thick sheet of 4 x 8-foot formaldehyde-free, soy-based assembled plywood will run about $50.

2. Decks: Green Flooring for Outdoors

hardwood-deck Ipe Hardwood Deck by: SD Independent Construction

Don’t forget to go Eco-friendly outside as well as in. Composite decks formed from wood waste and recycled plastic will outlast pressure-treated wood, will never need staining and preserving, will clean easily, will not crack and will never leave a splinter in your toe. The downside will be the upfront costs, but expect future buyers to look kindly on that long-lasting, maintenance-free outdoor space. A pressure-treated wood deck typically clocks in at around $15 per square foot, while decks fabricated from composite materials start in the neighborhood of $35 per square foot.

3. Cool Roofs

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Dark roofs make houses hotter, light roofs make houses cooler. To achieve these benefits companies can coat your roof with reflective materials, some of which are applied like paint, sprayed directly on the surface of an existing roof. Of course, this is a one-season solution. Energy conservation wizards are currently working on tiles that will go from light to dark as needed – they can cut the sunlight absorbed into your house by 80% when they are white and slice heating costs by 20% and more when they turn black. You can find a cool roof coating formulated with acrylic polymers, resins, fillers and titanium dioxide pigments for about $100 for a 4.75 gallon container

If rather than applying it yourself, your would prefer to hire a professional, expect to pay anywhere from a few to several thousands of dollars to properly apply liquid roof coating. You should know that most liquid roof coatings are only suitable for durable membrane-based flat roofs and aging metal roofs.

Energy Efficient PVC membrane on a flat roof PVC roof by: New England Metal Roof

If you have a flat or low-slope roof that is starting to show the signs of age and may thus require replacement soon, then consider installing one of the following membranes; white, energy-efficient PVC and TPO membranes, or white EPDM rubber roof. Expect to pay from $4.50 to $6.00 per foot for EPDM rubber membrane installed. PVC or TPO will cost $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot installed.

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Tiny House Movement: How to Build a Tiny Home, Costs – DIY Tiny House Design Ideas

“Yea, I know what a tiny house is, I live in one.” Many people who wake up every day in cramped living quarters feel like they ARE living in tiny houses. But there are folks, more and more as the years trickle by, who seek out smaller spaces, wanting a simpler, more efficient life. 😉

via Tiny Portable Cedar Cabins

These people have come to foster what has been called “the small house movement.” They even have their own organization called the Small House Society, started in 2002 by a core group of house designers, builders and urban planners.

But before we get too far, some definitions:

The average house in the United States – 2150 square feet

A downsized house – 1100 square feet

A “large” small house – 750 square feet

An efficiency house – 500 square feet

A little house – 400 square feet

A tiny house – 300 square feet

A compact house – 200 square feet

A micro house – 150 square feet

These are all approximations, there is no exacting classification of “tiny houses.” As Dr. Peter Venkman said, “It’s more of a guideline than a rule.” As a general guideline small houses are those under 750 square feet. But, in fact, houses that are twice the size of the normal American house can be considered “tiny houses” if the space has been downsized to maximum efficiency for all the occupants. The small house movement is not about cramming one’s life in the smallest space possible, it is about pursuing a more effective lifestyle through one’s environment in pursuit of a balanced, enjoyable life. It is better living through simplicity.

What are the benefits and Costs of a Tiny House?

* Construction material costs are kept at a minimum. This does not just mean that small houses automatically cost less than big houses. If your construction budget is not being eaten up by building wasted space, you can upgrade the materials that you can afford to create a fantastic look and a long-lasting value. High-grade materials will give your living space a healthy, natural environment that could be out of reach financially in a larger house.

* Cleaning and maintenance costs are lower. That’s obvious; there is less space to clean and maintain. Let’s make that point again – there is less time needed to clean. And less money to spend on fixing things.

* Utility costs are reduced. Again, a no-brainer. There is less space to heat, less space to cool and smaller areas to illuminate. Those cost savings can also be directed into greener appliances as well.

* A smaller construction footprint is required. This means more green space for the planet and more open space in your yard.

* A clutter-free life. By definition, you can’t live in a tiny house with all your junk. All those hard decisions about decluttering your life become a whole lot easier when there is no room for all those possessions in your living space.

A Note on Building Permits:

Before going solar, you will need a building permit. In order to apply for a building permit, you will most likely need a site plan. This is merely a drawing of the place where you want to build the house. Applying for a permit is not cheap, so it’s understandable if you want to save some money in the process. The best way to do this is by contacting the guys at for inexplicably affordable, quality site plans. Not only will you get a professionally drafted plot plans, but you will also get them in the shortest amount of time possible. Use our promotion code: 24hplans-20off to get a 20% discount off any package. — Please note this is a limited time offer, exclusive to the readers of our blog. This offer is not being advertised anywhere else.

What are the downsides to living in a tiny house?

* Entertaining. Your days as a host for the neighborhood bash are likely over, save for a backyard cookout.

* The niceties of life are a little less nice. No baths, no stretching in the shower, composting toilets, electric toilets. But this is usually only for the smallest of the houses, of course.

* Me time. There won’t be as much of it in a multi-person tiny household.

How do I get started with a small house?

As with most building projects, the first step is to check local laws and codes. In general, if the tiny house of whatever size is intended as a primary residence there may be a minimum footage requirement and it will be regulated like any size house. If the structure is going to serve as additional living space that is subordinate to the primary use of the property it is likely to be regarded as an Accessory Dwelling Unit and subject to whatever local ordinances apply.

If your proposed tiny house is going to have wheels it will likely be regulated as temporary housing, much like an RV or a tent. Even if you construct a tiny house with high quality, durable and sustainable technology. As such it will be subject to specific prohibitions, even if you are living full-time in the tiny house on your property. On the other hand, restrictions on temporary housing typically apply to a long enough time period – 30 to 45 days often – and few municipalities have the will or manpower to rigorously maintain a calendar on the occupancy of a portable tiny house. Similarly, if local codes allow accessory buildings on a property but do not permit sleeping in them, chances are no one will come out and catch you “napping” through the night.

Before you make the plunge to own a small house, try and stay in as many innovative small spaces as possible. Rent a tiny house for a few months. There are even tiny house hotels to try out for a night or two. But be brutally honest with your experience – even a week or two does not translate to years so if anything bothers you after a few days don’t believe it will magically disappear once you move into your own tiny house.

How do I start building a tiny house?


A number of architects and builders have sprung up across North America who specialize in matching you with the small house of your dreams. Their involvement can range from providing plans to delivering a ready-to-assemble kit to on-site construction. The Small House Society has a resource page on Designers and Builders to get you started. Whereas a conventional house built by national builders will cost from $50 to $100 per square foot a tiny house of only a couple hundred square feet, being handmade, will run about $300 a square foot – cheap by volume, expensive by proportions.


At any given time, you can find about 50 designers and builders such as Kanga Room Systems who specialize in small houses. Before you begin it is essential to know exactly what you are expecting in your new constricted space. If it will serve as your primary living quarters make a list of all your lifestyle necessities and decide on those things you can live without. There are plenty of other uses for a tiny house – artist studio, home office, guest cottage, fishing cabin, whatever. A tiny house can just be standalone extra space on your existing house; versatility is the name of the game in small structures.

Most builders will start you off with a questionnaire to try and ascertain exactly how much space will be needed. Two stories? A garage? Bedrooms? ADA Accessibility? Do not be afraid to seek a slightly “larger” little house. The small house movement is not about paring your life to bare essentials, it is about living an efficient life. If you have an antique china cabinet you absolutely love, find a house with enough room for it. But only make accommodations for items that bring you joy and enrich your life. Once you decide on a size for your house footprint you will be amazed at the richness and variety of tiny houses on offer. And if you are a fan of a particular traditional architectural style you can find a miniature version to be your new downsized dream house.

Another option is the homemade tiny house. You can use the experience of professional tiny house builders and do-it-yourselfers to create your own space-efficient living environment. Buy a complete kit, use a professionally drawn plan and follow instructions or start with a simple floor plan and build on. The internet is awash in ideas found on blogs, websites and books. And, of course, online videos. The small house movement has even spawned its own Tiny House Nation television series – available here.

You can also find existing tiny houses for sale. To go this route, you will need to tap into sales networks and online forums. Some of the places to ferret out available properties to rent or buy are,, and

What do I look for in a tiny house?


Think vertical. We have all been habituated into considering our building spaces in terms of two-dimensional square feet. As you tip-toe into the kingdom of tiny houses it is time to begin picturing your new world in cubic feet. Look at your living space from the ceiling down. Is there room for a sleeping loft and if so, how can the space underneath be utilized? Will there be enough room for stand-up space under the “bedroom” for a kitchen or just air space for a sitting area?


Think storage. There is no more drastic reset to thinking about your living space in a tiny house than storage. Start first with the “stuff” you have to store. In preparing for a move to a small house a lot of your belongings will start to fall into the “junk” category and migrate to Craigslist or the garage sale. If you really must, you can always ease the transition by renting a storage locker. The only things that will survive in a home the size of a living room are things you use a lot.

To store these necessities, start by looking up again. Open storage is a way of life in a tiny house. Hang items high on walls or even from ceilings. Mobile ladder systems can come in handy in tight quarters. Baskets and hooks are just the beginning. Let your imagination run wild and storage possibilities will pop out at you. Start to look at open storage as your own personal statement of objet d’art. When needed, built-in cabinets might run two rows high but look at fixed storage as a last resort after your living space needs are taken care of.

Think practical. Cast away your ideas of “standard.” A regular-sized oven with four burners is a luxury in a tiny house. Refrigerators do not have to have the capacity to store two weeks worth of food. You may never have even noticed but manufacturers sell appliances in smaller sizes. Find the size that makes sense for the people in your household – and no bigger.

Think bright. There is no way around it – if you are not careful with your tiny house you can wind up feeling like you are living in a cave. Wall space is at a premium and windows take up that wall space. Find or build a small house with as much natural light as possible, keeping in mind the tradeoff for storage inside. In outfitting your living space with artificial light plan for an abundance of small light fixtures strategically placed to create a bright, airy openness. Use white bulbs that give off a warmer, more natural light.

Think differently. William Lawrence Murphy had a problem. Back around 1900, when he was a randy fellow in his twenties, Murphy was living in a cramped one-room place in San Francisco. He also had a crush on a comely opera singer. In those days, it just was not done that a proper woman could be entertained in a man’s bedroom. Murphy very much wanted to “entertain” this young woman, but he also wanted to sleep. What to do with the bed?

Murphy’s solution was to fold the bed into the wall – and the scheme worked! Not only did he marry his girl but he hit up her father for a business loan and started Murphy In-A-Dor Bed company using his patent for a “disappearing bed.” When Americans started moving out of cities for houses in the suburbs in the middle of the 1900s the Murphy bed itself began to disappear. But for inhabitants of a tiny house furniture that folds into a wall is a panacea.

It is not a new idea. Thomas Jefferson used to hang his beds in Monticello on ropes and hooks so he could hoist them out of the way when not in use. Incorporate this kind of thinking into your plans for a tiny house.


Think outdoors. People who gravitate towards tiny houses often tend to be outdoor-oriented. If you prefer to spend more time outdoors than in, you can get along fine with less indoor living space. Tiny houses are natural fits for vacation property, rural space, even up in trees. And if you live in a tiny house with favorable weather, outdoor living on decks supplements the inside spaces.

Think sustainability. The small house movement is about learning to live with less. Using less fossil fuels, using less non-renewable resources. Just deciding to make your existence in a tiny house is a win for the environment and your decisions to help the planet will just cascade from there. Every day is a green day. Of course, living with less translates into more for other areas of your life – more time, more money, more balance.

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