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Tiny House Q&A: How Much Space Does An Artist Need?

Is it just me, or aren’t there a lot of tiny house people out there who are artistic?

Whether you write, paint, draft, sculpt, or dance..

I’m coming to terms with the fact that: artists need their space.

Yet artists usually LOVE tiny houses. So that begs the question..

How Do Artists and Tiny Homes Come Together?

Tiny Houses and Artists

Photo Credit Facebook

If artists need their space for drafts, art, rough drafts, research, then how the heck would one live in a tiny home and continue creating?

So I asked our Facebook Fans and here’s what they said…

Comments from Facebook

Artists require inspiration and cheap places to live…perhaps some will find it in a tiny home, but not all. I could park a tiny home in a cheap warehouse and have all the room i needed, or buil a studio next to a tiny home…the possibilities are endless, having a tiny home on wheels opens up a ton of options when shopping for a work studio that wouldn’t have been possible without that living space. – John

I think it would entirely depend on the kind of artist you are, what tools you need for your craft, including space. For example, somebody who sculpts, and Sculps large, will probably need an additional studio space. But I certainly thinks it’s possible to live in a tiny house if you’re an artist. I’m a writer and an actress, and I have done both living in an RV – if I can do it living in an RV, so can others. If I was a painter, I might want to studio. – Rebecca

i do it, and i do not have a studio. my place is 12 by 24 feet and being an out of sight out of mind type i find it helpful to have my supplies, many of which are my inspiration, out on display. it does tend to get a bit cluttered during craft binges though – Scar Letta

i am going to do it and i am nervous about lack of space for my art – Donna

You can read more of the questions/answers here.

And what if you have a spouse? Children? Family? It’s just not realistic to live in 100-square-feet in these situations, isn’t it?

You’ve got to go bigger than that or this might just be a phase.. I mean that’s the truth isn’t it? This is really more about:

Photo of my “Living Room” As I Wrote this Post…


How would I get to do all this in a tiny house I also live in?

I could live in one, yes.. But live and work.. And share with another person? That’s probably asking too much out of too little.

I need a tiny house for us to live in. And another tiny house for me to work in. Then it’ll really work..

So that’s why I’m saying what’s really important is…

Finding the RIGHT Space for YOU

Look. Tiny houses are AWESOME. But they’re just NOT for EVERYBODY and I’d be dumb to shout, “tiny houses are the answer to all the world’s problems!” everyday.

They’re for single people (that want to continue solo-power-living) or couples that are so unique and get along so well that they can do it successfully. Shout out to Tammy and Logan, Andrew and Crystal, Laura and Matt, Tiny House Family, and the many others who are doing it.

For the Rest of Us..

For the rest of us tiny houses are so inspiring and fascinating. They’re like this ironic symbol of freedom, aren’t they?

And we can still use them and the great space saving ideas that go along with them. As I always re-iterate.. small structures (tiny houses and the like) can be used in SO MANY WAYS..

  • Treehouse or playhouse
  • Backyard workspace
  • Recreational room
  • Separate bedroom
  • Tiny guesthouse

And the list goes on, and on. But what’s really important- I think- is meeting your own personal wants/needs with your home..

List What You Need Your House To Do For You To Be HAPPY..

Like for me, right now using my small apartment’s living room as an office is working. But do I want to do this forever? Not really.

Eventually I’d like a completely separate and dedicated space for my work because I think it’s healthier that way long-term. When I get creative I get messy so it would be nice to have this separation of work/life again.

So What’s On Your List?

Do you find that you need a little bit of extra space kind of like me? Or maybe your spouse does? These are real human needs and from what I’ve learned, I don’t think they should be ignored.

Is Tiny Living Sometimes Just Not Realistic?

I mean, not really.. Because ‘tiny’ is just an opinion on square feet. And really size doesn’t matter. It’s what you do with what you have. And to me it’s more about being more conscious of our own needs and how close we can get to creating the perfect home for us.

Sometimes I’m Afraid Tiny Houses Are Saying…

“Hey, you don’t need that anymore even though you like and enjoy it.”

Trust me, I’m all for getting rid of the CRAP in our lives.

But when we start to deny ourselves of something we enjoy.. That’s different.

If you’re not replacing some of the crap with FUN, I think you’re doing it all wrong (I’m kiddingly serious).

I Guess I’d Like It To Be More About US Than Just Square-Feet

I don’t like what sometimes might happen within the tiny house community where people compete with each other to see how little they can live with… It doesn’t really freaking matter!

Some of us move into 192-square-foot homes on wheels. Others get rid of everything they have and live out of a backpack or a van.

What I’ve learned NOW is that it’s okay to NOT force yourself into less space than what you really need. In fact, that might do more harm than good for many of us even though I’m a firm believer that we can learn and grow from all of our experiences. But..

In the end, aren’t we all just trying to meet our own human needs based on what we like to do? So we can be happy.. So don’t worry so much about size, have more fun, take everything less seriously, and see if you can make your current home meet your needs better right now.

And join our free daily tiny house newsletter for even more discussions like this!

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Ann Seeton
    April 17, 2013, 9:41 am

    Nice post. I agree that it is really about our learning what we actually need and what we don’t need for our lives. I’m experimenting with putting a lot into one bedroom because I want to see if I am correct that I can create a working space that is multi-use and efficient in very little square feet. I already know that my library needs a large space, but how much more than what the Library needs do *I* need? That has been my question. I already see I use a fraction of my kitchen. I realize that a galley kitchen with a pantry for canned goods, a chest freezer and the appliances I use for large batch cooking would serve me as well and take up a LOT less space. I find large walk-in closets are great for well organized supplies, but a murphy bed that pops down over a couch for sleeping would be enough bedroom if I’m living alone or to serve as “guest” space. I end up amazed that I ever thought I needed the huge house I have lived in for years.

  • LaMar
    April 17, 2013, 9:47 am

    I am an artist and creative person and I like to have a space dedicated for that work. I managed to get a good size 7×7 work space and office inside my cabin loft for that and I do my drafting and work on small projects there.

    I have my recording studio and equipment and my guitars, my drafting equipment and small tools all neatly organized and at the ready.

    I also do a lot of craft/hobby construction projects but I usually do these outside and I have a separate 8×8 work shop shed that is used for that and also houses my solar electric system batteries.

    The small cabin designs I am working on now would be great as a workshop or office and all are under 200 sqft so they can be built without a permit in most rural counties.


  • April 17, 2013, 10:48 am

    yes, and artist ideas and heart are inside inspiration sometimes comes from outside, the artist is the vehicle to present those ideas and heart.

  • Frank Rodrigues
    April 17, 2013, 11:12 am

    Hello Everybody !

    I am an Artist and a Musician and @ first I though that it just couldn’t be done. Downsizing with my personal possessions didn’t scare me as much as downsizing my instruments and all my art supplies !
    How could it be done, I thought ? As it is I need a space that I can close the door, cause things can get pretty messy in the art room, no matter how hard I try to keep it clean, but during a project !!!
    I wasn’t too worried about light, cause I would encompass plenty windows in my design, but what about stepping back from my canvass and I paint large surfaces. The answer is simple for me, I’ll just have to build a separate studio, in my design the studio will answer all of my other issues of living tiny.
    I’ll have plenty of space for storage, I could convert the space for guests, I’ll have my music room in the loft and art downstairs. This way I can step away from the mess of painting and inspiration into my living space. I even plan on setting up the studio in such a way so I can put some decking in and put up an awning for a covered area to sit outside out of the elements. It’s endless what we can do folks !!!

  • Cheryl
    April 17, 2013, 11:59 am

    One of the best things I did for myself was attend a tiny house workshop. It gave me a clearer perspective on what was right for me to work on as far as going tiny and what was involved in building my own. At this time having the knowledge of being able to set realistic goals and now achieving them was well worth the price I paid for the class. My Mothers art studio was not much bigger than a ‘Tumbleweed” and her only complaint was it was missing a restroom which a composting toilet would be fine for something like that. Having a dedicated studio to make my quilts in is now a dream of mine. Can’t you see a little crayon red house with white gingerbread…a path made of paving stones in the form of quilt blocks and double doors on the side to throw open on a porch to breathe in the fresh air. I would through batting and finished projects in the loft…have a place to make a pot of tea and narrow shelves to color coordinate my stash of fat quarters….sigh….maybe someday…

  • Mandy Milliron
    April 17, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I am moving into my father’s camper to see if I would be alright living in a tiny space. I am a graphic design and ceramic student. So far, I can do graphic design pretty well in a camper trailer the size of an XS Tumbleweed House. However, I am planning to buy or make a truck camper/house(planning to get a good used truck) to live in and make a teardrop trailer to pull behind the truck. The teardrop will be my mini-studio for on the road and at home.

  • jim sadler
    April 17, 2013, 12:24 pm

    It is nice to see positive comments about tiny homes. These attitudes ultimately enable others to live in tiny homes. In the past we have had a lot of very negative public opinions. For example the Uni Bomber was considered insane because his cabin was so small.
    Obviously artists get involved with chemicals that are best not inhaled night and day. Drying paints and the like require some caution and the size of a room might matter.
    If one intended to build tiny homes how could the tools be stored in a tiny home while it was lived in? Sometimes a tiny workspace should be at hand near a tiny home.

  • alice h
    April 17, 2013, 2:49 pm

    Being a sewer of costumes and other stuff I need a lot of storage for my materials and space for equipment. Measuring what I have now and where it’s supposedly going to end up in the planned 8×20 tiny house I can get most of it in, even the completed costume collection as long as I don’t need to have them hanging in a closet. The key is organized storage (and reasonably easy access to it) and quick and easy cleanup procedures. Unfortunately things can get quite out of control during a creative frenzy but as long as you can return the house to “normal” living mode without excessive effort it shouldn’t drive you too crazy. If you need to keep your work/art things out all the time you might be better off with a separate dedicated space.

  • Lynn
    April 17, 2013, 4:14 pm

    Great article!
    We’ve decided we need 380 square feet with loft. We have a library and craft supplies that we need storage space for.We live in Western Pennsylvania. Spring through Fall we spend a lot of time outdoors and so a picnic shelter with outdoor kitchen, ceiling fan and seating will be our main living space during that time.
    If I worked from home I would get more accomplished with a separate space. I’ve seen a youtube.com video about a couple who built 2 tiny houses and uses one for their business. That would be my choice.

  • April 17, 2013, 5:00 pm

    I’ve rented separate studio space downtown, lived in my studio (live/work), and had my studio in my home – they all have benefits and drawbacks.

    But if you want to work at home, I don’t see why you couldn’t do it in a tiny house. Just go a little larger! Part of the beauty of building your own home, is figuring out what works best for you. Who cares if your tiny house is slightly larger than your neighbor’s?

    If you want a house on a trailer, just go ten feet wide, and get a permit to move it. Or go with a longer trailer. Or both. Or if you’re building on a foundation, add studio space – whatever that means to you.

    Consider this… if your house doesn’t fit your needs – for whatever reason – you will find yourself wanting to leave eventually. So why would you go to all the trouble to build a beautiful little house, based on someone else’s definition of “the norm” for tiny houses? Figure out what you need to make you happy – and build that. It may be a teeny tiny house with a great big studio attached – and that’s okay!

  • Andrea Furlong
    April 17, 2013, 5:09 pm

    Right now I live in a house that is about 2000 sq.ft. and that space contains my studio. It’s bigger than we need now that the children have fledged. I am a fabric artist and craftsperson so I have a LOT of art and craft supplies. I have always been fascinated by playhouses, treehouses, and little forts. At some point I plan to build a tiny house to live in. But a tiny house would not be compatible with the supplies I have accumulated and the space I need to lay out everything when I am creating. I have found out from traveling with my husband, two children, and a dog in a Volkswagon Vanagan that it doesn’t take much space to meet basic human needs. So the ideal space for me would be a tiny house to live in and another separate building maybe about 300 square feet for studio and storage. I plan to do my socializing outside in the summer where there would be plenty of room for guests outside the house and studio.

  • April 17, 2013, 8:58 pm

    I’m a blogger and amateur photographer. That part of my work fits in a desk and a cabinet for cameras and lenses. My favourite subjects, however, live in a marine invertebrates tank, which takes up more space; a countertop in the kitchen, a box of stuff in a closet, a spare tank for a “hospital tank”, and a few shelves of equipment.

    I live, for now, in a 400 sq. ft. apartment, alone. (Well, except for my “critters”.) There’s ample space, even to bring mid-sized carpentry projects inside, but only because I am ruthless about getting rid of stuff I’m not using, and careful not to buy anything I don’t absolutely need.

    I have lived large, and small. Small works for me. The smallest cabin I lived in ended up at about 300 sq. ft., but I lived in less than half of that for a year while I built the bedroom and loft. That was a bit crowded, at least when I had company staying over, but I managed. If/when I were to do it again, I’d get rid of most of my books; after all, I now do most of my reading on the laptop.

    I am susceptible to the collector’s bug*, and my one display cabinet is full. I’ve managed to keep things under control by making it a rule that I only bring home tiny things. Some end up in the cabinet; others fit into a few 2-inch-deep collectors’ shelves on the wall. I continually edit the collections, keeping only the best.

    I’ve seen some really small sheds, or shed-shaped big boxes. One of these would be a good solution to the problem of tool and materials (for me, lumber and power tools) storage.

    *Re: collectors; this is a topic I have not seen addressed in discussions of living tiny. And it is an important part of many people’s lives, even those of us who hope to leave a small footprint. I’d love to see a post about this.

  • jerryd
    April 17, 2013, 10:13 pm

    My present home is 180sq’ but I can use much less. All I need is a good place to sit/sleep, a shower/toilet and a usable kitchen. This can fit in an 8×10 with space left over.

    But my art studio consists of my yard, a 100sq’ metal shop, a 200sq’ shop , a 200sq’ pole barn and an 80sq’ office.

    My newest art after my 12′ x12′ cabin is a 34′ trimaran, 22′ wide.

    My other art is light electric vehicles made from wood/epoxy, etc.

    So while I live small, I do need working space. Though I’m converting it to more tiny houses to sell as a compound of 4-5 of them just E of Tampa bay.

  • Penny in SC
    April 17, 2013, 10:19 pm

    This is a great article and this is my exact quandary I am a clay artist and I have been following the tiny house movement for almost a year now and I have decided to make the move from my 1000 sq/ft home and 500 sq/ft studio to a tiny home to be a full time artist. BUT, I cant figure out how to do this exactly. It is not healthy to have clay dust in your living space and oh yeah there is a small thing called a kiln. So, I follow this movement in hope of finding someone who has the solution. The closest is the couple who actually just sold their mobile 380 sq/ft home, they are self employed and had a separate work space. That may be the solution, one way or another it will happen…..comments and suggestions welcome.

  • Ron
    April 18, 2013, 1:22 am

    I live in a 120 sq. ft. tiny house with a eleven pound wiener dog …I’m a Tradesman mostly Cabinets but like to do steel fabrication mostly for my self ….I carry all my tools for steel and wood as well as mechanics tools…..the tools all disappear when buttoned up ….
    Most of my creating happens at a clients house where my tools unfold ..
    I’ve been living in my Tiny Stealth house for 7 months now and I’m very happy with the journey thus far….I raised 3 kids in a 2400 sq. ft.house and you can be assured they’re not gonna be moving back home now :))
    the plan is to finish the tiny stealth house float it off to Maui and enjoy the last leg of life under the brightest starlit nights found on the blue planet :)))

  • Molly
    April 18, 2013, 7:21 am

    This has been my quandary. I paint, and need not only space to set up my easel, but space to leave it set up while the paint dries. I sometimes have more than one canvas going at a time. Oil paint takes DAYS to dry.

    I’ve thought about having 2 tiny homes; one to live in, one to paint in. I live in a cold climate though, and know it would cost less to heat one small space than 2 tiny ones. I do love the flexibility and freedom of having a home on wheels, especially since it will be years before I am “settled” down someplace on my own land. Having 2 homes on wheels though would be harder to move.

    I think I have decided on about 400-500 square feet, depending on the minimum requirements of wherever I end up buying land in the future. For now I am renting.

  • Cahow
    April 18, 2013, 7:44 pm

    Okay, I’m tossing a question out there for others to answer, because I’m truly puzzled. Doesn’t “1 + 1 = 2” in most of your worlds? So, if a person has a tiny HOUSE and a tiny STUDIO and a tiny GARAGE and a tiny STORAGE SHED, doesn’t that just equal a regular sized home with attached garage?

    I’ve seen designs for tiny house compounds where someone has created a “four-leaf clover” effect of tiny single purpose rooms around a common deck area. That’s FOUR roofs, SIXTEEN outdoor walls, FOUR floors and the silliness of heating/cooling FOUR different units! This makes about as much sense as creating FOUR separate batches of pancakes, to make one single pancake each time.


    • jerryd
      April 18, 2013, 10:08 pm

      Cahow not everyone wants to live as a nomad monk !! Some of us have to work and many times that means space.

      Let’s look at it. First the Tiny home is where one lives. It has everything to need to be worm, clean, fed and happy at low cost.

      Then there is money saving, making spaces that vary depending on one’s work or even play. Just because you live in a tiny house doesn’t mean you give up everything!! For instance I have 10!!! tiny houses, sheds, etc buildings on my 100×100′ property.

      Some are still my mothers stuff I haven’t gotten rid of but most are working sheds like metal, power tools in one, electrics, electronics, EV’s stuff in another and composites, building a 34′ trimaran sailboat in a 20′ pole barn, an interesting trick.

      As no one seems to want to hire me since I turned 50 10 yrs ago I’ll just keep on working at home at near no cost, $120/month for everything including ph, internet so most anything I do is pure profit.

      So please don’t beat us with wet noodles for being multi building owners. They can save and make a decent living, no different than planting a crop. Just a different produce. Or in my case, really weird things.

      I do agree about the 4 separate room buildings of one house.

      I like living in a studio as everything is close at hand and just a small space to heat and cool. My other building are rarely heated or cooled or even able to be as very lightweight buildings so have little cost.

      • Cahow
        April 19, 2013, 9:32 am

        Mornin’, jerryd. “Cahow not everyone wants to live as a nomad monk !! Some of us have to work and many times that means space.”<<<<I am CLUELESS as to what this refers to! LOL I'm married with 3 kids and 6 grandkids, own a company and work 60 hours per week during my peak time! LOL

        And where did you get the impression that I was "beating anyone up?" Please don't put words/actions into my mouth. It was an honest question: I wanted to hear the WHY from people who enjoy splitting the uses away from a tiny house when the very definition of a tiny house is to "max" out it's usefulness. When I read about having separate guest quarters/home offices/art spaces from a tiny home, I just wanted clarification of the "why's" of doing this, that's all.

        • April 20, 2013, 6:14 pm

          “the very definition of a tiny house is…”

          That’s the phrase that’s getting you into trouble. There is no one definition. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone who is attracted to tiny or small houses.

          Personally the idea of building additional pods as your needs change makes terrific sense to me!

        • Paul
          June 13, 2014, 12:37 am

          The why? Well, people want their “home” but don’t necessarily want to work “in” their home. Oftentimes it is not practicable or safe to do so, and therefore they have another building for a home office/art space/whatever. That makes complete sense.

          A home, amongst other things, is your private space. Your retreat from the rest of the world. Your place to be funny/stupid/whatever else you can think of… and, in the alternate universe, it is not unheard of for a household to have a separate guest house(s).

          I think if you go back to the article and read what is written in the light greyed text area, you will find all these answers. The world is a funny place… one size just doesn’t fit all. Yeah I know, it ain’t fair. But. That the way it is… LOL

    • April 19, 2013, 12:58 am

      You don’t have to heat a shed. Or air condition it. You don’t have to worry about insulation, or decor, or curtains, or even windows. You don’t live there. You wouldn’t want to live there. Why would you want it as part of your house, draining off your heat, getting in the way of the view out your windows, cutting off your light?

      And say you have a good-sized tiny home, oh, 300 sq. ft., plus an 8×12 shed, your total still comes to under 400 sq. ft. That’s not a regular sized house, by any means.

      Add a good studio (heated only when you’re using it, not 7 days a week), windows on 4 sides for good light (impossible as part of a house). Make it a fair size; 12×12. Your total still comes to under 550 sq. ft. Still not a regular house.

      An average garage is 12×20. 240 sq. ft. Add that in; it comes to 780 sq. ft., total.

      The average American home comes to over 2000 sq. feet.. 214 meters squared. That’s 3 tiny houses, 4 storage sheds, 3 studios and a garage, leaving space for a 10×4 deck , using my figures.

      • Cahow
        April 19, 2013, 9:24 am

        Hey, Susannah. Thanks for your input and helping me understand the desire for many out-buildings. I agree 100% about the “shed”, as it’s usually used for lawn/garden care and doesn’t need heating/decorating. I also get that if a person is using toxic materials or large creations, they need a separate space: my husband designs stained glass windows for fun and he has his work space in the garage, which is heated, year round. With shards of glass, chemicals, lead and copper, you don’t want to be living with THAT on a daily basis!

        When I mentioned an average-sized home, I sure wasn’t going into the territory of “2,000 sq.ft.”! If THAT is the average size, I didn’t ‘receive the memo’. LOL I was thinking that 800-1,200 was more the Average Jane size home/condo/apartment that I drive by in Chicago neighborhoods all the time.

        I guess that I’m still puzzled about the dichotomy between thought and action regarding tiny spaces. On the one hand, in articles/youtube videos I’ve seen, tiny house fans tell/show about the multifaceted space they live in, where the single space does many functions. Couches serve as storage/beds; stools are seating/storage; tables fold up as do chairs, etc. I tend to equate Tiny Homes as the “Swiss Army Knife of Homes”: tiny, compact, multiple function in a micro-space.

        So, following that paradigm of “One Space to Rule Them All”, it seems counterproductive to dissect the various uses of daily routine into divorced components. Surely a home office isn’t a toxic place and neither is an art space where toxic fumes/dangerous chemicals aren’t part of the process. In our 800 sq.ft. cottage, both my husband’s and my home offices are located inside: my office is also my art studio (6’x6′ loom + all my fibers) and his office doubles as the guest room which sleeps 4 people in bunk beds. I love working at my drafting desk/computer in my jammies & slippers and wandering to the kitchen to pour myself some more coffee, use the loo, pet the dog & kitties, kiss the husband and wander back to work. That wouldn’t be as immediately do-able if my office was away from the cottage, particularly in horrid weather, which we experience often in Michigan. (record flooding right now!!!, deep snow in Winter.) So, that’s where I’m coming from.

        But, in the spirit of peace and “to each their own”, if a person gains joy from having multiple structures on their land, more power to them!

        • blueridgegal
          June 12, 2014, 6:57 pm

          Hi All, Just chipping in on the “why tiny homes” discussion. I have lived in homes of all sizes, including a 56 Ford Step van back in the 80s. I am retiring from my publishing business and selling my farm and want a very small space that is portable and gets around building codes. I plan to buy an acre of land near the ocean for summer living and an acre in the SW for winter living. I love being outdoors, so will have a large screened porch-type space in my summer retreat and a small adobe or cob structure with fireplace for crafts and writing in my winter retreat (no electrical wiring, no plumbing). What you are all missing here is that tiny homes on wheels fly under the building code radar. I do not have to pay $6-10,000 to install a septic system or pay sewer charges. I can use my compost toilet and put my biodegradable greywater on my compost pile (which is what I do now). I can be totally off grid with solar if I desire and not have to meet any building electrical codes. I can avoid neighborhood covenants that say I have to build to a certain size and in certain ways. I only have to heat/cool a small space. If I want to have a shed or outbuilding, I can build it without jumping through building code hoops. Saves time, money, aggravation, and the less the government has to say about what I do, the better I like it. I am totally responsible about the limited amount of waste I produce. I recycle EVERYTHING and have done so for years. For me, tiny homes on wheels mean freedom from the “system” in all ways. Cheers, BlueRidgeGal

    • Janne Zack
      February 3, 2014, 12:58 pm

      Cahow, I, too wonder these things. I DO get having a shed for tools, farming equipment, etc. My grandparents had a smoke house and a tool shed and a chicken house and barn, it is not practical to keep all these items in a climate controlled home, but to build multiple Tiny Houses in one compound doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either because of the cost per sq. ft. It is by far cheaper to build a 400 sq.ft house than it is to build 4 – 100 sq. ft tiny houses. BUT if one is for you to live which will be used daily, one is for work that doesn’t need water and will be shut totally down when not in use, one is for guests only when they visit, and maybe one is for growing children that can be given to the kids when they want to move away or sold when it is no longer needed, I’m all for that. When you retire and no longer need the work unit, it, too could be sold.

      My big beef with using tiny houses for say, homeless people, is that you could build tiny rooms within a bigger structure with fewer exterior walls and a single heating/cooling system, also fewer exterior doors & windows, and it would house more people using less money per unit.

      I also see a problem with Tiny Houses in that we humans NEED interaction with other humans. To put a Tiny house on acreage out in the middle of a rural area is all well and good but they don’t call it Cabin Fever for nothing! IF these could be parked in the middle of a city (I live near Memphis TN) where you can walk to parks, groceries, coffee shops, libraries, etc., that would be SO nice. I’d do it in a heartbeat, but Memphis won’t allow them to be used as permanent living quarters. Consequently you can only live outside of our county in one of these and that defeats the purpose of buying groceries every day and having gathering places nearby.

      I’d really like to hear from anyone who lives in one legally in a town within walking distance from a coffee shop. I’d also like to hear from someone who actually lives in one FULL TIME (Not a traveling person who spends 150 nights a year in a hotel and only needs a place to crash on the weekends).

      I DO love the concept, but wonder how long the normal minimalist can really stand to live in 194 sq. ft.

  • Penny in SC
    April 19, 2013, 9:54 am

    Replying to the concept of multiple buildings vs tiny homes. My feelings on this are…… If you build a tiny home to live in this creates less space to clean and maintain and possibly the ability to live mortgage free (thats my plan) if it is mobile that a plus if you want to travel. The additional building are possibly built later as “cash” allows, again creating freedom from loans and mortgages. The government has enough of my money and I refuse to give them any more than I have too at this point. (sorry, side tracked) I currently have a 1000 sq/ft home a 500 sq/ft studio a 20 x 30 aquaponic greenhouse and a 40 x 30 workshop for my husband on an acre of land. Before we knew it, it became a nightmare to keep up. I have devised a way to get rid of junk, then using the post- it method determine how much space I “need” and build accordingly. Oh, I didnt mention we are divorcing so there goes some more junk (not the husband, but his hoarding) Sorry for rambling but I love the bantering. Live smarter, not harder.

    • Cahow
      April 19, 2013, 11:43 am

      “…there goes some more junk (not the husband, but his hoarding).” Too funny, Penny in SC, too funny! 🙂

      As you explain it, it makes perfect sense, particularly regarding cash flow. I can see how the old way of “Pay As You Grow”, which was a pioneer ethic would work, rather than get into debt.

      That’s a heap of structures on one itsy-bitsy acre as you describe it; do you have any open area left? We also have an acre, surrounded by open land and a state park so the technical acre doesn’t appear that small. We only have two buildings on our land: the cottage with attached garage and a tool shed for lawn care, storing outdoor furniture, etc. We only garage the car in the most extreme of weather, otherwise it serves as an extended pantry for dry goods/paper products and my husband’s stained glass studio.

      Best of luck to you in your new life, Penny. I wish you the best of luck and happiest of futures, planning your tiny home and art studio.

  • Lynn
    April 19, 2013, 1:16 pm

    We will be building on an acre of land we purchased last year. I should have added to my previous post that we will have a tiny homestead on our one acre with our tiny house. We’re planting dwarf fruit trees this weekend. We will add chickens and dwarf – miniature goats when the house is built. I guess this means we’ll have a tiny barn!
    We’ve been preparing for retirement by reducing our monthly expenses and becoming more self sufficient. This has been our plan for a long time. We’ve had the chickens and gardens for quite a while.
    I have a couple of hobbies ~ making jewelry for family and friends and herbal tea blends. The jewelry takes little space because I have it all in those plastic containers with drawers and a tool box for my tools. It’s the herbs that take up space.
    I order a lot of the herbs bulk by the pound so they do take space. I vacuum seal a lot to keep them fresh and store them in large Rubbermaid totes that are stackable.
    We’ve begun to keep an extended pantry hoping to get to the point where we are living from harvest to harvest. A pantry is necessary. A root cellar would be nice.
    After reading all the posts I’m thinking that 380 sq. ft. might not be enough in light of the pantry we want.

    • Cahow
      April 19, 2013, 4:13 pm

      Tiny House, Tiny Trees, Tiny Goats….Tiny CHICKENS? No? Okay, regular sized chickens, then. LOL You are the very embodiment of Tiny, Lynn. Bravo!

      I’m an old country gal, raised off the grid, with my Gran canning for a year and an active, massive root cellar on the north side of the house. Although I now live ON grid, I still harken back to my country origins and have had extremely large pantries in all of our homes and still can each fall, although it makes no economic sense to do so, any longer. I just enjoy the process and the taste of different fruit combinations that you can’t buy.

      I can’t tell from your response if you’re still in the planning phase or not; if still planning, here’s just from tips as to how I run my pantry. First, the size was determined before I bought the cottage: it’s a proper pantry, located on the COLD North side of the cottage with a window on the North side to regulate temps. It houses our upright deep freeze #1, with microwave above it and our frig. Deep freeze #2 is in the garage for sale items and raw ingredients. Our generator is tied to our gas line so we’ll NEVER be without our stored food, unless there’s an utter breakdown of society, and in that case, I won’t be worried about my sourdough starter, that’s for sure! LOL

      The two frig/freezer units take up the 8′ wall; pantry is 10’x 8′. The remaining walls are floor to ceiling metal shelving we got at Lowe’s, 12″ deep. They store a half year’s worth of canned/dried goods. Previously, while doing undergrad and post grad work, I worked at both a 7/11 and Starbuck’s, learning stock rotation and checking dates on expiration. So, every time I go to the store, I carry a retractable Magic Marker with me and write in HUGE LETTERS the date I bought the item, and on very short shelf-life items like mayo and such, I write the Expiration Date on there, too. My husband and kids are responsible for rotating the stock in the pantry, pulling the older stuff forward and adding the newer stuff behind. Just for the heck of it, one Winter, we decided to not buy a single new piece of food, to see how long we could go, and we made it to the 3 month mark before we just got bored with no fresh vegetables/fruit/dairy, but we felt secure and safe in that trial run.

      I don’t coupon but shop sales all the time. I make sure I have extra money on me for surprise sales of food we eat and that saves a ton of money. “Buy One, Get One Free” are my Favourite Sales and that occurs on most items we eat.

      We also have a completely unheated breezeway as the entrance to the cottage: it’s 8′ x 12′ and is used as my above ground “root cellar” from Autumn until it gets really warm. Even in the coldest of Winters, it never gets lower than 40 degrees in there, so we store all our fruits, veggies, juices, bread, etc., in that space, on shelves. I’m still using Butternut Squash and Apples, that we bought by the bushelful this past October! Of course, it’s an unusually cold April (35 degrees, 22 degree wind chill), so we’re squeaking out some extra weeks of active storage time.

      That’s it, Lynn. Glean from above what you want, toss the rest. 🙂 And enjoy all your critters and orchard in the country. <3

      • Lynn
        April 19, 2013, 10:50 pm


        I’m more than a tiny bit jealous! 😉
        Husband and I are looking at social security incomes right around the corner. No pensions or 401ks. I’ll probably drive a school bus until something stops me. Either the physical or death. Lol. Two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon.
        We live on 1/2 an acre in a semi-rural area and will be here until we have our homestead ready. We know where everything will go but have not decided on the size of the house. We purchased plans for a 14 X 24 cabin with loft, 12 X 18 cabin and 10 X 14 cabin. They can also be used as additions. I’m thinking that we’ll need the 14 X 24 building and the 10 X 14 could be added as the pantry and storage. Thank you for all the information. We have planned on a south facing house so the kitchen and pantry will just be in the rear.
        I’ve been learning about food preservation. I use an Excalibur food dehydrator for the veggies and pressure canner for the meat. The chickens are Barred Rocks and still produce eggs in the winter. We give them scratch and food scraps along with the layer crumbles.

        • Lynn
          April 19, 2013, 11:10 pm

          Whoops..didn’t mean to end that post. Anyway, the goats will supply some dairy.
          Having just an acre won’t give us much of a homestead but will help with the food bill, keep us active and won’t be so hard on us that we can’t enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to it.
          Again, thanks for the information…I’ll use it.

        • Cahow
          April 20, 2013, 10:59 am

          M-m-m-m-m-m, goat milk and goat cheese! Puts me right in mind of Heidi and her Granpa. 🙂 (Awesome book, by the way, HIGHLY recommend reading it!) They were the original Tiny Houser’s and Off The Gridders. LOL

          It’s an honour to be of help to you in some small way, Lynn. Hey, why shouldn’t we all pull together and share Life Experiences, right?

          You’re lucky that you’re still in the planning phase; you can make SO many smart decisions for yourself in the long term. Regarding the pantry: even before my husband and I owned homes, we lived in very old apartment buildings from the 1890’s to 1940’s, by choice. Every one of them had a massive pantry and 100% of them had windows. Windows are SO vitally important for two reasons: 1) LIGHT!!!! Even with a North exposure, having a window in your pantry brings in FREE!!! light that you don’t need to pay for! We have a light in our pantry that is probably used once a week, if that. Even at night, unless it’s cloudy and a New Moon, we can find what we need in there, plus the frig and freezer have lights inside. 2) Ventilation for the pantry…and…your home! Being that a proper pantry should be on the North side of the home (coolest location), during hot Summer days, having the pantry window open airs out the humidity of the pantry and also cools down the remainder of your home. Our pantry window is the only North-facing window we have in our cottage and being able to use it as a temperature regulator in the cottage is priceless. When I’m baking away in the Winter and the kitchen is a toasty 80 degrees from the oven, I can maintain the pantry at 50 degrees by the window’s opening. And in Summer, having the pantry door open and the window completely open, pulls that cold North wind through the house and keeps the inside a lovely 72 degrees even when it’s 90+ degrees outside.

          This suggestion is a crazy experiment but if you have the space and temperment to do it, here’s a free and easy way to figure out the size of the typical pantry dimension for you and your husband: save 100% of the cans and boxes that you use in a typical month. Multiply that amount by how long you want to go between shopping trips in the country. That will serve as a ‘visual’ to you with just how much shelving/sq.footage you’ll need for your pantry. Our closest real grocery store is a whopping 32 miles away, round trip. Yeah, there are gas stations and beer stores around where you can pick up all the Pabst Blue Ribbon and chips you want, but we crave neither of those things. So, we only go to the store once a week, max, and that’s for dairy and highly perishable items. We have a local Farmer’s Market from May through October that is only 1.5 miles away, but again, that’s only in the growing season. If you have an older car, doing these lengthy trips adds much wear & tear on them, so you must plan carefully with extensively updated lists as to needs.

          Barred Rock chickens are SO beautiful! I see them painted on various items, just for their sheer gorgeousness. I love chickens! <3

          Regarding the school bus driving, Lynn: think of it as "keeping you young" and "in the loop". Kids are our future and I love when my adult children and their children come to the cottage. Young blood can keep you current rather then turning into one of those dreaded "Old Farts" that we used to laugh at, when WE were kids!

          I'm wishing you luck and happy dreams of your retirement place. YOU can do it!!!!

  • Erik Markus
    April 20, 2013, 4:25 pm

    Art space is so unpredictable.

    A separate space from ones living environment it preferred, if possible.

    But art is so vague and encompassing.

  • November 4, 2013, 4:14 pm

    I used to know a videographer/editor/photographer/writer who lived and worked with his girlfriend and two cats in a two-bedroom apartment that was about 500 sq ft. The dining area doubled as his conference room, and the living room doubled as his office and work space.

    The key was in organization, layout and storage. While certain equipment was always visible, most of his gear and work-related items slid out of view or were easily covered at the end of the work day or when the apartment needed to function for more usual social uses.

    • Alex Pino
      November 4, 2013, 4:25 pm

      Sounds kind of like me right now. I’m in a 400 SF 1 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend and dog. And we both live/work here! Only now our apartment looks way different than the photo here. I’ll have to do an update because we’ve made a lot of changes recently.

  • Janne Zack
    February 3, 2014, 12:42 pm

    I have to admit, i am addicted to the Tiny House idea. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on! I do know that I am also in love with technology and getting new things, but have come to realize that most things I have only take up space and are not so important to me any longer. I hate to give them up because I spent hard earned money to buy them. BUT, I have now tried to stop adding to my collections, and believe I could eventually downsize dramatically, but I will probably never achieve Tiny House living personally (my hubby and I are much too old, out of shape and stairs are no longer an option for us).

    I DID however. downsize my office dramatically. I am an artist/designer..I design homes for a living and because of the economy since 2005 or so, we have downsized staff (very unfortunately), and no longer needed 2000 sq. ft of office. I am now working in a 432 sq. ft space complete with a conference area, that looks quite smart/professional to entertain clients (about 180 sq. ft) with a dorm-sized fridge with beverages and a service counter for coffee, etc. The balance has been partitioned off (using 3-0 x 6-8 hollow core doors screwed together with metal plates on top and bottom, which are gorgeous).

    My working area is much more cluttery than I wish, but I am an artist. I habitually save mailing boxes that may be needed in the future because I hate buying them and I hate wasting a good box, but in all fairness, my work space, while full is really only about 2/3 full of actual work stuff and the balance is the mail order stuff one needs in my line of work.

    I actually have a work space for 1 other full time person and a temporary desk for visiting workers or contract workers who need to sit and print, etc.

    I actually love going to work now because rattling around in a huge office was just depressing, now in my office built for 2.5 people I find the PERFECT size. I have the professional side for clients and the work side for my inner artist to come out and play.

  • MarySue Foster
    February 3, 2014, 12:55 pm

    I love this thread. I am an artist, currently living in a little less than 800 square foot, apartment. I was lucky enough to rent a studio last summer and loved spreading out, working on several pieces at the same time (mixed media), and not having my cats walk across some work-in-progress. Fitting back into this space has been very challenging and not very satisfactory. My dream is a small living space (aka tiny house) and an out-building to use (now) for art. Maybe later to sell. Or to change to another use.

    I’m 70 and pretty handy. But I won’t be building a tiny house. I’ll be buying someone else’s labor. Who knows how long I’ll want to make my art? Maybe one day I’ll pull my own tiny house next to my family’s place for my twilight years (still a ways off).

    I appreciate the creativity and good spirits demonstrated in this thread. Thanks for the questions!

  • LaMar
    February 3, 2014, 1:29 pm

    Well I guess you could consider me an artist though that word seems a bit fancy for what I do. I am a writer with a few books published, videographer, and a songwriter and musician with my first album out. I design small cabins and houses and I am a tinkerer and creator of many projects for off grid living.

    I can do my writing on my laptop and I have a small office set up in my cabin loft complete with printer, fax and scanner and file box. Most of my work is done laying on the bed lol.

    I also have a small recording studio which is plugged into a mike and a system that records to my computer and only need room for my guitars.

    I do most of my large projects outside in good weather but often my kitchen table is cluttered with some project I am building. The front porch is also handy for working on stuff out of the weather in the shade.

    I do have a separate tool shed that houses all my off grid equipment, washer and dryer and wood working and building tools. It has a nice work bench and lots of storage for small stuff.

    So how much room you need depends on your art I guess and if you are going to be selling it from your home or online.


  • Jennie K
    February 5, 2014, 11:11 am

    Excellent article, Alex. Some great points raised. As a writer, I’d have no qualms about having to live in a true tiny space. Writers are artists, but I guess we are lucky in that we don’t need very much space at all for holding a laptop, pen, paper and a coffee maker 🙂 My husband and I are planning to build a 500 sq ft home once we sell our 1200 sq ft home we are currently living in. We are lucky because we both wanted to live mortgage free before getting married. He wanted to buy land and build a simple home. I was into tiny houses. So, we were at least on the same page from the beginning. I’m sure it’s hard for couples where one person is on board, and the other just doesn’t get it. I think a 500 sq ft home would be sufficient for some, if not all, artists.

  • Maja Kricker
    March 3, 2014, 1:44 pm

    I have a 500 sq. foot home with a bedroom and I am an artist. My problem is layout and furnishings. I am planning a sleeping loft so I will have space in the bedroom to store art work and supplies and double as a guest room with a futon. At some point I will try my hand at building a simple murphy bed. The living room can double as a studio very nicely if I can figure out dual use furniture. Does anyone have a design or suggestion for a dual drafting and dining table for four? By the way, I love this discussion because the tiny house community is figuring out how to more efficiently use smaller spaces and unconditioned space. I would love to see more pictures of interiors from artists living and working in small spaces.

  • Jonell
    March 3, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Oh Alex, you are so right. I lived for 3 1/2 years in a very small apartment and when I would get creative (I majored in Art Ed in college) my apartment was such a mess, so eventually, I stopped getting creative. Even though I feel I can live in quite a small space, I NEED space to do my artwork and it is so much better if it is separate. I have said for years that I don’t need a large house to live in, but I need a barn to work in. LOL

  • Ruth Vallejos
    June 12, 2014, 5:06 pm

    A lot of what our hobbies (him – board games and role playing games, me – quilting, painting, crafting) need is not just space but storage. But – does that storage need to be conditioned? Can a water-tight train container do the trick?

    In terms of space: You have to have one space in your house that is big enough to swing a cat in. Seriously. If it’s missing, you begin to feel hemmed in. This is the space where you bind a quilt, or play a board game for 6 – 8. Or, heck, have a party.

    I also like the idea of a craft hut, or a gaming hut. So – perhaps you have the small mobile house, but you come home to a collection of buildings. You have just what you need for the season in the house.

  • Denice Twardy
    September 12, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I too am an artist who’s medium is oil. I paint on anything. I have been doing a lot of research on Tiny Houses on wheels and I came to the conclusion that a tiny house as shown is about $50k (finished). You can buy a 26′ travel trailer for the same with out the glitz and they have bump outs with kitchen “dining benches” which can be ripped out for more space for art. Bunks can be eliminated for art. If I can but one a few years old for $20k what would be the difference? I also rarely hear where people park their homes. Do they use camp grounds or do they buy land? I would think if you could buy land it would be perfect. But I’d like to know of any other options out there I haven’t heard of. I’ll be embarking on this odyssey of my life within the next couple of years. I have the area picked out but haven’t bought the land yet. If I could park the trailer somewhere while I look for land that would be awesome. Any ideas of any kind would be greatly appreciated. I’m done with the city (long time ago) and the burbs. Can’t afford to live in Portland, OR after Mom makes her transition so I need to have my plans ready to go cause her house will sell quickly and that will only give me enough to buy an acre or two. I’m going way out and as off-grid as I feel comfortable.

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