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Japanese ‘Meditation-style’ Zen Tiny House

One of my favorite new tiny house builders is the Oregon Cottage Company led by architect Todd Miller.

This tiny home that I’m showing you today was completed for a client of his who wanted a home that she could afford and love. She also grew up in Japan, so she wanted something that would really make her feel at home.

She really wanted a tea room. But this is a huge challenge when you’re designing a 134-square-feet house. So Todd proposed to combine the living space with the tea room. And it worked!

There’s a built-in warming hearth for the tea kettle on the floor and all of the mechanics are hidden underneath. Plus there’s even some storage that you can use underneath this area for other things. Let me show you.

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Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

Images: Oregon Cottage Company

Looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? I encourage you to take a look inside, too, below:

Tiny Home… Japanese Style

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

In the photo above you can see how the tea/living area’s floor is slightly elevated. This creates just enough space for some bonus storage along with a neat way to disguise the mechanics of the floor heater for the tea kettle.

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

And if the heating system ever has any issues, you’d be glad to know you can easily flip the panel up to work on it. I love this. Finally in the shot below you can see the drawers opened to reveal the bonus storage underneath this floor area.

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company


Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

The kitchen is super tiny but actually very functional with its 5′ oak countertop, double burner, large sink, and refrigerator. Opposite the kitchen is the dining area.

Sleeping Loft Accessible by the Kitchen

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

You can access the sleeping loft (bedroom) with the custom red oak ladder you see above. Once you get up there you’ll notice that the bed is made out of just three tatami mats which are probably one of the world’s thinnest mattresses. Great for tiny house sleeping lofts, right? I’d say so as long as you can manage to sleep on something so thin.

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

Unique Built-in Lighting for Small Spaces

Lighting throughout the house is built into the walls and the ceilings (in one area there’s lighting directly built into the underside of a custom shelf).

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

Anyway, let me take you back downstairs so you can finally see the bathroom. Greywater is handled just like in most RVs in this house while the blackwater waste is handled by the composting toilet you see below:

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

And then there’s your classic Japanese style soaking tub which is perfect for a tiny home. And of course, they added a shower head above so you can double the use as a shower and not just a tub.

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

So to wrap things up the home is located in Marcola, Oregon if you’re curious. Cedar was used for siding int he exterior and it came from a local mill. Glues were avoided as much as possible during construction to keep a nontoxic environment. Also, most of the materials are low- and no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Japanese style tiny house by Oregon cottage company

Images: Oregon Cottage Company

So far energy bills for this house have been around $20 a month or less! It was built on wheels so that the client can enjoy the freedom to go where she wants when she wants. But for now she’s settled on a private plot of rural land with permission and she plans on staying there for the next few years.

This house was built for $34,800 which included materials, labor and design fees.

If you’d like to learn more about Oregon Cottage Company and architect Todd Miller I encourage you to head on over to their site to see their current tiny houses and plans.

What would you change, add or remove to make this Japanese style tiny house more livable for you? Or is it good as is? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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{ 64 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Cahow

    The Comments are back! The Comments are back!!!! Yeah!!!!!:D

    Sublime simplicity. Brilliant design. I was brought to a point of relaxation, merely gazing at the photos. THIS is an example of a person who did the homework to the last inch of planning and hired the right professionals to implement her dreams. LOVE IT!!!!

    • Avatar Ellen

      This is one of the most beautiful tiny houses I’ve seen.

    • Avatar Ralph Sly

      Having withdrawals are we Cahow? LOL. I like the little place too, different and to each their own. If one could live without possessions this would be the style to do it.

    • Avatar Lynnette

      Hi Cahow! No room for an area rug though 😀 😀 I agree this is a great little space and the little soaker tub is just what the doctor ordered for me! Love it.

      • Avatar Cahow

        Greetings, Lynnette! Yes, you’re right: nary a spot for a cozy and colourful area rug…more’s the pity. LOL However, I think the 3 tatami mats might qualify. 😀

        • Avatar Lynnette

          Hiya!!!! I do adore toss rugs. They are easy room pick me ups and you can wash them or replace them when you want to change things up. I would need a nice memory foam mat…something around 4-6 inches to lay my weary body on. I am IN LOVE with that soaker tub.

  • LaMar Alexander LaMar

    Nice job guys!

    I have always admired Japanese style and simplicity. I like that kitchen unit.


  • Avatar Garth

    I’m not crazy about the Japanese touch, but the house is _very_ attractive!

    • Avatar Cahow

      I can understand your opinion, Garth. What other’s drool over, sometimes misses the boat, for me.

      My step-dad served in the Korean War and my brother in Vietanam. When they came back from their tours, they brought a lot of influence from Asia, home with them. I guess it was that influence during my childhood that helped me love the Asian influence in styling, food and music.

  • Avatar Erica

    I just wanted to point out that tatami is a type of flooring, not a mattress. Those 3 mats in the loft are the floor, not the bed. Japanese futons are typically the “bed” of choice in tatami bedrooms. Futons are thin mattresses that are put right on the floor at night, and are usually folded up in thirds and stored in a closet by day (in order to let the tatami breathe). They’re thin, but surprisingly comfortable. Also, tatami floors are always raised a few inches, so you can take your shoes off before stepping on it (you never wear shoes on tatami), so it’s not just to hide the mechanics.

    • Avatar Alex Pino

      Thanks Erica I appreciate you pointing that out!

      • Avatar Mame

        Erica’s explanation was exactly my experience in Japan, when I spent a month there in ’95. The Japanese people really do fold their beds up and put them away in the morning 🙂
        Also, I might add, that the very thin futons were perfect sleeping surfaces. I suffer from arthritis in my spine and had so much fewer problems when I was sleeping on those thin futons! The only difficult part is remembering to remove shoes every time you enter a tatami room — overall, I loved the experience and also love this tiny house, except the kitchen. For me, I would require more cabinetry. The tubs were wonderfully deep but altogether too short for my 5’9″ frame.

  • Avatar Richard

    I like the Japanese look inside, the outside, however, seems too western. A similar concept could be used with a Korean ”hanoak” style house, and the raised portion of the floor could be a ceramic stove….for more extreme climates. The outside still disappoints me, though. Perhaps with a different, more pagoda-like, roof line and a wrap-around porch on pilings…. The imagination figments! My drafting table is still in storage, must get to that.

    • Avatar SnowWright

      I agree. I think that a Korean motiff would be great. I live in Korea in a very small teacher studio apt, and I love the handol floor heating. A Korean-style stone (heated marble floor) like the ones used in public bath houses in Korea would be great. I love the soaking tub. Private tubs in home bathrooms, and kitchen ovens in private homes are not common place over here. Also, I was wondering about laundry, and especially, how winter time laundry is done. I’d maybe add a small, low water, washer, builtin drying racks, and an iron board that retract and hides away. Are there hidden solar panels, air filtration, or rain water collection, and water recycling pumps in use that I just don’t see? I think I would find a light way to skirt it with removable skirting, so the wheels don’t show and maybe sprinkle a few Asian styled raised garden beds around and maybe an Asian style pond and bench. I alway have an idea or two…I love to design and create. ~ Snow

  • Avatar Kite

    I like this just as is. Uncluttered, peaceful, light and thoroughly beautiful.

  • Avatar Jimmy B

    Being half way through my 60’s i’d go with No Loft and use the tatami room for the Bedroom also. doing away with the loft will add a feeling of more space even though you would loose the loft area space. i do think it is a great unit.

    • Avatar Ralph Sly

      I am with you when it comes to sleeping in those lofts Jimmy. However I had a large one in this suite a couple of years ago, took it out but I’m going to put it back in if for no other reason that light storage.
      Alex, your pop ups, slide outs, or whatever they are irritates the hell out of me even more than my being in my own company does.

      • Avatar Garth

        I would especially urge putting the pop-ups over in the corner (like one of the tiny-house sites does– I can’t remember which one) where they don’t suddenly block what we’re trying to read. On some of these sites, it always asks me to sign up for the email news, when being on the email list was what brought me to the web page in the first place! I’m not getting a pop-up right now but sometimes there’s a big one right over the top of everything. I don’t know which of the tiny-house sites it is. I might not have my pop-up settings consistent.

        • Avatar LoriDA

          I don’t understand about “pop ups” and “slide outs”. Thought you were referring to an RV! Then I realized your screens are being obstructed by
          that kind of pop up. I use a pop up blocker on my Firefox and very, very
          rarely ever get one of those annoyances, thus not seeing what you are seeing. Hope I am allowed to say this here. If not please remove. Not advertizing for Firefox. Most browsers have blockers.

        • Avatar Garth

          I use firefox too, and don’t get the irritating advertisements, but many sites cause a window to come up right over the middle of everything asking if you want to subscribe, before you’ve had a chance to even see if you like what you’re reading! What I was mentioning above though is when they ask if you want to subscribe, after you got there by way of a link in the email.

    • Avatar Garth

      At age 53 I can still bounce up the stairs/ladder, but ever since sleeping in a loft in a cabin in my childhood, I’ve wanted a loft doggonnit, even if I (or more likely my wife) need an elevator to get there! (Even if you don’t sleep in it though, it makes a lot of sense for storage.)

    • Avatar Zen guy

      Yes nice design elements with raised space for tea service. Good use of kitchen too. Would have added a Murphy bed or fold out bed instead of head banging in a loft. Open ceiling would have created more spaciousness to the small space .

  • Avatar Donald

    Stove is too close to the ladder…anything on the bottom of your feet falls into the stove area…other than that everything looks Picture Perfect.
    Very Nice…☺

  • Avatar Ralph Sly

    Thanks Garth. I will find the kids some place that might know how to reset these things I’m using my phone more often to check my emails and things so wanna pop up comes on this it covers everything and the little axe to cancel it out always seems to run away from the stylist or whatever this thing is all about. A kid will figure it out for me. Yes you are so right it’s ironic the thing that brought you to the site is the thing that becomes the irritant.

    • Avatar Sistah Sunshine

      LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! Though i have to agree with outside style not matching. Would love to have a tiny studio for sewing and art!!

  • Avatar Cahow


  • Avatar Cahow

    Is anyone else getting random blockage of either “Reply” or “Comments?” With no pattern, I’ll get a page that says “Blocked by firehost”.

    Alex? A glitch?

    • Avatar Garth

      Yes, I got it yesterday, and lost and had to re-type my comment, and then it went through.

    • Avatar Alex Pino

      Hey thanks for letting me know, looking into it now!

      • Avatar Cahow

        Thanks, Garth, for adding weight behind my question. And thanks, Alex, for looking into it. I’ve received that notice quite a bit on Tiny House Pins, so often that I don’t make any comment on that site any longer. HERE, it’s happened randomly.

        I just hate to have someone lose their time and comment without first backing it up by hitting COPY. I do that now, sadly, on my posts at this site. Live and Learn, I guess.

        • Avatar Alex Pino

          Aw man, I’m so sorry to hear that. Doing some more research to see if I can fix the problem. Thanks again for more info on it.

        • Avatar Alex Pino

          Next time it happens to you, if it does, can you please let me know if it gives you an “Event ID”.

          And if it does, can you pass it on to me? This will help big time if you do get the error again.

          But I have made some adjustments to server and hope that they’ve resolved the problem.

          Thanks so much for your help and patience!


  • Avatar Cahow

    Alex: HOW do you want to be notified of the “Event I.D.” number? Before I read your post, it happened to me again, twice, on another blog post of yours. I’d suggest copying and pasting the info but….trying to post it in Comments won’t work as it’s the Comments that are reverting to the firehost warning. I’d suggest an email to you but when you were hacked, I sent you and email and got it back, saying your “mailbox was full.”

    I’m glad to help, as I’m sure others are, too. We just need to know HOW to post the info you need if we’re having trouble posting to begin with.

  • Avatar Linda Lyons-Bailey

    I LOVE this! Especially the extra storage under the floor, and the tub.

  • Avatar Lisa

    Aesthetically this is gorgeous… but: Unless you are brought up Japanese or have spent time over there, I don’t know about how practical this would be for westerners. As for myself, my first question was, “Where do I put my seasonal clothing?

    However, I saw some things I really liked: (1) the soaking tub, yes! (2) what looked like a security bubble on the outside by the front door (on the left); very important for females living alone, (3) flip up interior window shutters (for additional night time security or for when you want to take an afternoon nap and need to block out the sun; excellent idea!) (4) love the raised floor that allows for bedding storage and easy access to equipment for maintenance (I’ve also seen a machine shed built out over the tongue with doors and locks for easy access to equipment; loved it!) and (5) for me, I love the dormer roof line that ameliorates that claustrophobic feeling.

    I’m with Tommy Tangquary; climbing to lofts on a ladder on a regular basis is no longer in the cards, I’m planning on a staircase with drawers underneath, a staggered floor plan (which removes all windows from one wall to accommodate the staircase, or a hand crafted tiny spiral staircase,) using space from the great room to accommodate those stairs. This would be the “Senior’s” floor plan.

  • Avatar Harper

    Oh, wow. This house is sublime. I just love it. It’s a work of art, which is in my opinion, the only way to go with a tiny house! What a reasonable price, too!

  • Avatar AL

    yes I luv it…simple and unique lookin 🙂

  • Avatar Jubie

    Heating? Or is it like the typical Japanese home, shunning insulation and heating for a kotatsu? Won’t work in many climates due to pipes freezing.

    And a second on where you found the bath. I’d love to put one of those in my tiny guest house. Thanks

  • Avatar Sarah Ethridge

    Help! I am looking for Japanese style soaker tubs, ofuros, or tiny bathtubs for a 48″ by 36″ space. I live 2 1/2 hours away from Houston and Dallas but don’t know which stores would have these items. Any help would be MUCH appreciated!

  • Avatar Shannon

    Love this house, and the comments here. For me, I still need a larger kitchen; higher ceilings; more glass/windows/skylight; prefer the staircase with storage beneath; prefer Japanese exterior (Korean mentioned sounded nice, too); and while the traditional Japanese soaker tub sounds nice for blending in with the design, when I soak I want someplace comfortable, with the slanted back to lean back for relaxing or reading. This design was perfect at 134′, though I might design something a little larger and maybe forego the wheels. This was a great read.

  • Avatar Caroline

    where can you find one of these Japanese tubs? Is there a web site?

    • Avatar Elle Kelsheimer

      I would also like to know ^

  • Avatar Misti B

    Hi hi, could you please tell me where I could find this lovely little tub? I live in a 1 car garage that I converted myself, & the idea of a long soakie bath really makes me happy.. 🙂

    • Andrea Andrea

      Hmm, let’s see what we can find. We’d love to see pics of your cozy converted garage 🙂

  • Avatar Aldene

    At this point I’m going to have to build a thousand tiny houses just to be able to incorporate all the wonderful design ideas I’ve seen. I love this Japanese-style home.

  • Avatar Lisa E.

    Mmmm… great atmosphere! Just truly beautiful and inviting. I’ll have some misoshiru, oyako dombodhi, a little shabu shabu, and finish off with some kushi danko. Domo arigato!

  • Avatar Elizabeth

    Stairs…not just for seniors! I’m 38 and have had arthritis for 8 years, so a ladder is not an option for a lot of people. Looked at signaturehardware.com eBay and Amazon for some beautiful Japanese Soaking tubs, but pricey, and I’d be concerned about the added weight if on wheels. I’ll probably opt for a therapeutic walk-in tub/shower combo: (Link Expired). I am a tea lover, so the inside design of this house is quite appealing, but I agree with others above, there seems to be a disconnect between the inside and outside design. The outside is beautiful, it just doesn’t flow to the inside…

    Keep ’em coming Alex, I’m getting so many great ideas!! I live this site!

  • Avatar Elizabeth

    *Love. I love this site. Soon, I will live it, but for now, I may only love it.

  • Avatar Elizabeth

    *Love. I love this site. Soon, I will live it, but for now, I may only love it. Happy Simple Living, Everyone!

  • Avatar Elizabeth

    Love. I love this site. Soon, I will live it, but for now, I may only love it. Happy Simple Living, Everyone!

  • Avatar Susanne

    Lovely, different, but I would need a Western style Living room…or, at least put Morracon style seating on the floor though using Japanese inspired materials…

  • Avatar Elle

    This looks so peaceful and welcoming -so typical of Japanese design. I love the under-floor storage.

  • Avatar Jeff

    A potential “compromise” for those of us not fond of ladders and needing a bit more western-ish seating would be to have the LR/tea room also function as the BR, using the futons not only as mattresses, but also as back rests folded up against the walls. I would also make sure that the entire raised floor was accessible for storage, not just the drawers & one section shown in the photos above. Of course, that could already be the case & simply not shown.

    I surely do appreciate the clean lines & lack of clutter, even if it is a bit too spartan for where I’m currently at…it is definitely inspirational!

    Kind of agree with the comments about the exterior not quite harmonizing with the interior…not sure how I’d modify it though. Have to let the whole thing marinate for a while.

    Loving the site and amazing variety shown on this site! There’s almost always a tid bit or two in every post that I’d like to stea…uh…incorporate in my “ultimate TH” design…

  • Avatar Kay

    I love the way the ladder follows the lines of the roof…so Japanese. As always, they show such simplicity of design…

  • Avatar Norm Landes

    Having trained in dojos for years and having lived with woman from Japan for twenty-five years, I appreciate this house. I, however, do have three suggestions. First, not everyone needs a hibachi to heat water for tea or perform traditional chanoyu tea ceremonies. On the other hand a nice wood burning stove–perhaps one of the modern Nordic cylindrical ones or something more traditional–might find a place somewhere in the home. Second, to live full time in a home like this, I would need a place to 1) eat everyday meals, 2) write, and 3) work on various kinds of projects. Perhaps a Japanese kotatsu (a low table that traditionally has a source of heat under it along with a quilted covering to capture the heat) might do. On the other hand, kotatsu–to me–seem very dangerous unless they use a modern, heat emitting, electric lamp, but this may not be practical if you are off the grid and running on batteries. Hence, the freestanding wood stove would again serve to heat the place. Lastly, some Japanese households use tansu as both a storage device and as a staircase to upper levels. Perhaps the ladder could be replaced by a tonsu so that the house has some more storage capability. Just some ideas which may or may not be of any use to anyone but me.

  • Avatar Suze O

    Wow! It was hard to think this was only 134 sq ft – it was so spacious-looking! A true how-to-have-more-with-less example. This isn’t just a dwelling, it’s a meditation retreat!

  • Avatar suz

    I saw a tiny house that had a bump-out at the tongue of the the flat bed for the soaking tub/shower unit. This was good use of floor space.

  • Avatar Chikako Suzuki

    Very cool design. I like it a lot. Just so you know, tatami is not a mattress. It’s hard and you still need a mattress or futon to sleep on.

  • Avatar Laura

    We love this tub & cannot find anything this small. I posted on another tiny house article, but does anyone know who manufactured this tub? We can’t find anything this small.

  • Avatar Jennifer

    Tatami mats… Genius. Was trying to think of a very inexpensive, easy floor covering. Tatami mats are the perfect thing under your feet, especially by your bed. So clean feeling, such a nice, warm texture, easy care, easy replacement… perfect. Especially for Hawaii tropical weather. (Though, the article suggests these tatami mats are used as a futon? Idk about that). There’s so much simplicity and sustainability inherent in Japanese design. This is just lovely. Smart and subtle, warm and cozy, crisp and concise.

  • Avatar Vanessa

    I love this house. I hope when I get a house it could be designed like this. ? Is their blueprints available for this?

  • Avatar rebecca

    Love this design, very much one of my favorites I have seen so far.

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