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Small Spaces With Big Hearts: Tiny Yet Beautiful Room Ideas

This is a guest post by writer Ashley Lipman of Best Online Cabinets.  It has been edited for clarity and brevity. 


Small Spaces With Big Hearts

So you’ve got a tiny home: that doesn’t mean it needs to feel tiny. How big your home feels on the inside is to a certain extent a function of your imagination. The bigger your imagination, the greater the potential. We’ll explore simple yet effective ways of giving small rooms a “big room” feel.

Photo: The Lorraine Small House

Breaking Up Sight Lines: Mirrors, Pictures, Dividers, Paintings

Mirrors spread light, and make rooms seem more bright. Additionally, they double what’s visible, so a room feels a lot larger than it actually is. Sight lines are broken up in a minor way, because the corner of the eye sees movement and space, and the mind feels there’s more “over there”, if subconsciously.

Pictures additionally break up sight lines, and can give a tiny space a large “feel”; especially if the pictures themselves have many layers to them. It’s the same with paintings—the more robust or stark, the better.

Dividers also partition space. Think “cubicles”. You could turn a small room into four through partitions, and make each portion of the space dedicated to a given task. Hang pictures, paintings, and mirrors on the varying partitions, and a tiny room can feel like an endless maze of aesthetically comfortable décor. Think of a plus sign inside a square in three dimensions with mirrors everywhere. Suddenly four-hundred square feet feels like sixteen hundred square feet.

Arcadia Tiny House Sleeps 4

The mountain photo from HomeGoods creates the illusion of a long line of sight on an interior wall, serving the same purpose as a window.

Photo: The Arcadia Tiny House

Build Vertically To Maximize Space

Bunk beds and storage are the big considerations here. A bunk bed can also have a couch beneath, and storage under the couch, as well as drawers. Look into furniture of this kind. Put two together for a master bed with a comfortable tiny “theater” space beneath.

You can use the second couch elsewhere. With cabinets, go vertical and skinny. Do the same with drawers. If you’ve got the ability to design your own tiny home, building vertical can give the illusion of space with relatively humble square footage. Essentially, you can double the square footage of your tiny home with vertical design, if you’re clever.

Green River Small House

Building the sleeping loft over the kitchen and bathroom area kept the house’s footprint small.  Additional cabinets built into the interior wall, where there is no insulation needed, provide extra storage for pantry items.  

Photo: The Green River Small House

Design Conforming To Available Space

Owing to the “tiny home” revolution, many people today are making do with less space. Accordingly, the interior design market has shifted to match this trend. Be creative and look into available options that can be conformed to your specific needs in terms of design.

For example, you might have cabinets designed to sit high and leave free space beneath, allowing you to put chairs or other furniture in this area.

Kinderhook Tiny House Sleeping Loft with Storage

There are storage cabinets under the stairs and behind that half-wall in the loft. 

Photo: The Kinderhook Park Model Tiny House

Getting the Most Out Of Your Living Space

Whether you’re living in a tiny home, or you’ve got several tiny rooms that need a little “something” to help them feel livable, there are plenty of good ideas out there. Do a little searching. Surf the web for inspiration. Consider building vertically, and breaking sight lines expands the feel of a space. 


Ashley Lipman

Content marketing specialist

Ashley Lipman is an award-winning writer who discovered her passion for providing knowledge to readers worldwide on topics closest to her heart – all things digital. Since her first high school award in Creative Writing, she continues to deliver awesome content through various niches touching the digital sphere.

Brodie Mobile Office/Studio/Guest House for Sale

We are selling our Brodie Mobile Office, which we used as our sales office for just under a year before we moved to our new factory.

This Brodie was built with upgrades as an office: it was $43,000 when it was built. This 1 year old used model is now $35,000.

Its modern, single-pitched roof maximizes the ceiling height while shedding snow.  This is a versatile, RVIA-certified mobile building that contains all the elements needed to create the perfect office, camper, backyard guest house, art studio, massage room, workshop, she-shed, mobile clinic, or green room.  The Brodie comes with your choice of a wooden or metal staircase.  For a finished look, inquire about adding a deck to the outside.

Dimensions

The Brodie Mobile office is 20′ long and within the maximum road-legal dimensions of 8.5′ wide x 13 1/2′ tall.  It weighs 8,000 lbs.

Features

The main interior room of the Brodie is a versatile open space with skylights and large windows.  White cabinetry with grey poured epoxy countertops provides storage.  The custom-built desk in the photos can be removed if it’s not needed.

The half-bath has a dry-flush toilet, sink and exhaust fan; a freshwater tank and a water heater are hidden in the utility closet next to the bathroom.

  • Electric in-wall heating system with a Nest learning thermostat.
  • Dimmable inset lights are included.

The Brodie is RVIA-certified.

Brodie Tiny House Interior

Brodie Mobile Office

Dry Flush Toilet

 

Tiny House Design Sessions

Ready to schedule a design session for your tiny house? Here’s what to expect.


Before Your Design Session:

1. Choose your favorite tiny house from our catalogue.

Our catalogue has a variety of tiny houses to choose from for all types of lifestyles.  Look through the photos and descriptions and choose your favorite.  You can ask us any preliminary questions about our designs.  We build all of our tiny houses for four-season use anywhere in the United States.  Once you’ve chosen your tiny house design, you’re ready for the next step.

2. Send us the details of your property.

We can’t start customizing your tiny house until we know where the house is going and how it will be used.

Before scheduling a design session, please send us a topographical map or aerial view of your property so we can make sure we’ll be able to deliver your tiny house and place it correctly.  We’ll also need to determine what site work may need to be done before we can deliver your tiny house.  We need to know what utilities (power, water, and waste water) your property has so we will be able to build your tiny house systems accordingly.

If you don’t have land yet, here’s what to look for when buying property for your tiny house.  You’ll need pre-approval from your town to have a tiny house on your property (let them know whether it’ll be used as a primary residence or a guest house) before starting your design process with us.  We want to make sure you won’t have any issues with the building inspector or zoning board of your town after you’ve sunk your time and money into the design!

Or, if you plan to travel with your tiny house like an RV, let us know and we’ll build it slightly differently than a tiny house that’s meant to stay in one place.  We’ll also advise you on the truck capacity you’ll need to tow your tiny house.

3. Get an idea of what materials and colors you’d like in your tiny house and how much you want to spend.

The pricing listed on our website generally reflects what you see in the photos.  The final price of your customized design can change, either up or down, according to what materials you have chosen.  To prepare for your design sessions, look through our photos and videos of our tiny houses and check out the customization options for colors and building materials, which are listed in each category from the least expensive to most expensive.

When you’re ready to schedule your design session, contact us.

Pictured: Floor Plan of the 8.5′ x 30′ Stony Ledge Tiny House 

During Your Design Session:

We’ll start our design session by finding out how you plan to use your tiny house.  Will you travel with it?  Will it be used as a permanent residence, guest house or vacation home?  Do you plan to host visitors?  Do you love to cook?  Is physical accessibility a priority?  We’ll end up designing your house differently according to whether you need water tanks, whether you’ll move your house often, or whether you’ll use solar power, so we like to know up front what your plans are so we can design around them.

Next, we’ll go through all your choices for fixtures, materials, and colors.

After our design session, we’ll spend a week or two creating a quote for you.

 

stony ledge

Pictured: Interior rendering of the Stony Ledge Tiny House.  

After Your Design Session:

We’ll have another short meeting to answer any questions you may have with your quote.  If you’d like to alter it, we will go through the process with you until you’re happy with your quote.

When you’re ready to move forward with having your tiny house built, let us know we’ll send you a construction contract to sign.  Once we’ve received your first payment (or, if you’re financing your build, when your financing comes through to us) we’ll be able to start ordering the materials for your house and building it.  We’ll keep you updated about the status of your build and scheduling delivery, if needed.

Ready To Schedule Your Own Tiny House Design Session?

Image: Completed Kitchen in the Stony Ledge Tiny House.

I Spend All Day Every Day Inside A Tiny House. Here’s What I’ve Learned About Small Space Design.

I work in a tiny house.  More specifically, a mobile office.  Here at B&B, our company has grown faster than our factory has, so now a few of us share the 8 1/2′ x 20′ Brodie Mobile Office for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  During that time, I’ve learned quite a few things about how to best design a small space for maximum working and living.

Here’s what I’ve learned:


Windows and skylights make a huge difference.

Before moving out to the mobile office, I was working inside the factory in a little room we built into the corner of the warehouse.  This room had windows to the factory but no windows to the outside.  Now that I’m in the mobile office and my desk faces two windows, my quality of life has really improved.  The old office, although it was bigger than the mobile office, felt a bit cave-like, and not in the way of grand echoing caverns; it was more like those tiny spaces spelunkers narrated by David Attenborough have to squeeze their bodies into.  Anyhow, with its tall ceilings, skylights, and windows all around, the tiny mobile office, although smaller than the old office, feels way more spacious.

Both for air exchange and light, it’s nice to have windows on all sides of you.  Opening a window at either side of the house creates a nice breeze. Because you’re surrounded by windows rather than looking at one or two walls with windows, the space feels more expansive and airy than a smaller space.

The take home: In a small space, you’re closer to the windows, so they don’t have to be as big as you’d think to provide a huge amount of light and views. Careful placement of windows to maximize light, view and air exchange makes all the difference. 


Choose your floor color wisely.

This goes for any house, not just tiny houses, but it’s something I’ve learned from this particular tiny house so I thought I’d share it here.  I can’t stress this enough: choose a floor color that’s not going to show every single piece of dirt, dust, sand, mud, piece of grass, and microscopic pebble.  This house was photographed on a day when the snow went up to our knees and we mopped the floor just before the shoot.  If we hadn’t, you’d see all kinds of smudges on it.

The absolute best floor for mud-concealment is this grey one with lots of color variation.  This house (the Arcadia Tiny House) has been exhibited on rainy, muddy days with hundreds of people (and double that number of boots!) walking through and you couldn’t even tell it was dirty.

 

Left: The dark floor of the Brodie gets dirty   Right: The varied-color floor of the Arcadia doesn’t show dirt!

The Take-home: If, like me, one of the things about tiny living that appeals to you is your laziness for cleaning, don’t get a floor that’s going to drive you crazy if you don’t mop it every day!  (The bright side is I only have to mop 140 sq. ft!)


Mobile offices are great for greeting customers outside the work area.

Our workshop has six tiny houses being built at a time, with houses, trucks, deliveries, forklifts, et cetera rolling in and out of our factory doors all day.  We don’t generally like to invite visitors inside this active work environment simply because it’s too much of a liability.  Having the mobile office outside as the face of our company allows us to greet customers in a safe environment, free of sawdust, noise and hazards.

The take home: designing your tiny house is the most important thing– but placement of the tiny house can make or break your experience inside.


More people can fit in an 8 1/2′ x 20′ space than you think without feeling claustrophobic.

We’ve had non-claustrophobic meetings with ten people inside.  The level of claustrophobia definitely depends on the amount of stuff inside the house.  Since this is an office, not a home, and most of our files are digital, not on paper, we really don’t need that much stuff inside the mobile office.  We keep architectural samples, like color chips, siding swatches, and stain samples, but other than that pretty much everything’s digital.

Additionally, the objects that we do have are stored inside the cabinetry so they don’t add to visual clutter.

The take home: we live in a world where you no longer have to have a lot of physical stuff.  In a small space, digitize (and back up!) everything.  One might think closed cabinets make a small space feel smaller than open cabinets, but they’re great for hiding clutter.


Get white noise and air exchange for a shared tiny space.

It’s quiet in the mobile office.  Really quiet.  It’s a side effect of being well-insulated.  So during mealtimes it can be a bit… overwhelming for someone who doesn’t like to hear others chewing.  My favorite white noise generator is Celestial White Noise on YouTube.  Ten hours of a gentle hum that you tune out after a minute and don’t have to hear every time your coworker shifts in their chair.

  

Pictured: the mobile office’s in-wall electric heater, which doesn’t include air exchange

I have hot soup for lunch all the time in the winter.  To make sure the mobile office doesn’t then smell like soup for the rest of the day, I always open the restroom door and turn the extractor fan on after eating a hot lunch.  It only takes a couple minutes to return the air in the house to freshness.

Certain heating and cooling systems also include air exchange (ours doesn’t)– I’d recommend getting that if possible.

The take home: get white noise and an extractor fan. 


tiny home brodie mobile office studioTall ceilings and not too much clutter on the walls really make a space feel bigger.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I think it’s worth mentioning the tall ceilings inside this tiny mobile office.  In order to be road-legal, the tiny house has to be under 13 1/2′ tall so it can fit under bridges, trees and power lines.  With the inside floor being just over 2′ off the road, there is still room for a taller-than-usual ceiling inside– and it makes a huge difference!

The take home: Be sure to design your tiny space with as much ceiling height as you can. 

 

 

Are Composting Toilets Allowed in Massachusetts?

Composting toilets and greywater systems can be a great solution for how to deal with waste water.  But are you allowed to use them on your own land in MA?

Spoiler alert: Like pretty much every code, there’s not a single easy answer that applies everywhere.

According to mass.gov, for residential homes: “Title 5 (310 CMR 15.000) allows composting toilets for Remedial Use and also certifies them for General Use in new residential construction where a system in full compliance with Title 5 could otherwise be installed. The local approving authority (typically the Board of Health) must also approve installation of a composting toilet through a Disposal System Construction Permit and Certificate of Compliance. Check with your local Board of Health for its approval procedures.”

Read all the details here:

Source: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2016/08/qm/comptoi.pdf

Note that this doesn’t apply to tiny houses on wheels– only homes that are permanently affixed.

In summary, Title 5 allows for conforming composting toilets and a greywater system in new residential construction where there could otherwise be a septic system.  However, this doesn’t mean it’s allowed in every town.  The local Board of Health will also have to approve it. 

Here’s how to get in touch with your local Board of Health in Massachusetts.

But wait: a composting toilet isn’t the only option for your tiny house!

B&B offers five different toilets for tiny houses on wheels: the best solution for you depends on where you’re parking your tiny house, whether it’ll move, what utilities are available and how often you’ll use your tiny house.  Check out this blog post on the 5 Types Of Tiny House Toilets.

 

 

 

A Look Inside B&B’s Resideo Tiny Smart Home with Honeywell Home Tech

We’ve built a Tiny Smart Home using tech from ResideoHoneywell‘s new spinoff which goes public today.

The Tiny Smart Home is right outside the New York Stock Exchange where Resideo rang the bell this morning, showing off Resideo’s smart home technology.

“As Resideo rings in a new era as an independent company and begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the company is hosting a pop-up experience outside the iconic Financial District landmark to display its top-notch, easy-to-use solutions. The mobile technology showcase is the brain child of Resideo and news-outlet Cheddar, who are joining forces to highlight the intersection between smart home technology and simple living. The Resideo Tiny Home, built by B + B Tiny Houses, serves as the backdrop of a new Cheddar show, which will launch later in 2018 and highlight Honeywell Home’s end-to-end, integrated home solutions on the exterior, on the wall, in the wall and in the cloud.

The 125 square-foot home features Honeywell Home’s professionally installed options, which were slightly modified for the small space, and are available through professional HVAC contractors and home automation and security dealers (through Resideo’s ADI Global Distribution business). The home also includes DIY solutions found at major retailers and www.Honeywellhome.com. The solutions are controlled via simple voice commands or Honeywell Home apps, make the home smarter, cozier, safer, and more efficient.” –resideo.com

If you’re near Wall Street check out our Tiny Smart Home with Resideo technology!  If you’re not near Wall Street, this tiny house will soon be traveling the nation– keep up to date on its whereabouts on Residso’s Twitter or Facebook!

Click the images to enlarge:

Learn More about “The Tiny Home On Wall Street” in this article by Resideo. 

Watch the video of B&B co-founder Jason’s interview about Building The Smart Tiny Home on Cheddar TV.

Creating an Original Tiny House Design vs. Purchasing a Pre-Designed Tiny House

Should You Purchase A Pre-Designed Tiny House or Design It Yourself?

At B&B Tiny Houses, we are often asked if a prospective tiny home owner should buy a custom tiny house or choose from our catalog of tiny house designs. Most of our clients will ultimately decide that they want to customize an existing tiny house design for the reasons below.

Pre-Designed Tiny Houses

Because we have 9 models of pre-designed tiny houses, most prospective tiny house owners will find a plan that will work for them. With this option, B&B customers will get to choose the finishes on their tiny house for no additional cost. This means that clients will have the option of picking the finishes for the interior and exterior of their tiny home: including the roofing, ceilings, walls, fixtures, and floors. The customization process of the pre-designed tiny homes allows owners to add their own style to their tiny house. The pre-designed tiny houses also allow clients the option of changing the blueprint–i.e. adding an extra closet or rearranging kitchen appliances. Read more about our blueprint changes fee.

Perfect for weekend vacationers, the Prospect has a beautiful observatory bedroom with large sliding doors on three sides.

The Sentinel is designed for someone who wants to live tiny but won’t compromise on kitchen space. The kitchen has a full size fridge, oven, and sink, and ample cabinets.

 

Original Tiny House Designs

Customers also have the option of working with B&B’s design team to create an entirely original design.  Original tiny house designs allow you to create the exact tiny home that you’re envisioning, but due to economies of scalei.e. custom houses taking longer to build due to the fact that each one is unique and not able to be mass produced— this option can be quite costly. In addition, with a custom house, there is an extra fee to design the sketches of the home and create an estimate. Read more on original tiny house design fees. Custom plans and builds come at a substantial increase in cost and build time, but they also allow those that are willing to pay more to receive a beautiful tiny house designed for their exact needs and lifestyle. 

Clients can give our designers sketches of their dream home and see their ideas come to life.

 

Ready to begin your tiny house buying process? Fill out the form below to get in touch with us.

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All About Composting Toilets

Composting toilet

Composting toilets are the best option for those wishing to live sustainability and off-grid. Composting toilets will cost more upfront and will require additional steps; however, they also save water, energy, and waste can be recycled as fertilizer.

composting toilet

Good quality composting toilets are relatively odorless. Most of the toilets will have a fan that works to suck out any odor that would emit from the toilet. The toilets usually work by separating liquid and solid waste. Solid waste will go into one chamber that will be mixed with peat moss in order to help break the waste down. If you are staying somewhere where composting is not allowed, you will bag the solid waste in a biodegradable plastic bag and throw it away–much like a baby’s diaper is thrown away. Otherwise, you will be able to use the solid waste as compost. The liquid waste will be stored in a tank that will need to be disposed when it’s full. You can dispose the liquid waste in toilets, RV dump stations, or the ground if you are in a remote place where that is allowed. You will have to dispose of waste every 3-7 days for liquid waste and every 2-4 weeks for solid waste.

Pros

  • environmentally friendly (reduces water/electricity use and creates compost)
  • suitable for off-grid living
  • cheaper in the long run than installing a septic tank
  • odorless (as long as it’s properly installed and well taken care of)

Cons

  • maintenance: the two types of toilets below require little to no maintenance unlike composting toilets
  • you must always have peat moss
  • may not be legal in your municipality: check with your town hall

Other Types of Toilets

We have previously written about other types of toilets in one of our previous blog posts. Three other types of toilets in tiny houses are traditional, macerating, incinerating and dry-flush toilets.

Traditional toilets that are used in houses can be used in tiny houses; however, traditional toilets can’t be used with tanks. This means that your tiny house must be permanently in-place and hooked up to septic or sewer system in order to use a traditional toilet.

Macerating toilets break up waste and toilet paper into a fine slurry that is then expelled into the sewer or septic tank.  The flush mechanism is powered by electricity.  The user experience is the most similar to a regular flush toilet: press the button, water comes into the chamber and flushes the waste away.

toilet tiny home

Dry flush toilets are lined with foil which, when “flushed”, wraps around the waste in a sealed packet, similar to a diaper genie.  The packaged waste can then be thrown out in any trash can just like diapers.  The flushing mechanism is also powered by electricity. For more information on these and our other types of tiny house toilets, read our previous blog post. 

Dry Flush Toilet

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