The thinking behind the tiny house was to have something simple, comfortable, possibly a bit wonky, but affordable and clever.
The term ‘interior design’ conjures up decisions involving colour charts, soft furnishings and pot plants That wasn’t exactly my priority…
My first thought was “how can I best make use of the space?”. I.e. where to cook, eat, relax, sleep and wash?
The overall size of the house was based on the size of the living room in my flat in Scotland (size in metres). As I was familiar with this space it was easy to ’visually translate’ it into the tiny house. I could then say, ok, this corner will be the kitchen, the door goes here, bathroom there, etc.
Next, I used some free software called Archifacile (translated as Easy Architect) to make a dimensioned drawing and firm up on my ideas. These would later change slightly, but I needed to start somewhere.
Archifacile is very intuitive and has a nice catalogue of standard items such as tables and chairs that can be dropped into the drawing.
When I was happy with the floor size and layout, I could move on to the next steps of the project: do more drawings, get planning permission and actually build the house.
The ‘shell’ of the house was completed during the summer of 2019 and fitting out the interior began the following summer.
I have never studied interior design but I am an artist and I know how to draw and paint. Having an instinctive understanding of space and shapes as well as some basic knowledge of how to build things has been a big help.
I’ll cover the specifics of the kitchen, bathroom etc in dedicated blog posts, here I’m just talking about my method, such as it is.
I find it very helpful to make a rough sketch of what I am trying to achieve. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Often it’s just a drawing in ball point pen done the night before a trip to get materials.
The sketch below is typical of this approach!
These drawings are not masterpieces, but they do help get things clear in my head. Putting ideas down on paper means that I don’t have to keep trying to remember how I was going to solve certain problems.
Recently I have been using my iPad with the Procreate App to do some design work in advance of this summer’s building.
My to do list includes fitting out the bathroom, finishing the kitchen area, installing a wood burning stove and water heater and creating some more storage space.
With Procreate I can use existing photographs as a basis for my design drawings. I simply draw a new layer of ‘stuff’ over the photos. This can be as basic or as highly rendered as I want. Some examples are shown below.
Of course, the designs I come up with are also influenced by ideas from forums, blogs, books and YouTube. I try to be sure that the designs can be completed using materials that are readily available, so I constantly consult the websites of local builders merchants and DIY stores as well as the ubiquitous eBay and Amazon.
Because I have an idea that I think will work, doesn’t mean it will actually work. This especially true for things that I have never tried to build before. So I accept that the designs may be liable to change at the last moment. For example, I had started to build some very ‘rustic’ kitchen units myself with a wooden frame and the doors and shelves made from OSB. Part way through the build I realised I didn’t have the skills or the tools required to make something even halfway decent. The idea was scrapped and I compromised by getting ‘normal’ kitchen units with proper doors and working drawers!
On the other hand, sometimes my ideas do turn into reality without much of a hitch. The mezzanine sleeping area is one such example. It went together as planned, even down to the home made ladder from scrap wood that hooked onto the wall when not in use.
From the beginning I had a fairly good idea of how I wanted the house to look and feel. As the build progressed, it was easy to judge if my work was in harmony with this or not.
The walls were going to be limewashed (healthy, cheap and nice to look at). There would be a fair amount of wood for some visual warmth. I didn’t want anything too flashy, modern or shiny. Handmade design details, simply done, clever and ‘good enough’ were to be welcomed.
So far, so good. It’s gone the way I wanted.
The jury is somewhat out on my retro PVC sofa bed though! It’s not very ‘natural’ and it’s not what you’d expect in a wood cabin or country cottage. However, it was available, it was cheap and it exactly fitted the space (and I have a love for the 1970’s and all things beige or tan). So it got the nod. Time will tell whether I stick with it.
The cladding on the bathroom wall was made from leftover wooden planks, cut to equal widths and quickly sanded. The weathered appearance is because they had been lying around outside for a year. Some had even been used for wheelbarrow ramps and other walkways! The variety of shades was perfect and I was really pleased with how it turned out. I didn’t plan it in advance, but by thriftily using what I already had I got a result 100% in keeping with the desired look.
Likewise, the small kitchen shelves were made from leftover planks, screwed together and fixed to the wall with simple corner brackets. They were painted with ‘chalk paint’ that I found at a discount store.
This paint had a soft, natural look and the colour was an almost perfect match with that of the kitchen units. Unlike ready bought items, the shelves were made to fit the space available. Although a minor item, these little shelves were tremendously satisfying to make and install. Simple, hand made, inexpensive and ’good enough’, they sum up well the interior design of the whole house!