Smart Small Space Lessons from a Tiny But Stylish Airstream

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

200 square feet is a stunningly little amount of space to share with someone else, but Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw aren’t just pulling the feat off, they’re making it look good. The Airstream trailer they live in — nicknamed the Tin Can Homestead — packs a lot of style and function in its very small footprint. And whether you live in a tin can, a small home or a “regular” sized space, you can steal some of these smart storage and styling ideas for your home.

Hang what you can

Good lighting and bountiful plants can make any type of home feel cozy, and these elements work just as well when you hang them from your ceiling. This way, you save precious floor and tabletop space, as well as add visual interest and height to your space.

Nest/stack double-duty tables/stools

Double-duty furniture is always a sensible choice for small spaces, since you can get more that one function out of one single piece of furniture. But take that to the next level and find double-duty furniture (like a great stool that can act as both extra seating and a side table) that can stack on itself, nest under something else…or both! Above, the couple found a metal and leather footstool, but I’ve always loved the simplicity and versatility of these wood stools.

Style small things using different heights

One way around a small home feeling overwhelmed by stuff is to style wisely. Cake stands and free-standing shelves placed on horizontal surfaces can allow you to accessorize to your heart’s desire without making it feel like you need to clean your table off.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Use containers/trays for clutter

You can also consider trays to “contain” collections. All your dish-washing accouterments will look much more organized by simply placing them all inside one wooden tray.

Instead of shoving all your coffee supplies into a corner of your kitchen counter, place everything on a tray and you’ll look like you have your life in order.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)
(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Hooks are your versatile best friend

Wall hooks can be the perfect thing you need for hanging coats, hats and other outwear. They can help keep towels off the floor. And a wall-mounted bar with hooks in a kitchen can make room for any number of tools. Hooks can even be installed under shelves for more storage. Natasha and Brett got the brass rail and hooks in their kitchenette from Schoolhouse Electric.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Make the storage you do have ultra efficient

In Natasha and Brett’s kitchenette, the lower cabinets have been transformed by installing pull-out drawer baskets (you can find similar ones at The Container Store). The pull-out drawers make sure every inch of cabinet space is being used wisely, and the choice of a wire basket means you can see what you have stored easier.

→ Organizing Zen: How to Organize Your Under-Sink Cabinet

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Make littering your small home with dirty clothes impossible

Ask anyone who lives in a small home, and they’re tell you that even one dirty pair of jeans on the floor can make the entire space seem unbelievably messy. You can keep that from becoming a problem by buying or making a hidden hamper solution you’ll actually use. Can you spot the DIY hamper in Natasha and Brett’s home?

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Don’t waste the space under your bed

Whether you buy a bed frame that comes with storage, or create storage using baskets and boxes, there’s no excuse for not claiming the space under your bed for storage.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)