10 Tiny Houses Under 525 Square Feet That’ll Make You Consider Small-Space Living

published Apr 27, 2024
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Some people hoping to cut down on the cost of traditional homeownership look into tiny-home living. These small spaces have everything standard-sized homes do (minus the square feet!) and can help reduce energy costs. One caveat, though: Tiny houses require planning to ensure the space meets your needs. 

The best tiny homes are incredibly functional, mainly because owners know they’ve got to pack lots of wants and needs into a super-small space. Tiny-house owners have likely found helpful tips for this lifestyle too. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite small spaces, with some tiny-house ideas you can use to ensure your space is just right for you. 

What is a tiny home? 

A tiny home is exactly what it sounds like: A house that’s much smaller than a standard-sized home. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the size of a home sold in the U.S. in 2022 was 2,299 square feet. By contrast, most tiny homes clock in at well under 500 square feet

While some people convert vans or trailers into totally livable “tiny homes,” a true tiny house is stationary and features electricity in some form. Some are even hooked up to the grid (while others remain off the grid) and have their own plumbing.

What are the benefits of tiny home living? 

For years, it seemed the American dream was centered around the idea that bigger is better. But more recently, many people have embraced the notion of downsizing and reducing their carbon footprint. The best tiny homes allow you to do this and so much more. In featuring lots of tiny homes in our home tours, here are some other benefits of tiny-home living we’ve identified.

  • Less expensive — that includes not only mortgage, but also utilities and furnishings. This freedom allows you to pursue other passions and interests. 
  • Tiny homes force you to decide which belongings are significant to you. This helps you reduce clutter and unnecessary items. 
  • You’ll need to think creatively about your space and, in turn, will likely come up with clever storage solutions.

10 of the Best Tiny Houses Apartment Therapy Has Toured

If you’re wondering if tiny-home living is for you, you’ll love this roundup of 10 incredible tiny homes that Apartment Therapy has toured. These homes are all featured on our home tours so that you can take a deep dive into the stories behind each tiny home we’ve included below. From a cheery micro-dwelling outside the bustling city of Washington, DC, to a serene cottage in Minnesota, you’ll love these beautiful diminutive dwellings. And hopefully, you’ll come away with some tiny-house ideas you can use. 

1. This Is Definitely the Cheeriest Tiny House of All Time

Planning and consideration were the keys to geographer Lee Pera’s perfectly executed tiny home outside Washington, DC. She worked closely with a designer and did much of her work to make her 145-square-foot tiny home the space of her dreams. 

Although Lee admits she wasn’t the best at organizing before embarking on the tiny house journey, she carefully included smart storage at every turn, like fabric bins and magnetic spice jars. There are also custom furniture pieces that prevent the home from looking cluttered and, instead, flow with a cohesive design. 

See more of this happy space in the full house tour.

Credit: Ryan Tuttle

2. This 331-Square-Foot Tiny House Fits More Things than We Can List in a Headline

When it came time for musician and freelance photographer Ryan Tuttle to design her 331-square-foot tiny home, she had to consider her everyday life carefully. This helped her create a fully functional space that meets all her daily needs with just a fraction of the square footage. 

Elements like an elevated living room, a lofted bedroom with a bathroom directly underneath to save space, and a platform beside her bed that allows Ryan to stand up in her loft increase functionality. Moreover, Ryan stuck with a modern aesthetic throughout her space, with small pops of color to add visual interest. The technique creates a calming space that flows from one living space to another. 

Check out the unique loft space — and other unique tiny home ideas — in the full house tour. 

3. “Tiny Miss Dolly on Wheels” Is the Brightest, Most Charming Tiny House Ever

This charming Australian tiny home, affectionately referred to as “Tiny Miss Dolly,” belongs to Dolly Rubiano Villacorte and boasts more than 100,000 Instagram followers. Perhaps people adore the house because of the abundant greenery or the pretty pastel decor that pops against a primarily white background. Either way, the shabby chic aesthetic is truly enchanting.

Explore this amazing (and famous!) tiny home in the full house tour

4. See Inside a Teeny but Dreamy Off-Grid Tiny House in Hawaii

Because many tiny-house dwellers want to reduce their environmental impact, one of our favorite tiny home ideas is to live off the grid. Shane and Zeena Fontanilla did just that when they incorporated a rainwater collection system, compost toilet, and solar power system into their tiny house in Hawaii

The home’s interior reflects their commitment to nature, with natural wood finishes throughout and a pleasing, neutral color palette full of whites, grays, and a touch of black for a tasteful look. 

Take a look at the full house tour to see how this couple lives completely off the grid.

5. This Small/Cool Winning 280-Square-Foot ADU Is Full of Smart-Small Space Ideas

Tiny doesn’t have to be synonymous with cluttered, dark, or closed-in. Denise Bayron’s light-filled tiny home in Oakland, California, is proof. At only 280 square feet, this small space is impeccably organized and decorated with a neutral color palette. 

It’s impossible to glance through the photos of this house tour and not feel a sense of calm. Bayron maintains a minimalist mindset, eschewing items that could clutter the space. Instead, she invites an abundance of greenery that pops against the neutral walls and floors, giving her home a natural vibe. 

Get tiny-home ideas for storage solutions in the full house tour

6. This Farmer’s Home Consists of a Tiny House, Small Trailer, and Gorgeous Garden

Christiana Paoletti’s 120-square-foot tiny home is nestled on two acres in the redwood forests of Northern California. With its rustic style and abundance of wooden features — including the flooring, ceiling beams (cedar wood that the couple stained white), and many shelving units — it blends into its surroundings. Choosing recycled windows and wood paneling for the home were just some of the sustainable practices this couple incorporated into their tiny house. 

See more in the full house tour

Credit: Jeff Jones

7. A Modest & Modern Tiny Home in a Garage

They say the best ideas are born of necessity, and that’s precisely how Sara and Jeff Jones ended up making a tiny home out of their garage. This 400-square-foot space allowed them to rent their home and live in the garage to benefit their financial situation. The entire space was a DIY project for this handy couple, who chose to keep a modern, industrial vibe for their tiny home. That allowed them to keep the “bones” of the garage and renovate the rest to create a beautiful living space with an open concept and a lofted bedroom. 

Check out the full house tour for more of this beautiful tiny home. 

8. A Perfect Tiny “Modern Shed” in California

Situated on the back of an existing property just outside of San Francisco is this tiny, modern shed. It’s the brainchild of Rebecca Froelich, created from a prefab tiny home by Modern Shed. When designing their home, Rebecca wanted a cohesive layout that flowed easily from one corner to another, as the open-concept layout leaves no room for clutter or chaos. 

The result? The entire space feels like a spa experience. A row of clerestory windows above two sets of French doors lets in ample light. White and neutral decor throughout helps lighten the space, while a cleverly placed hall tree from Anthropologie backs against a curtain to give the bedroom a sense of privacy. 

Check out the full house tour of this light-filled tiny home. 

9. A “Rainbow Bohemian” Tiny Cottage in the Berkeley Hills

If you prefer a colorful, bohemian, or maximalist decor, you may wonder whether a tiny home is right for you. Take it from Rachelle Padgett’s beautifully designed 525-square-foot space: It can be done without looking cluttered or overwhelming. This small space is chock-full of funky accents, vibrant art, and colorful rugs and furniture. The eclectic rainbow hues of the surroundings are offset by white walls and plenty of natural light, thanks to the California sunshine streaming in. 

For more maximalist tiny home ideas, see the full house tour

10. An “Ancient” Garage Was Transformed into a Tiny but Beautiful Cottage

Despite the enduring Minnesota cold, Kate channeled a coastal vibe for her tiny home. The 520-square-foot space began as a garage conversion when she moved home to her parents’ property during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with a contractor, she carefully considered every design decision, creating a space full of neutral, earthy tones. The farmhouse-style tiny home features refurbished pieces like a kitchen island with a salvaged workbench and an ancient Sanico stove. 

Explore more of this serene space in the full house tour