A tiny home is your life’s most personal purchase. Smaller than a conventional home, a tiny home must be tailored to fit your lifestyle in a much more precise way.
Tiny homes free up your mental space, free up your finances, and free up your time – but you can’t enjoy these benefits if the home isn’t comfortable for you.
We asked tiny home builders across Canada about the details they are most proud of – features that allowed their customers to live a full life in a tiny home.
Chances are, your 300-400 square foot space will be doing some multi-tasking. And, as working from home continues to be common lifestyle choice, our home spaces are working harder than ever.
Some tiny home buyers come to their builder with specific requests, such as the need to combine a bedroom area and a working area in one.
Canadian Tiny Homes’ clients had a vision that incorporated many different uses for their tiny home. “Our clients approached us with a unique set of requirements for their custom tiny home: they needed a comfortable home office full of natural light, a welcoming guest suite, and additional storage space, all within a limited amount of square footage.
Our design team rose to the challenge, crafting a custom tiny home that maximized functionality and versatility. The interior space was thoughtfully designed to include a gorgeous workspace with an abundance of natural light, complemented by a cozy gas fireplace for ambiance and warmth.
We included a well-appointed kitchenette perfect for brewing workday coffees or preparing guest meals. Additionally, we incorporated a main floor bedroom area with privacy and ease of access in mind. To provide additional storage space, we added a large loft area accessible via a handcrafted solid fir ladder. The final 24’ x 8.5’ custom tiny home is a beautiful and functional reflection of our client’s unique requirements, seamlessly combined into a practical and stunning haven.”
Teacup Tiny Homes works in more functionality by using a Murphy Bed in the tiny house. When the Murphy Bed is in the upright position, a desk automatically unfolds on its underside. A sliding barn door completes the concept with a bit of privacy without sacrificing square footage.
Acorn Tiny Homes designed a space that combined a home office and bedroom in the same footprint. “This home was all about elevating the homeowners lifestyle. As a young professional, she was looking to move out of her parents house and gain a little more independence and quiet while she was studying for law school. With only a small property footprint with which to place the tiny home on, the client needed a large impact in a small space. Enter the elevator bed. Much like the murphy bed, an elevator bed allows for you to hide your bed away when not in use. However, with an elevator bed there is no bulky cabinetry to shrink the feel of your home. Using a mechanical winch and boat rated pulleys, we designed a complex system to allow for simply movement of the bed when not in use, freeing up an enormous amount of space for her dogs to play and her to stretch out for exercising.”
Stretching the limits
Summit Tiny Homes’ client wanted a cottage that could welcome 8 people. Summit ended up designing for nine sleeping spots. “Liza came to us searching for the perfect summer cottage for her and kids to enjoy by the lake. After hearing her wish list and dreams of a summer cottage in the woods, we knew we could give her exactly what she needed.
Her requests were simple to us, it had to be luxurious, flooded with natural light and had to sleep up to 8 people. This customer wanted her kids to build memories and to have the ultimate “sleepover” destination for her kids friends. We put in bunks in the kids’ room (sleeps 4), full main loft (sleeps 2), a secondary sleeping loft with transformable day bed over the bathroom (sleeps 2) and a couch that could adapt to accommodate sleeping to have an “overflow” sleeping area.”
Making sure you can continue doing what fuels you is an important aspect of tiny home happiness. That’s why Fritz Tiny Homes took the time to design the clients’ fitness needs into the very structure of the home.
“Our client wanted to fit a peloton bike into her tiny home. We designed this micro gym to perfectly fit her bike and support a full life. A custom coffered walnut ceiling gives the right headroom when she stands up on the bike. The awning windows bring the outside in and expand the space, giving the feeling of riding outside. Custom shelves for workout gear and built-in storage for other items make this tiny space functional for everyday use. We believe that you do not need to sacrifice to live tiny but that a tiny home should support a full life.”
Can you have a garage in a tiny home? Yes! TimberNorth Homes created a space that answers their clients’ lifestyle needs while also serving as an attractive short-term rental while they are traveling.
“Our clients’ main objective for building a tiny home in their backyard was to downsize, have the ability to travel, and generate a second income. Their tiny home has allowed them to live a completely new lifestyle. They’re now able to travel when they please and make money while doing it through their new rental property. This luxury tiny home gives them a single door garage to store vehicles and miscellaneous items, an at home gym on the main floor, with living quarters above.”
What about a hidden doorway behind a bookcase that leads to a secret patio? Acorn Tiny Homes designed Sherloak Homes with the perfect blend of functionality and playfulness.
“Every child (and most adults) dream of hidden rooms and passageways in their home. Sherloak homes was about making these childhood dreams a reality, but in true Tiny House fashion, it had to be functional and multi-use. Accessed through a false light with a pressure plate underneath, one only has to press down on the lamp for it to unlock the bookshelf and open the door. While the bookshelf is made of a beautiful riftsawn white oak, the door itself is an exterior insulated door as it takes you onto a 3 season gazebo built into the space.
By doing this we were able to achieve a very masculine vibe and create a unique and separate space for the homeowners enjoyment. This built on gazebo was important to the homeowner, since as a member of our military, they have to relocate their home every 3-5 years, and by including this built in space they are able to ensure they can take advantage of deck life no matter where they end up being posted.”
Storage = happiness
Creative storage solutions are always a part of a great custom tiny home design.
Sometimes the bathroom and closet are more than just functional. Teacup Tiny Homes know the value of these spaces to peace of mind and wellness and turn them into poetry.
“The client wanted customized space for her wardrobe, and also wanted a peaceful space to relax and enjoy the view. We created these space together by removing the shower to accommodate the small soaker tub in our signature Teacup bayed bathroom option and extending the Margo plan, longer to make room for the closet.”
Designing for their own family, Acorn Tiny Homes created the Domek to have a full chest freezer to complete their kitchen. “The corner freezer is all about showing that a tiny house doesn’t have to feel tiny or force you to live tiny.
By taking what would have otherwise been wasted space in the home, we designed a modular countertop that allows for ease of access to the freezer underneath. This allows the homeowner to take advantage of costco style bulk shopping, while avoiding the unattractive look that most deep freezers give to a space. Bonus, the space is designed so that only a few screws need to be taken out to allow for the removal of the countertop cover, and then the subsequent lifting out of the freezer (empty) for service or replacement.”
VedaHawk Tiny Homes wanted to add more storage in an unconventional way: “When I built my first tiny house, I wanted it to have something unique that I had never seen before. Tiny homes are all about efficient use of space, it is the number one rule. Take all the amenities of a traditional home and pack them into a tiny house… Efficiently. I realized that the volume footprint of the loft framing could be utilized for storage while still maintaining the structural integrity of the bunk. I had never seen this before, so I designed these pneumatic drop-down storage blocks. While they are not designed for heavy storage, they work great for things like clothing, towels, extra blankets, and pillows. This was my first version of this feature. The next time I build them, each one will be electrically controlled with a switch, and will also be rated for heavy weight storage.”
Living tiny to be close to family
When the housing conversation centers around affordability and being close to family for health reasons, tiny homes can be an excellent solution.
Petite Homes is building an Additional Dwelling Unit in Essex, Ontario.
“Our client had long desired to live with her family and needed an elegant solution. After consulting with us we designed her the Craftsman that could easily fit in her son’s backyard providing her space and her own privacy. We also designed the unit to be accessible, allowing her to easily move around in a wheelchair if needed. Her tiny home will be complete near the end of March, and we are excited to see this family all together!”
Ballance Containers says, “Our client wanted a small laneway suite for her brother who had health and mobility problems and could no longer work.
She had been subsidizing his rent of a bachelor apartment but could no longer afford it. When she heard about the laneway program in Toronto, she thought having her brother close with his own independent space would be best.”
Tiny homes and the Ontario Building Code
When designing a tiny home in Ontario, the Ontario Building Code and local municipal city officials can be even more demanding “customers” than the customer him/herself. However, satisfying their requirements brings the project success in the long run.
Whiterock Tiny Home Solutions built their prototype tiny home working closely with City of Cambridge planners to interpret the Ontario Building Code for a tiny home. “Our client and partner, the municipal planners, are requesting tiny home plans that meet the stringent requirements of the Ontario Building Code (OBC).
Having a tiny home built to OBC standards ensures comfort and peace of mind for permanent 4 season living. Of course, designing and building a tiny home in this way has not been without its challenges. The OBC has until now not been formulated with tiny homes in mind, however creative solutions have been developed. Examples of the unique challenges, working with a 2 stage permit process for homes 37m2 or less, creative use of space because sleeping lofts are not permissible, and minimum size requirements for bathroom, bedroom and combination living/dining and kitchen space. The good news is that we now have several plans that meet this rigorous standard.”
Redwood Homes was one of the trailblazers of tiny homes in Ontario, introducing the concept into the Ontario Building Code. “We were fortunate to work with the province of Ontario and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and have a continued dialogue that found solutions to a number of barriers to tiny home construction.
Through a number of practical conversations over the past 4 years, the Province was committed to removing the obstacles that were in the way from building affordable housing and listened to people in the field about what those obstacles were.
In 2019, the province produced a tiny home guide that allowed for and recommended the use of tiny homes as a means to help address the housing shortage in Ontario. We were fortunate to have pictures of our first prototype build included in that publication.”
Getting to design your own tiny home
The best part of buying a custom tiny home can be just that – having a say in designing your own home.
Tiny homes are unique that way – how many people, outside of the super-rich, can say that their home was created around their personality, their quirks, and their dreams?
Stattonrock’s client felt empowered by the process of designing a tiny home just for herself. “I’ve found a lot of pride and empowerment throughout the process of designing a tiny house, especially as a young woman.
I had such a clear vision of what I wanted and was able to hand select every finishing touch and then watch the Stattonrock team make my vision come to life. Being allowed to be so selective in my choices makes my decor so meaningful to me. I feel so at home in my tiny house. Tiny living has added so much joy to my life. I love it so much; it’s more than I could have hoped for. Even though I live in a small physical space, I find I have so much more mental space for things that make me happy, a big one being spending time outside.”