by Andrew Odom
During the course of our nearly 3-year tiny house build we spent a lot of time thinking about the inside. Where would we sit? Where would the bed go? How would the kitchen work best and in what layout? But what we didn’t think about was what colors our walls would be. We never asked ourselves if the house would be too bright with our large skylight. Besides the electrical outlet placement in specific spots for things like our small computer/TV monitor, the pump for our SleepNumber bed, and the hidden plug for our iPad and iPhone charging needs, we didn’t once think about whether or not we would hang pictures anywhere or what kind of window coverings might work best for both energy efficiency and style. And I think this is fairly common in the tiny house community. Due to necessity of design so much time is spent thinking about the design and build that little energy is given to how the house will transform into a home.
The author Jane Austen once said, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” But how comfortable are we making our tiny houses? And therein lies the reason we have recently published our first Tiny r(E)volution e-Book entitled How To Decorate the Tiny House.
A 48-page digital download, How To Decorate the Tiny House is a guide for helping tiny house dwellers and small home aficionados figure out what will turn their four walls into a nest of comfort, style, and emotional well being. Complete with space-saving tips, color tricks, psychological and physiological effects of decor, and some of the best top tiny tips, How To Decorate the Tiny House is more a passion project than a task of authorship.
The motivation behind our writing the book truly came from a 2-hour online workshop we taught on the same subject. During the preparation for the workshop it became obvious that the landscape for tiny houses sort of ended with design, wood product, and space saving ideas. There was little to be found on color choices, furniture selection and placement, and even style development. Curating dozens of photos of small houses, model homes, and tiny spaces, we were able to put together a sourcebook that we think is worth far more than its $4.95 price tag. It is that guide that helps us all find our comfort in our home and the tranquility in our decor decisions.
I’ve had our tiny backyard cottage as a rental on Airbnb now since June and we’ve had over 20 visitors who’ve been both charmed and confused by the size of the cottage, awed by the location and inspired by the space planning and design. Airbnb is a social website that connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay. Our cottage (which we remodeled last year) has been enjoyed by people from all over the world as a quiet place to stay while in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area.
If things continue to go as well as they do, about 20 percent of our income could come from this rental and this great service, allowing me to not have to work full time anymore. However, it has not been without its ups and downs. Several people have felt that the cottage is too small, the water tank is limited in hot water and the location a little out of the way. Albeit, some visitors have found it perfect for their needs. It can be difficult to include every need and want, but I’ve come up with five tips that could help you rent out your own tiny house on Airbnb.
1. Location, location, location…but not how you think
Our cottage is centrally located to many places: Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Yosemite. It’s also out of the city, which allows our visitors to have a quiet getaway while still being about 15 minutes away from groceries and town. However, the majority of our visitors happen to be coming across the country — coming to or from San Francisco. If you market your tiny house as a way station to another location, you could bring in more visitors.
2. Offer a unique experience
A lot of visitors to the cottage were intrigued first by the name of our property and the bright colors of the house. Then they saw that we offered access to wilderness areas (complete with wild horses), a trampoline, plenty of parking, a giant vegetable garden they could peruse and their own kitchen and bathroom.
3. Be an expert in your area
Some of our visitors have been very happy with the advice I’ve given them about our area. I’ve told them the best places to go hiking, the best restaurants in the area and tips on how to avoid crowds. Be an expert in your own area and make yourself available for questions.
4. Check with your insurance and put it in writing
If you list your tiny house with Airbnb, your property is covered for loss or damage due to theft or vandalism caused by an Airbnb guest for up to $1,000,000 (in eligible countries). I also called our insurance company to make sure that we would not be liable for any injury to a guest as long as they were on our property. It turns out that bodily injury is covered under our insurance with any structure on the property. I have a small information packet in the cottage that outlines the rules of the property and for visitors to use our trampoline or swing at their own risk.
5. Be ready for last minute requests
Several of our Airbnb requests have been for that night or the next night. I’ve had to scramble at the last minute to clean the cottage and make it available for the next person. Be prepared for last minute requests and have extras of everything including bedding, towels and bottles of water and make sure the tiny house is heated or cooled depending on the weather.
Derek Diedrickson (of RelaxShacks) or as he is better known, Deek has been very busy lately and has just completed two new videos. These are a couple of great How-To videos based off of his book Humble Homes and Simple Shacks.
In the first video Deek walks you through building a window from a cheap plastic plate bought at your local dollar store. In his second video he shows you how to recycle old windows that you can pick up free or for little cost.
Below the videos I have put a few still pictures of the building he built using recycled windows. You can go to RelaxShacks to see some construction photos. Enjoy and if you don’t have Deek’s book you can purchase it on Amazon. Thanks Deek!
Kevin Harrington, a licensed realtor and home remodel expert in Colorado has created a nice selection of tiny and small home plans called Cozy Home Plans. The homes range from 288 square feet to 781 square feet and his plans cost between $99 to just under $700. Kevin also runs a blog where he posts articles on home construction and DIY tips. He has posted about how to mix concrete, installing electricity, useful household tools and tiny house Feng Shui.
A few years ago, Kevin downsized from a 2,700 square foot home, got rid of about 90 percent of his possessions and moved into a 280 square foot 5th wheel trailer. He was in the process of researching alternative building techniques and stumbled onto the tiny house movement. He decided to start a website and blog to showcase his small home plan ideas.
“This tiny lifestyle I was living gave me back serenity,” Kevin said. “This was something that had been sorely missing in my life for a very long time. I just wanted to share my experiences.”
His goal with Cozy Home Plans was to add a few more feet onto tiny homes to make them more livable.
“Can a person live in 100 square feet? Absolutely, but can they share it with guests or a partner full-time? How about a larger kitchen, washer/dryer capabilities and storage for extra stuff in such a small space? Answering “Yes” to these questions became more difficult in such a tiny space,” Kevin said. “My solution was to add a few more feet to each house.”