Living Large in Small Houses

Guest Post by Deb Durham

Deb Durham, here. I am a 6 foot tall woman. Ironically, I have always been attracted to small spaces. And I drive a 2 seater roadster.

Since I left home, I have never lived in more than 1,350 square feet. Blame it on the half dozen ubiquitous 2–story and split-level suburban tract homes I lived in growing up around the country. Ever since I was a small child (well, I was never really a small child) my escape was the Swiss Family Robinson style tree houses I built or the family linen closet hide-away I turned into the perfect little nest.

Certainly, years of living in Manhattan apartments demanded I meet the challenges of small spaces. But I liked the coziness of them. To the shock of friends, I once entertained 80+ guests in the 350 square feet of my New York City abode.

So what is it about a smaller home that is so appealing? They typically have more charm and soul than McMansions. They are about human scale vs. trophy housing. Besides the emotional appeal, you can allocate more budget in finer materials, unique accessories. Practically speaking, there’s less to maintain. And how does one live large in a small house? Here are some tips taken from my 900 square foot cottage a/k/a The Topanga Tree House:

1.	Expand your inside-outside living by choosing colors that blend with nature’s surroundings


1. Expand your inside-outside living by choosing colors that blend with nature’s surroundings To blend with the rustic feel of the environment, I used stained pine boards for the walls and painted the house exterior and well as interior trim a soothing green. Lines blur between indoor living and outdoor space. Antique beveled glass French doors form walls of windows softened by sheer linen drapes not shown (IKEA). Imagine waking up to this every day! Continue reading

Knaus Schwalbennest

Tiny House Blog readers who have perused the book “Teardrops and Tiny Trailers” by Douglas Keister may have seen the delightful little Swallow’s Nest trailer owned by Lowell and Janice Vivian. This trailer was originally built in 1961 by the German trailer company, Knaus. For its 50th anniversary, Knaus is selling the redesigned Schwalbennest in a limited edition retro design.

The diminutive trailer is just over 12 feet long and about 7 feet high. It weighs about 1,245 lbs. and has a maximum load capacity of about 400 lbs. It includes an awning, three windows and a skylight, outdoor lighting, integrated blinds, lights, a two-burner stove and sink, a fold-out work surface, a refrigerator, a four gallon water tank and a gas heater. It sleeps two people on the 4.5 ft. by 7 ft. fold-out bed. The trailer also contains a full wardrobe, storage under and behind the benches and above the dining area. Continue reading


I first saw an EcoNest about 9 years ago and had forgotten about them until now. Even after studying many different types of natural building, Econests will continue to be one of my favorites because of their beautiful resemblance to the curves and colors of nature. They might even be the closest way to be outdoors without stepping out the door.


EcoNests are simple, elegant, and healthful handcrafted dwellings that welcome owner participation in their construction. Continue reading