Among the FAQs we get asked about tiny house living: Don't you miss having people over? Our answer: We haven't missed entertaining, because we still have people over all the time. Sure, things got tight the afternoon we had nine neighbors in for happy hour on a wet, cold day—but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite (or because of?) the close quarters.
When we decided to live more sustainably, it didn't mean we wanted to be more isolated or less social. From first sketch to final build, we tried to design hospitality into our living space.
Want to host a horde in your mini manse? Here's what's worked for us :
Fresh air "rooms." Three seasons of the year, we entertain al fresco more than indoors. We have a 160-square-foot screen house—no electricity, but plenty of room to cook and eat and relax with forest views on three sides. Plus, we have a deck that's almost twice the size of our house; we love serving coffee and brunch there. On fall days, we often move the party to our campfire ring and break out the marshmallows.
No wasted space. Inside a tiny house, every inch has to count. There's no room for hallways or dead-end spaces. Things need places they can be neatly and easily stowed away. We started our design by looking at how we wanted to live—and entertain. We wanted room to sit around with friends and sip wine. A kitchen big enough to fit more than one cook with shelves to store extra dishes for company. A ground-floor bedroom for us or our guests to sleep comfortably.
Lots of light. A bright space feels airy. We have glass doors and 11 windows in our tiny house. Nothing feels closed off, because the windows connect the interior to the outdoors. We're hardly the only people to have figured this out; we have friends who put 16 windows into a house even smaller than ours.
In and out. No one wants to feel trapped in a small space. We have three exterior doors, so there's never a problem for people coming and going.
Flexible furnishings. We can easily reconfigure our space from our day-to-day setup to accommodate dinner for six or a party for twelve. How? We built two, almost identical counter-height tables; one for the screen porch, one for the house. We can move them together (in the house or porch or on the deck) to seat ten. When not being used as tables, they're part of our kitchen counters, great for a buffet. Another example: the two, wheeled, wood boxes that store our linens and office supplies. Most of the time, they serve as ottomans. When we need a coffee table for happy hour drinks and snacks, we push them together and take the cushions off. When we need more seating for a crowd, we push them to the wall.
Folding chairs. Easy to stash when not in use (some people hang them on their walls), the folding chair is a tiny house mainstay. Our folding kitchen chairs can be stashed in the shower if we need more floor space. Two small folding chairs sit outside our screen porch, easily moved to the house or deck for extra seating. And then there are the two folding chairs that fit in a few extra inches left between a wall and the screen house kitchen.
Counter space. We wanted a sink big enough to hand wash clothes, fill buckets, stash a dish drainer—and more. But that doesn't mean giving up counter space. When we want to spread out a buffet, we pop in our butcher-block sink inserts. Any dirty dishes are hidden away and we have three more feet of counter for drinks and nibbles.
Keeping things cool. Our under-counter fridge may be compact, but most of the year we keep drinks and any food overflows in a second "refrigerator," a counter-height cooler in the screen house. Spending more for a sleek, silver cooler was one of the best investments we made. (A couple milk jugs of ice keep things cool on the hottest of days; we keep spare ice blocks on the ready in our friend's freezer.)
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