10 tiny home design ideas to steal for small spaces

These tiny home design tips and tricks allow you to pack practical function into one mighty (small) footprint.

Last updated: 1 June 2024

Aotearoa New Zealand’s tiny home revolution has made it possible for more Kiwi to have a slice of paradise to call their own – no wonder tiny homes are trending!

Whether you’ve got a tiny home or just a really small property – these affordable, space-saving design trends will inspire you to make your living space beautiful, comfortable and 100% you.

Space saving ideas for tiny homes

1. Build vertically

Going vertical or looking up, is a simple and practical design trend to incorporate more storage and express your personal style.

Fill a living plant wall with indoor plants and herbs to get your small space looking fresh – and purify the air! Or make your hobbies a focal point with wall-mounted bicycle hangers, guitar holders or surf racks.

Our favourite storage solution has to be slatwall panels – they look super sleek and the shelving variations are endlessly customisable.

Ever thought of using your walls for storage?

2. Construct a hammock floor

Hammock floors are a super cool way to reimagine your loft space or maximise the upper triangle of your attic.

Whether it’s an epic kids zone or cosy netflix nook, hammock floors allow you to create a second space within the same room without losing any light. To DIY your own hammock floor, you’ll need to head to our building supplies category to find strong polyester netting, eye screws and rope.

3. Choose furniture that serves two purposes

This bookshelf cleverly doubles up as a barrier.

When every inch counts, multi-functional furniture and decor are key – think washer-dryer combos, futons or multi-functional nightstands. These are tried and tested tiny home space savers, and are a practical addition to any house.

If you’re a keen DIY-er, build stairs or seats that double as storage. With a bit of creativity, even a balustrade can be a bookshelf as well as a barrier.

4. Reflect light to make your home feel bigger

Using mirrors is an age-old technique for making small spaces feel bigger.

Whether they’re behind your bed or in the hallway, use mirrors throughout your home to reflect natural light and create the illusion of a bigger space.

But be cautious of framed mirrors – especially in small spaces as they can look bulky, causing the opposite effect. The trick is to use frameless mirrors, or ones with slim aluminium framing and install them wall-to-wall or ceiling-to-ceiling wherever possible.

5. Consider your decor and colour palettes

The uniform colour in this living room helps it hang together as a cohesive space.

The practical and decorative design choices you make will add up fast in a small space! To easily create a sense of unity, repeat colours, textures and styles throughout your home.

You could tie in your favourite rattan couch with sconces or light fixtures of a similar style. Chase up gold kitchen handles with gold artwork or match that existing velvet chair with velvet knot cushions.

Give consideration to every tiny decision, and you’ll have an inviting and relaxing atmosphere – no matter how small.

6. Divide up your space

Dividing a room can help create a sense of order, even in cluttered spaces.

Not only are there endless ways to divide a room, there are endless benefits to doing so! This established tiny home trend can provide privacy, organise clutter, create a perception of space, define separate zones and more.

  • How to create more space in a tiny home:
  • Use different coloured paint or wallpaper to create a sense of separate ‘rooms’
  • Hide your wardrobe, fridge or section off an entire room with sliding doors
  • Hang a macrame door divider or sheer curtain from the ceiling
  • Swap out standard doors with cavity sliders
  • Divide the space with open bookshelves – choose slim designs to maximise the light that comes through.

Dividing an already small space into two might seem counterintuitive, but it truly is the most underrated tiny home design trick in the book!

7. Invest in a composting toilet

While composting toilets require more care and attention than a regular flushing toilet, no consent is required – making them the perfect option for tiny homes, workshops or cabins built off-grid.

Did you know a standard toilet uses about 5 litres of water with every flush? Composting toilets don’t use any water at all, making them a super sustainable waste solution. Small and compact, they’ll reduce demand on the sewer system, save you money and even nourish your non-edible plants (after maturing).

8. Select space saving storage options

You’ll be amazed at some of the ingenious space saving appliances you can find on Trade Me.

As you Marie-Kondo your belongings, you might find yourself overwhelmed by what needs to go! But you can make downsizing fun with these handy homeware hacks.

Kitchen appliances that save bench space:

  • Roll-up drying racks are an ingenious homeware hack (even spacious kitchens need these!)
  • Hanging baskets to store fruit and vegetables… or your phone, keys and wallet
  • Swap that bedside table for a floating shelf or storage caddy
  • A magnetic knife holder on the wall
  • An all-in-one pressure cooker that does it all!

9. Choose to display rather than hide away

You can save space and also use your practical items as decor.

When space is at a premium, you might have no other option than to put your stuff on show. Fortunately, with a bit of consideration it doesn’t have to look like chaotic clutter.

Show off your hat collection by hanging them from pretty hooks above your bed. Or, replace pots and pans with copper ones – they’ll look great suspended above your kitchen counter. Display dried goods in mason jars with pretty labels, and gain space in the pantry for the things you’d rather not have on display.

Extra bonus – you’ll love your everyday items being more accessible.

10. Ensure no space goes to waste

Get creative with how you use space. Not an inch of your tiny home should go to waste!

Got an awkwardly angled corner or a strangely shaped space in an already small home? Think outside the box and get inspired by what it could be.

You could convert the cupboard under the stairs into a home office with a floating, wall-mounted table, or turn it into a wine cellar with a modular storage rack. Transform that corner with a sloping roof into a pet’s bedroom, or use chalkboard paint to give that small section of wall a job to do!

No matter how strange or small the space you’re working with – there is always a way to make it useful (and therefore awesome).

These tiny home interior ideas won’t only improve the atmosphere of your home, but the liveability too. Plus, when they’re this easy and affordable, why wouldn’t you steal them for yourself?!

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