When You Only Have 10' x 10' of Floorspace or Less–Start Climbing the Walls!
(tips on dealing with small spaces)
Several people have commented to me that this space would be too small for them, that it felt cramped, that their bathroom was larger than that...and to each his own! I've always loved small spaces and spent much of my childhood in little tourist cabins, tents, or hiding out in my own forts under the front porch or the dining room table! 10 x 10 is what we could afford, what (theoretically!) fit within the City's guidelines as not needing a building permit (wrong), and what I wanted. Sort of an individual, freestanding cubicle--Dilbert would be SO jealous!
So how do you plan for such a small space, and make it work for you? Fortunately I wasn't planning to live there, so didn't have to have plumbing or a furnace...our "real" house is right next door. Here are some of our strategies:
The obvious place for storage is the walls, as most tiny-house fans will agree–even though we have big French doors, a regular door on the North, and two windows, we still have a fair amount of wall space. I purposely designed the shed with no openings on the south, both for privacy (neighbors and a small state highway 3 doors down) and for storage space. Of course, floor to ceiling shelves on that wall (not as deep as many bookshelves, at 8") hold a lot of books, art supplies, coffee and teapot and more, with rectangular baskets for things that are better out of sight. (We left the bottom shelf about 12 inches from the floor and my bedroll/yoga mat fits under there along with a small footstool and the wastebasket. No extra floor space needed!)
The desk, studio lighting, and kitchen area fit on that wall too.
I planned exposed rafters, which give us a great place to hang things so they’re handy as well as up off the floor. Where the rafters meet the walls there are a series of small cubbies–my husband built a narrow shelf to extend that space so lots of books, art supplies and miscellaneous things can be stored there.
Joseph also put Shaker pegs below this shelf, to hold drafting tools, templates, scissors, T-square, and my tambourine and jacket, at the moment. A vintage clothes hanger with two types of hooks holds cups and small pots near my hot plate–all I need for coffee, tea, or soup in this small space.
Three small cubbies are wall-mounted hold other small items–more art supplies, microscope, matches, whatever. Two are above the desk, and one is by the North door.
|An old magazine rack holds catalogs and watercolor blocks; the cubby is a gift from a friend. You can see templates and a ruler hanging from a nail, and more goodies between the rafters and on the windowsill...and OFF the floor.|
Double-duty furniture and accoutrements work too. I found a great little step stool that lets me reach the higher rafter-storage shelves over the French doors; it’s sturdy and the top is hinged for storage. It holds mosquito coils, dustrag, window cleaner, extra matches, incense or whatever–all the unsightly-but-necessary stuff that you don’t want out on the shelves!
|Sure, it was empty THEN...full, now!|
|The top will go up to accommodate larger paintings...|
|Folded up it takes almost no space...|
|The camp chair still folds, but it's a lot more comfortable now...|
And eventually we opted for comfort over a bit more floor space...guess we're too old! There's still room to move around, but these swivel chairs ROCK. Well, of course they're rocking chairs, too.
Of course I also planned for outdoor storage–the shed has its own mini-shed attached at one side for construction equipment, BBQ, charcoal, tools–you name it. (Right now it still has a lot of the construction stuff, the folding chairs that will now work on the deck, the bird seed and squirrel corn and the off-season firepit...)
You can store things under the building and under the deck, too. That’s where extra wood is.
Things migrate in and out of the shed--when we no longer need something over there, we take it back home or get rid of it. Books get read there, then often taken back where they came from. In warmer weather, the heaters will go back into storage, as will the warm lap robes and the heating pad. If it were our ONLY residence, we'd have to think harder about what really had to be there, but for now, and under our particular circumstances, migration works...
When you're planning on a small space, you have to think about what you REALLY need–some things, I’ll admit, as an artist, are there just because they please me aesthetically. But hey, that’s a need, too.