Eight years ago, Ojai, Calif.-based designer Vina Lustado created an off-the-grid tiny house so she could live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. The 140-square-foot home includes a workspace with a built-in wooden desk, and is furnished with storage units that nest inside each other and can be moved easily throughout the space.
While Ms. Lustado designed the tiny house for herself, the result—a seamless, minimalist living space for sleeping, cooking, eating and working—resonated with her clients. “People asked me to design their homes and offices to maximize efficiency with a very minimal square footage,” she says.
Fast forward to the coronavirus outbreak, which sent homeowners scrambling to configure their spaces for a new normal of working and schooling from home. Interest in a prefab, modular tiny home designed by Ms. Lustado’s firm, Sol Haus Design, soared. She will begin installing the outbuilding, which costs between $120,000 and $150,000, in backyards next year.
Work With You’ve Got
“Having a backyard unit with dedicated office space is really in demand,” she says.
The 260-square-foot module has ample storage within a simple, streamlined design. But for those without the budget or room to install an entire tiny home on their property, it can offer lessons on how to optimize space within close quarters.
Ms. Lustado recommends bringing in as much natural light as possible and sticking to lighter materials and paint colors that reflect, rather than absorb. Tuck away clutter and supplies into storage units closer to the floor, while using open-shelving above. “When you enclose upper-shelving in cabinetry, it is perceived as a mass or solid block,” she says.
“Any way you can open up the room, so the room feels bigger—like lots of mirrors,” says Tara Benet, a New York City designer. “And tons and tons of storage. Anything you can do to avoid clutter, whether it is a desk with built-in storage or a secondary piece.”
In a Manhattan studio, Ms. Benet installed an “invisible” Lucite desk against the apartment’s exposed brick. An adjacent pink file cabinet can be used as both an end table and a storage unit.
In a 4,500-square-foot pied-à-terre in Chicago, KADLEC Architecture + Design founder Steve Kadlec took advantage of a master bedroom nook to install a custom drop-down desk with open shelving above.