Tiny Houses and Tiny Spaces: Making the best use out of space
September 8th, 2014 by
The term “Netflix” is Internet speak for “how to kill 2 hours on a rainy Saturday evening.” Well, it was one of those times, and I had stumbled upon Tiny: A Story About Living Small. This documentary shows Christopher Smith’s yearlong journey to find a home of his own. To accomplish this, Chris sets out to buy a large plot of land surrounded by wilderness. On it, he begins to build a tiny house. He ends up building his “home” on a utility trailer with 124 square feet of living space. In the film, Chris also interviews several other families that have also decided to consolidate their living situation.
If you are like me, you have poured hours into Google searches of these tiny houses and thought, “that’s clever.” The numerous tricks and tips of people who opt for a smaller living space utilize all of the space so that they are comfortable and not cramped. It is this notion that interested me most – taking something small and making it seem bigger by utilizing only what matters and making it flow.
When it comes to design, far too often we are faced with trying to fill in every conceivable space with more content and images. In doing this, we fail to see that what we are left with is just a pile of stuff and our original message is buried. Also, there are times when we say more than what is needed, and instead of drawing in the target viewer, they seem to just be waiting patiently for the end so that they can move onto the next thing. So to combat this, I have compiled a list of things to consider when designing for smaller spaces, whether for a sidebar web ad or a quarter page ad in a magazine.
Take a Hard Look at the Space
The main thing that gets lost when designing for small spaces is the actual size of what we are designing for. Computers give us the ability to enhance images and see them close up. But far too often, what can be read while zoomed in, cannot be read in its actual size. So take the time to open the web ad in a browser to see it in action, or print out the magazine ad and hold it in hand.
Stack the Messages
When it comes to deciding what to put in to the space, think of each element as a physical thing. Can you stack everything in your hand and still read everything? Does the logo take up too much space to where someone could fail to know what the image is? Does the novel-like copy seem like more of a pain to read and not draw in attention?
What makes tiny houses so unique and intriguing is that the purpose of everything within them is to maximize space. Like having a sink connected to upper basin of a toilet to eliminate the need for two large elements in a bathroom.
In the design of things, we can sometimes make use of this as well. Can you use images of your brand in action? Is there a way to animate a web ad and engage the audience in the process? Can that magazine ad both sell your brand and serve as a useful tool to the viewer, like a checklist or a resource worthy of being saved?
Space to Stretch Out
The most common reason for people not wanting to jump on the tiny house bandwagon is the concern of not having enough room to even stand up. Many have expressed they would feel too confined and cramped. This same concern should be applied to our designs. When faced with a small real estate for any design, empty space needs to be viewed as an actual thing, as opposed to just being “empty.”
Too often, we view space as being wide and vast. This also trickles down into the planning process for designs, and by the time it comes to implementation, there is no space for any of the elements to stand up or stretch out. It is important to take into account that space is an actual thing and needs to be represented, otherwise the design will become too confined and cramped.
The Big Impact of Little Things
The idea that everything needs to be big in order to be seen is something that does not hold true with designs that are small. This mindset is great for ideas, but when it comes to implementation, all that excitement and enthusiasm needs to be more focused. When it is, that small thing will be inviting and call out, like the sirens to Internet sailors, or to the casual passerby of a newsstand. These small designs should act as a ticket to something larger, something that merits investigation. Making our audience ask, “I wonder what that is all about?” is stronger and more enticing than just giving them a catalog of your products. It is that sense of curiosity and yearning to investigate that will build brand strength and forge a desire to learn more about what it is that you do.
If you are curious about tiny houses, check out these blogs: