Small Bathroom Design Tip: Showers

A popular small space shower design is an “open shower”. This design involves no shower walls or curtain – just the fixtures and a drain on the floor. It is a great space saver! Having used showers like these before, I feel it is important to note some serious drawbacks. Everything in the bathroom can now potentially get wet – your towel, your clothes and, my least favorite, the toilet seat. Safe, dry storage becomes nearly impossible. Successful open shower designs are possible, but most that avoid the above mentioned issues are in much larger spaces than those of our Cottage bathrooms.

If the goal is to keep the shower space from breaking up your already small space there are other solutions. Glass shower walls or curtains with ties that pull them back to the wall allow the eye to travel the full length of the room.

A glass shower wall inside a Tarleton
See more images of Will's Tarleton

Read our tips on baths and toilets

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — December 28, 2012

Filed under: bathroom   design   home design   tips  

Small Bathroom Design Tips: Baths

Whether to include a bathtub in your small bathroom is a personal choice. When making that choice please be sure to consider that there are options for small spaces outside of the standard 5 ft tub. Corner tubs are a great space saver. Shorter tubs are also available by special order. When looking at a smaller tub there are a couple of things that become much more important. First, consider rim height. A common complaint is not the length of the tub but rather the fact that water, even in standard tubs, does not cover the bather. The other important thing to keep in mind is your “exit strategy”. How are you going to get out of the tub safely in your small space?  Grip rails attached to studs in the wall are a must.

This bathtub was installed in a Harbinger.
To see more images of this cottage, click here.

To read about our small bathroom design tip on toilets, click here

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — December 27, 2012

Filed under: bathroom   design   harbinger   tips  

Small Bathroom Design Tip #1

Small bathroom design is a challenge for even the best designers. No other room in the house requires so much of so little space. Considerations include toilet, sink, shower, storage, appearance, door clearances and ventilation, all of which will be exposed to frequent use and copious amounts of moisture. Bathrooms in American homes have doubled in size in the last thirty years. Bathrooms in older homes average 5x8. Bathrooms in Tumbleweed Cottages range from 4 ½ x 4 ½ for the smaller of two tiny bathrooms in the Sebastarosa to 7 ¾ x 5 ½ for the single bathroom in the Whidbey.

The question then becomes how to get the most out of your small bathroom. Who better to answer that question than Tumbleweed? As with any space we recommend that you look at your needs first and then design with those needs in mind. Who will be using this space? How much storage will they need? Is a tub necessary or, for your needs, would that be wasted space? Finally, you will need to know your budget and local codes. Once you make those determinations the planning can begin.


There are several decisions to be made regarding the toilet fixture that you install. We are happy to report that environmentally minded regulations require low flow toilets on all new bathrooms or remodels. The question then becomes whether you want a gravity fed model or one with a pressure assist. Gravity fed models are less expensive however, they frequently need to be flushed multiple times to clear the bowl thereby negating some, if not all, of the benefits of purchasing a low-flow toilet in the first place. A toilet with pressure assist is more efficient and uses less water but the fixture is also more expensive. Although they have come a long way since first appearing on the market they do tend to make more noise – an important consideration in a small space.

Toilet shape is another consideration. Rounded bowls are more traditional and take less space. Elongated bowls, however, tend to be the norm in newer builds. The advantage of an elongated bowl over a rounded bowl is an increase in the surface area of the water. Toilets with elongated bowls designed for smaller spaces are available but must frequently be special ordered.

See more images inside Brittany's Fencl

Stay tuned throughout the week as we give you tips in designing your bathroom

Written by Bernadette Weissmann — December 26, 2012

Filed under: bathroom   design  

Small Kitchen Design Tips

The Best of Small Kitchen Design - The Little Rock Whidbey

Small kitchen design is unique in its need for both functionality and eye appeal. Lindsey Lewis of Little Rock, Arkansas adapted the kitchen in our Whidbey plans and takes high honors in both!

The small kitchen photos below offer great solutions for solving some of the most common small kitchen design dilemmas with stunning results!

Storage is one of the biggest issues confronting the occupant of a small kitchen. Kitchens, by their very nature, require “stuff” – pots, pans, utensils etc.  Storing these necessary items in a way that does not create visual clutter is key. Lindsey’s stunning banquet is a great option.  Linens, large pots and pans, over-sized serving platters or your Aunt Helen's favorite candle sticks will all fit snuggly and out of site in large, neutral colored baskets beneath the seating. 

An island at the center of the kitchen provides additional workspace and another option for covered storage. It has the added benefit of providing space to place items coming out of the refrigerator or, with the addition of a stool or two, a space to socialize with a glass of your favorite Sonoma wine while the meal is being prepared.

Cabinets with glass doors help make small kitchens look larger. In her Little Rock Whidbey, Lindsey uses frosted glass in her cabinet doors and a brightly colored back wall with stunning results. 

Shelves are another common option for kitchen storage. They keep things open and light but come with a few pitfalls. Most designers suggest choosing which items to place on them with great care to eliminate potential clutter. Stark white plates with cherry red bowls and stew pots make the perfect statement next to this sink. Handy hooks for coffee mugs hang below freeing up more cabinet space.

The flooring helps to create much of the character and dynamic of this custom Whidbey. Extending that flooring from the great room through both the nook and kitchen helps maintain the uniformity of the space.

Lighting is an often over-looked aspect of design.  The natural light in this Whidbey is astounding but Lindsey also took care to provide “task” lighting in key areas. Note the lights above the table, island and sink. Carefully assess how you are going to use your space and locate task lighting according to your needs.

Small kitchens do have several things going for them that their larger brethren do not. There is an inherent efficiency in a well-designed small kitchen that no large kitchen can compete with. Everything you need is at your fingertips.

The other advantage a small kitchen has is cost. Because a smaller kitchen is going to use less square footage of counter space and fewer cabinets you will be saving money. Apply the funds to upgrades. High quality counter tops have great visual appeal and wear better over time. Custom cabinetry with high-end pulls and handles add immense value and character.

Congratulations Lindsey on a stunning adaptation of Tumbleweed's Whidbey! Your kitchen is an inspiration! 

For more tips from the number one name in small house design read The Small House Book.  


Written by Bernadette Weissmann — November 13, 2012

Filed under: design   Downsizing   home design   kitchens   Whidbey  

Small Bedroom Design Tips

Anyone who's ever had to go at it alone in a small apartment has a good sense of how to manage available space in a small bedroom.

You're in this room, your clothes or dressers take up one part; your bed, makeshift futon, couch or something else takes up the sleeping space, and then you have .... what? A short path on one side of the bed or drawer and another path to the restroom or kitchen. You stare at the blank walls and one small window, and wonder how are you going to make this an enjoyable room, one in which you can spend time even in the quietest moments?

It's not easy, but it's doable. Here's how:

Single types can strip their room down to bare essentials - a raised bed, bookshelves along the walls, use of mirrors, plants and a few throw rugs to open up the floor space. By keeping personal effects slight, a small bedroom can actually give the appearance of being larger than it is with strategically placed objects, lights and pictures.

Couples can work together on bedroom projects. One couple, chronicled at YoungHouseLove, decided to redo their bedroom, adding clothing wardrobes, curtains, new bed sheets and more to come up with a beautiful solution to a small apartment problem.

Families have a tougher time with the number of bodies in a small apartment, but with a little ingenuity about placing cribs or beds for the kids a certain way, moms and dads can save space for their kids as needed.

These are just a few of the small pointers. Thankfully, the Internet helps with suggestions at every click! Here are some easy-to-implement solutions for sprucing up your tiny bedroom.


Clearly, your twin, double, queen or king size bed will take up the most floor space. There are no easy ways around this. If you want a large bed to roll around in, you'll need the floor space. Smaller beds take up less floor space, but they also limit your bed rolling.

One alternative is to raise the bed. By building a deck platform in the room and putting your bed onto the deck, you can free up all that space below to add a desk, sitting area and more. However, you may not be able to ever enjoy those nights when you just want to fall into bed. Your ladder walk up is always going to be the issue.

You can buy a loft bed kit online or find DIY ways to get the job done. Recommended for rooms with higher ceilings!

Bed Sheets & Comforters

When working within your small bedroom space, it's important to take into consideration the light colors and light textures to open up the room's appearance. Having light, ambient colors filling your bedroom can give you much needed peace and serenity after a long day of work. But light colors can smudge easier too.

Look around for possible color combinations that work for your room. If your bed faces the window and gets a lot of light, you may not need to have a bright yellow bed cover. There are plenty of duvets and comforters at to get a sense of how a particular bed sheet and comforter setting could help to restyle your room.


Do you have room for a shelf of books? Instead of using floor-standing bookshelves, which takes up valuable space, how can you add shelving higher up the walls to elevate your knowledge?

Built-in bookshelves higher up the walls can help free up crawling space for young babies and toddlers and help keep junior's books in some reasonable shape. Often, the bookshelves lend a strong presence to the room's overall aesthetic glow. Plus, shelves hold a lot of stuff, and that's important in a small room.

Mirrors & Art

Most bedroom design experts suggest mirrors to open up visual lengths, widths and overall appeal. Apartment Therapy suggests using over-sized interior mirrors to expand the illusion of space in a small area. For instance, when a large mirror is placed directly opposite a window that streams in light, it can double the amount of light that comes into your room.

Other ways that mirrors can build space in your bedroom is to use dual mirrors on each side of the bedroom door. If the mirrors are balanced against the incoming light from a window, you might even be able to create a trifecta of light pattern in your room. And how sweet would that be?


Recessed lights into the ceiling are the best way to avoid lamp space on your floors. If you can do this, try to get a dimmer switch for separate lights throughout the room. Having a brighter reading light and a dimmer light near your dresser at the same time can create swell effects.

If recessed lights aren't an option, think about clip-on lights placed strategically throughout the room. Varying shades of light, coupled with mirrors and light colors can do remarkable things to a room's visual space.

A small bedroom may be a temporary item in your life, but for the time being, making visual and aesthetic adjustments in your space will optimize the light, color and overall appeal of your room. Remember, the more stuff you bring into the room reduces the size of your room that much more. So be particular and enjoy open spaces, and you'll find that leads to more energy and goodwill spread throughout the room.

Written by Tumbleweed Staff — November 09, 2012

Filed under: bedroom   design  

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