Many people new to the tiny life are curious about what you need to make tiny life work. A lot goes into designing and building a tiny home. Even still, once you’ve got your tiny home many still wonder how to upgrade their experience.
Today we’re covering the essentials for making your tiny home experience far smoother and more enjoyable. We’ll cover organizational tools, safety gear, and even helpful stuff to make working and relaxing in your tiny home manageable and enjoyable.
Tiny House Organizational and Storage Essentials
Tiny houses are, well, tiny. Being tiny is great for your wallet but can make organizing and storing the necessary things for your life more difficult. Below are some essential organizational aids you can find for a happy tiny life.
1. Vacuum Storage Bags for Seasonal Storage
Minimalism is the name of the game when it comes to wardrobes for tiny dwellers. However, you still have to store your heavier winter clothes once summer heat comes knocking. Vacuum storage bags are designed to compress as much air as possible out of your clothing so you can fit more clothes in a significantly smaller space.
For those living in traditional homes, it usually means packing a larger wardrobe into your normal closets and drawers. For the tiny life, it’s perfect to fit your entire wardrobe of seasonal clothes into a much, much smaller storage space and free up more room for whatever else you need.
Vacuum storage bags are nearly effortless to use. Some models work using traditional home vacuums, while others are designed to have air squeezed out of them as you roll them up. One of our favorite models includes a hand-held pump to squeeze that last bit of air out after you pack and roll your clothes, offering the best of both worlds in terms of packability and effectiveness.
2. Stackable Kitchen Bins
Organizing any pantry is a chore, but when talking about a pantry in a tiny house you have to make every square inch count. Stackable kitchen storage bins allow you to use the space inside your panty efficiently and make it easy to organize your shelf-stable goods into grabbable totes.
Pair them with square stackable vacuum containers for things like pasta, grains, and cereal and you’ll find it much easier to keep your kitchen organized.
3. Pull-Out Cabinet Shelves
One of the best ways to take advantage of every inch of your cabinet space in a tiny house is by using pull-out shelves. These types of shelves quickly and easily bolt into your existing cabinets and allow you to pull them fully out to access everything stored there.
They’re great for use in your kitchen or bathroom as they allow you to store items you regularly use in the back of the cabinet and take full advantage of your best available space. We’ve used them for pots and pans, small appliances, dishes, and cleaning supplies.
They’re widely available at furniture and hardware stores, but we like this model from Hold’N Storage. They’re reasonably priced yet offer features and durability that compare favorably to shelves from much larger brands.
4. Wall Mounted Dish Rack
A dishwasher is rarely on the cards inside a tiny house, which begs the question of where you’ll dry your dishes once they’re washed. A wall-mounted folding dish rack is just about the best option we’ve found yet. It offers a way to let your dishes dry quickly without taking up all your counter space with a dish rack.
It attaches to your wall or cabinet with just a few screws and folds out from a nearly flush position to offer a tray for your plates, pots, pans, and silverware. There are many different options, ranging from pricey designer ones to IKEA choices, but we like this model from EsyLife for its sturdy build quality and common sense design choices.
5. Foldout Table
We’re not talking about your grandma’s folding Thanksgiving card tables here, but classy and durable kitchen and activity tables that fold down into a much smaller footprint when not in use. Our favorites have a central storage pillar that doubles as the main legs and two wings that you can open out independently depending on how much space you need.
Foldout tables are great because you can have a full-size kitchen table when you want it without sacrificing space. The foldout table designs we’re talking about fold down to a small shelf about the size of a thin cabinet when not in use. Even better, this one from Tiptiper has recessed castors that allow you to easily roll the table around to find the perfect spot to store it when not in use.
Tiny House Safety and Utility Essentials
Safety gear should be at the top of your list when planning out your tiny home purchases. Living the tiny life represents freedom and independence. Please make sure you accept the responsibilities that freedom entails.
6. Carbon Monoxide Detector + Smoke Alarm
If you take our advice on anything from this post, let it be this tip: buy a carbon monoxide detector. No one should spend a night in a home without a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector, and please don’t skimp here.
You can pick up a high-quality and long-lasting combination detector from a reputable brand for well under a hundred dollars. We highly recommend you get two or more so you’ve got backups, but please at least get one so your family is protected.
Carbon monoxide is odorless, nearly undetectable to humans, and can be silently lethal. There have been cases of people killed in open tents just from running a small heater from carbon monoxide.
7. Fire Extinguisher
As with a carbon monoxide detector, a fire extinguisher (preferably more than one) is a necessity. They don’t take up much space and can be easily stored under the counter or in a closet.
You should have one easily accessible in your kitchen to deal with mishaps. Fire extinguishers aren’t fun or cool, but they can be the difference between life or death and a small flare-up fire turning into a home-destroying blaze.
Don’t think of fire extinguishers as buy-it-and-forget-it tools, though. Even the best fire extinguisher has a shelf life of between six and twelve years depending on the model. Make sure to check the pressure gauge on your extinguishers at least once a year.
8. Tool Kit
Every home needs a bit of maintenance and upkeep and tiny homes are no exception. If you built your tiny home yourself you no doubt picked up quite the collection of tools that will work great to maintain it, but if you hired a tiny home builder or bought a modular tiny home it’s an excellent idea to buy a solid tool kit.
You don’t have to spend much money to get decent-quality tools. Amazon makes a surprisingly durable and comprehensive home tool with wrenches, screwdrivers, and other essential gear that will cover most tasks and troubleshooting you need in a tiny home.
Any tool kit under consideration should include essentials such as:
- Screwdriver set
- Standard/Metric wrenches
- Allen wrenches
- Tape Measure
9. Emergency Kit
If your tiny house has wheels, you should consider owning a vehicle emergency kit. Tiny homes on wheels can have a wheel or trailer-related breakdowns like any other vehicle. It’s always a good idea to keep a basic emergency kit in your tow vehicle and stowed somewhere in your tiny home.
You can buy a ready-made one, like this one from AAA, or build one yourself.
An emergency kit doesn’t have to be fancy but should include the basics you’ll need to get yourself out of trouble. This includes:
- Tire patch kit
- Portable compressor (or fix a flat if space is truly at a premium)
- Reflectors/Road flares
flashlight, gloves, tire patch kit, portable compressor, and maybe some reflectors or flares.
10. Emergency Locator Beacon
This one isn’t going to be for everyone living tiny, but if you’re planning to take your tiny home or van out to more remote locations, an emergency locator beacon should be something you seriously consider. An emergency locator beacon uses globe-spanning satellites to send a distress signal to authorities and search and rescue teams no matter where you are.
There were many places we here at TinyLivingLife have traveled to that didn’t have cell service or any other reliable way to communicate. An emergency locator beacon offers a surefire way to keep yourself and your family safe.
These beacons can be pricey, with prices starting at several hundred dollars, but we highly recommend them if you plan to travel at all in your tiny home. Garmin makes a range of models with different features and designs. The inReach Mini 2 even allows you to send text messages to your family and friends to let them know you’re okay even if you don’t have cell signal.
Tiny House Kitchen and Laundry Essentials
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to save money in your tiny house. If you plan to do any significant amount of cooking in your tiny home you’ll need some everyday essentials and a few tiny specific items to make running a small kitchen practical.
11. Chef’s Knife
A quality chef’s knife is an essential element of any kitchen. There are few things more dangerous when cooking than using a cheap, dull knife, so you should always try to get a durable, quite sharp, and easy-to-maintain option for your kitchen.
You can go with exceptionally high-end (and downright gorgeous) choices like a Shun or Henckels, but you don’t have to break the bank to get quality. We’re big fans of the Babish Chef’s Knife, also available in a Santoku. It’s a value-priced and value-packed option made from durable, easy-to-sharpen steel that holds an edge and feels fantastic in your hand.
12. Cutting Board
Just like you’ll need a solid chef’s knife, no kitchen is complete without a reliable cutting board. Depending on your taste and available space you can choose either flexible plastic cutting boards or classic wooden cutting boards.
The flexible cutting boards take up less space and offer a better option if you’re cooking meals with multiple ingredients (i.e. cooking with raw chicken but also chopping vegetables). Still, many people find a classic wooden cutting board more appealing for their aesthetic. Flexible cutting boards are almost always more affordable than wooden cutting boards.
The flexible cutting boards are easy to clean and stow away in virtually any available space. Wooden cutting boards work best when kept in a set place on your countertop as part of your decor.
13. Reusable Zip-Top Bags
There are few things we hate having to use more than disposable zip-top bags. They’re incredibly convenient, but throwing away potentially hundreds of bags per family is an ecological disaster. Replacing all those disposable plastic bags with sturdy, easy-to-clean reusable zip-top bags should be a priority for anyone interested in the tiny life.
The market has listened to demands for zip-top bags and now offers a vast range of options. Our personal favorites are from a little company called Russbe. What makes them great is that they don’t try to completely innovate the zip-top bag market unlike some bag makers.
Instead, Russbe zip-top bags are functionally identical to the ones you’re used to, just made from a thicker, sturdier, and more environmentally friendly plastic that’s easy to clean and reliable through hundreds of uses.
14. Magnetic Spice Containers
If you’re like us, you probably use a lot of spices in your cooking. Figuring out where to store all those little bottles and pouches in a tiny home is made a lot easier with a set of uniformly sized and shaped magnetic spice containers.
These nifty little metal containers have a clear lid to allow you to quickly see what’s inside and mount in an organized grid pattern to any magnetic surface. You can attach them to the front of your refrigerator or attach the adhesive-mounted metal plate to the side of a cabinet or even inside a cabinet door.
15. Laundry Bag
Living in a tiny home doesn’t change the basics of life. That holds true no matter how much we wish it meant we never had to do laundry again. Having a handy way to store and organize your dirty laundry in between washes is always essential.
What kind you go for depends on how you’re doing your laundry. If you’re planning to use a local laundromat we recommend something easily portable, preferably with a reliable closure and beefy straps that make it easy to haul around. For those planning to hand wash, or if you’ve got a compact washer/dryer combo, the sky’s basically the limit.
16. Laundry Solution – Scrubba Wash Bag
While we’ve seen tiny homes with combination washing machines and dryers, they aren’t that common. Many people choose to avoid the expense of a washing machine and save on space, but it does beg the question of how you get your laundry done.
A laundromat is an option, but it can be a real hassle to take your clothes there and hang out several times a month. Hand washing can also work, but we find it’s never quite as effective as other options.
Enter the Scrubba Wash Bag. It’s one of the most innovative and effective solutions for doing laundry in a small space we’ve ever seen. It looks just like a folding top dry bag but integrates a washboard-like surface on the interior that does a shockingly good job cleaning your clothes.
It requires no electricity and gets your clothes clean in under 15 minutes. Even better for tiny dwellers, it folds down to pocket size and weighs just over five oz empty.
17. Hanging Kitchen Utensil Rack
Counter and drawer space in a tiny home kitchen are always at a premium, so getting your most commonly used utensils out of the way yet easily accessible is a serious benefit. A kitchen utensil rack or rail allows you to mount a simple bar to a free bit of wall space near your stovetop and quickly organize your utensils.
Kitchen racks mount to the wall with just a few screws (depending on the number and weight of your utensils, you can find some that will mount with a sturdy adhesive) and make your tiny home kitchen look extra organized for almost zero extra effort plus. Even better, they double as a way to dry your spatulas, spoons, whisk, and other utensils out of the way.
We don’t know about you, but anything that makes organizing and cleanup after a meal easier is a winner in our books.
Tiny House Living Essentials
When living in a tiny home there are a few things that you should always get just to make life a little easier.
18. Personal Hygiene Wipes – Dude Wipes
When you have to go, you have to go. Wherever your tiny home is located Dude Wipes makes for a better bathroom experience. They’re super soft and offer one of the best ways to freshen up and just generally feel better.
What’s even cooler is that they’re designed to be as gentle on your pipes or toilet system as they are on you. While we wouldn’t recommend putting them in a composting toilet, they’re good to go for any standard plumbing system.
You can pick up Dude Wipes in either resealable packs or single-use pouches for easy on-the-go use. Believe us here, they really make a difference in comfort and longevity on the road.
19. Water Filter
Having a reliable source of purified water is an essential part of living the tiny life. The type and capabilities of the water filter you choose will vary based on your water source, but we highly recommend even those connected to grid water systems take common sense precautions to protect themselves and their families.
As we’ve covered in numerous previous articles, there are a lot of potential threats from different water contaminants. Some to seriously consider include:
The best water filter for your tiny home will depend on a number of factors so it’s best if you choose the one that fits your needs and specific potential threats.
There are tons of different types of water filters, including:
20. Compact Vacuum
Having a good vacuum at hand makes cleaning your tiny home much more manageable. Whatever your flooring type or room footprint it’s a lot easier to get everything neat and tidy with a high-quality vacuum.
Many people recommend a handheld vacuum for tiny house purposes, but we tend to feel that the space savings don’t make up for the lack of performance. A collapsible/detachable stick vacuum takes up only a little bit more space than a handheld yet offers significantly better cleaning power and versatility.
The Eufy HomeVac S11 is our top choice, a reasonably priced yet high-performing vacuum that allows you to clean virtually every surface in your home with minimal hassle.
21. Earplugs and Sleep Mask
If the quality of your sleep is something you’re concerned about in a tiny house, you should pick up a set of ear plugs and a sleep mask. They help to block out the sounds of the night and allow you to sleep longer and deeper in comfort.
You can use one or both depending on your needs, but given their low cost and durability we recommend you pick them both up to start.
Tiny House Relaxation and Recreation Essentials
Whether you’re living in a tiny house, van, RV, or any other type of home, rest and relaxation is an absolute must. Below are some of the essential items out there to better enjoy your time in a tiny home.
22. Portable Blanket
While you’ll probably have plenty of comfy cozy blankets inside your tiny house, you won’t always want to take them outdoors with you. A portable/packable down blanket such as the ever-popular Rumpl offers a way to stay nice and comfy while on a hike, sitting by the fire, or watching the sunset on a chilly winter day.
Rumpl effectively created the market and makes some gorgeous and seriously high-quality products, but there are effectively infinite copycats at this point you can choose from. Get Out Gear makes a solid option with some nice additional features that costs noticeably less than the Rumpl.
23. Packable Picnic Blanket
Packable down blankets fulfill many roles, but effective ground cover is not one of them. One of the joys of living a tiny life is how closely you get to live with nature. Having a good picnic blanket or other portable ground cover is a great way to make embracing any natural setting cleaner and easier.
You can choose either a traditional, though significantly larger folding picnic blanket, or go with a pocket-sized ultralight option like the Matador Pocket Blanket. The Folding blankets are great for a day in a park or meadow, but if you’re at all worried about water or sand the Matador is the way to go.
A lot of people underestimate the benefits that come from a reliable bicycle. Not only does a good bike offer a great way to get some enjoyable exercise, it can be a fantastic way to simplify your weekly errands or just explore wherever you find yourself.
If you’re planning to travel with your tiny home, we recommend you pick up some bikes. Many campsites we visited were located with a town nearby. Having a bike meant that we could take an enjoyable ride to the local grocery store without having to unhook our tow vehicle or drive our van.
A hybrid bike offers the best mix of speed, ease of use, and comfort for the average rider. They combine a more comfortable upright posture and mountain-bike-like geometry with the gearset and additional speed benefits of modern road bikes.
Unless you’re planning to do some seriously gnarly mountain biking or looking to improve your trial times on a racing bike a hybrid will cover all your needs.
A critical point when buying bikes is that we don’t recommend you get them from places like Amazon or big box stores. They’re often shipped unassembled or partially assembled and then put together by the regular stock clerks with questionable bike knowledge and even fewer proper tools.
Unless you’ve got some serious cycling knowledge you should stick with a local bike shop or somewhere like REI where expert assembly is included in the cost of the bike. You can pick up a really nice REI CTY 1.1 hybrid bike for just a bit more than you’d pay for a questionably sourced no-name Amazon bike, and if you’re willing to invest in a bike that will last a lifetime you can get something stellar from a company like Cannondale.
Few things are more relaxing than taking a cozy nap in a hammock. Modern ultralight backpacking hammocks are incredibly high-quality, pack down the size of a can of soda, and yet somehow cost next to nothing compared to how much use you’ll get out of them.
Two of the best hammocks out there are from ENO or Kammock. They’re both high-quality and exceptionally durable options that are easy to set up and a joy to relax in.
You can string them up from the side of your tiny home or by using any handy pair of trees.
26. Bluetooth Speaker
A Bluetooth speaker is an awesome little device that makes nearly any social situation more fun. They’re minuscule, weigh almost nothing, and can quickly charge up from your wall outlets, a solar generator, or even a portable power bank.
When they first appeared they got a bad wrap for being underpowered and tinny, but that couldn’t be further from the truth for the latest models. Modern Bluetooth speakers are incredibly affordable and offer sound quality that was once available only from a high-end HiFi system.
A great place to start is the Tribit Stormbox Micro 2. It offers excellent sound quality, latest gen Bluetooth connectivity, and is honestly wildly more powerful than you’d expect for something of its size.
If you’re a true audiophile or plan to throw larger parties and get-togethers, you should seriously consider upgrading to the Ultra Ears MegaBoom 3. It’s bigger, badder, and bass-ier than most speakers at significantly higher price points and offers a great compromise between compact size and power.
27. Deck of Cards and Board Games
It doesn’t have to be a deck of cards or even board games, but we highly recommend you keep some small yet enjoyable things around to help pass the time with family. Cards are great because of the nearly infinite number of games you can play with just a single deck but you can also go with board game classics or up-and-coming options.
If you decide to grab a deck or two, you can pick up a classic deck almost anywhere, but there are also some cool modern options. We love the Sea Kings Deck from Bicycle.
Tiny House Essentials for Productivity
Getting work done while living in a tiny home can be challenging if you’re used to a standard office and desk. That said, there are plenty of useful tools out there to make it easier
28. Cell Phone Signal Booster
Depending on where your tiny home is located a cell phone signal booster will range from a nice to-have item to an absolute necessity. Cell Signal boosters do exactly what it sounds like: boost the signal for your cell phone.
They’re great if your tiny home is located off the beaten path where cell signals can be spotty at best. We’ve used several before, with the best among them the WeBoost Drive X. It’s designed for RVers and offers the best mix of performance, ease of use, and reliability we’ve yet found.
29. Lap Desk
A lap desk is one of the most important productivity tools you’ll find for a tiny house. They allow you to comfortably and ergonomically work on your laptop virtually anywhere inside or out of your tiny home without requiring a bulky desk or even a chair.
You can comfortably sit on your bed, your couch, or even lay out on the floor while still having a good way to operate your laptop and mouse. You can choose between a classic on-the-lap lap desk or one with legs.
If you decide to go with the legged option it can double as a useful little table if you need an extra place setting for dinner or if you want to work on some crafts.
30. Portable Charger – Anker PowerCore Essential 20K PD
If you plan to travel around while in your tiny home or go on trips away from it a portable power bank is a great tool to have. It allows you to charge up your small electronics like a phone, tablet, or gaming device without needing wall power.
They’re also a great option if you need to charge your phone in a part of your tiny home without easy access to outlets. Many tiny homes we’ve explored before have less ample outlets, with a portable power bank offering a lot of flexibility for where and when you can charge your devices.
Anker is one of the best and most reliable makers of portable power banks out there. We’ve used several of their products before and they’ve never let us down. The Anker PowerCore Essential 20K PD is an updated version of their most popular model with added support for high-power USB-C ports and a greater range of supported modern devices.
31. Solar Generator
A solar generator is an excellent option for providing backup or even primary power for your tiny home. If you’re hooked into shore power somewhere it works well as a backup in case of power outages, but the very best and most advanced models can now provide plenty of power for your entire home.
We recommend you go with a company called Bluetti. They use a special LiFePO4 battery in their solar power stations that offers a significantly longer lifespan than others.
The Bluetti EB3A offers 268Wh of power with various outlets, perfect as an emergency backup, while the Bluetti AC200MAX is a portable powerhouse packing in 2048Wh. That’s enough to power your entire home when paired with chainable battery packs.
Best of all, these portable power stations are designed to work with a wide variety of portable or mounted solar panels, making it easy to find the perfect power station for your needs.
32. Portable Solar Panel
If you aren’t planning to run a full solar system on your tiny house we highly recommend you pick up a portable solar panel as a backup. It pairs perfectly with the solar generator above to offer backup power in case of outages or emergencies.
You can go with a folding solar panel, like this one from RockPals, or one that opens out like a suitcase with a rack such as this one from Renogy. The Renogy panel offers greater power output but the RockPals panel is optimized to work with a wide range of solar generators and power banks.