The Most Inspiring Tiny Homes Of 2021

Whenever we publish a tiny or micro house on The Design Files, we can basically guarantee it will become our top-performing story of the week! 

In 2021, we discovered some of the most inspiring small designs yet, ranging from shipping containers converted into accommodation, to prefabricated dwellings available for purchase. 

We simply can’t get enough of these innovative, environmentally-conscious spaces – so here’s a recap of the most inspiring examples we’ve come across over the past twelve months.

Amelia Barnes

‘Permanent Camping Two’ by Casey Brown Architecture comprises two tiny copper towers looking out to the ocean in Berry, NSW. Photo – Andrew Loiterton

The cabin is a new and improved version of a 2007 project in Mudgee. Photos – Andrew Loiterton

A Farmer’s Tiny Copper-Clad Getaway!

If you’re a longtime reader of design media, this tiny rural retreat may look familiar. Originally designed by Casey Brown Architecture in Mudgee in 2007, the practice recently designed an updated version of the copper cabin in Berry, on the NSW South Coast, with the same collaborator, Jeffrey Broadfield, alongside local builder, Smith and Primmer.

This new structure is a simple retreat for the owner, whose main house is located on the same acreage. While its predecessor was contained to the one structure, the updated concept incorporates a secondary tower immediately to the rear enclosing a composting toilet and shower. East and west-facing outdoor decks have also been added, effectively doubling the ground floor in the process.

At 3 x 3 metres, the size of the main structure remains the same. On the ground floor is the living space (including facilities to cook, store items, and heat the cabin), while the bedroom is located above (accessible via a ladder). The rooftop with a water tank and solar panels is accessible via an external permanent copper ladder.

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The Brook is a tiny house, and the first offering from Victorian-based business Small. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Sinead Murphy. Additional styling – Aimee Shields Gleeson

The house celebrates its location, wherever that may be. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Sinead Murphy. Additional styling – Aimee Shields Gleeson

The mezzanine’s angled roof means the bedroom and office ceiling is well above standing height. Chairs by Michael Gittings Studio. Photo – Derek Swalwell. Styling – Sinead Murphy. Additional styling – Aimee Shields Gleeson

A Game Changing Apartment-Sized, Transportable Tiny Home

The Brook by Victorian-based business Small is a tiny house with a difference, containing 37 square metres of highly versatile floor space on a 27 square metre footprint.

This apartment-sized home contains five-metre ceilings, allowing users to comfortably walk around both levels of the home inclusive of a kitchen, bathroom, living area, and study nook. It’s also a thoroughly beautiful home, featuring recycled materials and a ‘New York loft’ aesthetic.

The Brook is available built-to-order or as a plans package, but the prototype is a one-of-a-kind model built with hardworking and recycled materials such as Australian hardwoods, volcanic bluestone, glass, spotted gum, and steel. 

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The Greenly Carriage is a train carriage turned accomodation on the west coast of South Australia. Restored with local timber and filled with a mix of vintage furniture by local dealers and new pieces by Australian makers Photo – Rob Lang.

‘The coastline at the end of our road boasts endless kilometres of pristine, untouched and wild beaches with not even a footprint on the beach for most of the year,’ says Tara. Utter heaven! Photo – Rob Lang.

The space features local timber and a mix of vintage furniture by local dealers and new pieces by Australian makers. Photo – Rob Lang.

A Converted Train Carriage Turned Breathtaking Off-Grid Cabin

Tara Rowe and her partner Luke always wanted to create a boutique accommodation offering on their slice of remote wilderness on the west coast of South Australia. So, when they found an antique train carriage at a junk sale in a neighbouring town, a unique opportunity presented itself!

Restored with local timber and filled with a mix of vintage furniture by local dealers and new pieces by Australian makers – The Greenly Carriage operates off-grid and has panoramic views over the Southern Ocean, Mount Greenly, Lake Greenly and the rolling countryside. Book your stay here

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Mansfield Shipping Container home by Robbie Walker. Photo – Anthony Richardson.

Both self-contained structures are identical in plan, with a wet area on one end, and an open-plan space featuring fold-down furniture seamlessly integrated into the remaining plywood-lined walls. Photos – Anthony Richardson.

A Transportable, Off-Grid Tiny Home Made From Shipping Containers

Perched on the top of a rocky hill, overlooking the undulating mountains around Mansfield, two 14 square metre shipping containers are not exactly as they seem.

While from the outside this pair look almost identical to others in the area, inside they have been completely transformed into a pair of tiny homes by designer and builder Robbie Walker.

Capturing incredible views towards Mount Buller, Victoria, Robbie likens the experience of staying in these beautiful, functional tiny homes to camping, with protection from the elements and everything you need to be comfortable. Book your stay in this incredible tiny home here!

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Minima is a series of prefabricated small dwellings created by FABPREFAB, and designed by TRIAS. Photo – Clinton Weaver

Options include those with a kitchen and bathroom. Photo – Clinton Weaver

Minima’s smartest design feature is its inherent flexibility: a single module can be joined into a dual configuration, without changing the essential design. Photo – Clinton Weaver

The Architect-Designed, Prefabricated Tiny House Of The Future

When designing and building a new house in Australia, there are currently very few options between mass-produced plans, and architect-designed bespoke projects. For those who can’t afford the latter, or are seeking something more considered than the former, Minima is an attractive alternative.

The project is the brainchild of prefabrication and modular residential construction company FABPREFAB in collaboration with Sydney-based architects TRIAS.

Minima is available in six arrangements ranging from 24.5 square metres (including spare bedrooms, home offices, and all-inclusive tiny houses) and larger, standalone dwellings of 72 square metres. It’s one of the only architect-designed, modular tiny houses on the market in Australia, and can be built to order in as little as 12 weeks!

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