Work From Home: Tiny House Edition

April 21, 2020

Written by Annie Michels, an Atelier Drome designer who splits her time between Architecture and Interior Design and loves both designing for and living in small spaces.

If you’re reading this, you probably live in the Seattle area. And if you happen to live in the city, you may wish you had a little more space in your house.

I live with my husband in a 400 square foot studio that is part of a divided Craftsman built in 1912, set behind two beautiful cedar trees. While we both genuinely enjoy small space living, we’ve never had to work from home together and we’re unpacking new challenges to this lifestyle every day. For us, there is no stepping into another room to take a phone call or jump on a teleconference. There is no other room for us; all rooms are one in the same. 

Fortunately, we’ve packed a lot of function into our tiny house and my husband does have his own desk. But, as you could guess, one desk is about the maximum number of desks you can have in a space this size, so we’ve had to improvise with my workstation. Rather than sit on the couch with a computer in my lap, I have opted to use the kitchen island/dining table as my workstation. 

Here are four things I’ve folded into my new office routine to help keep me sane and to help keep our tiny studio from feeling like an office 24/7:


Set up and takedown workstation daily.

This takes a few extra minutes in the morning and evening, but certainly no more time than I would have spent on my commute. This means unplugging my monitor, rolling up my cords nicely, and tucking it out of sight. Since external monitors can be so prominent in any space, this helps with out-of-sight, out-of-mind. It also provides a time for me to gently transition into and out of work, sans commute.

Extend your work space with flexible add ons


Part of this workstation includes a briefcase that holds all the fun things an architect might need. From trace paper and rulers to red pens and drawing sets.  I’ve opted to hang my briefcase off the side of the island. This way, it doesn’t take over another flat surface like the floor or my desktop but stays at the ready whenever I need something. At the end of the day, I grab the straps and tuck it out of sight.

Change your views


I use both sides of the kitchen island as different workstations. During working hours, I sit facing the fireplace with views out our plant-filled windows to the beautiful weather outdoors. In the evening, when I’m trying to accomplish non-work-related tasks, I sit facing the kitchen. Having two functional sides to my desk allows me to feel like I have two distinct workspaces with two distinct views; one for Atelier Drome projects, and one for personal projects.

How about you? Big or small, how are you adapting your home to provide the workspace that you need?

This edition on small spaces was written by Annie Michels, a designer who splits her time between Architecture and Interior Design with Master’s degrees in both Architecture and Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon. As a designer who loves both designing for and living in small spaces, Annie intimately understands the ins and outs from both sides. Read more about Annie in her bio.