Minimalist art and architecture have been around for decades, but in recent years, they have really come to the fore. The goal with minimalism in design is to reduce an object (such as a structure or an item of furniture) down to its bare essential elements. You may have heard the oft-quoted phrase from architect Frank Lloyd Wright that “form and function are one.” Minimalism aims to find the beauty in function, by voiding unnecessary, distracting elements and allowing function to dictate an object’s form to perfection.
In architecture, this means that you will see a lot of emphasis on planes, angles, and basic geometry. The interplay of objects in space becomes a dance of exquisite beauty. Light and shadow also play a role. The entire environment is streamlined, creating a sense of harmony, openness, space, and calm. Even when heavy materials are used, there is an aim for a sense of “lightness.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that minimalist architecture has become so popular recently is that the tiny house trend is also growing. On an overcrowded planet, it is vital for us to find a way to create livable spaces which encroach less upon our surroundings. But when you scale down a home, you need to find a way to keep it from feeling cluttered and crowded.
So naturally many tiny house builders are turning to minimalism for inspiration. Minimalism is the ideal architectural complement to tiny house building, because it cuts through all the clutter, maximizing available space and creating a serene environment. Plus, the focus on functionality in design means that minimalism aids architects in coming up with clever ways to maximize the use of available space.
As a result, there are a lot of beautiful tiny houses out there now which showcase minimalism at its finest. Let’s take a look at 65 fabulous examples!
1. KODA: The Movable Concrete Tiny House
When you think of concrete, you probably don’t think of mobility, but this minimalist tiny house by Estonian design collective Kodasema proves it can be done. The home is prefabricated and can be set up or collapsed within just four hours. There is no need to a foundation, and modular units can be combined to make larger structures. Check out the post for more photos.
2. Tiny Teahouse by Pietro Belluschi
Modern minimalist architecture draws a lot of influence and inspiration from traditional Japanese architecture and interior design, which is one reason you will see those same elements show up a lot in tiny house design. One fabulous example is this tiny teahouse. The architect who built it on commission was so pleased with it that he ended up acquiring it for himself a few years later. Learn more here.
3. A Trio of Modern Tiny Houses in Maine
Connected by a series of boardwalks, these three tiny houses were constructed in a beautiful spot in Maine. Their openness and simplicity unites the indoor and outdoor environments, keeping the emphasis on the gorgeous scenery and providing each tiny structure with a sense of openness and space.
4. This Genius Design Creates a Clever Outdoor Space
There are a number of impressive elements with this tiny house design, but what really blows me away is how the space between the two structures serves as its own self-contained environment. With the awnings overhead, it feels almost like a shaded room of its own, providing an impressive amount of outdoor privacy. Also cool is the fact that one of the structures is a living area while the other is a home office—a great way to create a work-life division for those who work at home.
5. Rustic Tiny House in Norway
Another interesting development with tiny house architecture is a growing trend of blending features of minimalist and rustic design. Traditionally, minimalist architecture tends to feature more “modern” materials and textures, so it is interesting to see houses like this one which combine older materials with newer styles. See more pictures here.
6. This Dutch Tiny House Is Totally Integrated With Its Surroundings
If you are looking for the height of simplicity and elegance in minimalist design, look no further than the Netherlands, where minimalism is a very popular trend. Here is a fantastic example of minimalist architecture at its very best from the Dutch company 2by4-architects. Even though this structure looks to be comprised almost entirely of windows, it features a kitchen, toilet, shower, and tons of storage. There is also a wall which opens wide to the world. This is by far one of the most genius tiny houses I’ve ever seen!
7. The Koleiba Project
This tiny house by Bulgarian designer Hristina Hristova was designed to be the ultimate getaway on wheels. Notice the wide glass door and the long awning which can be extended outward. Both serve to bring the indoor and outdoor spaces together, greatly expanding the living area.
8. This Narrow Tiny House Is Actually Ridiculously Spacious
You know those narrow little strips of land that sometimes crop up in urban environments, and typically get wasted? Here a clever Japanese architect managed to construct a minimalist masterpiece on one of those seemingly useless strips of land. I highly advise checking out the full post here so you can see all the gorgeous photos of the breathtakingly spacious interior!
9. Here Is Another Genius Japanese Design in a Narrow Lot
Check out another awkwardly shaped lot which could have gone to waste in Tokyo. Thanks to the ingenuity of Mount Fuji Architects, it didn’t. Instead, it serves as a beautiful and functional home, even though the land it is located on measures less than seven feet in width! Learn more here.
10. The Slow Town Tiny House
This tiny house was constructed to expand accommodations in Gangwon City, which will host the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea. This area must be protected since it is a rare clean space in South Korea. These houses are nearby, offering convenient access, but do not encroach on the city or the surrounding environment. There seems to be a subtle sense of humor in the familiar traditional house shape of the structure, considering how innovative, unusual, modern, and different it really is.
11. Design Your Own Prefab Vertical House
The genius of this design by Japanese brand MUJI is its simplicity and sophistication. It is a prefab design which can be customized to the needs of the client—and whatever tiny plot of land it needs to sit on.
12. Here Is How Even a Family Of Six Can Find Room to Live Comfortably in an Alleyway
From the outside, it is almost unbelievable that this is a functional space, much less one that is large enough to accommodate a family of six. But once you step inside, it is amazing how much it opens up. Check out this post to take the tour of this genius urban tiny house!
13. Kerns Micro House
This gorgeous minimalist tiny house won the 2016 AIA Design Awards “Mayor’s Honorable Mention” along with the 2016 IIDA Design Excellence Awards “Best of Residential.” With its amazing interplay of light, texture, and color, it is easy to see why.
14. This House Has a Wall of Shutters To Bring In the Sun
This Dutch house shares a lot of design commonalities with the one I shared previously by the lake. But this one incorporates another amazing feature, one which is very unique—a whole wall of shutters! At day, they can be opened to let in the sunlight, and at night, they can be closed for privacy.
15. The Ark Shelter
This beautiful minimalist tiny house was created with the goal of “incorporating nature back into our lives.” The Ark Shelter is self-sustaining, capable of collecting rainwater for drinking and harnessing the power of the wind for electricity.
16. Here Is a Dutch Tiny House Which Is Flooded With Light
Have I mentioned how brilliant Dutch architects are yet? Here is another Dutch tiny house which I think will blow your mind. There are two massive glass doors which you can open wide, making a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor space.
17. House on Wheels in Crete
This home was commissioned by a yoga teacher from Glasgow who was looking for a perfect little minimalist haven among the olive trees of Crete. It was a local planning requirement that the structure be on wheels. Visit the source link to check out photos of this elegant design.
18. This Home Features Large, Extendable Platforms That Let the Outdoors In
The design of this home couldn’t be simpler—or more mesmerizing. The strong horizontal lines are very satisfying to the eye, but what really makes this structure incredible is the fact that large sections of the wall can be extended downward, revealing huge glass windows and creating outdoor decks.
19. MIMA House
Not only is this minimalist house tiny, but it is also easily customizable, constructed out of lightweight walls which can be reconfigured by just two people as needed at any time. Arch Daily awarded the MIMA House with its prestigious Building of the Year 2011.
20. MIMA Light
I would be remiss to leave out another brilliant example of minimalist tiny house construction by MIMA. The MIMA Light is not only a beautiful, elegant structure, it is a fun one too. It appears to be floating above the ground, which is an optical illusion created by a set of mirrors surrounding the base of the structure.
21. This Australian Tiny House Rental Has Some Amazing Minimalist Décor Elements
How awesome is that light fixture? This is just one of the beautiful minimalist décor elements which serve to unify the environment inside this tiny apartment in Australia. Check out this post to see the rest.
22. The Muji Hut From Japan is Small But Spacious
Considering that minimalism takes a lot of elements from traditional Japanese architecture (as previously discussed), it should come as no surprise that a lot of great minimalist architecture today comes from Japan as well. The Muji Hut tiny house is an exquisite example!
23. The Escape ONE
The Escape ONE is definitely in the pricey range, costing nearly $50,000 to purchase. That being said, it is certainly a work of art! Inside and out, it is the essence of simplicity, letting in a ton of natural light.
24. The Sequoia Has a Sleek Minimalist Profile
This beautiful tiny house was designed by a company based in Quebec. Measuring just 220 square feet, it has a stylish streamlined exterior complemented by a contemporary interior.
25. These Minimalist Tiny Houses Are Stackable
Okay, did I just say that The Escape ONE was expensive? Maybe not, compared to the Kasita, which sells for $139,000. What is super cool about these tiny houses however (aside from being beautiful to look at is) is the fact that they can be stacked one on top of the other to form a kind of apartment building.
26. The Emphasis With This Tiny House Is All On the Outdoors
This tiny house in Japan has two walls which are wide open to the great outdoors. There are sliding glass panels you can use to protect your home from the environment, but if fresh air is what you are after, you’ve got it.
27. It Doesn’t Get More Minimal Than This
This may be one of the most simplistic exteriors I have ever seen—but there is no denying that it’s got style!
The Ecocubo is a tiny house which is built entirely out of natural, sustainable materials including cork and wood. The style can be customized to the needs of the buyer.
29. The Sakura by Minimaliste Houses
Designed by a Canadian company, The Sakura is a lovely tiny house on wheels which may not be entirely minimalist in its interior, but it certainly incorporates plenty of minimalist leanings and elements in its design.
This 320-square-foot structure looks so awkwardly poised you might think it is about to collapse. But it is quite stable, and does a great job bringing in the light and the view of the surrounding landscape.
31. The Glass House
The Glass House is actually a famous structure erected in 1949. Despite being completed more than half a century ago, it still oozes with modernity and sleek sophistication. Comprising 1,815 square feet, it is more appropriately termed “small” than “tiny,” but you can easily see the vast influence it has had on minimalist tiny house architecture today.
32. This Tiny House in Turin Is Integrated Perfectly With Its Surroundings
At a glance, this house doesn’t look like it would offer much in the way of space, but it is surprisingly deep, and there are a lot of clever storage compartments. There is also one heck of a fabulous view of the surrounding countryside.
33. Casa Tiny Near Casa Wabi
This ultra-modern minimalist tiny house was inspired by “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. What is super awesome is that you can spend the night here! Check out the AirBnB link below.
34. Stay at a Beautiful Modern Villa in North Iceland
This entire villa occupies just one floor. The minimalist design offers an incredible view of the dramatic surroundings.
35. Pop-Up House: Passive House
This gorgeous tiny house looks incredible, but believe it or not, it only takes four days to put it together. The house was designed to be low cost and easy to assemble. No special tools are needed. Reportedly it “assembles like Lego.”
36. Multipod Office: Passive Office
The same company that designed the house above also designed an office structure. Naturally I had to show off both, because both are amazing!
37. Yoshino Cedar House
This sleek tiny house was designed as a collaboration between architect Go Hasegawa, the community of Yoshino, and AirBnB. The entire structure was built from locally sourced cedar and constructed by local craftsmen.
38. Check Out This “Floating” Cube Extension
While not a full-fledged tiny house in its own right, this is a cool tiny extension. Its architectural style is entirely different from that of the main structure, but this only serves to draw emphasis to both.
39. The Austen House
Like the tiny “house” above, this one is also technically an extension and not a full home, but it does a great job showcasing what you can accomplish when you use tiny house design to create livable areas where none look like they could possibly exist. The Austen House is suspended over an entryway, a space most people would simply waste. Notice how the sleek vertical lines draw your eyes upward to the sky.
40. The E.D.G.E.
Measuring 340 square feet, The E.D.G.E. was designed by Revelations Architecture of Bayfield, Wisconsin. The minimalism of the design makes it possible for windows to dominate the walls, letting in light and offering a view of Wisconsin’s beautiful woods. See more here.
41. It Started As a Shipping Container … Now It Is a Beautiful Modern House.
As it turns out, the utilitarian simplicity of a shipping container actually can serve more function than one. It isn’t just great for transportation—it is also ideal for tiny house living. And it’s a surprisingly stylish design!
42. The Lake Austin Cabin
This gorgeous cabin occupies only 480 square feet, and includes a living and dining area complete with a kitchen along with a lovely wood deck. The deck offers a lovely view of the nearby lake. Notice the emphasis on horizontal lines and planes; there is a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright influence here.
43. It Turns Out You Can Live in a Cardboard Box After All
This house is designed by Fiction Factor Studio. Believe it or not, it is made out of corrugated cardboard. Every thirty years you apply a protective coating, and apparently this house will stand the test of time. Amazing! Read about it here.
44. Beautiful Modern Accessory “Think Tank” House
The “Think Tank” was constructed as an office and library accessory building for a restored 1950s Savannah home. Even though the Think Tank isn’t a full house with a bedroom and kitchen, it seems like it would be easy to modify the design to include these components. How awesome is that bright orange door?
45. Here Is Another Upcycled Shipping Container
If the first upcycled shipping container home I showed you impressed you, you are going to love this one! This house has a much more “finished” look to it. Check out the post for photos of the beautiful interior.
46. Avava Systems Sustainable Homes
These simple minimalist homes provide a feeling of spacious openness, letting in tons of light. They also have a number of very cool sustainable design features. Check out the post to learn all about it.
47. Look Right Through the Alpha Tiny House To The Other Side
This house features the perfect union of rustic materials with contemporary design elements. There are huge glass doors on either side of the structure, but you can also pull up the wood deck to seal off the wall on one side, providing additional insulation and privacy.
48. The Bunkie
This prefabricated structure can be erected within a matter of days and easily collapsed and re-assembled elsewhere. It was originally designed to provide cottagers in Canada with overflow space. Because The Bunkie measures a mere 106 square feet, you shouldn’t need a building permit to set it up in most locations.
49. Minim House
This house was designed to maximize brightness, space and comfort. Equipped with innovative storage, off-the-grid electric and water packages, and beautiful aesthetic design, the Minim House may be the ultimate customizable tiny house.
50. This Metal and Cedar Tiny House Has Minimalist Influences
I think this one pushes the boundaries a bit of what I’d consider minimalist design, but there are certainly strong minimalist influences running through both the exterior and interior.
51. Minimalist Design Influences Are on Strong Display In This Tiny Home
The layout of this tiny house is quite standard, but the contemporary interior really stands out. I like that the designer stuck with three basic colors: red, black and white.
52. La Casa de Oscar
You know that there was going to be some white box houses on this list, right? La Casa de Oscar is an immaculately simple, beautiful abode designed by architect Maria Castello. Be sure to check out her other work at the source link.
The Watershed was constructed in Oregon for a philosophy professor and nature writer, who commissioned it as a retreat. The roof was designed to amplify the sound of rain falling, as per her request, and the basin below draws in birds and deer to her front step. There is even a floor-level window for observing reptiles and amphibians.
54. Gama Issa House
Here is another remarkable house in the white box style. It is not a “tiny” house by any stretch of the imagination, but it showcases some minimalist design concepts which you will see time and again in ultra-modern tiny houses. The house has been very influential, thus why I’ve included it here.
55. Contemporary Small House Plans: Sheena
Just to make my point about the house above, check out “Sheena,” a tiny house plan available from Pin-Up Houses. You can see clearly how similar the design is. We have a comprehensive guide to Pin-Up Houses here.
56. Modern Tiny House Carved Out Of a Hillside
It may be a stretch calling this a tiny house, but in a way it is like two tiny houses put together with a courtyard and pool adjoining. It is wonderfully self-contained, and stunning to look at.
57. Shore Vista Boat Dock
This tiny structure serves as a boat dock, designed by Bercy Chen Studio, the same architects that designed the home above. It makes ample use of vertical and outdoor space.
58. Ma Maison Logique Tiny House
The interior of this one is not as minimalist as the exterior, but both the inside and outside of the home are beautiful! See more here.
59. House of Ome
This house shows up on a lot of searches for modern and minimalist tiny houses. I finally managed to track it down to the talented architects at Studio NOA in Japan.
60. Vertical Home By Studio NOA
Here is another home showcasing space-efficient minimalist design by Studio NOA.
61. Yet One More Tiny House From Studio NOA
I can’t resist showing off one more of these contemporary beauties by Studio NOA. Be sure to check out their website to see their other designs.
61. Refugio En Fincaaguy
This outstandingly beautiful tiny house by MAPA showcases the very best in minimalist design, offering a breathtaking view of the countryside.
Here is one more amazing tiny house from MAPA. Note the innovative screens which let in extra light while maintaining privacy. Check out MAPA’s site for more incredible minimalist designs.
63. Cali SOLO 1
This is a home which you can purchase from Sustain and Altius Architecture. Both inside and outside, this tiny house is the essence of simplicity. Check the link below for sales and similar designs.
64. Pluta’s Budget Tiny House
Pluta wanted to create an addition in his backyard which he could use as a guest house and artist’s studio. The structure he built on a budget has a lovely minimalist sophistication about it.
65. Casa 12.20
Finally, last but certainly not least is this gem by architect Alex Nogueira. From what I can tell, it looks to be prefabricated, but it has that characteristic white box design. What an exquisite minimalist haven to call home!
Conclusion: Minimalism and Tiny House Design Emphasize Functionality, Simplicity and Purposeful Living
We are living in a time where we are seeing a lot of transformations in society. Millennials entering the workforce and struggling with a tough economy are starting to question the lifestyles of their parents, which in many ways were typified by large suburban houses.
In a way, we can look at home design as a metaphor for how we live our lives. Sometimes those large suburban houses worked, but it was by coincidence—not because they typically featured a strong emphasis on functionality in design. The same went for the suburban lifestyles those houses represented. When those lifestyles worked, it was by luck, not design.
Tiny houses are a reactionary metaphor. Because these homes are so tiny, every surface must be functional, and wherever possible, openness, space and lightness must be emphasized.
This is what minimalism makes possible in tiny house design. And if minimalist tiny houses are a metaphor for the lifestyle of the new generation, what we are seeking today is openness, serenity, simplicity, purpose and imagination.