joshua tree workshop 2018

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tiny Homes Want Great Outdoor Rooms- Extending Your Livings Space OUTDOORS.

     One trick in space-maximization, or more-so the art of tricking oneself into making a place feel larger than it is, is to create outdoor living spaces, or to visually extend your living space to the outdoors, by lines of sight (stone ways, fencing, bushes). This is something I talk about both at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company Workshops I teach, and at my own classes. It is also something today's guest poster, Carol, specializes in:

Guest blog post by Carol Venolia, Architect (

I believe that the ideal living situation is a tiny home—cozy, well-designed, delightfully meeting basic needs—surrounded by outdoor rooms into which one can expand as the weather allows.
I don’t just mean having a deck. A decks is a flat surface that keeps outdoor furniture from wobbling, but it leaves you impaled on whatever the weather happens to be. The deep green art of outdoor placemaking involves creating micro-climates in which we can be comfortable in a range of weather, while nurturing wildlife habitat so that we’re surrounded by the sensory nourishment of greenery, birds, butterflies, and bees.

Creating Micro-climates
Before the advent of central heating and cooling, our ancestors relied on some basic climate modifiers to keep them warmer in winter and cooler in summer. We can revive these tricks and tools today to keep us comfortable without burning fossil fuels.
For winter warmth, design for passive solar heating: let in the south sun from about 10:00am to 2:00pm, and soak up that sun’s heat with thermally massive materials like stone, brick, or concrete. With the addition of a roof, overhang, or vine-covered trellis, the same space can stay cool in summer, as the thermal mass soaks up body and ambient heat.
For additional cooling, add even deeper shade, introduce water and transpiring plants nearby, and channel breezes toward your outdoor room.
The trick is to notice what your site hands you: sunshine, breezes, vistas, slope, water, plants. Then determine which of these you want to let in, and which you want to block, and design an outdoor structure accordingly—a roofed screened porch for bug-free shade, a stone patio for basking in the sun, a solarium for winter warmth that can also heat your tiny house.

Enhancing Wildlife Habitat
Outdoor living is even more fun when you’re surrounded by a nature paradise--and you can create your own. By adding basic habitat elements—food plants, water, shelter, and territory for raising young—you can nurture the web of life while surrounding yourself with birdsong and lush plant life.
To learn more about how to do this in your region, check out

Learn More
If you want to go deeper with this subject, please visit my website (