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AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

Design Tips from the Holmes Home

January 23, 2018

We renovated this tiny house for our friend and favorite metal worker Jimmy Don’s son, Jake. That alone made this project special and fun for us. With a tiny house like this one, I love finding new and creative ways to keep the space organized and functional, which is why this living area is one of my favorite rooms in the Holmes home! Read the “why” behind some of our design decisions in this room and get a few of my favorite design tips for a tiny area of your house below!


This floating staircase is really the centerpiece of this modern cabin-style living room. Obviously the number one thing to remember when designing a tiny house is that every square foot counts, and with a floating staircase you save floor space and create a really unique feature. We designed the metal railings for the staircase which were custom-made by our friend, Lonnie, and I love that the modern black iron is a perfect balance to the natural wood steps. This staircase might be my favorite feature of the entire home!


Design challenges present themselves one after another in a tight space, and the trick is to get creative with your solutions. One challenge that we ran into in here was the lack of room for a ceiling fan—which was important to Jake. We decided to install a powerful oscillating fan on the wall to move air in the hot summer months. I love that it’s different, a little masculine, and nostalgic. It’s perfect for this tiny house!


This is a bachelor pad and it’s out in the country, so I wanted to keep every aspect of the design as low maintenance as possible. I love wood floors, but they do come with a little upkeep, so I decided to go with tile floors that look just like wood. I definitely suggest using them if you want to achieve the same look as wood but you have pets, small kids, or if it’s in a high traffic area then they’re easy to clean and very durable.


Jake’s house is on a beautiful piece of land out in the country, so I wanted to capitalize on the scenery by installing picture windows along the back wall and large windows in the french doors and in the doors leading out to the back patio. In this case, the more opportunities to look outside and see this pretty land, the better. Not only do the windows serve as all the wall art Jake will ever need, but they make the space feel bigger. In a tight space, something as simple as a set of french doors with large windows can make a space feel larger and more open.


With no walls creating separation or definition in this space, carving out intentional little nooks is what makes this home feel cozy. And what better way to cozy-up a cabin than with a wood-burning stove? Not only is this functional for heating the room, but it’s a really masculine and interesting design feature that adds to the overall character of the living area. To make a small space like this feel like its own, rather than a part of a great room, try carrying the flooring—whether it be tile or wood—up onto the wall like we did here. This wall in particular is a warm contrast to the black iron stove and the gray shiplap walls which creates a good balance between the cabin and modern styles.


Texas isn’t usually freezing cold, but our winters can definitely get uncomfortable. Storing wood inside rather than outside makes the job of fueling this wood-burning stove much more manageable when it’s cold enough to need it. Our friend, Lonnie, built this wood storage rack we designed on the wall to match the stove and the stair railing. It’s definitely a practical feature for Jake, but it’s also a really interesting design detail that gives the space personality. If you have any kind of wood burning fireplace in your home, I highly suggest working your wood supply into your design somehow to save yourself a trip into the cold. If you don’t have room for a rack, even using a vessel like a log holder can work!

Thanks so much for tuning into the Holmes home renovation tonight! Be sure to come back next Monday to read the whole design story and to see all of the before and after pictures for Jake’s tiny house. And comment below to let me know which feature in the house is your favorite!


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  • Amanda
    7:36 pm, February 18, 2018
    Love this reno! Would you share what the paint color is?
  • Barb Norcross
    12:25 pm, February 18, 2018
    On this episode, I truly loved so many aspects of the entire house! From the exterior color, to the giant picture window in the main living space, to the cool kitchen, to the beautiful floating staircase and the awesome bedroom, I loved it all!!
    For such a small space, EVERYTHING worked so well together! Chip & Joanna, you are both true masters of carpentry and design!!
  • Mari
    5:14 am, February 10, 2018
    This is my style...black colour with the colour wood...very natural project. I think it is my favourite...love it.
  • Vanya
    7:17 pm, February 9, 2018
    Hiya! We're fans from London UK. We really liked the zinc-sale cladding on the exterior of the house. What type of wood was used to create that effect please?
  • @ourvintagefarmhouse
    3:43 pm, February 9, 2018
    Wow!! All of it is incredible!!
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