News Home & Design Ohariu Is a Net-Zero Tiny House Designed by Architects This tiny house emphasizes a fully functional kitchen and lots of storage. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated June 17, 2021 03:46PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Build Tiny Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Creating a sense of spaciousness in a tiny house—while also incorporating all the basic amenities like kitchen, bathroom, and storage—isn't an easy task. Implementing a smart layout and multipurpose furniture to maximize space can help immensely, as can carefully selecting materials and adding lots of windows. And of course: storage, storage, storage everywhere. While most tiny houses get this formula right, there are some tinys that really do it well. The 183-square-foot Ohariu tiny house is one outstanding example when all these design elements coalesce perfectly together, creating an uplifting living space that is minimalist, yet warm. Designed by New Zealand-based architecture firm First Light Studio and built by local company Build Tiny (seen here previously for their Millennial, Boomer, Buster, Archer, and Camper tiny homes), the Ohariu features the convenient detachable trailer that Build Tiny is known for, as well as a sleek exterior clad with black corrugated metal. Here's a quick look at the inside and outside from Build Tiny: Build Tiny The net-zero, solar-powered house was constructed for a client that had been dreaming of moving into a tiny house for years and finally made the plunge by hiring the award-winning First Light Studio to undertake the design, with Build Tiny brought on to construct the project. As First Light's architects explain, this was both an opportunity to design something novel: "Unlike the low-cost, DIY rationale that often underpins tiny house construction, our client’s motivation was to have a beautiful piece of architecture: we had the luck and rare opportunity to design a bona fide transportable tiny home. The brief called for a 'refined tramping lodge on wheels', within New Zealand Transport Agency regulations regarding width, height and weight – the latter an unusual challenge for architects. An idyllic section in Ohariu Valley was earmarked for occupation, although given its transportability the design needed to consider alternative future locations too." The final design has done well to meet those expectations. Beginning with the home's entry, which is marked by large overhead windows, and French doors that can be opened completely to bring the outdoors into the interior. Besides these openings, there are a number of sizeable windows throughout the home to bring plenty of natural light in. Build Tiny Once inside, we come into the living room, the highlight of which is the daybed area off to one end of the house. Build Tiny The daybed not only has three separate storage bins hidden underneath, it's also on wheels, meaning it can be moved around to change the layout. The daybed centers on a large picture window behind it and is also framed by huge storage cabinets overhead and to the side. The full ceiling height and angular roof of the tiny house are utilized to good effect here, creating an overall sense of spaciousness. Build Tiny Looking toward the other end of the house, we get a view of the kitchen. The material palette has been pared down here, emphasizing materials like birch plywood for the floor and stairs, and poplar core plywood for the walls and the ceiling. The pale, warm colors of the wood and the minimal detailing expand the small space to feel more like a seamlessly bright and clean atmosphere. Build Tiny The 9.8-foot long stainless steel kitchen counter was installed to address the client's need for a fully functional kitchen. There's a sink with a space-saving cutting board, a two-burner gas stove, a small oven, and lots of deep drawers to store things. We love the integrated wine rack that uses wire mesh to keep it light and open. Build Tiny At the end of the counter, there is the possibility of flipping up an extension to create a little dining nook. Build Tiny Across from the kitchen, we have the stairs, with each tread corresponding to even more storage cabinets, plus a grill that hides the home's heater. Build Tiny There is a built-in kitchen nook here, with space to install a washing machine underneath. Build Tiny The bathroom is gorgeous, and is accessed behind a pocket door. Build Tiny In addition, there is custom cabinetry and a small porcelain sink, composting toilet, and a glass-walled shower. Build Tiny The bedroom sits above the bathroom and features that recessed stepwell that lets one stand up before getting into bed. It's really lovely up here, thanks to the huge skylight and the recessed LED strip lighting at the foot of the bed. Build Tiny In total, the build costs $106,000—not cheap for a tiny house, but then, you get what you pay for, and hiring an architect isn't usually cheap. It's an impressively designed build and will follow the client wherever she chooses to go next. To see more, visit First Light Studio and Build Tiny.