DIY Tips

Cozy Kitchen Updates: Small Costs, Large Payoffs

Small adjustments to a room, especially in a tiny house or Cozy Home, can make a large impact. Without spending a lot of money, a few simple projects in a small kitchen can maximize space, enhance the visual aspects and even add value to the home. Maximizing space is essential in a small home and there are several simple tasks a homeowner can complete themselves.


Christopher Toleman and David Silverstein, co-owners of Arocon Roofing and Construction, give homeowners tips on how to improve their kitchens if space is an issue.
“Inexpensive, open shelves can really provide you with the most storage for less,” Toleman says, “Slide-out baskets can also be installed to the underside of wall cabinets.”

Extra storage in the kitchen can also be created by adding shelves to the inside of cabinet doors and by using nails as hooks underneath the cabinets. Hanging pots, pans, lids and utensils from these hooks makes them easier to get to and frees up cabinet space. Increasing the visual appeal in a kitchen can be as simple as updating hardware and adding a coat of paint.

“Updating hardware, like drawer pulls, is a quick and easy way to spice things up,” Silverstein says. “Painting your kitchen cabinets is another great way to brighten up your kitchen.”


If a homeowner wants to add value to their kitchen on a budget, it’s important to choose the most impactful project. Increasing the amount of natural lighting in a room, such as adding a skylight, can add value by making the space look bigger and feel more comfortable. Redoing the flooring is also a great place to start.

“The floor gets the most use, so replacing or upgrading your floors will greatly increase the value of the home,” Toleman says.

There are many types of flooring, each with different benefits.  Tile has the most visual appeal and comes in many colors and textures. Laminate is durable and low maintenance. Wood is warm underfoot and quiet. Vinyl is inexpensive and has several colors to choose from. Also, upgrading appliances can significantly increase value of the home. When choosing which appliances to improve, start with the fridge.

“Your refrigerator is the appliance that gets used the most and also has the most visual impact because it’s the largest,” says Silverstein. “Today’s refrigerators really maximize food storage and are much more energy efficient than older fridges.”

Arocon Roofing and Construction is a screened and approved member in the HomeAdvisor network. They focus on creating individualized construction solutions and specialize in roofing, siding, gutters, kitchen/bathroom remodels and more. HomeAdvisor, is a leading website and mobile app provider offering resources for home repair and improve projects. For more tips on sprucing up your tiny space visit


Photos by Charles & Hudson and my_eye

Murphy Beds for a Small Home

When you think of Murphy beds, what sometimes comes to mind is some comical movie scene where someone gets trapped inside this bed that folds out of a wall. In reality, the Murphy or wall bed can be an ingenious space saving option for a micro, tiny, small or especially a Cozy home. The original Murphy bed has been around since the early 1900s, but has come a long way and modern wall beds offer more high tech options and beautiful details.


Most Murphy beds fold up into the wall and disappear into a closet or cabinet, leaving additional space for a living or entertaining area. These types of beds work great in a studio home or in the Cozy Home Plans like the 288 square foot Thimble Peak or the 288 square foot Granite Mountain. These days, Murphy beds also include more than just the bed, you can have specialized lighting, storage and clothing cabinets and office components. Because of the mechanics and cabinet work included with Murphy beds, they do not have box springs and the mattress usually sits on a platform or cordage. The beds usually run between $1,500-$2,000. Some of the ultra-chic beds can reach $5,000.

Because of their multiple components, Murphy beds do need to be installed on the wall of your home. The cradle is the mechanism that makes the bed fold up easily into a cabinet and will need to be put together with the correct distance from the wall. The DIY Network has a good tutorial on how to install a Murphy bed.

Here are several simple Murphy beds at different price points that could work in a smaller home as either a main bed or even a guest bed:


This Queen size Murphy bed is simple, but still includes a small closet, a side table and some storage drawers. It is currently going for $1,727 on


This Hiddenbed by BREDABeds is $1,995 and converts from a desk to a bed without having to remove the desk’s contents. It also includes a side hutch.


With this bed you get a living room and a bedroom all in one cabinet. The Dile sofa bed by Flying Beds provides a stylish seating area and some shelving and a fold down bed inside. The price for this bed is $5,710.

Photo by Andrew Sinclair/Flickr

Cleaning a Cozy Home: Three Tips

Anyone who lives in a Cozy or small home knows full well that cleaning a tiny space is much easier and quicker than cleaning a 3,000 square foot home. In my small home, it really only takes me about half an hour to dust, clean the bathroom and run the vacuum. I can get it done on a weekday afternoon and have the rest of the weekend to relax and have fun. However, when you have a smaller home, there are some tips that can come in handy when keeping a small space clean.


1. Stay on top of things

When you have a tiny or small house, everyday clutter can pile up quickly since you don’t normally have the storage space or appliances to stash projects, dirty clothes, paperwork or dirty dishes away. In a tiny home, a little time each day should be spent making sure all the dishes are washed and put away, the beds are made, laundry is either being washed or the dirty clothes are in their respective hamper, and books and other objects are in their proper place. This allows you to do your regular cleaning much faster since you are not busy picking up after yourself.

2. Keep your cleaning products clean

According to the Environmental Working Group, many cleaning products labeled “green” are actually full of toxins including phthalates, carcinogens and chloroform. Not only do these chemicals find their way into your food,  and your lungs but they are washed down the drain into our water supply, rivers and lakes. Keep your small home even simpler by cleaning with EWG approved cleaners or just doing your cleaning with natural cleansers like vinegar, lemons or salt.

3. Reduce the size of your vacuum cleaner

In a tiny house, there is no need to drag around one of those heavy vacuum cleaners, in fact, you might not even need one. For a simple, small home with wood floors, a broom will be enough to clean the floor. However, if you want a vacuum cleaner, brands like Shark, Dirt Devil and Dyson all sell smaller vacuums that use bags or are bagless.

Photo by Boston Public Library

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

7 Budget-Friendly Ideas to Improve Your Backyard This Summer

mailThe trees and grass are turning green and the days are getting longer; it’s time to turn your attention to beautifying the outside of your cozy home. Just like a messy yard will hurt your home value, an above-average yard can increase your property value. That, coupled with the enjoyment you’ll get from a fantastic yard, is worth getting your hands dirty for. A functional outdoor living area can make your tiny house seem bigger without adding the long-term costs of adding interior square footage. Here are seven ideas to inspire you as you contemplate how to upgrade your outdoor areas:

1. Landscape Like a King

A well-manicured lawn can make all the difference between your yard looking “okay” and “gorgeous.” Fortunately, it’s not difficult, or expensive, to make it look like you have a full-time gardener. By putting in some sweat equity during the evenings and weekends, you can create beautiful flower beds, install a stone pathway and build a pergola over the patio adding both beauty and value to your property.

2. Water the Grass for Less

An inefficient sprinkler system can waste the equivalent of a bathtub full of water an hour, according to If that’s the case, now’s the time to invest in a system that will conserve resources. Take advantage of nature by catching rainwater in a barrel that you can make, like the one featured here at Green Building Elements, to catch falling raindrops and runoff from the gutters.

3. Add a Pool or Water Fountain

Stay cool and save time commuting to the local municipal swimming pool by installing your own above ground pool. Significantly less expensive (and time consuming) to install than in-ground pools, you’ll add functionality and fun to your yard and have less lawn to mow. If a pool doesn’t appeal to you and your family, a fountain makes a great focal point in your front or back yard. Add a string of white lights to showcase the fountain after dark.

4. Rock Out with a Rock Garden

For folks too busy to cut and water grass, a rock garden may be the right addition to the yard. It’s inexpensive, easy to do and low-maintenance. Surround the area around the pool with rocks or put it up near the house to make mowing the remaining grass easier.

5. Grow Edible Plants

Imagine stepping outside every morning and picking fresh berries to for the fruit and granola parfaits you’re making for your family’s breakfast–when you have berry bushes this can be a reality. You can also plant tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and herbs to create a backyard that multi-tasks for you.

6. Add Multi-purpose Seating

If you don’t have enough storage space in your garage and don’t want to build a small shed to house your landscaping tools, put your building skills to work by creating a couple of benches that double as storage boxes. Get some thick foam from your local home building store and heavy-duty decorative fabric to create custom seat cushions to place atop the boxes, and no one will ever know that the garden hose is hidden underneath.

7. Entertain in Your Outdoor Kitchen

If you’re eating out–meaning, in your backyard–a few times a week or more, then this little addition will be well worth the time and investment. Adding a counter top and sink will make food prep easy, and a fridge will keep meat at a safe temperature until it’s ready to cook, and the cold beverages will be ready at a moments notice.

Before you begin, decide which of these would make the best improvement to your home and start with one project, rather than jumping into multiple projects all at once. Not only will you be less stressed, it will be easier on your pocketbook as well.

Guest Post for Cozy Home Plans by Joe LaPaglia

Joe is the tech-savviest grandpa he knows, but his first love is his garden. Joe is a retired history professor who loves imparting his wisdom to new generations.

The Emotions Behind Paint Colors

Creating your perfect Cozy Home is combining both “visual” charm and “physical” comfort. A space that appeals to all 5 senses; sight, hearing, taste, smell & touch in a positive way will quickly become your favourite one. There are a lot of ways to do this; one of those is picking the right paint colour to help make any room feel alive and comfortable.

Based on experiments, different colours instil different vibes and emotions. The psychology of colours relies mainly on a sighted person’s mental and emotional sensibilities. Say, you see a cool one. The first vibe that you get from this is that the place is a restful one, where if you see a warm colour, the vibe that you get is that the place gives you passion and drive.

You can – in addition to setting the desired mood for your home – set goals for a specific room. This room could be a nursery, so you might want to paint it with bright and playful colours. This room could be a study room, so you might want to paint it with metallic colours to inspire you to strive for bigger achievements. You can use this colour psychology in order to achieve the mood that you want. Restaurants, if you have noticed, also use this. They usually paint their spaces with bright red, yellow and orange colours which evoke the feeling of hunger, savour and delight. Here is a rundown of a few colours and the emotions that they evoke.

  • WHITE: peace, comfort, purity
  • BLACK: power, authority
  • GRAY: practicality, neutrality
  • RED: love, romance, passion
  • ORANGE: warmth, happiness
  • YELLOW: warmth, enthusiasm
  • GREEN: growth, money
  • BLUE: peace, serenity, restfulness
  • PURPLE: death, creativity, mystery
  • BROWN: stability, strive
  • PINK: gentleness, love, romance


As you can see, different colours evoke different emotions. Expressing your personality through colours is a great way to show off “you”. The emotions behind paint are sometimes left unnoticed, but they actually do affect people both mentally and emotionally.

Painting is a great DIYer project but it usually takes more time than you think. Here are some tips that may make it easier.


Cozy,  Kevin B Harrington

Small Patios for Cozy Homes

Now that the weather has warmed up around most of North America, the garden centers and landscaping stores are full of people pushing around carts laden with pavers and patio stones to build that perfect outdoor patio. A Cozy, small or tiny home can also benefit from an outdoor patio. They offer a great refuge to sit and enjoy your garden as well as an extension of the indoors. Patios can be placed anywhere in your yard: right off a back door, tucked in a secluded corner or they can even encompass the majority of your yard.


For a Cozy home, a smaller patio might work best. Not only will it be less expensive to construct and you could do the labor yourself, but it will not overwhelm a smaller home. With a good design you can also fit an eating area, some plants, a barbecue and maybe even a small water feature. Pre-cut paver stones or bricks make a good patio and they can be laid down in a variety of patterns and styles. Natural stone pavers create a more organic look, but will need to be adjusted a few times to fit together – like a puzzle. Both types of pavers can have sand, small pebbles or “gator dust” pour in between them to create a smooth, seamless patio. Also make sure that you create a level and stable patio that can support foot traffic, chairs and tables. Transition areas between the yard and the home should also be smooth and should not have sharp corners or places where you can trip.


Here are some additional design tips for building a small patio for a small home (from Better Homes & Gardens):

• Make the design attractive: It should complement the house and landscape, as well as provide a comfortable living space.

• Don’t be square. Add slabs at the corners of paver patio, for instance, to make a unique geometric form. Curves often make the best use of space.

• Create a hidden or enclosed patio away from the house. It is one of the simplest outdoor rooms you can make. All you need is level ground, comfortable seating, and the shelter of trees and shrubs.

• Extend a patio’s usefulness with a roof or partial cover. Position the patio to be warmed (but not baked) by the sun; a southeast or southwest location is ideal.

• Keep in mind the costs of maintenance over the anticipated lifetime of the paving material, when figuring the patio’s cost initially.



Photos by Wonderlane and Houzz

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

Small Home Security Systems

We all hope that when we simplify our lives into a tiny, small or Cozy home that our world will become a little more ideal. Unfortunately this is not the case in most locations these days. No matter what the size of your home, you can still be burglarized and what little items you do own could end up in someone else’s hands. Many tiny home owners these days are looking into home security systems and there are some great systems that are suitable for smaller spaces.


A two-camera wireless system will cost around $250.

What type of system you buy will depend on how much you will want to spend and also how much coverage you want. It will also depend on how often you will be away from your home. You could go simple with a home security camera that sends the feed directly to your computer or TV, or a motion detector alarm system from an online store like the Home Security Store. Their one to two camera systems cost around $200 for wireless DVR security system and their hard-wired alarm kits are around $150. They also offer other burglary deterrents like warning window stickers, simulated cameras and small door alarms for around $30. Another inexpensive way to add your own security is to install outdoor motion lights that turn on when movement is detected around your home. You can also get a reliable watchdog from the local shelter. Also, remember to have good locks on all your doors and windows.

If you want a full security system, the Protection 1 company offers a full system with a 24-hour UL listed monitor, touchscreen keypad and a pet-friendly motion detector. This system also includes a remote arm/disarm option and a remote lock/unlock doors option. You can also get text alert and email notifications if your system is compromised. The cost of this system will depend on the size of your home and other options you may want.


Photo by Home Security Store

Tankless Water Heater Located in a Wall Cavity

The blog, Backyard Home Pros, recently posted an article about the Noritz Tankless water heater that saves room by fitting snuggly into the exterior wall studs of your  tiny or small home. Most tank water heaters can take up approximately 8-10 square feet of space and even a regular tankless water heater needs space for accessibility and will usually be installed on the outside of a home, which on a small home, is less than pretty.


The Noritz Tankless water heaters are eco-friendly and energy efficient and can provide up to 40 percent in utility cost savings. The water heaters come in several different sizes and models including the NRC83 with a maximum of 157,000 btuh and weighs about 60 lbs. One of their smallest water heaters is the indoor/outdoor NR50 which has a maximum of 120,000 btuh and only weighs 33 lbs. Each of the water heaters come with a tiny enclosure that protects the studs, insulation and the interior walls from leaking and damage. A small cover or door can be placed over the unit for access from the outside. The one disadvantage I see is that insulation cannot be added in front or behind the unit.


According to Noritz, a tankless water heater also reduces carbon emissions. If every U.S. household installed a tankless water heater, it would equate to the CO2 savings of taking about 6.7 million cars off the nation’s roads. In addition, Noritz instant hot water units last up to twice as long as traditional water tanks and use recycled components and replaceable parts which keeps older water heaters out of landfills.

All of our micro, tiny and small home designs anticipate using both a tankless water heater and a mini-split ductless heating and cooling system. Space saving and efficiency go hand in hand here at Cozy Home Plans.

Photos by Backyard Home Pros and Noritz

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

6 Tips for Planning a Great Cozy Kitchen

The number one on our “6 Must Haves” list is a fully functioning Kitchen. Not “only” because I enjoy cooking so much, it’s also about a few other things too. Like Economics, cooking at home is simply cheaper than eating out. Being healthy, you can better control what goes into your body by preparing meals yourself. If you happen to be sharing your home with others, a great Kitchen allows for Connections with your loved ones.

Andrew Odom over at tinyrevolution taught me a new word “passivity” a few months back when he made very this profound statement.

“The cool thing about small spaces is it literally forces us to “brush up” against each other and forces interactions. There’s literally is no room for passivity.”

Passivity, BAD    Connections, GOOD! 975 sq ft Small House Floor Plan "Gypsy Rose" 3D Kitchen View

975 sq ft “Gypsy Rose” 3D Kitchen View 648 sq ft Small House Floor Plan "Galley Haven" 3D Kitchen View

648 sq ft “Galley Haven” 3D Kitchen View










Finally, the Tips!

#1 Use lazy Susan’s or corner base cabinets as often as possible because they provide easily accessible corner storage and ample countertop space above.

#2 Take complete advantage of the ceiling height by using taller 36” or 42” uppers to provide additional storage space in a smaller kitchen. There more expensive, but well worth it in a small Kitchen.

#3 If space allows, consider adding a “portable” island to free up counter space. This adds additional storage and another food prep work surface.

#4 Always plan for utilizing a wall mounted microwave. This frees up to counter top area for additional tasks. We always use a full size one in our designs, even if the stove is smaller. The trick is to keep them out of a direct line of sight because the symmetry is now off.

#5 Add accent lighting or a skylight to brighten up a smaller kitchen and don’t forget to choose the right paint color!

#6 During the design process consider, eliminating the separate Dining room and include that square footage in the Kitchen. Combining an “Eat-In” or “Breakfast Bar” to a small house kitchen layout just makes sense. The single space will inevitably be larger by doing this.

People always seem to gravitate to the Kitchen for some unknown reason, a good layout make yours both Cozy and Functional for many years to come.

Cozy,  Kevin B Harrington


Kitchen Countertop Options for a Cozy Home

The kitchen in a small, tiny or Cozy house will most likely be one of the central parts of the home and the countertops are more than likely going to be the stars of that part. They will be subjected to all sorts of traffic and abuse and you will want the best material installed that you can afford. But what to get? There is a huge amount of choices out there for every budget and it can be overwhelming. Here are the top materials with their pros and cons.



When most people think of luxury countertops, they think of granite. They are more affordable than they used to be and come in a huge range of colors and patterns. Granite countertops are durable and won’t scratch and are resistant to heat, cold, stains and water. However, they can be very expensive and need to be custom cut to the size of the kitchen. They also require resealing about once a year. $50-$400 per foot cost.



Beautiful, but heavy marble comes in a wide range of colors and patterns and offers a nearly indestructible surface. It’s very heat-resistant, but can be stained or etched by acids and some cleaning products. $100-$400 per foot cost.


Lava Stone (Pyrolave)

This unusual material has a beautiful finish and many color options. It’s surprisingly non-porous and highly resistant to heat, cold, stains and scratches. It’s also low maintenance, but very expensive. Around $225 per foot cost.


Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a beautiful choice for a modern kitchen. It’s durable, stain and spill proof, impervious to temperature and is easy to clean (with specialized products). They can become nicked or scratched over time and tend to show a lot of fingerprints. $100-$300 per foot cost.



The first time I saw a poured concrete countertop, I fell in love. You get the look of stone with a lot less cost and the materials is smooth, strong and durable. You can also personalize it with lots of textures (including embedded materials like stones and shells) and colors. However, they can get cracked and are porous unless they are regularly sealed and waxed. Each concrete countertop does need a custom cast. $80-$150 per foot cost.



Soapstone has been used for ages to make stoves, so this heat-proof stone is a perfect choice for the kitchen. It has a smooth, matte gray finish and is resistant to acids. Scratches can be sanded or oiled away and the stone is not as harmful to the environment as other quarry harvested rock. It does need regular maintenance and may crack, chip or scratch. $75-$150 per foot cost.



Glass is an interesting and stylish approach to kitchen counters. They are naturally heat-resistant and easy to install. They can be chipped or broken easily and must be replaced. They also show lots of fingerprints and scratches. $60-$300 per foot cost.


Engineered Stones (Silestone, CaesarStone, etc.)

Engineered stones will give you the look of granite or marble for about half the price. They come in various mixes of quartz combined with pigments for nearly any color you can think of. They resist scratches and stains and no sealant is required. However, they are not heat-proof. $50-$150 per foot cost.


Solid Surface (Corian, Staron, ECO, etc.)

Solid surface countertops are made with durable, man-made acrylic and have a very smooth surface which is easy to integrate into the sink and backsplash. You can even sand away stains and scratches. A ton of colors and patterns are available and they can be made to look like marble or granite. They can be damaged by heat. $45-$150 per foot cost.


Wood/Butcher Block

Many aspiring chefs dream of the full butcher block kitchen counter which are useful for prepping and chopping foods. The look of wood makes the whole kitchen seem warmer, but because it is porous it will need regular maintenance and a food-safe sealer. The wood can become damaged by burns, dents and spills. $40-$150 per foot cost.


Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is DIYer’s dream. It’s fairly inexpensive and easy to install. The tile itself is heat and moisture-resistant. However, it’s the germaphobe’s nightmare. Food spills can become embedded in the grout and the tiles can get scratched, stained or broken. $2-$150 per foot cost.


Laminates (Formica, Pionite, etc.)

One of the most budget-friendly materials, laminates are stain-resistant, waterproof and low maintenance. They also come in a large range of colors. They are not heatproof, though and can crack and scratch and are difficult to repair. $45-$70 per foot cost.


Paper-based Composite (PaperStone, Richlite, etc.)

These types of composites are made from recycled paper, so they are some of the most green materials for kitchen countertops. They are durable, harder than wood and somewhat heat-resistant. They can scratch and stain and they do require sealant. $45-$70 per foot cost.


Bamboo & Paper Composite

This is another green material made from the fast growing and sustainable grass. It’s durable, won’t discolor and is scratch, water and stain-proof. A few colors are available but it does require some maintenance. $35+ per foot cost.

By Christina Nellemann for [Cozy Home Plans]

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