Charlie’s Tiny House: Mid Century Modern

Using the same inspiring mid-century modern arch from Patricia’s Tiny House, I have separated the form, similar to a pilaster, from surface decoration and surrounded a tiny dwelling ¾ of the way with arches. Charlie’s Tiny House, much like Patricia’s is totally influenced by the modernity of 20th century American design. The introduction of curved shapes while maintaining an overall rectilinear plan is seen over and over again in modern architecture from dinners such as Sambo’s to burger joints such as McDonald’s.


Sambo’s restaurants were an incredible source of mid-century architecture, which included fanciful roofs, rough stone walls and long stretches of windows. Most were original and delightfully playful in their artistic exuberance.

1587 Shawano Avenue, Green Bay, Wisconsin, McDonald’s Speedee Sign, Built:   c1959, Style:   Mid-Century Commercial, Singular example of iconic McDonald’s metal and neon sign dating to the late 1950’s in Wisconsin. Features include the company’s trademark mascot, “Speedee,” and golden arch design.   This sign remains in its original location, and was recently restored.  

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The “front entrance” of Charlie’s Tiny House.


I have never understood some preconceived notions about house design such as the aspect facing the street should have a front entrance. Famous mid-century modern architects many times set the entrance back, hid the front facing the street with sculpted block or walls and reserved walls of glass for the unseen areas in the so-called back of the house. Charlie’s does not necessarily have a front, but does have entrances. The two doors at the corner of the house lighten the heavy effect of the red stained, wood covered exterior and balance the two long windows on either side.

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A more direct view of the “front”.

The Rietveld chairs, combined with a Platner coffee table, sets a mid-century modern mood, which continues around the rest of the veranda. Mid-century pendant lamps keep the influence going.

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964), Dutch, active 20th century, Red-Blue Chair, designed 1917–18, produced ca. 1950, Painted beech and plywood, Layton Art Collection, Inc., Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo credit: John Nienhuis


Charlie's Tiny House3.pngA corner of the house showing the continuation of the yellow arches, the tall, narrow windows of the bedroom and the cement planters.

Charlie's Tiny House4.pngDirect view of the veranda with the Wassily Chairs by Marcel Breuer, 1925.

Charlie's Tiny House5.pngComing around the corner.

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Straight on view of the side opposite the “front” entrances showing the boulder garden, Lombardi poplars and the French doors leading to the kitchen/dining room.

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An oblique view.

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A closer look exposing the cement, elevated planters and the Grand Confort Chairs by Le Corbusier.

Grand Confort Chair by Le Corbusier (1929).

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This image displays the side of the house with the sanded, stained and clear coated wood strips reflecting the living area extension. The casement window at the roof line is repeated inside.

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Image looking back toward the raised planters and boulder garden.

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Direct view of the side with an entrance on the right.

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Back around to the “front” entrances with a better look at the Rietveld “de Stijl” chairs.

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Coming in through one of the “front” entrances and seeing the living area. The door is to the bathroom. Notice the window above the door.

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A less elevated look at the living area with the door to the bathroom ahead.

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The television console with the door to the bedroom to the right, the door to the bathroom on the left and the dining area straight ahead.

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The bedroom with the two long windows.

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The bedroom with desk and wardrobe.

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Out of the bedroom and looking at the kitchen/dining area. Notice the windows to the bedroom and to the bathroom.

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The kitchen and dining area with the French doors to the veranda on the left.

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The dining area and French doors to the veranda.

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The bathroom covered on the left with the same material on the exterior of the house.

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The bathroom with the door to the living area on the right.

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The bathroom windows.

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Looking back toward the entrances.

This small house is only around 360 sq. ft. and appears much larger due to the ceiling height at 12 ft. The long windows not only let in considerable light, but  also produce a feeling of greater space. One other advantage of tall walls is the ability to hang large artwork which produces a feeling of spaciousness as well.

Charlie’s Tiny House Floor Plan



Patricia’s Tiny House

One of my keen interests in design or architecture is the forms of the mid-century. Modern design lends itself to so many variations that an inexhaustible supply of ideas becomes available. Furthermore, modern design is not only in the realm of commercial and typical residential building, but also in terms of the tiny house movement. In an effort to spur creativity in this realm, I have developed the notion of creating some architectural motifs and patterns whose usefulness brings on new concepts.

These architectural details fall into the American version of modernism with sculpted cement blocks and forms, zigzag roofs and other sorts of applied decorations. Organic architecture will also be considered in formulating designs.

"Lincoln Center by Matthew Bisanz" by Matthew G. Bisanz
“Lincoln Center by Matthew Bisanz” by Matthew G. Bisanz

Arizona State University Library in Tempe in the 1960s
Arizona State University Library in Tempe in the 1960s

Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright 1962-64
Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright 1962-64


The form I developed for Patricia’s Tiny House is a sculpted modern arch. The arches are mainly applied decoration, except the yellow arches support the roof over the patio and entrance to the house. Also included and in contrast to the arches are rectangular forms on the roof with glass panels on either end. These mimic the frequent zigzag pattern in overhangs, roofs and porches  seen in many American mid-century modern buildings, especially small, commercial structures or on schools and hospitals.


Front of Patricia’s Tiny House.

The entrance is to the right, off the patio. Looking through the two large glass panels framed by arches, the living area and kitchen are on the right, while we see a study area in the middle. The bedroom and bathroom are covered by the filled in arch on the left.


View of front from a slight angle.


Another view of the front at a higher sight line.


At this angle we are able to see the patio and entrance.


Showing the patio and entrance head on.


At an angle that, along with the patio, shows the back of building.


The back of the building where we see the multiple arches framing the half-circle, clerestory windows. The rounded forms which push upward are resolved by the triangular shapes on the roof.


A more graphic, drawn image of the arches that surround the tiny house.


The Arches.


The side of the house opposite the patio.


Coming back around to the front.


A closer view of the front.


Peeking through one of the large windows and looking at the living area with the kitchen in the distance.


The kitchen area with large frig, washer/dryer, cook top, and convection oven.


Looking at the living area from the kitchen with the entrance on the left.


The living area, as well as a space for study.


From the kitchen area, we look into the study and bedroom area. The door on the right is to the bathroom.


Inside the bathroom, showing the vanity and toilet.


Toilet, shower in the bathroom. Behind is the door to the rest of the tiny house.


Simple floor plan of the tiny house showing the basic dimensions. Patricia’s Tiny House is 387 interior sq. ft.

As one can see, the introduction of a couple of architectural elements can give a basis for the overall design, in this case, arches and triangular forms. I find the arches extremely pleasing and thought-provoking, which will start many variations for future proposals. Hopefully, since so many things spring to mind, that the use of various mid-century modern motifs and details won’t begin to bore the reader. However, I have already thought of several buildings using the inspiration of the major features of Patricia’s Tiny House.

Until then…





6 Container Houses, Very Nice, Very Modern

EcoWatch has 6 container houses that are quite remarkable in style. The problem is in choosing the best of the bunch. Take a look at: EcoWatch.

New Zealand Beach House
New Zealand Beach House

If you would like to look into even more container houses take a peek at these:

rad interior

poteet container huest house

Video on container houses:

Mute or ignore the music in this one, but the ideas are nice:

And here is some book suggestions:

Container Atlas: Practical Guide to Container Architecture

20+ Beautiful Staircases – Design Milk

This is a wonderful article on staircases, which is of keen interest to tiny house creators and dwellers. Many of the designs are quite unique, if not artistic. See these on Design Milk:

Alternating Stairs

Here is a short video:

Here are some others that should lead you to the idea that stairs have a greater design flexibility than you would think:

Modern Shed

This is a link to a commercial website called Modern Shed that sells and designs small structures. Some of the configurations are quite nice and have a great deal of potential. They offer three models of 10′ x 12′, 10′ x 14′ and 10′ x 16′, but apparently can customize to a great degree. Check out their photo gallery for some extremely pleasing small structures. A quote from their website:

“Modern-Shed provides solutions for limited living and storage space problems. You might be considering a home addition, converting current space such as a garage, bedroom, attic, basement, bonus room or even enclosing a carport in order to give you the extra space you need. You may not have even considered a detached separate structure in your yard. Modern-Shed provides the ultimate solution, as it provides not only more room, but private space only steps from your main home. If you need more room for a home office, an exercise room, craft space, art or music studio, man cave, diva den, photography studio, hobby room, writers den, meditation room, a play room or just a place to hang out and relax in your garden, Modern-Shed was the first and is the highest quality structure of its kind. Pre-fabricated panels can be carried into or around tight spaces for fast assembly. Instead of converting your garage or transforming your carport or turning your spare bedroom or basement into your new, needed space, consider a new style of shed – from the originator of the Modern-Shed concept, completely separated from your home. Imagine a quiet space for yourself or a space to send the kids to play.”


Tiny May Qualify for Scaled Down Sales and Use Tax Base

Tiny Homes May Qualify for Scaled Down Sales and Use Tax Base | Bloomberg BNA

This is a detailed examination from Bloomberg about the tax situation that some may find themselves in, especially if one is going with the wheeled model. The information is useful in also considering advantages one might take in using the rules to work for oneself. Also, though the information is primarily for an American audience, much of the information probably has a general relevance to many other countries municipalities.

Included in the article is a link to another on Salon that describes various matters (including codes) about living in a tiny house titled: Living large in 150 square feet: Why the tiny house movement is taking off.