Originally Posted By frozenny:
I bought 72 acres. It came with a primitive 12x16 cabin. I also grew up spending tons of time in a tiny island camp that had a 'living room/kitchen/dining room" that measured 12 x12. I have some 40+ years experience living in small spaces.
Keep furniture and clutter to a bare minimum. Keep it simple. Place furniture on walls, leaving center of room open for combined use as travel space from area to area, and visually 'open' area. My 12x16 contains one sofa, one daybed/matress, one small table, two chairs, a woodstove, a small cabinet (on which I place my cook stove) and at 4 foot long piece of countertop. I love the day bed since there is storage space under it. The table stays pressed up against a wall, and is only pulled into the center of the room if there is company. You want to be able to move and reconfigure furniture on an as needed basis. I frequently end up moving furniture on a daily basis (pull a chair by the window to read, pick it up and set it outside for a sunset, move it in my the woodstove for heat, then tuck it away near teh table for then night).
Insulation helps a LOT. My current cabin is not insulated and its very hard to heat.
Windows help a LOT. In small spaces you feel closed in. Big windows allow gret views out, which reduces the closed in feeling.
Gable roof is preferrable to shed roof (flat). More overhead space makes for an airy, less closed in feeling.
Good lighting helps alot. I use mantle-type propane wall mounted lamps.
Basically I like a wood stove in a cabin. Woodstoves need some clearance from furniture, etc. Use that necessary clearance area as your open space in the cabin.
Running water is a real luxury. Running water is a 50 gallon barrel on the roof for dish washing, and hand washing, plumbed to a simply faucet, and a skingle bowl basin plumbed to a drain. Nothing fancy.
Out door spaces help make indoor spaces more liveable. A porch or deck effectively doubles your floor space during good weather.
if its occasional use cabin a primitive privy works fine.
All good advice, and I would add that solar power can keep things simple. Just be careful of fire, the batteries will need to be in a vented area.
And as already mentioned, why not consider 2 steel shipping containers.