How To Design A Recycled Tiny House: 9 Projects

These days tiny houses are all the rage, as they provide affordable and sustainable ways for people to live. Everyone wants to know how to design a tiny house.

And it’s par for the course to see tiny houses kitted out with solar panels and greywater systems as a means of living more efficiently and sustainably. Environmentalism is a growing concern for many. Tiny house living is seen as a great way to lower your carbon footprint and overall material consumption.

But you want to know how to design a recycled tiny house with more than just these obvious features, right? Well, one of the best ways to do that is by building with as many reclaimed and recycled resources as possible. So today we’re going to take a look at some of the most inspiring tiny houses made from recycled materials!

1. Andy and Kate’s Off-The-Grid Wonder

Andy Gill and Kate Fox lived in this tiny house, or “tiny hut” in the UK for over three years! Their off-grid wonder was built with multiple reclaimed materials, from salvaged barn wood and old Victorian-era wood for the floorboards.

These two are big proponents of recycling wood, and even build household items out of locally-sourced materials. For them, living sustainably is more than just a lifestyle choice, it’s a philosophy.

2. The Pocket Shelter

The Pocket Shelter is the name for Aaron Maret’s rustic tiny house, a building he completed between 2010 and 2013. This particular project made incredible use of salvaged and reclaimed wood.

  • The flooring inside of the home is all made of repurposed pine
  • The windows that line both sides of the home are framed with salvaged redwood
  • Old barn board and reclaimed birch plywood for the exterior of the home

This build also shows how recyclable materials can influence the overall look of a tiny house. Recycled wood used for the sidings along with red corrugated roofing results in a unique and tasteful “barnyard” aesthetic.

Originally Maret intended to sell the tiny house after putting three years and $24,000 of his own money into building it. But he found himself so inspired by the lovely little home that he decided to move in with his wife and son instead. We don’t blame him.

3. The Tiny Tetra House

This stunningly modern and minimalist tiny house currently resides in Bali, Indonesia. It was built by Stilt Studios, which specializes in “upscale prefabs.” The Tiny Tetra is particularly impressive as it’s majority-built from recycled material.

It’s all in the name really. The walls and corrugated sheet roofing on this home are built out of recycled Tetra Pak cartons. These cartons are a recycled and environmentally-friendly type of food packaging from Switzerland. You read that right – this house is made from food cartons. It’s an inspired way to build a home, and it looks amazing to boot. Not only that, but the sloped roof on the Tetra is designed to redirect and store rainwater for further use.

Florian Holm and Alexis Dernier, the founders of Stilt Studios have dedicated the last two years to designing affordable and sustainable homes. They even started a Kickstarter campaign for promoting the use of recycled materials in construction.

“At Stilt Studios we believe we have the responsibility for both creating unique designs and reducing the environmental impact of our buildings.” Dornier has said.

4. Annalise’s Tiny House On Wheels

This next build was the pipe-dream of its owner, furniture-maker Annalise Zwaan. By utilizing YouTube tutorials and home-build instruction videos, she managed to build a perfect little home for herself. And all on a flat-deck trailer measuring just 23 x 8ft! And by recycling as much of her building resources as possible, she was able to stay true to her eco-conscious principles and keep the build on a low budget.

Much of the building material Annalise sourced for her tiny house was actually reclaimed in the wake of a natural disaster in her home country of New Zealand. After a series of devastating earthquakes in Christchurch city back in 2011, many damaged homes were disassembled. Local NGOs found creative ways to reuse them. That’s where people like Annalise came in.

We have to admit it’s a unique way of figuring out how to design a tiny house with as much recycled wood as possible. She also repurposed an old 60s wood stove that was taken from a house truck. These are just a few of the many clever features of her cabin-style tiny house. And what’s more? The entire build only cost around $19,000USD!

5. 80% Recycled Tiny House

Recycled cardboard and plastic to use for a recycled tiny house

This entry is a perfect example of how to design a tiny house on a low budget. In another project from Christchurch, New Zealand (apparently a haven for tiny houses?), young couple Patrick and Cori have managed to build a tiny home for less than $10,000USD. 

Yes, you read that right. The pair spent months delving into local landfills in order to salvage as many materials as they could for their future home, eventually acquiring enough resources to build 80% of their home with recycled materials! 

Aside from the sheer amount of timber and steel that builder Patrick salvaged from job sites for the build, there are loads of clever features they’ve built into their home using recycled furniture. They use a repainted locker for storage, a bathroom cabinet made from a suitcase, a cable spool for a shelf, and another shelving unit built out of old crates. 

As you can see, their sheer resourcefulness and creativity using recycled goods is a big reason they’ve been so successful in building their tiny home. The couple themselves have said that this is the biggest reason they saved so much money, and they couldn’t be happier.

6. Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

Man using circular saw

While this is technically multiple builds, not one, it only makes it more inspiring! Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is a construction business based in Durango, Colorado. They specialize in building stunning customized tiny houses for their client-base. Many of their builds make use of recycled materials. These include reclaimed corrugated tin and cedar boards for sidings and old barn wood for various portions of the interior. They also use plenty of recycled metal for the frames of their tiny houses. This includes FSC wood, a type of wood that is certified as being made from sustainable or recycled sources.

If you’re thinking of how to design a tiny house in an eco-conscious way, look to the owners of Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses. They maintain that “Tiny Houses are one of the most “green” ways of living that currently exist.” We couldn’t agree more!

7. Shipping Container Home

You can’t have a list like this without mentioning shipping container homes! These structures are becoming increasingly common as more people turn to tiny house living. Reusing shipping containers to build homes has become one of the most viable and affordable ways to build a tiny home.

Sarsha and her husband built their tiny container home at the back of their property in Denver, Colorado. They wanted a sleep-out that could be a safe, cozy place for friends and family who were visiting. And a shipping container was the perfect size and cost for their project.

They bought a 40ft container, cut it down to 33ft, and used it as the base of their new backyard homestay. It’s a simple but practical design, and the layout is surprisingly spacious. When Sasha and her family don’t have guests, they rent out the tiny home on Airbnb.

8. Cabin In The Woods

Natalie Pollard’s home in Candler, North Carolina, may only be 8-feet wide, but she’s more than satisfied with her decision to downsize. Because Natalie is dedicated to living a self-sufficient and eco-friendly lifestyle, so it was only natural that her new home should reflect that.

She made good use of recycled timber for her gorgeous cabin. She built accent walls inside the home using the reclaimed materials she took from the family cabin of an old friend. The cabin was built during the Civil War-era, giving her rustic home a touch of local history. She also found all of the necessary wood for the flooring from a local salvage store.

9. Culture Campsite

This entry also isn’t technically one tiny house – it’s a bunch of them! But we couldn’t keep away from the Culture Campsite. It’s one of the most creative and inspired tiny house projects we’ve ever come across, and it’s a great way to end our list.

Culture Campsite is an urban camping project in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They use clever architecture to recycle different objects and materials and turn them into awesome campers and micro tiny-houses for their guests. For example, one of the most popular structures on the site is a sleeper made out of discarded animal grain silos.

Another sleeper is built from a cattle shelter and another from a 50s delivery van. These fascinating structures have captured the imagination of people all over the world, and for good reason. They are a great way of showing how to design a tiny house with discarded resources that most people wouldn’t look twice at.

People travel from all over to stay in what Campsite describes as “a former parking lot […] transformed into a small green oasis.”


So, you’re wondering how to design a tiny house using recycled, reclaimed, and salvaged materials. Well hopefully this list has given you all the inspiration you need. Tiny houses are already a plus one for the environment. Finding more unique ways to reuse resources is a fantastic way to think about your impact on the world around you. Happy building!

Make sure to check our article with the latest list of Portable Power Generators to start your Recycled Tiny House project

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