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How to Turn a Portable Building into a Home

Portable buildings make wonderful ready-made living spaces thanks to the amenities that come already installed – meaning you don’t have to put in plumbing and electricity yourself.

They’re perfect as a guest house, an office, or a home unto themselves – but however you use the space, it does take some small space interior design know-how to make a portable building feel truly cozy.

So whether you’re looking at portable buildings as a tiny home option, need a granny flat for elderly relatives, or want additional income, read on for a few tips for making your new home homely.

Break up monotonous colours – inside and out

A quick way to make a portable building start to feel like home is to break up monotonous whites and greys.

Hang colourful posters and artwork, put in an accent wall, or repaint rooms entirely. Go for lighter paint colours to keep the space feeling open instead of cramped.

For the floors,add in some attractively patterned throw rugs to add excitement to the usual monochrome.

Finally, hanging shutters and putting in a matching door can liven up the exterior of your new space as much as the interior.

Make the outdoors homely, too

When you imagine a beautiful home, you don’t picture it sitting on a barren patch of dirt and grass.

A patio complete with furniture serves makes a portable building look and feel lived in while expanding the living area.

Basic landscaping like retaining walls can also go a long way, and a stone pathway to the doorstep will make the space much more inviting.

With such a small space, caring for the area outside helps add character and homeliness.

Give yourself some privacy

A newly purchased portable building can often feel exposed, and chances are privacy will be appreciated no matter who’s residing in it.

A simple picket fence can both make the outdoor area livelier and provide a bit of a screen from prying eyes.

Planting trees or other shrubbery can help with this as well, though they’ll take longer to offer total privacy, making this a better option if the building is being used as a tiny home.

With such a small space, privacy goes a long way toward giving a feeling of true homeliness and independence.

Recycle – and refurbish – furniture

Whether you’re bringing in old furniture or thrifting new pieces, chances are you’ll be reusing furniture in some way to fill your new space.

This is a wonderfully sustainable move – but make sure you spruce up pieces that have been dinged or scuffed.

Recycled furniture fits with the budget-conscious choice of a tiny home, but it should live up to the rest of the space. Refinish tables and bookcases, and repaint pieces as needed.

In other words: Make sure your new space has new-looking furniture to match.

Add some flora

Trees and shrubs shouldn’t be the only greenery if you want your portable home to look properly lived in.

When beautifying the outdoor space, leave room for flowers, or even a small vegetable garden if space allows.

Indoors, a few houseplants should always have a place in your home –and you can hang them if you’re worried about space.

Surrounding yourself with green, living things both reminds you this is a living space and helps freshen the air around you.

Control the temperature

Indoors, how the space feels matters as much as how it looks – so keep the temperature of your portable building under control.

This a dds to the coziness of the space while serving the practical purpose of saving you money.

Weatherproof your windows and doors, making sure no stray drafts can get in – this alone could save you from ever needing to turn on the heat during mild New Zealand winters.

Adjust your window coverings according to the season: Open curtains during winter days to let in sunlight and warmth, but keep them closed to ward off the hot summer sun.

Better yet for the summer, consider an overhang, an awning, or leafy trees to offer your home more shade.


Portable buildings make for great living spaces, whether you want to live in them full-time, need a guest flat, or are looking for a passive side income.

Whatever the case may be, these spaces give you creative freedom to personalize them how you see fit – and following the tips above will get you well on your way to making your new space feel like a home.