5 Surprising Things People Regret Buying for Their Tiny House

Denise Bayron's tiny home includes many plants, some of which she regrets purchasing

The Spruce / Denise Bayron

When it comes to shopping for our homes, we all have ideas of what we need, followed by the occasional realization that we probably didn’t need it after all. The same is true for tiny home owners. After living in their tiny homes, these owners realized that they had items that just weren’t going to work for their spaces. Here are five surprising things people regret buying for their tiny house.

  • 01 of 05

    Porcelain Dinnerware

    Antionette Yvonne in her tiny home

    Antionette Yvonne

    • Owner: Antoinette Yvonne
    • Location: Traveling California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Mexico
    • Tiny Home Size: 2019 RAM Promaster, 136 WB, high roof
    • How Long in Tiny Home: Seven months
    • What I regret buying: Porcelain dinnerware 

    Before solo van-lifer Antoinette Franklin, otherwise known as Antoinette Yvonne, left her home in Indiana to chase the sun in her van Zion, she bought two sets of Mercer dinnerware from Crate and Barrel.

    “I’m a ‘wannabe’ chef,” she said. “And there’s nothing like settling down in the comfort of your own home (van), with a beautifully and deliciously cooked meal on a decorative plate. I enjoy my meal twice as much, then.”

    Knowing the road might get bumpy, she tried to wrap and secure the porcelain dinnerware, but they were no match for a pothole. After the third piece broke, she realized she’d made a mistake.

    “I regret buying them because I live in a van. I drive. And things break.”

    Now, Target is her new best friend as she’s on the hunt for a set of unbreakable, yet beautiful dinnerware that can be easily maintained.

  • 02 of 05

    RV Washing Machine

    tiny home of Erika Kessler-Ison

    Erika Kessler-Ison

    • Owner: Erika Kessler-Ison
    • Location: Durango, CO
    • Tiny Home Size: 290 sq ft 
    • How Long in Tiny Home: 2.5 years
    • What I regret buying: RV washing machine 

    When Erika Kessler-Ison told her family that she’d be moving into a tiny house with her husband Raymond and their dogs Otto and Stella, they started to give them gifts they thought were fit for a tiny house. These were miniature versions of standard-sized items that they already owned, like a metal colander that wouldn’t hold much more than a pint of berries. For them, items being smaller didn’t necessarily make them more practical or functional.

    This was true for their portable RV washer and dryer. Smaller than a standard machine, they bought it as a laundry option that wouldn’t take up too much space. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for them to figure out it wasn’t going to work.

    “Because it was so small, we were doing laundry every day,” she said. “Even then, we still needed to go to the laundromat to wash larger items like sheets, blankets, etc.”

    After a couple of months, the machine broke and they didn’t bother to replace it. Instead they continued to use laundromats and an on-site laundry at their parking spot. They intend to buy a combo washer-dryer unit, but aren’t in any rush, she said.

  • 03 of 05

    DIY Couch With Storage

    In an effort to make the most of their space the Kessler-Isons built their own couch with under storage. Unfortunately, it was incredibly uncomfortable and they went through cushions “like crazy,” she said.

    They tried using outdoor cushions, which went flat after a few months. Then they tried five-inch thick, heavy-duty foam from a crafting store. While more comfortable, it was expensive and they never got around to making covers for it. Instead, they used an old bedsheet.

    “Three years later and several hundred dollars wasted, we decided it wasn’t worth dealing with anymore and ordered an Ikea couch—easily one of the best purchases we made!”

  • 04 of 05

    Water Reclamation System

    Jennifer Fuist's tiny home

    Jennifer Fuist

    • Owner: Jennifer Fuist
    • Location: Georgia
    • Tiny Home Size: 224 sq ft 
    • How Long in Tiny Home: 3 years
    • What I regret buying: Water reclamation system

    When Jennifer Fuist built Tiny Dreamer, her tiny home, she opted to try a 150-gallon water reclamation system from her builder. She paid $2,850 to install it and was one of 15 people to try the experimental product.

    “I bought it because my intention was to be as off grid as I could until I purchased my own land,” she said. “That meant collecting rainwater and recycling it, using a compost toilet, etc.”

    Unfortunately, it didn’t work as she hoped. She’d get floaters in her drinking water, faulty filers, egg water smell, and cloudy water, she said.

    Time after time, she’d have someone come fix it but to no avail. After about six to eight months, she’d had enough. She had the builder remove the system for a full refund and switched to city and well water.

    “Looking back I would have simply not gotten the water system and just hooked up to regular water,” she said. “It would have saved me a lot of money and stress.”

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05


    Denise Bayron's tiny home features plants

    Denise Bayron

    • Owner: Denise Bayron
    • Location: Oakland, California 
    • Tiny Home Size: 280 sq ft 
    • How Long in Tiny Home: 2 years
    • What I regret buying: House plants

    When knitwear designer and plant mom, Denise Bayron, saw her tiny home for the first time, she imagined it to be filled with plants. She set out to turn it into an atrium and mostly succeeded, except for one dark corner—the "corner of death."

    “Even though it is lit by a skylight, many plants have died when placed there,” she said.

    First, she purchased a fishtail palm to achieve real jungle vibes, but the palm suffered transportation shock and turned brown within a week, she said. She returned it and bought a mature bird of paradise instead. But even with regular rotation, it leaned so heavily toward the skylight, she was afraid she’d find its pot completely shattered on the ground one day.

    Twice defeated, but determined to achieve her dream, she finally settled on a less fancy, but more stable, dracaena marginata tree.

    “It cost waaaay less than the other two, and has transformed my "corner of death" into a tropical and happy corner,” she said.