While the “tiny house” movement started back in the late 90s, these micro living spaces have grown in popularity over the last decade—particularly following the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007-2008. With housing loans becoming harder to obtain and financial burdens on potential homeowners growing ever larger, many are turning to tiny houses to downsize their lives and monetary obligations. Tiny houses are frequently less than 300 square feet, but that doesn’t mean that they are all about sacrificing luxury. To prove that, we’ve compiled a list of some thoughtful and innovative tiny house designs, which show that you can still live large and enjoy life to the fullest while reducing your home’s overall footprint.
If you’d like to learn more about tiny houses and sustainable living, you should definitely check out the YouTube channel of Kirsten Dirksen, a blogger for Huffington Post and sustainable living enthusiast who focuses her videos on these topics and more. In particular, be sure to watch the hour-and-a-half long documentary she made on tiny houses: We The Tiny House People. In the meantime, check out these amazing tiny houses for some awesome examples of what can be accomplished with hard work, a small budget, and a tiny space.
Minimal and mortgage-free
In 2011, architect Macy Miller began constructing her 196-square-foot tiny home near Boise, Idaho. During the construction process, she met James, who soon moved in with her as they completed the build. With a flatbed trailer foundation and clad in recycled pallet wood siding, Macy and James’ home is a minimalist take on the tiny house movement. Their tiny house is filled with tons of hidden storage space, and the abundant natural light makes the interior seem spacious, despite the small footprint. It provides plenty of room for the couple, their two children, Hazel and Miles, and their Great Dane, Denver. In 2015, the couple renovated, enclosing the back porch in corrugated tin to provide an attractive additional living space. In total, Macy and James spent just over $11,000 on their tiny house, which provides their family with a great home and allows them to live both rent and mortgage-free.
The Arado weehouse
Alchemy Architects designed and built this gorgeous modern cabin on the Minnesota prairie for a violinist of the Minnesota Orchestra and her family. Their tiny home clocks in at 336 square feet, and came with a modest price tag of $60,000. The beautiful house features off-the-grid living, floor-to-ceiling windows, Douglas fir interiors, and built-in cabinetry and kitchen elements furnished by IKEA. The exterior is clad in painted fiber-cement siding, which provides a rustic look that stands up to the elements, while also being extremely durable and fire-resistant.
A woodsy studio
This beautiful mid-century modern tiny house is located in the backwoods of Chappaqua, New York. Constructed by the design team at Workshop/APD, they found two perfect rock outcroppings to bookend this micro home. At 300 square feet, this tiny home is intimate, but with unique storage spaces, walnut interiors, and inspired use of windows and decking, it maximizes the impact of the great outdoors and gives a luxurious touch. Exterior siding of Ipe wood—also known as Brazilian walnut—continues the natural motif, which allows the home to blend seamlessly into its surroundings, while offering a full package of beauty and durability.
Are you interested in tiny houses, but not sure if you’re ready to change your lifestyle to a smaller space? Consider renting a tiny house for a night or two to try it out. Hidden among the trees in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, this former silo was repurposed into a sculptor’s studio before becoming a sought-after rental property. The “Silo Studio” is surrounded by picturesque gardens, nearby ponds, and even a babbling brook. For $225 per night, you will get a two-story cottage with canopied bed upstairs and charming living space downstairs. You’ll enjoy the peace and quiet of the secluded location, and hikers will love the nearby access to the famed Appalachian Trail.
Rolling rural retreat
Built in just seven months on a budget of $30,000, web designer Alek Lisefski and his girlfriend Anjali turned a serene outdoor space in rural California into their personal retreat. Lisefski built his tiny house on an 8′ by 20′ trailer, which allows him to pick up and move his home in the future if he gets bored of the gorgeous scenery. Lisefski’s home features tons of windows to allow in natural light and visually expand the interior, which only measures 160 square feet. The couple also made their house sustainable, with the ability to live completely off-grid if they desire, as well as greywater recycling to provide their surrounding landscape with extra irrigation—a must in the frequently dry California climate. The natural unstained finishes—made of sustainably harvested beetle-killed Ponderosa pine—complete the rustic and natural beauty of this tiny cottage on wheels.
I’ve been everywhere, man
In 2011, Guillaume Dutilh and Jenna Spesard were struggling with crippling debt and what they felt was an overabundance of “stuff.” In order to live their dreams, the couple downsized their lives, quit their jobs, and built a tiny house on wheels with the goal of traveling wherever the road took them. Their simple yet elegant tiny home was based on plans provided by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which offers models of several different tiny houses on wheels. While their home is only 135 square feet, it has racked up over 25,000 miles as Jenna and Guillaume have hauled it across more than thirty states and five Canadian provinces. Along the way, the couple blogged about their building process and travels, attracting thousands of followers online and scoring hosting gigs with HGTV and other television networks.
A tiny “crib”
Based on traditional American corn cribs—farm buildings which were used to dry and store corn following the harvest—”The Crib at Strathmore” in West Virginia was designed by Broadhurst Architects in 2011. The 250-square-foot home features moveable and convertible elements—such as an expandable kitchen wall—in order to allow the homeowners to customize their space depending on their needs from day to day. A sleeping loft, bathroom, bathroom and kitchen provide everything you need, while a beautiful deck with a glass-paned garage door connects the home to the great outdoors. Best of all, this tiny house was built completely of sustainable or recycled materials, and the entire home functions as a kit, which can be dismantled, removed, and easily rebuilt on a different location. We absolutely love the unique design of this tiny house, and it’s no wonder that Broadhurst Architects won several architecture and design awards for this project.
Our little secret
Taking a cue from lake and beach houses around the world, the homeowners of “Our Little Secret” combined traditional waterfront construction techniques with a much smaller footprint—only 325 square feet. Located on the gorgeous St. George Island in sunny Florida, this beach cottage features hardy construction—using a insulated paneling system meant to withstand hurricane-force wind—while also taking complete advantage of its surroundings. Except for local water hookups, Our Little Secret is entirely off the grid. Elevated pilings and cheery windows make full use of ocean breezes coming in from the shore, and an expansive covered deck give additional outdoor living space—a perfect place to enjoy the nearly 250 days of sunshine per year.