Tiny footprints: living in small houses
February 13, 2005 5:03 AM   Subscribe

How small could you go? Tumbleweed houses, the m-house, the wee house, the mobile hermitage and other varieties of tiny houses serve as charming abodes, offices, or retreats. Some are evocative of the gypsy vardo or the caravan. Many aficionados are attracted by the whimsy while others see small space homes as a vital cornerstone for sustainable living.
posted by madamjujujive (33 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Some previous MeFi threads related to this topic:
Loftcube by oflinkey and small house, big ambition by feelinglistless.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:06 AM on February 13, 2005

Nice links! They look pretty appealing.

I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space...
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:44 AM on February 13, 2005

I've always been partial to yurts myself, though some of them get pretty "big."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:50 AM on February 13, 2005

Wow, I love those Tumbleweed houses and I'm prety sure I'd be quite happy in an XS house up in the mountains somewhere. Wish I'd seen this four years ago.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:59 AM on February 13, 2005

i live in a tiny house. well, it's what we call a garage apartment. but there's no garage, and it's a free-standing one-room one-bathroom in my landlord's backyard. it's close to school, a good price, and perfectly sufficient. but it's nowhere near as modern and cool-looking as those m-houses or wee houses.
posted by blendor at 6:00 AM on February 13, 2005

Another fine post, madam!

I found myself drooling over the Tumbleweed houses (granted, the slightly roomier models) and thinking about how much more time the small-house lifestyle would prompt me to spend in the great outdoors. Big problem though--where am I supposed to put all my books?!
posted by clever sheep at 6:26 AM on February 13, 2005

These are great. I almost want to live in one, except they seem to forget that lots of people have... stuff.
posted by Josh Zhixel at 6:40 AM on February 13, 2005

With a few exceptions, I love these homes, and I can totally see myself living in one someday. Like clever sheep, however, I have no idea where my books would go. I'm sure a clever architect can remedy that issue.
posted by malaprohibita at 7:53 AM on February 13, 2005

L.A.'s "Storybook" cottages aren't as tiny, but they are still damn cute: posted by xowie at 8:06 AM on February 13, 2005

Here's another great place.

My place is 22x22 feet inside, and has a similar floor plan. That extra few feet seems to make a huge difference. We do have a lot less stuff, though.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:11 AM on February 13, 2005

I love me the tiny houses. Thanks for the amazing links!
posted by Lynsey at 8:24 AM on February 13, 2005

I'm confused. The m-house has ~1100 square feet, so it's not really tiny. I've lived in 2/2 apartments that were 900 square feet and didn't feel as small as that looks, and my current place, which feels big most of the time and is also a 2/2, has about 1200.

So why is that floor plan so cramped? Is it just the strong rectangularity of the design causing inefficiencies in space usage?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:37 AM on February 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

See also, the original tiny house--now available in PDF model goodness. And thanks Madam for a great post.
posted by LarryC at 8:44 AM on February 13, 2005

The house I own, but currently rent to a tenant, is under 700 sq. ft, is 2 bedrooms, 1 bath (large bathroom actually), and it feels much bigger than it is. What helps is the huge windows, and a semi-open floorplan.

Unfortunately, I'll never recoup what I put into the house, in purchasing and remodeling.

It's a very comfortable house, and is really cheap to heat. About $80 per month is the highest gas bill.
posted by yesster at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2005

i want one...my lady has reservations...maybe we could settle on m-house...
posted by es_de_bah at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2005

How is the m-house not just an upscale trailer home?
posted by cabingirl at 9:47 AM on February 13, 2005

I lived mail panel van that was 8 ft x 10 ft for five years with my son. After that we lived in a school bus for another 5 years. Both were gutted and designed for living. It was wonderful.
posted by JohnR at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2005

It's worth recalling what Thoreau has to say in Walden ("Economy") about housing requirements:
However, if one designs to construct a dwelling-house, it behooves him to exercise a little Yankee shrewdness, lest after all he find himself in a workhouse, a labyrinth without a clue, a museum, an almshouse, a prison, or a splendid mausoleum instead. Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary. I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind. Formerly, when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, for unfortunately I am become somewhat callous, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free.
(Of course his cabin at Walden Pond was a bit more capacious, around 160 square feet if I recall, and he'd had enough of it after a couple of years.)
posted by Creosote at 10:12 AM on February 13, 2005

Those Tumbleweed houses, in addition to be positively adorable, would fit quite nicely in my mother's backyard. Now to just convince her to let me built one.
posted by chickygrrl at 10:39 AM on February 13, 2005

I always thought the Pie house would be cool for a student res. (number 3 on the right-hand verticle menu. Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to direct link).
posted by carmen at 10:52 AM on February 13, 2005

Since the m-house link refers to it, these should be tossed in for the record.

I'd love to live in one... minus books, seasonal clothes, plants, and significant other.
posted by ilovemytoaster at 1:09 PM on February 13, 2005

I love small, cleverly designed, simple spaces; my first house was a 900 sq ft cottage, and the only house on the block, as it was buffered by the expansive gardens on either side of it. (These were so large that one of my neighbors had a sizeable corn field and watermelon patch, in addition to tomatoes, onions, squash, and hundreds of flowers; I'd find buckets of it all on my porch throughout summer). It was a tough space for two people (to say nothing of our cats), but if we could have modified it to include a loft, it would have been perfect. Someday I hope to return to a home like it, so I will spend a lot of time going through these links with care. Thanks for another great post, madamjujujive!
posted by melissa may at 1:37 PM on February 13, 2005

Thank you for posting this! I'm not quite ready to look for a house of my own yet, but I'm sure I'll remember these, or at least the ideas around leaving a small 'footprint'. I also love the Tumbleweed houses, and the hay-bale houses are nifty, especially Pi.
posted by kalimac at 2:12 PM on February 13, 2005

where am I supposed to put all my books?!

On your WiFi PDA, of course!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:34 PM on February 13, 2005

Also in this vein: free spirit spheres, to be hung from trees.

Like others here, apparently, I've long been fascinated by the idea of living in a tiny but well-designed space. Some boats are an excellent example of this. (Other boats are poorly designed.) Plus, I could sail around to interesting places. Unfortunately, living aboard a boat would probably be bad for my books and my electronics. (And my relationship...)

During the dot-com crash I wanted to build a cob house, put solar panels and an 802.11 antenna on top, and advertise that I was now forced to write my software while living in a mud hut.
posted by hattifattener at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2005

Thank you, Madam. You've help put me on the way to achieving my dream, a gypsy vardo, preferably the tumbleweed version.

When I was single I lived in a beautiful apartment, I am sure it was less than 300 sq feet. Somehow it felt like the right 300 square feet. I wasn't cramped, I had room for my books, and was cozy as could be. There was no variety, however. I always sat in the same chair, I never had more than three friends over at a time. But I loved it. I don't know if I could live in a tiny house, but my dream is small one. A small one with a gypsy vardo in the back yard.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:05 PM on February 13, 2005

i want one...my lady has reservations...

How about one for each of you, with a tiny shared porch?

What a fabulous post! I've always dreamed about living in a tiny house. I'm going to be poring over these sites for the rest of the evening...
posted by 327.ca at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2005

Nice post. Here's an article from the WaPo about a truly unique and tiny house in Alexandria, VA. It was built in an alley so that a neighbor couldn't ride his carriage through and scrape the walls. The more things change, the more they stay the same. (I think it has something to do with NIMBY).
posted by heydanno at 7:20 PM on February 13, 2005

Great post, MJJ. I'd love to live in one of these, though.
posted by dhruva at 7:35 PM on February 13, 2005

One of the great things about mefi is that if you are interested in a topic, a post will always enlarge your knowledge on the subject, both through personal anecdotes and additional posted links. Interesting comments and links here, thanks to all who contributed!

I was remiss in not pointing to a former thread on teardrop trailers which are very much like the gypsy vardos.

...and ZenMasterThis, if you are partial to yurts, hortense just posted some fabulous yurt links the other day - great stuff!

I am so smitten by all these little dwellings, but being a bit of a packrat, I don't know if I could live in one....what clever sheep said about books, and then some. I'd love one for a summer home or a retreat though!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:00 PM on February 13, 2005

Here's a collection of photos of tiny houses in New England.
posted by lisatmh at 10:14 PM on February 14, 2005

Mojave desert homestead shacks.
posted by xowie at 10:20 AM on February 17, 2005

Is it completely missing the point that I want to put one of these in my backyard as my office/getaway?
posted by Dreama at 10:38 AM on February 17, 2005

« Older You have to break a few nooeggs to make an OMlette...   |   Family values Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments