It’s a trend that’s growing in popularity: Houses are shrinking.
Homeowners keen on paring down have started to learn how to pack essential functionality into less square-footage — much less — and they’re doing so with style.
1. Living in a Box
In San Antonio, Poteet Architects added doors, windows, a heating-cooling system and an innovative, “green” roof to a steel shipping container, ingeniously transforming a utilitarian unit into a cozy space for living. Bamboo floors and a cool wall covering bring the interior design to life. It’s small and modern, but undoubtedly a home.
2. Case study
To test the boundaries of small-footprint living, interior designer Jessica Helgerson moved her family to a 540-square-foot cottage that she designed 15 minutes north of Portland, Ore.
By using mostly reclaimed materials to construct her miniscule maison, and by adding a moss-and-fern green roof, Helgerson completed the project for less than money than she anticipated. The home requires little energy to heat and cool.
With a shed roof and corrugated siding, this off-the-grid cabin on an island off the New England coast runs on solar power. A rainwater tank and an instant hot-water heater provide drinking and bathing water, while rolling, exterior door panels protect the home in inclement weather.
It may be tiny, but this house can stand tall all on its own.
4. Hip to be square
This 784-square-foot design by Minnesota-based weeHouse features a bright blue exterior and a lively yellow interior. But its striking color palette is not the only reason that this little lodging stands out.
Constructed of two modules, the units seamlessly adjoin with the help of a large exterior porch; bug screens with magnetic catches keep insects at bay on summer nights.
5. Salvage beauty
Brad Kittel of Tiny Texas Houses believes there are already enough building products out there, so why buy new? His small structures use 99% salvaged materials, including doors, windows, siding, lumber, door hardware, flooring and porch posts.
6. DIY kit house
The folks at Jamaica Cottage Shop offer a kit for their 16-by-20-foot Vermont cottage, a “roll your own” residence that takes two people roughly 40 hours to construct.
The interior can be outfitted a number of ways, and a sleeping loft can be added for maximum efficiency.
7. Gather no moss
In only 65 square feet, the XS house from Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., profiled here, manages to squeeze in a bathroom, kitchen area, built-in desk and sofa, as well as a sleeping loft. It costs roughly $16 per square foot for a DIY version, $39 per square foot for the readymade version.
Built on a 7-by-10-foot utility trailer, the whole thing can be towed, making “home” anywhere you go.
8. Micro house
In Massachusetts, Derek Diedricksen applies a “can do’ attitude to tiny-house construction. Making creative use of household cast-offs, such as a broken, front-loading washing-machine door repurposed as a porthole, his tiny structures cost only about $200 each.
9. Modern mix
The Boxhome from architect Sami Rintala is just 205 square feet. Amazingly, there’s room inside for guests — the seating platform in the living room becomes a bed. Taking cues from Finnish summer houses and Japanese cooking traditions, the design offers a cultural mix.
10. Hidden treasure
Nestled in the woods in Hilverstum, Netherlands, this house was designed by Piet Hein Eek. It plays on the theme of traditional log cabins. Instead using notched-log beams, cross-cut sections make up the exterior, an aesthetic touch that helps this little getaway blend into its surroundings.
11. Victorian times
A former Catskills hunting cottage is remade in a romantic, Victorian style by owner Sandra Foster. Doing much of the carpentry work herself and using a variety of salvaged elements, she has created a cozy hideaway filled with books and lit by a crystal chandelier.