Though they’ve been around since the late ’80s, we first noticed tiny houses picking up major interior design buzz after the recession of 2008, and rightfully so. With homeowners beginning to question the need of expensive and expansive homes with large areas frequently untouched, it was time to reassess both the housing market and our approach to the basic necessities of seeking the best possible form of shelter – at the best price. Which leads us to the untraceable reality of tiny houses in 2019. It’s estimated that there are only about 1,200 tiny houses that have been accounted for over the years, with many purposefully falling under the radar, but we’ll get to that reality later.
Through an approach to minimal living, there are many commendable merits to be found in the joys of living in a tiny house in 2019 as we are continuing to see potential homeowners shy away from extra-large McMansions, and costly estate living while looking at clever ways to make the most out of a challenging, petite living space. And by petite, we’re talking less than 500 sq. ft. in total.
The best way to think about tiny houses is by the essential subtraction a lot of space that would never be used quite efficiently. And when it comes to adjusting our lifestyles to reflect post-recession sustainability, architecturally sound tiny houses can help you funnel money ordinarily used on rent to build the tiny house of your dreams. For those debating a potential move into a tiny home, we turned to our renovation and contracting experts to see what all of the fuss is about and if ultimately, it’s worth your time and investment.
But What Exactly Is A Tiny House?
It should go without saying that a tiny house is just that; a tiny house. But, tiny homes should not be confused with another questionable ’80s era housing trend; mobile trailer homes. In fact, they aren’t that similar, but they do, however, share a common thread. Think of it this way; a tiny home takes the concept of a traditional trailer home appropriated with a traditionally-built house and juxtaposes them together for a tailor-made solution that’s compelling, yet in many jurisdictions, technically illegal.
Tiny houses are more often than not small homes brilliantly realized to make the most out of limited space with smart design and storage ideas. By definition, a tiny home can range anywhere from 140 sq. ft. to 500 sq. ft. in total – anything larger will change its category. But that small-scale also makes them too small to be residentially zoned in many counties across the United States.
Some are static and have fixed plumbing lines, while some are designed to be easily moved via tow, meaning that you can move their location around as you please and set up your tiny home wherever suits best next. Most tiny houses are built on trailer platforms (or are fashioned out of something with a similar platform). There are thousands of tiny house designs readily available for purchase or you can have one custom-built by a specialist or build one yourself. Obviously, the latter being the least expensive, but all the more challenging to construct on your own.
Tiny homes vary in size, but the most popular floor plans typically propose structures somewhere between 100 and 130 square feet, which again, is quite difficult to get permanent zoning for (even harder when it comes to securing a mortgage). Like a typical home, they can boast a bathroom and kitchen space, along with a designated living space and bedroom space, depending on what your layout can accommodate, and what your needs are. They are perfectly habitable, as long as you are comfortable living small, and have the foresight and the funds to make them as convertible and smartly designed as possible.
Why Would You Want To Live In One?
Excellent question, seeing as the ultimate American dream was always geared towards living in the largest house one can afford. And while that has a degree of reasonability as traditional homes were also considered savvy forms of investments with the hopes of profitability through appreciation, that’s not the way younger potential homeowners are approaching the housing market as of late.
There are myriad of understandable reasons why people are choosing to live in tiny homes instead. The most popular we’ve come across are that there are less financial burdens in the long run (i.e repairs and maintenance), along with a complete desire for simplified living and a refusal of the excess. Plus, tiny homes are sure to reduce your footprint when it comes to your impact on the environment.
Tiny house designs are attractive as they are inexpensive to build (almost always under 60k, with hundreds of floor plans available on the market for just a few hundred dollars). They are also cheap to maintain, and if your’s isn’t properly zoned, you may be able to avoid paying property taxes (though you run the constant risk of having to pick up and go).
And let’s face it, with the up’s and down’s of the economy as of late, tiny homes can allow you to own your own home no matter your financial standing, and since years of paying rent will leave you with nothing but memories ahead, the idea of owning a tiny house seems all the more viable.
With sustainable interior design and simplified living practices continuing to gain momentum, if you are into the idea of simplistic living and the unnecessary extravagance of a large house doesn’t reflect your needs or lifestyle, tiny homes can offer you the chance to experience streamlined, purposeful living at its finest.
Essentially, the smaller your home is, the less unjustifiable things you’ll be able to accumulate in it, and the less stuff you amass in your home, the less impact you’ll have on the environment with a tight edit on life’s daily essentials. Everything will have a place, a reason, and a solidified purpose for being.
It Can Be Challenging
If you love a challenge, you should expect that moving from a larger house into brilliantly realized tiny house designs, will be the ultimate of challenges. Living in a small structure like a tiny house will be sure to test you at first; from the limited storage space to the tiny cooking and bathing facilities to the limited entertaining space.
The key here is to be methodical in planning your move so you’ll have an easier time acclimating yourself to your new tiny house ideas. Before arrival, carefully edit what you have, and take note of what is absolutely a must-have for your new home. And of course, storage is of the utmost importance, and you should count on having to liquidate some of even your most prized possessions.
The Trouble With Tiny Houses
The trouble with tiny houses, is again, that they are often illegal to occupy and zone, so you should prepare yourself with much-needed research and knowledge of local zoning laws before going ahead with your tiny house ideas. More often than not, they violate a string of building codes by being so small in scale. Meaning the owners of them often occupy them in secret and move them around when needed (similar to squatting), so they don’t attract too much attention. They also aren’t always allowed in trailer parks, because they are taller than your usual mobile home.
You’ve also got to consider that people might just not want to come inside if you invite them; not everyone is going to be comfortable with such small confines for a house, so you might find friends and relatives hesitant to step in. And you should be ready to field a slew of endless questions and concerns. So, it might be hard to invite your family and friends over for dinner or a night in watching movies as there’s just not enough space to accommodate more than a select handful of people.
Privacy can also be a trying issue as the best tiny homes often feature an open floor plan to make the space seem as large as possible. Any private time will have to be scheduled beforehand if you don’t live alone.
Types Of Tiny Houses:
A Moveable Home
The most common and best known is a moveable home; a tiny house which can be quickly moved to a safer locale. A moveable tiny home can be attached to a truck and easily towed to a more secure spot. The good thing about these is that you have the freedom to flexible and can explore different climates as the seasons change.
A Lofted Tiny House
Similar to the silhouette of a tippee, the most common tiny house design features a triangle shaped facade that boasts ample windows and a lofted upper portion for extra floor space. This allows for plenty of additional storage space as well. The only caveat here is that they are often too high to travel under bridges and pass zoning for trailer and camp parks.
A Shipping Container Conversion
These are a really fun idea and make for a great opportunity to repurpose something which would be left to degrade otherwise. They can also be sourced rather inexpensively and since the four major walls are already completed, you’ll start the design process with a proper foundation. Plus, they are surprisingly spacious once you devise a solid plan of action.
How To Make The Most Of A Tiny Interior:
Smart Storage Solutions
With tiny house designs, you’ll find yourself often challenged by a lack of space and the best way to make the most of the small amount of space you have, is to be smart with your storage. You’ll need to devise clever ways to easily conceal storage areas in the least thought of areas.
When it comes to savvy storage solutions, think under your bed and living room sofa or common room seating, storage compartments hung from the ceiling, above kitchen cabinets and appliances, under the floor, and on the sides of kitchen units. Hang storage units along walls and on the backs of cupboard doors, and create hidden compartments under tables and make sure you keep everything well-organized and in the spot that it was reserved for. No storage options should remain untouched.
Dual Purpose Living
Tiny house ideas have to be dual purpose – there isn’t space for much inside these tiny homes, so items have to be multi-functional as much as possible. A chopping board that turns into a tray for eating or working, chairs that convert to become side tables, and kitchen surfaces which can be repurposed to serve anything that’s on your agenda at the moment.
With a bit of thought, planning, and concise editing, most of the items inside your tiny house interior can easily serve a multitude of purposes without you having to spend a fortune on genius high-design products created for small living spaces.
With all the smart storage and dual-purpose items in the world, unfortunately, they’ll never be enough to create enough space in one of these tiny houses. Tiny house ideas have to go above and beyond to find ways to save space and make the best use of it, and this requires a thoughtfully approached set of custom solutions.
Create table and desk surfaces that can flip out from the side of the kitchen unit and be closed after use. Collapsable Murphy and trundle beds are also clever solutions. Choose folding or sliding doors so you don’t lose valuable space by having to open a door into the room; tiny house designs have to be smart and compact.
You can’t afford not to make the most of your vertical space in tiny house designs. This means cupboards on the walls, shelving high up, hooks on the ceiling, and beds on a mezzanine. No space should go wasted, so go as high as you can with storage in your tiny house interior. And a tiny house in 2019 would not be complete without drawers under the stairs and storage for your books on the way up to your lofted area.
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