Another year in our housing-crunched yet sustainability-minded world means another year of folks exploring down-sized lifestyles in tiny homes. Used for everything from housing the homeless to short-term rentals to, yes, full-time residences, these under-400-square-foot dwellings still have momentum on their side.
Sure, there are a slew of regulatory hurdles surrounding tiny house ownership, but even that no longer seems impenetrable. In fact, earlier this month, a tiny house appendix was approved for inclusion in the newest edition of the national building code, giving tiny homes a crucial bit of legitimacy and a path forward.
But before any further deluge of new tiny homes, let’s first take a look back at all the incredible projects we saw this year. From a shipping container tiny house to several solar-powered stunners, these designs show how sophisticated micro home design has become and challenge our imaginations of what tiny houses can be.
Introduced in early 2016, the modern-style Escape Vista has quickly become a top-seller for Wisconsin-based Escape Homes. In addition to the original model, an 160-square-foot dwelling going for $46,600, the line now includes the 136-square-foot “Go” ($38,600) and 110-square-foot “Sport” ($29,800) options. All three have the signature large wrap-around windows, of course.
The first thing to love about Washington builder Zyl Vardos’s “Moon Dragon” tiny house is its whimsical exterior, marked by curves, arches, and all sorts of unorthodox windows. The second, more practical thing to appreciate is that the house offers an unusually high five-and-a-half-foot sleeping loft, complete with double closets.
This airy 182-square-foot design hailing from the Netherlands demonstrates the magic of skylights and nooks. We wouldn’t mind hunkering down with a pile of good books in the Walden Studio.
Proving that you don’t have to shed everything to live tiny, the Basecamp tiny house from Oregon engineers Tina and Luke Orlando is a storage paradise that also accommodates the couple’s three dogs. Look for multiple kennels, built-in food and water bowls, and more in the 200-square-foot home with off-grid capability.
Nashville-based New Frontier Tiny Homes’ flagship design is chock full of trendy features. You’ve got subway tiles, reclaimed barn wood, a big stainless steel farmhouse sink, not to mention room to sneak in some Edison bulbs and tons of houseplants. For all this and fancy touches like charred shou sugi ban cedar and a fold-down deck, you’d better be ready to pay up. The Alpha asks $95,000 as pictured.
Over in Detroit, poverty-fighting local organization CASS Community Social Services has been working on creating a two-block stretch of 250- to 400-square-foot fully-equipped micro dwellings for the low-income population. Tenants would pay a rent of roughly $300 a month on a rent-to-own model in this first-of-its-kind development in the city. The first tiny house opened in early September 2016, with goal set at 25 homes in total as additional funding comes in.
Earlier this year, Canadian green living blog Greenmoxie unveiled its own 340-square-foot, off-grid tiny house and to no surprise, it pays a lot of attention to sustainability. Starting at $65,000, the Greenmoxie employs a 1 kW solar PV system with 11 kW storage capacity, roof water recovery system, and low-voltage LED lighting. The matching Baltic birch shelving and bench is also a nice touch.
Readers simply loved this clever creation from Missouri-based Custom Contain Living. The 312-square-foot abode, available for $47,900, is crafted from a 40-foot shipping container, with about a third of the body carved out to form a covered porch.
In October, the nation’s first tiny house competition for college students went down in Northern California, and Santa Clara University’s 238-square-foot rEvolve House took home the top honor. Built of energy-efficient Structural Insulated Panels, the off-grid design runs on eight 330w Sunmodule solar panels, stores energy in Cradle-to-Cradle-certified saltwater batteries, and can rotate on a Colossun solar tracking ring to follow the sun and maximize solar efficiency.
Built over the course of six months, the 200-square-foot “Little Lou” tiny house was built using many second-hand and reclaimed materials, such as recycled corrugated metal. The spiral staircase is definitely something you don’t see often in tiny house land.