Sustainable Home Living Ideas for Minimalism and Comfort Explained in a fun way, plus beautiful examples of Tiny Homes!
When I found out about the tiny house trend, my first thought was “why on earth would anyone want to live in a house the size of a shoebox?”. 😉 As it turns out, this is a superficial way of looking at things. Let me explain the potential reasons why the tiny house movement is so popular.
While the average house in the US measures 2,600 sq. ft., a tiny house is no bigger than 100-400 sq. ft. Let’s say you want to buy a typical single family house that costs roughly $290,000. The bank requires a down payment of about $60,000, if you want to save on mortgage insurance (almost all conventional home loans with less than 20% down-payment will require an additional monthly payment in a form of mortgage insurance), so the principal is $230,000. Even at current low interest rates, you are still paying a fortune over the life of a 30-year loan. Does this sound like something you want to do?
According to CBS News, at least one third of an American’s income goes into his house. This is one of the reasons why many people are living paycheck to paycheck. 29.3% of US homeowners have mortgages compared with 68% tiny house owners who don’t. Moreover, 55% of tiny house owners have more savings than the average American who has about $10,000 in savings.
So, the first reason is related to costs and if you extrapolate, people who have more money to attend to their pleasures are happier than those who spend most of their income on what’s needed to have a decent living. Other reasons revolve around environmental concerns and the fact that some people feel more comfortable in a cozy small home. That being said, let’s see 15 tiny house designs that will hopefully make you consider this more efficient way to live.
Toy box house
Based on the idea that a home is place of peace and simplicity, this design combines modern elements with Eco-friendly materials. The white roofing membrane is made of thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) to address the issue of durability commonly encountered with EPDM, and to provide superior energy efficiency. The walls are made of fiberglass and natural cedar, while the base that’s also made of cedar wood makes the outline of this tiny house on wheels. On the other side of the house you will notice a large sliding door made of glass that ensures proper ventilation and allows natural daylight to come inside the structure. The size of the construction is customizable and the base price is $79,000.
Water Woody houseboat
The single most important feature of this design is that it runs on both water and land since you can attach it as a trailer to your car anytime you want to go on a road trip. The house is very self-sufficient having solar panels for electricity and a system that collects rainwater for later use. There is also a composting toilet onboard. This house is perfect for anyone who wants to sail and to travel the world by car. The minimum price for this marvel is $125,000.
Wind river tiny home
Via Monarch Tiny Homes
Believe it or not, this house on wheels costs less than $50,000 ($47,000 to be more precise). The design is based on the principles of minimalism and comfort. Downstairs, you have a surface of 160 sq. ft. and the loft measures 110 sq. ft. where you can put a bed to sleep peacefully. If I were you, I would install big windows on the roof to be able to watch the stars from my bed and literally fall asleep under a clear sky. The entire structure was built with efficiency in mind to allow its inhabitants to live a simple yet comfortable life.
The Kidd Cottage
You’ll say that the construction looks a bit shaky and old. You’re right about the old part because 99% of the house was built with reclaimed materials. Some people can’t get used to this look while others see the construction as what it could be and not as what it is. A few layers of paint and a tasteful designer knows how to make it look more lively. The house actually has a full second story instead of just a loft. The wraparound porch gives you some outdoor space where you can add some vintage furniture. The downsize is that there is no real kitchen or bathroom because the house covers only 63 sq. ft. There is however a separate bathhouse on the premises where you get complete bathroom facilities.
The Apple Blossom
This is such a colorful prefab cottage that would make even the grumpiest person sketch a smile. Located in Vermont, the cottage is currently available for rent to anyone who’s willing to pay about $92 per night. The house has one bedroom with a single/double bunk like you see in the pictures on the hosting site and one living room. So, it is livable — up to 5 people, assuming 2 of them don’t have a problem with sleeping in the living room. The DIY shell kit is available for as little as $16,338 or you could have it shipped directly assembled for about $65,000 provided that you live in the north-eastern part of the US. The house measures 312 sq. ft. and can be made energy efficient by adding proper wall insulation and solar panels for electricity.
Prefabricated tiny wood house
You will say this house looks like what a 6-year old drew at kindergarten. I must agree but remember that simplicity is one of the main principles of the tiny house movement. Besides, you have to admit that if you add bigger windows and a proper paint, the house would be great, so look at this as a raw design. The house in the image has 640 sq. ft. but it can be adjusted to fit in tinier spaces. It has 1 bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen and a mudroom. Yes, you read correctly. You have your own mudroom plus a Jacuzzi. Are you still bothered by its appearance?
hOMe tiny house
Via Tiny House Build
This parallelipipedic house is 8’6″ wide and 13’5″ tall so that you don’t need a special transport permit if you want to go on a road trip (note that the house has wheels). It might not look like it, but the house has a full sized kitchen with traditional appliances and a master bedroom upstairs. There is plenty of storage room and a fully functional bathroom. You can go off grid thanks to its propane heat source, solar system and composting toilet. The plan for this house costs around $300. The cost to build this design is estimated at $33,000 but if you want the 24′ version prepare to pay close to $60,000.
The Linden House
This 20′ long house with a surface of 177 sq. ft. costs a bit over $60,000 in one down payment. You could also take a 15-year loan with 6% interest and 10% down-payment. Downstairs, you have the great room, the bathroom and the bedroom that together account for 131 sq. ft. of the entire surface. There also is the loft divided in 2 sections: sleeping space and storage space. If you were to buy just the DIY materials, expect to pay at least $30,000.
Western Massachusetts tiny house
Via NY Post
Here’s a house that measures 227 sq. ft. The exterior was designed with taste and so was the interior with its high ceilings, lots of storage space and recycled light fixtures. You will be happy to find out that the bathroom measures 30 sq. ft. and contains a shower, sink and a composting toilet thus putting you one step closer to living off the grid. The owner argues that using raw-looking plywood as wall cladding looks great and also saves time and money, while making the structure easier to transport on the road.
The Moon Dragon house
Via Zyl Vardos
Located in Olympia, Washington, the Moon Dragon shows amazing craftsmanship and design that could very well be part of a fairy tale. The doors are built in a Dutch style by hand inviting visitors into a large room. The house also has a quite big loft where you will find a single bedroom. Here’s an interesting thing to notice: the stairs allow you store things inside of them thus using every single bit of space in that house.
The house is connected to the grid for electricity but it also has solar panels to sustain its energy needs. In the bathroom, you will find a composting toilet, a shower lined with concrete panels and a hand made sink. As you have probably guessed already, this is not exactly the cheap tiny house you are used to. The price for this house starts at $96,000 because many parts are done manually.
Atlas tiny house
Via Atlas Tiny House
Weighing approximately 7,500 lb. and measuring about 196 sq. ft., this house on wheels has a steel frame covered in wooden cladding and spray foam insulation. Note that the facade of the house is lifted up to reveal a lot of windows that let natural light go in. If you are into energy efficient homes, this design might be right for you considering its 640-watt solar panels and collection system of rainwater and grey water. There also is a backup generator for emergencies.
Inside, you will see a fold-out couch, a kitchen with induction cooker and a bathroom with a toilet and shower. The house is suitable for no more than 3 adults or 2 adults and 1 child. Expect to pay at least $75,000 to build this house. Considering its self sustainable systems, the price is not very high but if you can’t afford it, take a look at some of the above designs that are much cheaper.
Riverside tiny house
Via New Atlas
Inspired form Scandinavian architecture, this design is built by a company based in Nashville, Tennessee. The ebony stained cedar is definitely an element that makes the house stand out. The floor surface equals to 246 sq. ft. and offers plenty of space for sleeping and also storage. You also get a small porch where you can place a couple of chairs and a small table to enjoy fresh air in the morning while drinking your coffee in peace.
The temperature inside is monitored and controlled by a mini split HVAC system that takes care of heating, ventilation and air conditioning at the same time. The owners have energy efficient lightbulbs connected to a standard electric grid. If you are unhappy with this, you can go off grid if you pay some extra money to make the house self sufficient. Otherwise, the price starts at $79,000.
Curved roof tiny house
Via New Atlas
When they see the house, potential buyers are attracted by the shape of the roof before anything else. Some think that solar panels are not an option, but if you take a closer look, you can actually see them on the roof, so the curved shape is not an impediment for going off grid. The house is actually made of reclaimed cedar wood and tin siding. It also has an HVAC system, an on-demand water heater powered by propane tanks.
Basecamp tiny home
What I absolutely love about this design is that you get a lot of outdoor space on the roof and a small balcony on the side. The interior space measures 204 sq. ft. and if you count the deck, you obtain 383 sq. ft. The designers made sure the house is off the grid by installing solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and a composting toilet. Inside, space is used with maximum efficiency. You will see a large sofa that turns into a bed, a wardrobe, a kitchen with a propane stove and a standard sized bathroom.
Olympic lofted house model
Via Carolina Sustainable Structures
Just look at how beautifully the wood pieces come together to create this facade. The house is available in multiple sizes and has a 54 ft. loft. If you don’t like the veranda (which I absolutely love), designers can take it out of the plan. According to the above site, the price starts at $5,500 although it seems a bit too good to be true. They are however prompting you to ask for more details regarding the price.