The small house movement becomes luxury


Gallery: 11 tiny homes with oversized perks

34 photos

Luxury homes tend to have a few defining characteristics, but undoubtedly one of the most important aspects is the abundance of space. The most expensive homes currently on the market – $ 195 million Palazzo di Amore in Los Angeles, $ 139 million The Royal Palace in Florida – weigh 53,000 and 60,000 square feet, respectively.

The craze for the small house, a movement centered on the counter-cultural idea that it is better to live small than large, is inspired by the mega-mansion and adopts high-end amenities. From quality woods and granite countertops to sound systems and LED lights, tiny homes have gone beyond their sawdust toilet roots, with several companies offering scaled-down versions of luxury features. One company even markets a small hot tub.

“Americans especially love their toys,” says Derek “Deek” Diedricksen of and HGTV’s Tiny House Builders. “So the little house builders – they’re trying to cram all the toys they can from a 2,000-square-foot house to a 200-square-foot house. “

Jason Dietz, founder of Molecule Tiny Homes in Santa Cruz, Calif., Says he built a tiny house on waterfront land for a

exec which featured a surfboard island, bamboo reed floors, and a concrete counter with grooves to channel water from wet dishes into the sink. This particular house also featured an outdoor shower to rinse off after a cold day of surfing.

Newcomer Tiny Heirloom, a builder based in Oregon City, Ore., Offers homes with internal speakers and LED lighting, starting at $ 65,000. The company is also promoting an automation system with hands-free lighting, voice-activated door locks, automated thermostats, and Bluetooth surround sound controlled via an iPhone or Android.

“We don’t think quality should be given up just because it’s minimal,” says Katie Rae Spell, Executive Director of Tiny Heirloom.

Other amenities that can be found in small homes these days include radiant heat in floors, luxury faucets and sinks, track lighting, and solar panels. There are tiny houses with movable walls to expand when the small one is too narrow. A company in England, Tinywood Homes, even sells a tiny hot tub.

But life hasn’t always been so sweet. The movement has its roots in publications such as the celebration of alternative architecture by Lloyd Kahn in 1973, “Shelter” and “Tiny Houses” by Lester Walker in 1987, with 44 plans for affordable (not luxurious) cottages. Kent Griswold of became the first to blog about tinyhouses in May 2007, while builders like Jay Schafer, who founded Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (and later Four Lights Tiny House Company), successfully marketed his well-designed little creations on the Internet. In recent years, mini-houses have become a media obsession.

As I wrote last year in 12 Deceived Houses and Why They Cost So Much, these mini-homes aren’t cheap per square foot, in large part because items like the dishwasher and refrigerator are spread over a small area, driving up costs per square foot. Still, most small homes are a steal compared to the median US home price (2014 median used home selling price: $ 208,500). Some models cost less than $ 35,000 and DIY enthusiasts can build themselves for even less.

“One of the benefits of downsizing is that you can keep the quality,” says Michael Janzen, of, who has been following the scene since June 2008. “It seems like the most popular cottages have a level luxury products that you don’t find in your motorhome, or follow home or apartment. This is one of the reasons they are so popular—[readers] see that silver lining in frugality.

Olympia, Wash. Based cottage builder Abel Zimmerman Zyl of Zyl Vardos is one of the most affordable builders known for their curved shingled walls, whimsical light fixtures, and shaped windows. not standard. “People in my niche are very interested in the shape and feel of the house,” he says. Its round windows divided into four panes are particularly appreciated. “I shape [structures] and windows. That’s what luxury is in my design. Designs range from $ 35,000 for the basic 18-foot-long “Fortune Cookie” to $ 61,000 for a 22-foot-long “Pinafore.”

On the upper end, Wheelhaus, headquartered outside of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Sells tiny homes on trailer beds starting at $ 82,000 for the 348.5-square-foot silo, fitted a bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen / living room with a butcher-block counter which doubles as a desk. Wheelhaus’s most expensive model is the $ 345,000, 1,560 square foot Hitch Haus (which is no longer technically considered tiny), three Wheelhaus “rolling cabins” linked together. All Wheelhaus designs have a microwave, dishwasher, and granite or stone worktops and are wired for cable and internet.

But builders and buyers focused on luxury features are moving away from the roots of the tiny home trend, purists say. “Trying to fit luxury amenities into a small home goes against the whole concept,” says Dietz. “Most of the people we hear from are looking for affordability. They cannot afford to buy a traditional house.

For these small potential buyers, builders like British Columbia, Nelson Tiny Houses, based in Canada, offer simple luxuries that could make life a little easier for the little ones; the Nelson Acorn, a 120 square foot model with a stainless steel mezzanine and kitchen counter, also has a full pantry. Price: $ 35,000.

“I believe there is a little house philosophy,” says Griswold, the original Little House blogger. “Live within your means, get rid of your debt and do a job you love. “

Despite the frequent media coverage, the numerous blogs devoted to the trend and the conferences centered on their construction, Diedricksen estimates that only some 1,000 Americans live in tiny houses full time. This is in part because the smaller houses are in a gray zoning area; many municipalities crack down when a neighbor complains, or may not allow it at all.

Also, as charming as the dream may seem, some dreams are best left as fantasies. “There is something romantic about ‘How am I going to build my little house’,” admits Diedricksen. “Satisfaction is the death of desire.”

Griswold puts it more bluntly: “Not everyone will want to live in a cabin.


helped FORBES find fun little cottages on the market today. Check them out in the slideshow at the start of this article.

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