Living Large in a Tiny House

Although some trace the beginning of the Small House Movement back to Susan Susanka's 1997 book The Not So Big House, visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian houses could be considered the original inspiration. Designed for the middle class of the 20's and 30's, these one-story homes, with their open floor plans, connection with the outdoors, and simple materials also influenced the design of the ranch houses of the 50's.

Today's Tiny House Movement, for many, is a response to McMansions, mortgages and out-of-control consumerism. Followers seek a simplified life with more freedom and leisure time. Costing an average of $23,000, tiny homes range from 100 to 400 square feet, with the average at 186, which will fit into the average American house (2169 square feet) about 11 times.

Tiny homes are big in Colorado - a recent article in the Boulder Camera highlighted a local couple who constructed their own 120-square foot abode and made a documentary about the experience. If building your own is too daunting, you can check out tiny homes for sale, or just admire them from afar with Tiny House Swoon.

Tiny home dwellers face some challenges, though, beyond where to store a new pair of socks. There are building codes, minimum square footage laws and access to land, among other things. The movement's leading guru, Jay Shafer thinks the answer lies in Tiny House Villages, which would be zoned for RVs, and would share common facilities, such as meeting rooms and storage spaces.


Small Houses by Fine Homebuilding (2012)

New York: Building a Community with Frank Lloyd Wright (2001)

Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger (2009)

Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn (2011)

Tumbleweed Book of DIY Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses: Build Your Own Guest Cottage, Writing Studio, Home Office Craft Workshop or Personal Retreat by Jay Shafer (2012)

A Little House of My Own: 47 Grand Designs for 47 Tiny Homes by Les Walker (2000)

Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts and Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Derek Diedricksen (2012)


We the Tiny House People (a 120-minute documentary)

Jay Shafer: The Politics of Tiny Houses (a 24-minute documentary)

Written by Lisa on March 24, 2014


Frank on March 24, 2014


I would love to stay in one to try one out. I wonder if people have tiny houses on VRBO or on AirBNB?

Leigh Ann on March 24, 2014


Wow--great blog, Lisa! Another big plus for living in a tiny house is the cleaning--think how easy it'd be to clean, you'd be done in a you more time for the fun stuff in life, like walking the dog.

Also, you'd need to really think twice about what you buy--saving you more money in the long run & no clutter, to boot! Could this be the new wave of the future? YES


VRBO and AirBNB? They used to be, but they got downgraded along with Pluto. :-)

Seriously, those are website where you can find rooms, houses, cabins, etc. to rent.

Katie R. on March 25, 2014


Wonderful post, Lisa! I had checked out Jay Shafer's book before--happy to see that there are many more titles out there on the subject. Thanks for this.


I knew Jay in college and it totally makes sense he got into this movement. He was a complete and total minimalist whose living arrangements and personal effects consisted entirely of what was absolutely required to survive.


In a way, it's seems like it's almost as much trouble to live minimally as it is with too much - in either case a lot of time is spent focusing on material things, or the lack of.


I'm glad you enjoyed it, Katie. When will we have a reality show? I like watching Treehouse Master.

gregor on March 25, 2014


I want one. Home is the place where,when you go there, they have to take you in. Unless there's no room.

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