Even before launching Echo Living, the UK-based firm that specializes in tiny dwellings and interiors, Designer and Founder Sam Booth was no stranger to small-house living.
“I spent the first 12 years of my life living on a converted boat on the river Thames in London with my mother and two brothers, so I understand firsthand both the problems and the joys of small-scale living,” he says.
Small-scale living is a growing phenomena worldwide, with numerous TV shows touting the low cost and portability benefits, among others. The southwest Scotland-based Echo Living specializes in manufacturing modular pods, cabins and bespoke houses that can be used for living on or off the grid.
Even treehouses become dwellings for two. Shown in the above slideshow, the Brockloch Treehouse features two curved pods that sit atop 11 larch pole legs. Also covered in larch and wrapped in corrugated tin, the pods and have approximately 50 windows to allow for natural light.
“The most important element [in the design] is daylight: the views and physical connection to the outside. In this way the perception of space is not restricted by the walls enclosing it,” he says.
The interior of the dual pod treehouse features freestanding kitchen cabinetry, a built-in gas hob, fridge, butler sink and a small table and chairs. A cozy couch is placed by a wood burning stove/fireplace, while on the other side below a full-width skylight, is a built-in double bed with two large drawers underneath for extra storage and a blanket box at the end of the bed.
“My approach to the interior is to try and avoid the ‘caravan’ approach of things that fold away to create more space — they nearly always end up breaking or staying permanently in either their open or closed position because they are too much bother. I also resist the idea of too many storage cupboards to hide things away, as well as the items it hides the space.”
“Small space living teaches you to need fewer things, make those things beautiful and keep them out on display. To quote William Morris, the 19th century English designer, ‘Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’ This idea of maximizing the space informs the way I detail things such as kitchen units. Designing them as pieces of furniture sitting on legs allows the notion of space to carry on below and around them in a way that a conventional fixed unit does not.”
This attention to detail extends to the sky-lit bathroom suite, which is joined to the first pod by an oak floor hallway. Concealed in a smaller third pod are a battery and gas unit for cooking and heating water. Part of the Eco Retreats vacation properties, the Brockloch Treehouse also was featured in December 2014 on “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.”
Highly popular, the treehouse was among the first projects produced by Echo Living. Founded in 2013, the company builds on Booth’s longtime interest in woodworking and design.
“I have been working with wood since I was a child,” he says. “I had a truly inspirational woodwork teacher who encouraged us to build everything from dugout canoes to musical instruments. On leaving school I trained as an interior designer at the Glasgow School of Art and on leaving set up a studio with a workshop so we could have control over both the design and production of the interiors we created.”
In addition to Booth, there are four full-time craftsman at the rural 5,000-square-foot shop. Publicity on the Brockloch Treehouse and other sustainable (and sustainably-made) dwellings is keeping the company busy, with a number of projects already in the pipeline. The typical turnaround is eight to 10 weeks. For more on Echo Living and its sustainable dwellings, visit EchoLiving.co.uk or email [email protected].
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