The Tiny House movement is still going strong in the U.S., moving from pop culture to the mainstream over the past few years as evidenced by the growing number of TV shows dedicated to the trend, including FYI TV's "Tiny House Nation" and a couple of HGTV shows like "Tiny House Builders" and "Tiny House Hunters."
It's also proving to big business for several U.S. companies according to a recent New York Times article. Jackson Hole, WY-based Wheelhaus, which creates custom tiny homes, saw its revenue triple over the past few years. Also, new start-up Montainer, which sells small homes made from recycled shipping containers, is creating a buzz with a significant increase in visitors to its web site as well as social media pages. However, while the appeal is real, the article also reports that financing can be a challenge for these type of homes with most banks preferring not to lend under $100,000 because it is not profitable.
Tiny House Nation challenges woodworkers to get maximum yield - not just from materials, but from square footage as well.
Some tiny homes are mobile structures or are simply built to fit within very confined spaces in urban settings like a 6-foot wide home built by YUU Architects & Associates for a private residence in Toshima-ku, Tokyo. This home was built in 2012 and it consists of several floor levels in what the architects call an "aggregation of small places." The "floating floors" are narrow and long with an open floorplan allowing in air and light to make the very small space feel larger.
The design style is minimalist and modern, and it includes an extensive use of wood flooring on each level as well as open shelving around the stairs and kitchen area and open storage space in the basement.
Photo: Toshihiro Sobajima
However, the YUU Architects' Tokyo home is just one small example of the type of homes being built. These tiny spaces can range anywhere from urban chic to rural rustic charm. All of these architectural design styles were celebrated at a large festival that took place August 7 to 9 in Colorado Springs, CO. The Tiny House Jamboree, as it is called, was held at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. According to published reports, approximately 10,000 people registered for the three-day event, a further indication of the durability of the trend. Top speakers included HGTV hosts and Jay Shafer, the Tiny House movement pioneer.
Reports and awareness of the tiny home movement seemed to pick up strength during the economic and housing crisis created by the Great Recession. Strapped homeowners were looking for ways to downsize and simplify their lives, and the small spaces also appealed to people looking to decrease their environmental footprint and a create a more sustainable way of life.
Jay Shafer, a small living expert pioneer, has been living in tiny homes since 1997.
But it's not just homeowners showing an interest in these types of homes. Some community advocates now proposing to build similar small structures to help combat homelessness -- a major problem, especially in urban areas.
For whatever reason, and they are varied, the allure and mystique of these small spaces continues to attract individuals, businessess and organizations from across the spectrum.