Do people in tiny houses live more sustainably?

August 2, 2019 by  
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Minimalist living is as old as time, but the tiny house trend sweeping across North America and Europe has influenced many people to downsize, declutter and live simply. A new investigation into the habits of tiny house residents reveals that living in smaller houses encourages people to adopt more sustainable habits across the board. What are tiny houses? The unofficial definition of a tiny house is typically any single housing unit under 500 square feet. Many tiny houses are on wheels to get around state and federal government laws that limit the minimum habitable dwelling size. Because of this restriction, tiny house owners often own the transportable housing unit but not necessarily the land that it is on. Related: Is a tiny home right for you? The media and tiny house designers market the micro-dwellings as environmentally friendly alternatives to large family homes. Sellers encourage prospective buyers to downsize their possessions and kiss their mortgages goodbye in exchange for experiential riches like travel and financial freedom. Though they take up less space and store less junk, few studies exist that actually prove that living in tiny houses is more sustainable. Little house habits Maria Saxton, an environmental design and planning PhD candidate, studied the impact that downsizing into a tiny house had on inhabitants’ sustainable behaviors. She conducted surveys and in-depth interviews of 80 downsizers who had been living in their new tiny homes for at least a year. She calculated their individual ecological footprints before and after the move and examined which behaviors changed for the better and which changed for the worse. Her research discovered that on average, residents reduced their individual footprints by 45 percent after they settled into a tiny home, which is a huge reduction. She also found that the move and new lifestyle impacted other aspects and behaviors even without the inhabitants realizing it. Ecological footprint is usually calculated by determining the amount of land that it would take every year to support an individual’s consumption. The average American’s footprint is 8.4 hectares per person per year. That’s about the equivalent of eight football fields per person. Among those who downsized to tiny houses, the average footprint was approximately 3.87 hectares per person compared to a per-person average of 7 hectares before the move. How tiny houses encourage sustainable living Remarkably, housing-related behaviors and consumption patterns weren’t the only changes that the residents experienced. Of more than 100 individual behaviors examined, about 86 percent changed to become more environmentally friendly. For example, tiny house residents tended to shop and buy significantly less than the average American and less than they themselves did previously. Without room to store additional items, tiny house inhabitants simply could not support their old consumption habits. While 86 percent of behaviors changed for the better, about 13 percent changed for the worse. For example, tiny house residents tended to eat out more to avoid the frustration of cooking in a cramped kitchen. These residents recycled less because they had limited space for sorting and storing recyclable materials. They also tended to travel more, including both adventure trips and traveling further for basic items, likely because many tiny houses are located in more rural areas than where the owners previously lived. According to a separate investigation into the habits and motivations of tiny house dwellers, the majority of downsizers simply kept a storage unit. So, while they had fewer items within an arm’s reach, they hadn’t really committed to a minimalist lifestyle, and they could still support the overflow of their overconsumption. Smarter designs to support sustainability According to Saxton, the results of this study are critical for tiny house designers as well as to influence archaic laws that restrict tiny houses. If tiny house inhabitants truly do live more sustainably, towns and cities should be encouraging residents to make the move. Related: 7 tips for decorating a tiny home Architects and designers of the little abodes can also use the results of the research to integrate designs that address the prohibitive factors causing that 13 percent shift to less sustainable behaviors. For example — how can the kitchens be larger and more functional? How can trash and recycling storage be expanded to accommodate proper sorting of recyclable materials? Despite the tiny trend, housing is growing in size and destruction In 1973, the average house was 1,660 square feet, but by 2017, the average house sold was 2,631 square feet . This represents a 63 percent increase in the average size of a house in just 45 years. Although the tiny house trend skyrocketed among a niche corner of the population in over-industrialized countries, the majority of people still think bigger is better, which comes at a cost to the environment . The construction of oversized houses means loss of natural habitat and biodiversity , including the fragmentation of ecosystems to clear the way for new housing developments. In addition, the carbon footprint of the materials and construction industry is enormous. Commercial and residential buildings together contribute 39 percent of the U.S.’s total carbon emissions. This includes the transportation and sourcing of the building materials, the energy needed for construction and the environmental cost of maintenance. Maybe they are just another trend, but maybe tiny houses can be a small solution to global warming on an individual and community level. At the very least, the research concludes that cities and towns should re-examine existing laws that discourage tiny house dwellers from owning land or remove the wheels to at least allow residents to feel a sense of permanence. One town, Spur, Texas, adjusted its laws and sells itself as the first tiny home town in America. As the trend continues, other towns and cities would be wise to follow suit. Via The Conversation Images via Paul VanDerWerf , Christoph Scholz and Nicolás Boullosa ( 1 , 2 )

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Do people in tiny houses live more sustainably?

Energy-efficient greenhouses surround the new French Open tennis court

August 2, 2019 by  
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Plants from around the world are flourishing in four curved greenhouses in an unexpected place — directly behind the spectator stands of the new Simonne Mathieu tennis court at Roland-Garros, home of the French Open. Designed by the Paris-based studio Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés , the 5,000-seat sunken tennis court not only offers a strikingly modern space for the annual tournament but also offers a visual extension of the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden, where the stadium is located. The steel-and-glass greenhouses were built to reference the historical hothouses of the 19th century but feature a modern, energy-efficient design built to the highest technical specifications. Named after the famous tennis player who played at the Roland-Garros in the 1930s, the Simonne Mathieu tennis court is a new venue for hosting the international tennis championships hosted every year in Paris. Taking inspiration from Auteuil’s greenhouses designed by Jean Camille Formige in 1898, Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés introduced new public space around the partially sunken tennis court in the form of four modern, steel-and-glass greenhouses that are visible from the spectator stands. Related: Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year “These new greenhouses form a glass backdrop, a case within which plants from four continents can flourish,” the architects explained. “They refer to the design of the nearby hothouses and are inspired by, without imitating, architecture in metal that, since the construction of the Crystal Palace in London in 1851, still stands, with its delicate relationship between light and structure, as the perfect model of airiness and economy.” Sheathed in double-pane glass for superior insulation, these curved greenhouses feature flora from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania. A meandering paved pathway traverses each greenhouse. Because the greenhouses are a new addition of public space, they will be accessible to visitors throughout the year, even outside of the two-week French Open tournament. + Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés Via ArchDaily Photography by Erieta Attali via Marc Mimram Architecture & Associés

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Newlyweds forgo pricey wedding to embark on an incredible tiny home adventure

July 9, 2019 by  
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When Alexandra Steltzer and her partner Jon were planning their wedding, they decided to spend the money they would have spent on a lavish, one-day ceremony on a three-month adventure traveling around the U.S. in a 19-foot-long renovated camper instead. After their wonderful trip, their love of tiny homes on wheels was sealed, and the crafty couple went on to renovate their own permanent tiny home, converting the old RV into a bohemian oasis. After Alexandra and Jon returned from their three-month adventure traveling around the United States, they felt pressured to put down roots and buy a “conventional” home. But soon after moving into a four-bedroom house, the adventurous couple began to feel trapped in the large space. They they decided to make a change, opting instead to downsize to a minimalist lifestyle . Related: Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area The daring duo decided to rent their house out and move into a tiny home on wheels. After purchasing the old camper on Craigslist for just $3,000, Alexandra and Jon went to work doing much of the renovation themselves . The camper is just 240-square-feet of living space , but the savvy interior design makes it feel much larger. In the living room, a cozy L-shaped sofa sits next to the dining/working table that can be pulled away from the wall to make room for dinner guests. The kitchen is also a modern space, with a few vibrant, retro touches, such as the black and white backsplash. The kitchen comes with all of the basic amenities, such as a butcher block countertops and storage. There is also a four-burner stove. The rest of the home is just the right size for the couple, with a small bedroom tucked into the back end of the renovated camper . As for the interior design, Alexandra says that she and Jon have sourced most of the home’s decorations and furnishings secondhand. + Alexandra Steltzer Via Apartment Therapy Images via Alexandra Steltzer

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Newlyweds forgo pricey wedding to embark on an incredible tiny home adventure

This minimalist prefab playhouse features locally sourced timber, recycled rubber flooring and all-natural finishes

July 8, 2019 by  
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While many children’s playhouses might be filled with overly complicated bells and whistles, sometimes the minimalist route is the best way to go when it comes to connecting young minds with nature. Already known for its exquisite minimalist prefab structures , Japanese firm Koto Design has unveiled the Ilo Playhouse, a tiny prefabricated cabin made out of sustainable materials. Inspired by the simplicity of Scandinavian log cabins, the Ilo Playhouse was designed to create a space where kids could be inspired by nature. The tiny cabin is an angular volume with a sloped roof, adding a geometric aesthetic to the interior and exterior. Three walls envelope the interior with the fourth wall left entirely open to create a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. Related: BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC According to the architects, the openness of the design, enhanced by additional cutouts in the walls, was intentional so that the space could be open just enough to not feel isolated. It also makes the structure a fun place to play in inclement weather, providing shelter from light rain, for example. The minimalist layout on the interior allows for children to make the space their own, with furniture, toys, art and craft tables, or to simply take in the fresh air during a good old-fashioned game of tag. In addition to being a nature-inspired design, the cabin is also entirely constructed out of sustainable materials chosen for their durability. The playhouse is clad in an attractive, locally sourced larch wood, and the flooring is made out of recycled rubber . Additionally, all of the paints and finishes used in the cabin’s construction were all sourced from natural products. The structures are prefabricated in the U.K. and can be delivered to nearly any location. + Koto Design Photography by Tracey Hosey via Koto Design

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This rustic tiny home on wheels spans just 90 square feet

July 3, 2019 by  
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When it comes to tiny home design, sometimes it’s the itsy-bitsy spaces that show us how to live big. The Vancouver-based designers at Backcountry Tiny Homes have proved just that with a gorgeous tiny home on wheels that measures merely 16 feet long. Although incredibly compact, savvy design strategies, including oversized windows and a charming front porch, give The Acorn a certain character that overcomes its small stature. The Acorn tiny house, part of the company’s Mountain Series, is designed for the adventurer in us all. Perfect for either a weekend cabin in the mountains or an off-grid home near the beach, this tiny home is a great fit for just about any lifestyle. Related: Basecamp tiny home boasts a large rooftop deck for mountain-climbing couple and 3 dogs The tiny home ‘s exterior is clad in a honey-toned knotty cedar with a bit of black metal siding. A charming front porch gives the residence a welcoming vibe. The cabin’s interior is just 90 square feet but manages to pack a lot of punch into the space. A major factor in its sophisticated design is the multiple oversized windows that let in ample natural light and connect the living space with the outdoors. Adding to the rustic charm is the wooden interior with Alpine Backwoods flooring and tongue and groove spruce paneling on the walls. The home boasts a small living room with a comfy sofa that folds out into a queen-sized mattress. On the opposite wall, a small table that can be used for dining or working folds up when it is not in use. High up on the walls, just under the ceiling, is a wrap-around shelf for storage . Additional storage is found in the nooks and crannies throughout the home. The bathroom is more than big enough for such a small space and comes with a full-sized shower, toilet and a vanity cabinet. The kitchen is a tight squeeze but offers all of the basic amenities as well as one major surprise. Hooked up to the kitchen is a built-in Sweepovac vacuum system that is the perfect amenity for keeping the tiny space tidy. According to the designers, the Acorn comes with tight insulation that makes it feasible for almost any climate. Additionally, the tiny home can be custom-designed with additional features such as off-grid capabilities . + Backcountry Tiny Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Backcountry Tiny Homes

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This rustic tiny home on wheels spans just 90 square feet

Hit the road in style this summer in this ship-inspired travel trailer

June 27, 2019 by  
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Inspired to take a long summer adventure in a sweet tiny camper ? Well, French start-up Carapate has unveiled a 10.5-foot-long, boat-like travel trailer for adventurous souls to travel in style and comfort. Although compact, the interior space of the Carapate Travel Trailer is incredibly flexible with a modular bed/sofa combo, a sliding galley kitchen and an extra-wide swing door to take in panoramic views. According to the company, the design for the trailer was inspired by the beloved teardrop campers. Using the classic teardrop design as a starting point, the designers gave the camper a rounded trapezoid shape to create a bit more square footage. With traditional shipbuilding techniques, the team constructed the trailer to be incredibly lightweight. Coming in at approximately 990 pounds, the tiny trailer is easily towed by most vehicles and is extremely road-friendly. The nautical inspiration can also been seen in the camper’s exterior cladding, which includes wood, white and navy detailing. This sleek, yet classic feel continues throughout the interior. Related: These sweet teardrop trailers for adventurers run on solar power The entrance is through an oversized door that swings open and upward. This extra large doorway provides plenty of natural light to the interior as well as wide, unobstructed views of whatever incredible scenery may be surrounding the vehicle. Inside, white walls and wood detailing pay homage to boat interiors, as does the savvy storage solutions found throughout. The tiny camper comes equipped with a number of flexible furnishings that are meant to make the most out of minimal space. A modular bed layout includes three single mattresses that can be folded up into a sofa or fit together on the floor to create a sleeping area for two. The galley kitchen is also a smart, space-saving design. The concealed countertop slides out to reveal the basic amenities, including a single-burner stove, sink and a pull-out cutting board. The basic Carapate trailer package, which unfortunately is only available in Europe at the moment, starts at just under $16,000. However, the campers can also be customized with extra features including LED lighting, solar panels , an electric/gas fridge box and more. + Carapate Images via Carapate

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Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

June 20, 2019 by  
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If the summer heat is already getting you hot and sweaty, cool down at this amazing tiny home water park in Wisconsin Dells. Guests to the Dells Resorts park have a number of accommodation options, but one of the best by far is this gorgeous tiny home built by Bantam Built Homes , which sits next to the park’s natural lagoon. The Bantam tiny home , which sleeps four, blends in nicely with the natural surroundings of the resort. Clad in a blend of dark wood and copper, the exterior boasts a tiny deck with a glass door that leads into a spectacular living space. Related: Try out tiny house living in Oregon’s new micro-home resort in Mt. Hood The home’s interior is light and airy, brightened by natural light from an abundance of windows. The compact kitchen comes with all of the basic amenities, including plenty of counter space and full-size appliances. To the right of the kitchen, the living room is made up of a sofa with what appears to be an attractive wooden accent wall. However, the wall actually conceals a mattress that can be folded out into a bed. Past the kitchen, a ladder leads up to the comfy sleeping loft , which has enough space for a queen-sized bed. Underneath the loft, the designers added a spacious bathroom with a large vanity, a stand-up shower, a toilet and an ingenious sliding shelf unit for linens. In addition to its charming tiny home accommodations, the water park also features a number of eco-friendly practices. The water pond, for example, is kept clean using natural elements instead of harmful chemicals and uses a waterfall to add extra oxygen to the water. + Dell Resorts + Bantam Built Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Bantam Built Homes

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Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

Beautiful solar-powered minimalist cabins are clad in locally sourced charred timber

June 5, 2019 by  
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Bordeaux-based firm  A6A has unveiled beautiful minimalist cabins designed to be almost completely self-sufficient thanks to solar power and a micro wastewater treatment system. Additionally, the 236-square-foot H-Eva Cabins are prefabricated offsite to reduce construction and impact on the environment. Lightweight, but sturdy, the tiny cabins are clad in locally sourced timber that has been charred through the ancient Japanese technique Shou Sugi Ban. The minimalist cabin design comes in three sizes and can be customized to connect multiple to make a larger structure. All of the cabins are prefabricated in a workshop to reduce the structures’ impact on their intended landscape. Once built, they are delivered to the destination on a flatbed truck and easily installed with a crane. The structures are placed lightly on the land so that they can be disassembled quickly, leaving little-to-no footprint behind. Related: These low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’ In addition to their eco-friendly assembly process, the cabins are designed to go off the grid. A rooftop solar array generates energy to power the cabin’s minimal electricity needs. Heat is provided by a wood-burning stove, and natural light is more than enough to illuminate the interior during the daytime. In addition to the low-flow faucets in the shower and kitchen, the bathrooms are also installed with dry toilets to conserve water. To further add to its sustainability, the cabins have integrated micro wastewater treatment systems. The exterior is clad in locally sourced Douglas fir that has been charred through the ancient Japanese technique  Shou Sugi Ban , which adds resilience to the cabin. The deep black color also helps camouflage the design into nearly any backdrop, letting the residents truly immerse themselves in their surroundings. The rectangular volumes are punctuated by several slender windows and large sliding glass doors. The interior living spaces are clad in natural plywood. The central living rooms are complete with a family-style table that can easily be moved outdoors on the wooden deck, creating the perfect spot for taking in the incredible views while dining. A small kitchenette, although compact, comes with all of the basics. The sleeping space is comprised of two large bunk beds integrated into the walls. + A6A Via Archdaily Photography by Agnès Clotis via A6A

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Beautiful solar-powered minimalist cabins are clad in locally sourced charred timber

A pair of minimalist cabins is a serene retreat in a Portuguese forest

May 30, 2019 by  
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While most architectural firms often work with demanding clients, Portuguese firm Studio 3a only had two very basic instructions when tasked with building a peaceful retreat for a client: the design must have a bed and a bathtub. Working within these simple parameters, the designers came up a gorgeous minimalist design that consisted of two jet-black timber cabins tucked into an idyllic spot surrounded by wild pine trees. Peacefully tucked into a dense forest in the coastal village of Comporta, the natural surroundings as well as the local climate drove the design’s many passive features . The area is known for its intense summer heat, so the architects carefully positioned the cabins so that they would be illuminated by natural light but also protected from the harsh sunlight. Additionally, the cabins have large overhangs and a tensioned solar shading system that provide respite from the heat while residents are outside. The cabins are also installed with low-E windows to add efficiency to the project. Related: Triangular treetop cabins offer an unforgettable stay in the Norwegian woods The project consists of three prefabricated cabins , two of which are connected by an open-air wooden deck. Fulfilling the client’s simple wish list, the first cabin, which is referred to as the “intimate module” is just 129 square feet and contains a bed and a bathroom. The second cabin, the “social module,” houses the main living space, complete with an open-plan living room and kitchen. The third cabin conceals the home’s utility services and a garage and is just steps away from a swimming pool. The minimalist cabins were inspired by the area’s traditional fishermen huts. The simple, cube-like formations emit a sense of functionality on the exterior, while the all-white interiors speak to a more modern aesthetic. Clad in charred Douglas wood finish achieved through the Japanese technique shou sugi ban, the cabins are camouflaged into their natural surroundings. In addition to its beautiful appearance, the charred timber also adds sustainability and resilience to the design. The architects explained that the Japanese technique is one of their favorites, because there are “no toxins or chemicals involved, [it is] maintenance-free and shows the beauty of the veins of the wood itself.” The two main cabins are connected through a wooden platform that was built around a large tree. This area not only connects the private spaces with the social living spaces but provides a beautiful spot to enjoy the fresh air. The entrance to the cabins is through two sliding glass doors. In contrast to the all-black exteriors , the interior of the cabins are bright and modern. With sparse furniture, concrete flooring and all-white walls, the living space boasts a soothing yet sophisticated atmosphere. + Studio 3a Via Wallpaper Photography by Nelson Garrido via Studio 3a

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Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

May 29, 2019 by  
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The San Francisco Bay Area is notoriously expensive for both renters and buyers. But one enterprising young couple has found a way to live in the beautiful city on their own terms by building their very own tiny home . Nicolette and Michael spent just seven months constructing their dream home. Although it is only 300 square feet, it comes complete with a sleeping loft, a full kitchen and a little reading nook for the studious couple. The young couple was inspired to build their own home for a number of reasons. With Michael being a full-time student at CAL, they had to stay in the Bay Area; however, after realizing how expensive the area is, they decided to enjoy the financial freedom that comes with building their own tiny home. Additionally, they were inspired to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle where they could reduce their footprint on the planet. Related: This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui As they set out on their tiny home journey, the amateur — but ambitious — builders decided to do most of the work themselves, accepting help from family and friends along they way. Built on a 28-foot long trailer, the home is clad in metal and wood siding with plenty of windows that flood the interior with natural light . According to Nicolette, the interior design was inspired by an industrial farmhouse aesthetic. The home is bright and airy with white walls and high ceilings. To the left, the living room is compact but comfortable with a loveseat that pulls out into a futon. A beautiful silicon-gel fireplace keeps the space warm and cozy during the winter months. The main wall is clad in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that provide plenty of storage space. At the heart of the couple’s tiny home design is a sweet little reading nook that was built onto the end of the structure, past the main living area. With two large windows that open, this space is perfect for snuggling up with a good book or creating artwork. Between the living space and the kitchen, the couple installed a work/dining space consisting of two desks under a wall of windows. On the other side of the space is a compact metal kitchen area along with an oven with a four-burner stove and even a full-size refrigerator. A barn-yard door separates the living space from the bathroom, which has a full shower and vanity along with a composting toilet . Above the kitchen space is the sleeping loft accessible by a metal ladder. White shiplap walls along with two horizontal windows turn the tiny space into a soothing oasis. + Nicolette Notes Via Apartment Therapy Images via Nicolette and Michael

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