Tiny House, Tiny Living, The Tiny Life.

Archive for the Tiny House Category

Artist(ry) In Residence

The role architecture plays in our day-to-day lives is quite interesting. On the one hand we have a tendency to elevate architecture to almost organic pieces of art. On the other hand we have conditioned ourselves to expect beautiful, functional, and even controversial homes and buildings to the point of ignoring them altogether. We devour issues of DWELL and hold as authority Architectural Digest. In the tiny house community we even satiate our daily need with sites like Tiny House Swoon and Small House Swoon. Architects like Gehry, Lloyd Wright, Hadid, and Nouvel have brought to light ingenious design, marvelous innovation, ground-breaking materials, and environmental recognition, all at once elevating themselves to artists and cultural icons.

Burj

As with Tom Wright’s Burj Al Arab in Dubai shown above, architects bring to the forefront a sort of other-worldly vernacular that most don’t understand but feel they can no longer live without. Such is the case with Robert Oshatz who in 1971 established the firm of Robert Harvey Oshatz, Architect. In the last 45 years or so the firm has paved the road of organic architecture, planning, interior design, and even construction management for developers and special clients.

Gibson

The Gibson Boathouse (shown above) on Lake Oswego (designed in 1993 and finished in 1995) is one of Oshatz’s most visual works. The Gibson family had an existing boathouse but felt like it was a bit of an eyesore on their property. They didn’t want to sacrifice the existing boat stall but did want to add a new studio and study as Mrs. Gibson is a well-known artist in her own right. The property did have some challenges. The driveway is shared with neighbors and visible to passers-by. In order to maintain the landscape it was decided to build the studio into the hillside and have a sod roof so the structure would seemingly disappear into the land and not sacrifice the use of the drive. In addition to maintaining plant life and a natural setting the roof is constructed with straight Douglas fir glue laminated beams and fir decking.

Oshatz is so much more than just an architect or guest lecturer or even guest professor though. He maintains that he is a generalist who associates with specialists feeling comfortable as a client, architect, and contractor. Because of such acknowledgements he is able to value the budget and desire of a client, artistic vision of an architect, and discipline required by a contractor to manage subscontractors and stay on schedule.

Bridging the gap between seemingly “at odds” worlds is par for the course for architect Oshatz. His Miyasaka Residence – constructed in Obihiro, Japan and featured on HGTV’s program Extreme Homes – , bridges the aesthetics of two vastly different cultures. Built to accommodate the hectic life of the president of one of Obihiro’s major commercial building contractors, as well as provide a quiet environment for his parents, the house was designed to seem almost jewel-like while situated in an urban garden oasis.

Miyasaki

This beautiful and unique modern family home shows elegance and generously calls on natural materials such as stone and wood. The roof exudes a futuristic look but the interior has a zen-like aesthetic lush plant life, stone supports, and teak wood built-ins. It’s level of sustainable design and natural harmony is something one would expect from a tree tent or even the Hytte Tiny House.

Oshatz is not just known for his high profile homes – Chenequa residence, Weiss residence, Elk Rock residence, and Killian residence to name a few – but also for non-residential projects like the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon and the C.A. Bright Tower also in Portland, Oregon. He is a long standing tour de force in sustainable and nature-inspired architecture and will surely be an influence for years to come. (Mount Crested Butte residence shown below)

Mount Crested

Your Turn!

  • Can houses other than tiny houses be seen as sustainable?
  • Is Oshatz’s work on par with architects like Lloyd Wright?

 

Via

Parisian Micro-Apartment

Upon first inspection of a Paris apartment I am always stricken by the use of light to create living space. Be it french doors, floor-to-ceiling windows, white walls, or sparse furnishings, it is safe to say (and I say this as someone who has lived in Paris…..the 9th arrondissement to be precise) taille ne compte pas, n’est-ce pas? The answer? No, not when you are the creative French firm Schemaa.

Schema_1

Their fresh renovation of an older, 322 sq.ft. apartment shows a certain je ne sais quoi in its elegant simplicity. Dominated by an alternating-tread staircase with included storage this storage-rich apartment features a number of space-saving elements.

Schema_2

Using some of the same elements as an earlier TTL post on “stair porn” the staircase in the Schemaa apartment is made up of varying sized cupboards allowing the rest of the room to look airy and minimal. The grain pattern of the steps and other furniture elements suggest birchwood it is more economical and therefore more feasible to say each of the built-in strips is a finished yellow pine. Of course the floor is something a either a bit more exotic or simply dressed up with a pickling or whitewash finish.

At the base of the stairs (or to the right…whichever you prefer) is a rather large mirror which serves to reflect the light coming in from the oversized windows. Such a detail gives the illusion of a much larger footprint to the room. To fill the floor or allow for dinner parties in the space a dining table is also featured in the apartment that disassembles when not in use and mounts securely on the wall.

Schema_4

To note is the use of orange as an accent color in all areas but most obviously as the kitchen backsplash (NOTE: the two images above are mirrored for example purposes). This orange theme extends to coat hooks, tiling, dining stools, and lighting.

Perhaps the remaining question is where the stairs actually lead to. As if stolen from a page in the Moulin Rouge screenplay they ascend to a quaint loft bedroom complete with star-gazing skylights. The original, rough-cut, wooden beams visible in the rafters lend that old world charm to the entire apartment paying homage to both the detailed craftsmanship still present in the apartment as well as the age of the structure.

Schema_5Even though its size clearly makes this a tiny house or rather micro-apartment, it is also the use of space and the multi-function of built-in furniture items that make it a clever and practical home.

Your Turn!

  • Could you live in such a minimal space?
  • Does the absence of clutter make you think the Schemaa space is cold?

 

Via

 

Playful and Themed Tiny House Design

269 sq. ft. does not seem the most advantageous space for any sort of theme in design. In fact, it seems barely enough space to eat and sleep. Yet somehow designers and architects like Alan Chu are finding playful and inventive ways to give a fresh and fluid look to small spaces.

1211_1

Separating the micro apartment into a 2-story unit the blueprint allows for an open floor plan with the kitchen and living space on the bottom floor. This isn’t at all unlike the basic premise of a tiny house trailer. The similarities continue when moving to the bedroom (and bathroom) which is situated on the second floor and accessible by a spiral metal staircase. This plays in directly to the steadily revisited argument of loft -vs- no loft and steps -vs- ladder arguments in the tiny house community. Chu’s space – named Apt 1211 – also owes much credit to the large window that literally floods the apartment with daylight and natural ambiance. On to the theme of the apartment though.

1211_2

The custom cabinetry takes on a look for industrial or warehouse crates which all at once keep the design fluid and organized. The boxes were built from certified wood pine and feature red interiors. Because all storage spaces including those for media, clothing, and kitchen items, all use the storage crate look even though they range in size they keep a continuous look and feel. To top it off the flooring on the second floor is made with reclaimed demolition wood truly incorporating the warehouse aesthetic.

1211_3

There are some elements that seem less obvious than others in the apartment. One is the framework itself. The second floor seems to hover and lack a certain amount of traditional framing while the downstairs flooring is cement without any mention of whether or not the apartment is on the ground floor or has additional supports for weight integrity above the downstairs unit.

Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the entire unit though is the absence of hardware on the storage containers. It seems as if doors open using finger holes and hinged doors open just by pulling the door and drawers seem to have a notched out handle, all giving a uniform and clean look.

Your Turn!

  • Do you prefer a mixed cabinet look or do you like the themed approach?
  • Would you build with cabinets that lack traditional hardware?

Via

New Zealand Tiny House

In the winter of 2013 Brett Sutherland of Auckland, New Zealand set about to build a tiny house of his own design on a tandem-axle trailer right in the driveway of his parents home. Start to finish took just five months but with a bit of experience and  a lot of tenacity and dedication Sutherland built one of the most unique, space-saving, tiny house trailers visible on the web today.

Mobile Villa 1

Nicknamed the MV (Mobile Villa) by Sutherland himself the inspiration behind the build was really a practical one. As Brett explains to Bryce Langston in a recent interview, “The biggest thing I was trying to avoid was losing all my money as soon as I touched down and that’s what happens when you pay a rent.” Brett truly wanted an off-the-grid, self-contained home that would allow him to concentrate more on his art than making money. He wanted to do more in life than just survive economically.

At 161 sq.ft. the Mobile Villa cost just $10,185.00 USD to build and features a sitting area, a kitchen, an upstairs sleeping loft, and a small bathroom with shower.

MV layout

MVtoilet

The roof line of the MV is a two-tier shed roof which Sutherland admits was done for airflow purposes in the sleeping loft as the top tier features a crank-out, horizontal window. The slope of the roof also allows for generous rain catchment which further allows Sutherlands pursuits for total off-grid living. The lower tier supports Brett’s two solar panels which then further feed into his electric panel situated just above the toilet area and out of direct sight and hosting a 30-amp solar regulator, battery isolator switch, and switchboard.

Upon walking in the tiny house there is immediately a twin-size day bed to the right offering guests a place to lay their head when visiting as well as a couple of sitting chairs directly across the room for more social moments. Another interesting aspect of the house is the use of what looks like standard plywood with a semi-gloss finish rather than the pine tongue-and-groove more frequently seen in tiny houses. This technique has been used before in several inexpensive yet practical ways such as the Zen Cube Mobile Living Space.

MV Living RoomIt’s what is under the day bed that is perhaps the coolest element as it houses the Flexi Tank water storage bag which is connected directly to the downspout of the gutter on the lower roof tier and holds roughly 100 gallons.

MV Water StorageOther features of Sutherlands tiny house are typical of many tiny houses:

  • 12-volt water pump (which services the sink and shower)
  • Propane cook stove
  • 12-volt outlet(s)
  • Sawdust toilet

Since construction on Sutherland’s Mobile Villa ended he has moved it to a friend’s property in Bethells Beach in Auckland. With the ocean as his front yard, no shortage of palm trees as his neighbor, and plenty of room for friends and guests to come and enjoy a barbeque Sutherland and his MV are perfect testimony to the freedom, mobility, and consciousness that tiny living can bring!

MV Moving

Your Turn!

  • Can you see yourself living tiny at the oceanfront?

 

Via

 

Tiny House Building Codes

It’s been a while since I did a post about how tiny houses deal with building codes, so today I wanted to share the top 5 myths about building codes, zoning and tiny houses.

Building Code Myths(1)

Myth 1:  I don’t need a permit if it’s under ___ sq/ft.

This is true, typically if you are building something under a certain square footage than you don’t need a permit.  The catch is there is an exception to this is and it’s when you want to dwell/live in it.  The second you place any personal property in that house, it is classified as “dwelwing” and it doesn’t matter if its 10,000 square feet or 10 square feet, you need a permit.

Myth 2: It’s an RV, Mobile Home, Camper.

Again this true… If your home is being built by a certified RV or Mobile Home manufacturer; also important to note, to become a manufacturer it will cost you several thousand dollars, an LLC and an inspection process to ensure you meet all 500+ requirements.  So you can’t just build an tiny and and say “look!  it’s a RV or Mobile Home.”  To top it off once you do become classified as such, you often can only reside in certain zoning areas, which are fast disappearing.   There is an exception to this: if your state has a “home built RV” class, but these are few and far between and more and more campgrounds and trailer parks refuse entry on them.

Myth 3: I can just say I’m “camping”

Somewhat true.  Typically municipalities have limits of how long you can camp.  This is is often 2 days to 30 days in one spot or on one parcel of land.  In the city I live in, you are legally not allowed to camp at all unless FEMA has declared a state of emergency.   In some cases you can “camp” if you move every few days, but the city could also say “you’re not camping, you’re dwelling” and then its curtains.

Myth 4: They can’t stop me!  I’ll do what I want.

In some places you’re right.  It’s often the case that its not that they can’t stop you, but they won’t unless it becomes a big public issue.  In most places they can stop you.  They will come in and condemn you tiny house, which means if you enter it, they’ll arrest you for being in your own home!  They can also fine you, run a bulldozer through your house to destroy it, or deny you utilities like they did to me (read about it here).  All of which they legally can do, have done and you have no recourse for.

Myth 5: It’s on wheels codes/zoning don’t apply.

This is a big myth perpetrated by those who want to make a quick buck of tiny house people.  It is true that having a tiny house on wheels will help things generally because it confuses the bureaucrats, you can move it so easily, etc.  But the truth is that the second you dwell in it, all bets are off and the city can do what they want.

So what can I do?!?

There are two approaches to this:  1) you can beat them at their own game and know how to leverage the codes 2) you can fly under the radar.  Each of these have their pros and cons.  To get a better understanding of these things I have an ebook of how you can work within the system to gain legal status with your tiny house.  I show you the key barriers for tiny house folks, offer possible solutions and give you strategies to beat the system.  I also show you how to fly under the radar, how to live in your tiny house without getting caught.  Both are covered in Cracking The Code: A guide to building codes and zoning for tiny houses.

Cracking-278x350

 

Page 1 12345...Last »