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January 11, 2012 at 1:38 PMComments: 7 Faves: 1

This Couple Lives in a 129-Square-Foot House - Could YOU Do It?

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the NatuREport Blog Series

(photo source)

A Colorado couple committed to reducing their impact on the environment has downsized their home to just 129 square feet. Are they fanatics...or are they onto something?

For most of us, fitting all of our bedroom furniture into 129 square feet would be an accomplishment. But Ann Holley and Darren Macca have taken it a giant step further: their whole house is 129 square feet.

"It's like a sailboat on wheels," Holley says.

Macca and Holley are part of a growing movement of people, frustrated with excess and committed to reducing their impact on the environment, who have decided to put their money where their mouth is by living in dwellings most people would consider absurdly small. These houses have many names: Tumbleweed, ProtoHaus, and, well, Tiny Houses.

Now, before you dismiss these people as totally crazy, take a look at some of these houses, and consider: Jay Shafer, founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, spends $100 on utilities for his little home.

Per year.

Let's take a look - and pay special attention to the square footage of each of these pint-sized beauties:

Popomo - 172 square feet

Harbinger - 310 square feet

XS-House - 65 (!) square feet

Maybe it's the idealist in me, but I absolutely love these houses. Lately, I've been on an organizing/get-rid-of-junk kick, so the idea of living in a tiny house really appeals to me. In a culture obsessed with more - more money! More space! More excess! - the tiny house movement is pretty refreshing, and offers a certain kind of freedom you just can't find with a traditional home. Most of the designs offered on Tumbleweed's website are portable, and many are not taxed as permanent dwellings because of their tiny size. The limited energy required to run the home (Macca and Holley's abode runs mostly on solar) cuts down big-time on environmental impact, and most of these little houses are made with green building materials.

Obviously, these houses come with limitations. These are not homes for claustrophobes or people with seven kids. But for other people, the decision to go small might just be hugely rewarding.

You can check out some more photos of tiny houses here, here, and here.

Which designs are your favorite? Do you think you could live in a tiny house? Why or why not?

Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3

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  • I like the idea of cutting back, we have a cottage on a lake and it's about 800 sq ft. This is about as small as I want to go. Some day it may be our only resident. We can still cook a meal and not feel over whelmed by the lack of space. My husband loves this place because the "bills" are so reasonable, it feels like your getting away with something (like a $40 gas bill instead of $210) per month. Years back we actually had a trailer on a lot at a lake and spent most weekends hanging out there in the summer months. It had two pop outs which made the rooms bigger. It never felt like we didn't have enough room. In my bedroom for example I like to be able to make my bed without the wall being in the way or getting dressed standing up instead of sitting on the bed. Downsizing can be a challenge we should all experience - some day or another!

  • I think if I were to live in a house, I'd want a small one, but not *this* small. That said, I heard about the tiny house craze a few years ago, and since then have learned a lot of techniques for maximizing the use of a small space to put into practice in my apartment.

  • Nancy, I agree! I think it's healthy to cut back - it makes you realize what's really important, I think. We have it so good here in the U.S., really. I feel so lucky to have reliable heat and air conditioning (now that's a luxury) and food and shelter. I spent some time at an orphanage/community in Romania last winter and we would wake up with no heat. It really made me appreciate things like shelter and heat, and ever since then I've been a little bit uncomfortable with excess. (Also, I really want to go back there...but that's another story.) You don't realize how little you need until you actually have to get by with little! Now, putting that into action is a little bit more difficult - but it's a healthy challenge.

    Dave, if you check out the Tumbleweed website, they actually have plans for houses as large as 874 square feet - not portable, but still much, much smaller than the average house, yet with ample room for one or a few people. I think these small houses are just perfect for a couple of friends, college students, young families with no kids, etc. Care to share any of your tips? I'd love to hear some! :)

  • Dave, here's their largest house:

    There aren't any actual photos of the interior, but there are some renderings and it looks quite cozy.

  • Love all these houses! Great blog, Laura! :D I love the idea of the tiny house movement. So much more eco-friendly and so much better for everyone because they won't pile up unneeded junk in their house. (that's starting to happen to mine!)

    The only thing that would drive me away from not getting such a tiny house would be kids and guests. I think it's perfect for two people, but depending on how many kids you have, it seems difficult to not have much space. Who knows though...maybe it's not has hard as I think. ;)

  • Our house is fairly small for how many people live in it. Just about 2100 square feet (includes basement) with 7 people, 2 cats, a dog, and a pile of fish. I prefer the small house, huge yard. I do need some outside unheated storage though.

  • I checked out the Tumble Weed houses - thanks for sharing the website.

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