Tiny homes are ideal for singles and couples, but once you bring a small child or two into the mix and things get complicated. Most people opt to move to a bigger home once their family grows, but UK-based architect Tim Francis, his wife, teacher Laura Hubbard-Miles and their three children have chosen to downsize into a very small home.
Their new home is actually a renovated stone building that was used in Victorian times to store fruit. It’s located in the countryside of Gloucestershire, on Francis’ parents’ estate. Their apartment in London was much bigger than this new home, but the nearest park was quite far away, and with today’s prices they were unlikely to be able to afford another home with more of the qualities they sought.
They call their new tiny home Fruit Store, and it took awhile to get all the permits to turn it into a dwelling. The exact measurements of the home weren’t revealed, but the interior appears quite spacious and cozy, probably due to its open, minimalist design. The home features a loft, which houses the children’s bedroom and playroom. The lounge downstairs features built-in benches, which can either be used as a sofa or transformed into a bed for the parents.
There is also a well-sized kitchen, and a bathroom, though an indoor toilet seems to be missing. The house does have running water and electricity though. the family spends a lot of time together outdoors, gardening and exploring the countryside, which is a definite plus in their new living arrangement. The downsizing has also given Tim a chance to get his design firm, Rural Workshop, off the ground.
A family of three living together in such a small home certainly challenges a whole host of preconceived notions about what a family home should be like. However, what a child really needs is a roof over their heads and a family that loves and protects them. So bedroom size is a secondary consideration.
Renovating an existing building can sometimes be the greenest choice, and this revamping of a traditional worker’s cottage into a modern family home is certainly a prime example of this. The renovation was carried out by the Australian firm A For Architecture and the home is located in Melbourne, Australia. The house was once the home of a local factory worker and was built in the middle of the nineteenth century, along with hundreds of others just like it.
The original layout of the house featured many small rooms, and consequently a lot of walls. They started the renovation by first taking down a number of these dividing walls, to make the spaces more open. They kept the two bedrooms, which are located at the front of the house, but they moved the bathroom from the rear to the middle of the home, where it is now located next to the laundry room and a storage space. It was completely redone and is quite large, featuring a sink, shower and toilet. A third bedroom is located just above it.
The living area is at the rear of the home and opens onto the back garden. They also installed several skylights into the roof here to let in even more natural daylight. Apart from having a good connection to the garden, the clients also wished for a layout that would allow for both privacy, as well as spaces where the family could spend time together.
For this reason the architects kept the original layout of the bedrooms in the front, while the rest of the home is now basically one large space. Glazing was installed along the entire back wall of the home, which together with the many skylights makes the interior appear spacious, aids ventilation and lets in lots of light. They kept the existing brick walls, but added timber and concrete during the renovation to make it more robust and give the home that modern, industrial aesthetic.
All in all, this is a great renovation of an old building, and they managed to keep heaps of material out of the landfill while transforming it into a lovely family home.
More and more people are opting to live in micro apartments in big cities across the world, mainly due to rising real estate prices and rents. The problem is that small spaces can very quickly begin to feel cramped, but with some clever design solutions even this challenge can be overcome. Which is exactly what the Australian designer Nicholas Gurney managed to do in the renovation of this tiny apartment.
The apartment measures a very modest 258 sq ft (24 sq m) yet it has been transformed into a cozy home for a newlywed couple. The designer succeeded to make it such by following a set of Japanese organizational principles known as the 5S. These are, “sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain” (seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke). This methodology was developed in Japan after World War Two to maximize efficiency in manufacturing, but has since been integrated into other areas like health care, education, and government as well. The first step in applying this method to the apartment design involved Gurney tasking the clients with creating a list of possessions that they could not live without, so that the space and storage areas in the apartment could be adapted to it.
The home is now fitted with custom-built cabinets, which are extra-deep, so the fact that they contain “stuff” is not apparent at first glance. The things contained within them are also stored according to different levels of priority, meaning that the important stuff is stored at the front, and the less important stuff at the back.
They kept the main area as open as possible, adding a table on wheels which can be placed where it’s needed, or rolled away under the kitchen counter to make more space. The kitchen consists of two areas, namely a wet and a dry one. The wet area features a sink that is tucked away out of sight. There is also a perforated screen door which separates the living room from the bedroom and which also supports the flatscreen TV. The screen can be rolled away so the couple can watch TV from either the bedroom or the living area. The bathroom is placed into a corner space in the apartment and separated from the rest of the space by a mirrored door, which effectively hides it and makes the space appear larger.
The governing principle that was applied to this design was “a place for everything and everything in its place”, and they succeeded. This is a great example of how much can be done with very tiny living spaces!
The company Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses of Colorado have built another great tiny home. This one bears the odd name Ol’ Berthoud Blue, and it was commissioned by a client who had tried to build their own tiny home, but found it too demanding.
The home features an interesting layout, with lots of space allocated to the bedroom and bathroom, while it was also constructed with frequent travelling in mind.
Ol’ Berthoud Blue was built atop a 24 ft (7.3 m)-long trailer. The front entrance opens into the spacious living area, which takes up most of the ground floor. This area also houses the kitchen, which features lots of counter space, a full-size fridge, a propane three-burner stove and a sink. There is also a dining table for two. The sofa in the living area can be pulled out into a 6 ft (1.8 m)-long guest bed.
The bathroom is just off the kitchen and is large enough to fit an ALFI cedar bathtub, as well as a sink and composting toilet. In an interesting design choice, one has to go through the bathroom to access the winding staircase that leads to the sleeping loft. The latter is quite spacious, and can serve as a lounge as well. They installed lots of windows in this area, which lets in plenty of natural light. The home also features a second loft, which can be used for storage.
Some of the cabinetry was custom made, while some was purchased from IKEA. Since the owners intend to travel a lot, most of the storage areas have rods or other obstructions to prevent things from falling. The tiny home gets its power via a standard RV hookup, though they plan to add a solar power system in the future. A mini-split system takes care of the heating and cooling needs.
Often we associate sustainability with downsizing to a smaller home and thereby reducing our carbon footprint, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As MVRDV, a Holland-based firm, proves with their recently completed Casa Kwantes. The latter is a luxury home, which features a brick façade, plenty of glazing, and an array of energy efficient tech. The design of the home itself was inspired by 1930s architecture, but it features a modern twist.
Casa Kwantes measures 5,166 sq ft (480 sq m) and is a two-story family residence. It is located in Rotterdam, Holland, and the architects designed the interior layout based on the owner’s wishes and needs. The living room, dining room, kitchen and library are located on the first floor, as is the two-car garage. The living room features a long, custom made wooden unit which runs along the entire wall and provides ample amounts of storage space. On the second floor, there are two bedrooms, each with an en suite bathroom. The home also features a basement and a guest bathroom.
The back wall of the home has no windows, while the front is comprised of floor to ceiling windows, and curved, which makes for some unusually shaped rooms. The curved glazing wraps around the interior continuously, offering views into all the rooms, while the balcony allows for easy access to all the spaces. Since none of the windows face the street, only the garden, the occupants enjoy lots of privacy, while the windows also let in plenty of natural daylight.
Casa Kwantes is connected to the grid, but it also has a large solar panel array mounted on the roof. According to the designers, the system will most likely provide enough energy for the entire home, but this will be proven during the next year, since the home was only just completed a couple of months ago. The home also features a ground-source heat pump, which together with the heat exchanger provides energy-efficient heating and cooling for the home.