11 Incredible Small Homes
11 Incredible Small Homes
Whatever size your home is, I bet you (like me) often struggle with space. Living in a starter home poses its own particular difficulties; and while I do like the challenge of coming up with new, innovative and aesthetically-pleasing ways of storage, I tend to get frustrated when my mountain of miscellaneous junk is just lying around without a home. Sound familiar? Try living in one of the following 11 Incredible Small Homes from around the world! While some have just left me scratching my head as to how they even work, others I fell instantly in love with and have given me inspiration for the interior design of my own home.
1. Project Gregory Billboard Home (Worldwide)
The concept for this home is to transform an ordinary roadside billboard into a small living space, with the intent of providing housing for the homeless. Many of these billboards were in use anyway and so were already taking up the entire space that they occupy; instead of expanding the space, this innovative designer has, instead, decided to make the most of it. While they don't look like all that much from the outside, I think you'll agree that the space they have created on the inside is incredible! What's great for us is that many of these design ideas can easily be implemented in our own homes.
This home includes every main feature that you would expect from any living space: a kitchen, office, master bedroom, bathroom (shower, toilet and wash-basin), and a set of wardrobes: all decorated in a wonderfully modern design. As you can see from these photos, the high-level bed also doubles as a storage unit, with room for two rows of good-sized drawers underneath. A set of shelves (that look to be holding CDs and DVDs) have been adapted to fit the shape of the room so that they can make the most of the wall space available. And there is a small, roll-out desk just underneath one of the windows that basically flat-packs when it is not in use: giving the home's occupants the option of creating a makeshift study should the need arise.
2. Tiny House, Giant Journey : Small Mobile Home (North America)
I absolutely love this design! Built from scratch by two individuals with no previous construction experience, this innovative, road-worthy living space is home to owners Jenna and Guillaume and their dog, Salies. The couple have a real passion for tiny homes and are currently travelling around North America, blogging their experiences as they meet like-minded people with equally quirky home designs. The fact that this house can simply be hitched onto the back of a car makes up for the lack of long-term storage available, as the couple can simply buy possessions as and when they need them. Jenna and Guillaume have been blogging their travelling experiences as they make their way across North America and document their encounters with other owners of incredibly tiny homes. It makes for a really great read - check it out if you get a few spare minutes: Tiny House, Giant Journey.
What I really admire most about this home is the fact that Jenna and Guillaume have really put their own stamp on the property with their design; here a lack of space does not, by any means, quanitfy a lack of style. I love their use of raw, natural materials in the décor that gives the interior an uber-vintage vibe that echoes the mountain-dwelling cabins of early Western-American settlers in the mid-Nineteenth Century.
While it is small, by giving height to the structure the couple have been able to construct a semi-second floor for their sleeping space: meaning that their bed still has the feeling of a separate 'bedroom' and doesn't have to co-habit alongside the kitchen. You don't then need to have a lot more height above the bed itself because it is, of course, intended for sleeping in. You can tell that every single element of this design has been well thought-out in advance and, for me, that's what makes it so successful. If you think about what you are using the different parts of your house for in advance, before filling them with possessions, different storage opportunities will then present themselves to you.
3. 'Reflection Of Mineral' (Japan)
At first glance, this house seems to be defying gravity with its quirky design! Designed by architect Atelier Tekuto, this dwelling manages to combine a place of residence with a roofed car parking space: all within a 44 metre-squared plot of land near the centre of Tokyo.
The concept of this tiny property is all in the idea of 'reflection'. The designer conceptualises 'reflection' as the perception of space; by controlling surfaces in terms of three factors (transparency, translucency and opaqueness) and entangling them in a three-dimensional way inside the internal space of the home, Tekuto is able to create visual reflection. The viewer then effectively 'sees' more space than they would with a traditional design of the same dimensions.
The unusual structural design of the building allows for windows of varying sizes and shapes to be positioned throughout the property: with the idea being that when light enters the rooms at different times from different angles, the appearance of the home's facets change and a more 'dynamic' space is created. Because of this, materials of varying 'reflectivity' are used throughout; stainless steel, for example, is a popular choice - particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.
4. Tiny Victorian Cottage (New York)
Amateur designer Sandra Foster renovated an old hunting cabin in the Catskills into this beautifully tiny Victorian cottage back in 2009: all within the very reasonable budget of $3000 USD (including furnishing). Foster did all of the carpentry herself and integrated her Victoriana theme into the very core of her property by using exclusively vintage columns and flooring. She doggedly haunted upstate salvage shops for old windows with wavy glass; she found an old porch door in the precise shade of hunter green once used on the boarding houses that are dotted around the area; she simply used a jigsaw to create a gingerbread trim and cut out openings for the windows.
While this tiny home is limited in the fact that it is unable to house a bathroom or a kitchen, (rendering it uninhabitable as a stand-alone property), it seems to almost make up for this in it's extreme dedication to the shabby-chic theme. The décor is perpetrated to vintage Victoriana with its stacks of rosebud-patterned Limoges china, lavish crystal chandeliers and billowing tissue-paper garlands. Foster makes excellent use of the building's shape by inserting shelves into the roof's point for books, files and trinkets. Pure white dominates the colour scheme throughout, extending to the painted floorboards, drapes, bed linen and table cloths which, combined, help to make the room look more open and spacious.
What I particularly love about this property is the rustic, worn-down appearance of its exterior that wonderfully compliments the shabby-chic interior design. The external paintwork of the walls and door may have been gently filed away with sandpaper to accentuate this look, and the overall use of wooden structural and decorative elements throughout just brings the whole 'look' of the house together beautifully.
5. The Savannah Project (Georgia)
In this unique and innovative creation, artist and designer Julio Garcia completely re-imagined the structural potential of industrial shipping containers by renovating them with natural materials, against the verdant back-drop of his home town Savannah, Georgia.
Garcia placed the two 40-foot shipping containers about 6-foot apart from each other on a foundation system of steel L-beams that rested on concrete piers. The gap was then filled with a wooden floor and shed roof, and the container side-walls were cut away to create a large open living area. The two L-beams are able to effectively replace the structural support that was lost with the removal of the container-walls, meaning that the roof remains well-supported. Garcia decided to leave the exterior of the two shipping containers in their original state as a reminder of their industrial past.
Somewhat in contrast to the property's exterior, Garcia has given the internal design a wonderfully clean, contemporary look. While inside is largely open-plan, the kitchen area is subtly set apart from the rest of the communal living space with the use of wooden flooring: as opposed to the black-tinted concrete in the rest of the property. This is a great idea if you don't necessarily have the space to structurally separate the rooms of your house from one another with walls or furniture. I love the contrast in colour between the dark flooring and the white walls which, I think, makes the house looks beautifully modern and spacious. The full-length windows allow for the maximum amount of natural light to enter the building: giving the home a lovely light, open feel despite its restricted size.
6. Tiny Flatbed Trailer Home (Idaho)
This beautifully designed small home in Boise, Idaho - which is made entirely out of sustainable materials - was built atop of a flatbed trailer by local architect Macy Miller in 2011. While only 196-square-feet in size, the house boasts all of the modern amenities expected of a standard home: including lighting (which Miller wired herself), a gas-powered kitchen area, and a working bathroom.
Miller confesses that 'I have incorporated every single "dead space" as storage.' Her king-size bed sits atop of a set of cupboards and the steps leading up to the mattress have in-built drawers; the area above the pantry has been sunken to create more storage space, as has the gap behind her fridge, and she has built-in bookshelves throughout the small property. She leaves the shelves in her kitchen open, however, to make the room feel just that bit bigger.
Currently the home is hooked up to the power grid but Miller soon wants this to change: hoping to eventually make the entire structure completely eco-friendly, space-saving and cost-effective. The best thing of all about this tiny home? Miller only pays rent for the land it sits on!
7. The 'Soul Box' (Germany)
The Seelenkiste (roughly translated to 'Soul Box' from the original German) was designed by Matthias Prüger, Manuel Rauwolf and Ulrike Wetzel as, essentially, a flat-packed home. Made entirely from wood, the architects' intentions for this design were to fulfil the burgeoning desire for country retreats while maintaining a close proximity to the city: creating a structural means for spatial and self discovery.
What I find to be the most interesting aspect of this design is how it all works in distinct sections. The small 8-square-metre structure cantilevers for both the convertible office-like overhang at the top of the property and the sleeping bunk in what would be the 'first floor' of the building. Because of this, there is a real sense of efficiency; Prüger, Rauwolf and Wetzel have built no more than what they really need.
That being said, there is a remarkable amount of storage for such a small home. One thick wall in the interior is able to conceal a cleverly alternating stepladder, and the architects also make use of a folding table that can be stored into the inset of the wall. The fibreglass window panels are also removal, meaning they are ideal for the home's capacity for quick assembly and disassembly. Who knew a small home could really flat-pack?!
8. The Keret House (Poland)
Perhaps more of a work of art than anything else, Keret House in Warsaw, Poland, is officially the skinniest house in the world. Envisioned by architect Jakub Szczesny, the house was squeezed between two already-existing buildings and measures a mere 72cm at its narrowest point, (stretching to 122cm at its widest).
Despite being such an incredibly narrow space, Szczesny has managed to make the house fully functional by including all the necessary amenities; the home includes a bedroom, study, toilet, shower and kitchen. What I find incredible is that, while the property is windowless, the semi-transparent structure means that it is all naturally-lit and has a really light, almost open feel. The home is not nearly as claustrophobic as one would first imagine.
My favourite part of this house is the way that you are required to move between the different floors with the use of a ladder, rather than stairs. By allowing the structural beams to remain on show - as opposed to concealing them within the walls - Szczesny gives himself the maximum amount of internal space to work with. It also lends a real contemporary feeling to the home, which I love. It may just be a little too narrow for my own personal liking, but I really admire how Szczesny has redefined what a 'home' can look like with this design.
9. A 7-Metre House of Plywood (China)
In 2013, twelve aspiring architects from Chongqing University in China successfully built this miniature house entirely out of plywood for a course exhibition. With what is perhaps only a slight drawback of having no doors, the structure can boast a fully functioning kitchen, bathroom and laundry room with enough cupboard space for a washing-machine: all contained within its tiny 7-square-metre plot.
While the house was never intended to be fully habitable - being designed merely for an exhibition and not for actual use - I'm really inspired by some of the space hacks these students have demonstrated with their design. My favourite has to be the stairs leading up to the bedroom that have been hollowed out to double up as a continuously ascending bookcase. I also love the fact that the bedroom area doesn't have a 'floor' but is instead comprised entirely of a mattress, and the kitchen table can actually be lowered back down into the floor. Any space available is used brilliantly here and this design just proves that there are always different ways to maximise your storage.
10. Miniature Mountain Hut (Italy)
This mountain-top hut in Italy, with its sweeping panoramic view of the Julian Alps, is free to stay for anyone who knocks on its door. The catch? You’ll have to hike 8,300ft up Foronon del Buinz Mountain to get to it.
The 16-square-metre prefabricated structure is located on the Ceria-Merlone trail and was commissioned by the family of the late mountain climber Luca Vuerich in 2011. Designed by architect Giovanni Pesamosca, the cabin has been offering refuge for hardcore hikers since it opened in September 2012.
Due to the high altitude, the building materials for the hut had to be flown in by helicopter. Incredibly, the entire structure was assembled in just one day by a dedicated team of twelve industry professionals, mountain rescue volunteers and Luca's friends. The clever chapel-like design prevents too much snow from piling on top of the roof, and its south-facing opening lets the sun melt any snow that builds up around the door frame during the winter.
Admittedly, there's not really much going on in the interior. The cabin has four built-in bunks for travellers to sleep in, with the two floor-level beds having a slightly extended frame that can be used as benches to sit on. Other than that? Well, nothing really. But we should remember that it's not designed as a 'home' as such but rather a mountain refuge: it doesn't need anything more. The cabin does exactly what it says on the tin. I believe this design is worthy to be included in the list because, while it doesn't give us much in the way of space-saving hacks, it is a small, durable and inhabitable home located within an absolutely incredible landscape.
11. The Homeless Homes Project (California)
Philanthropic artist Gregory Kloehn had the incredibly innovative and caring idea of creating small, mobile homes for the homeless: made entirely out of recycled and reclaimed materials found on the street.
Kloehn tends to go dumpster-diving in an industrial Oakland neighbourhood prone to illegal waste dumping and selects parts for his practical and inventive architectural creations from whatever he can find. The homes' foundations can be made from cargo pallets, for example, or the door can be fashioned from a refrigerator. Every mobile home he creates - each roughly the size of a sofa - is built on wheels so that it is fully moveable and has a slanted roof so that the rain rolls straight off instead of collecting and causing damage. Otherwise, Kloehn strives to make each home slightly different. One might have a mirror, for example, while another might boast a set of shelves.
Storage is not such a great consideration in the case of this design as, unfortunately, the homeless do not tend to carry too many belongings. However, what is important is that this incentive is able to put a roof over someone's head who wouldn't otherwise have one - however small that roof may be. To donate to this cause or if you'd like to help out, be sure to visit Kloehn's website here.
Thank you for reading! I hope this insight into eleven of the most incredible small homes from around the world has helped to inspire you to create new and innovative storage hacks and designs for your own houses. What do you make of these 11 Incredible Small Homes? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below!