tiny house nation: tv about tinies

When there’s sufficient tiny house interest for a television series, something is shifting culturally. Tiny House Nation promises to feature a person or family taking the leap into tiny house living, on every show.

The series premieres on Wednesday, July 9th at 10E/11P, as part of an A&E channel launch called fyi. Like us, you’ll have to watch it live or on demand.

Here's a half-minute, sneak peek video of Tiny House Nation. Click on the image, and watch closely as several newly-built tinies flash before your eyes. (fyi.tv)

Here’s a half-minute, sneak peek video of Tiny House Nation. Click on the image, and watch closely as several newly-built tinies flash before your eyes. (fyi.tv)

John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin will serve as hosts for the show. We already know Zack and his girlfriend Molly, who tow their tiny house to Western skiing destinations. Zack’s building and living experience should be a great asset.

Look at this tiny ski house built by Zack Giffin, which glows in a cold winter night. Parked next to ski lifts, it's conveniently close to tomorrow's backcountry adventures. (Ian Provo photo)

Look at this tiny ski house built by Zack Giffin, which glows in a cold winter night. Parked next to ski lifts, it’s conveniently close to tomorrow’s backcountry adventures. (Ian Provo photo)

We are unashamedly excited to see a pure, 100-percent tiny house series emerge on the scene. For everyone thinking about getting his/her own tiny on wheels or land, let’s hope this TV show fulfills its promises to share true stories and homes.

7/17/14 Update: Tiny House Nation episodes may be watched free and online, including “172 Sq. Ft. Dream Castle” (view) and “River Escape” (view).

cool, small, wall-leaning furniture

We enjoy seeing surprising wall-leaning furniture as much as anyone. While these pieces may be great space savers, call us curious: Are they comfortable to use? What weight can they support? Do they, ugh, fall down easily?

Take a peek, along with our practical thumbs up/down judgment calls.

Thumbs-Up: Wall-leaning tables and desks

The wall-leaning Appunto table has pizazz, and should handle a computer or meal with aplomb. We also like how it folds straight down for storage. Let's applaud this French design for tiny and small living. (Laurent Corio, designer)

The wall-leaning Appunto table has pizazz, and should handle a computer or meal with aplomb. We also like how it folds straight down for storage. Let’s applaud this French design for tiny and small living. (Laurent Corio, designer)

A Lovebird consists of two wall-leaning desks which connect drawers to form a standalone table. It's a true multi-use solution for work and play. This Japanese design comes from a student completing her coursework. (Yuki Matsumoto, designer)

A Lovebird consists of two wall-leaning desks which connect drawers to form a standalone table. It’s a true multi-use solution for work and play. This Japanese design comes from a student completing her coursework. (Yuki Matsumoto, designer)

Thumbs-Up: Wall-leaning seating

Flip is designed to look as if it has been made from the tops of two chairs,

“Flip is designed to look as if it has been made from the tops of two chairs,” explains its British chair designer. The piece is a solid, practical wall-leaner which easily flips to reveal a higher or lower seat rise. (John Caswell, designer)

A small space winner designed in land-locked Switzerland, the Curt evokes a traditional shipdeck chair with a seat sling. It's obviously comfortable, has an anti-slip coating for safety, and may be easily stored. (Bernhard Burkard, designer)

A small space winner designed in land-locked Switzerland, the Curt evokes a traditional shipdeck chair with a seat sling. It’s obviously comfortable, has an anti-slip coating for safety, and may be easily stored. (Bernhard Burkard, designer)

Thumbs-Down: Wall-leaning tables and desks

This U.S. ladder-style piece looks handy with a computer desk and storage shelves to boot. It's only thumbs-down because you may find similarly-sized furniture with standard support instead. (Mastercraft LBI, designer)

This U.S. ladder-style piece looks handy with a computer desk and storage shelves to boot. It’s only thumbs-down because you may find similarly-sized furniture with standard support instead. (Mastercraft LBI, designer)

The Kaki is an all metal, round wall-leaner with a little bend to grab against the wall. It seems best-suited for an entry hall or side table. As a lightweight, this Japanese design is elegant though impractical -- unless you love it. (Kenyon Yeh)

The Kaki is an all metal, round wall-leaner with a little bend to grab against the wall. It seems best-suited for an entry hall or side table. As a lightweight, this Japanese design is elegant through impractical — unless you love it. (Kenyon Yeh)

Thumbs-Down: Wall-leaning seating

Does this Dutch piece work? An elegant bench holds at least two people, proving the physics of a wall-leaner. Still it suffers for beauty over comfort, and appears useful for short-term or secondary seating. (Izabela Boloz, designer)

Does this Dutch piece work? An elegant bench holds at least two people, proving the physics of a wall-leaner. Still it suffers for beauty over comfort, and appears useful for short-term or secondary seating. (Izabela Boloz, designer)

These Japanese “R Chairs” bat 1000 percent on sheer design dynamics and simplicity. However the cool chairs don’t seem practical unless you crave lots of temporary seating for guests. (Yuichi Takeuchi, designer)

These Japanese “R Chairs” bat 1000 percent on sheer design dynamics and simplicity. However the cool chairs don’t seem practical unless you crave lots of temporary seating for guests. (Yuichi Takeuchi, designer)

help me with municipal approvals

One of the gotcha steps of building a tiny or small house is reviewing building plans with your county and city officials — and getting those plans approved before construction begins.

If you aren’t a professional, then maybe it’s time to seek help. Here are four options which rely on external suppliers.

1. Architect: Arrange for an architect to handle plans, hire reliable builders, obtain approvals and permits, and make sure you are happy. You are paying for all the professional advice and have an advocate to make changes required by municipalities. It’s a sweet and pricey option.

ARCHITECT: Imagine living somewhere special and getting this modern home approved. It's an exposed concrete cube tucked naturally into the mountainside. From architect Lischer Partner Architekten Planer. (Ferienhaus Vitznau)

ARCHITECT: Imagine living somewhere special and getting this modern home approved. It’s an exposed concrete cube tucked naturally into the mountainside. From architect Lischer Partner Architekten Planer. (Ferienhaus Vitznau)

2. Builder: Buy existing plans from an architect directly or third party like Houseplans, with a materials list included. When you hire a builder/general contractor, they are supposed to get approvals and permits. If you need to make plan changes, then seek out an architect, designer or plan provider.

BUILDER: This single-level deck house received Fine Homebuilding Magazine's Small Home of 2013 Award for "its shared spaces and connections to the outdoors." Building plans for the 800 sq. ft. home are available for sale. (Houseplans.com)

BUILDER: This single-level deck house received Fine Homebuilding Magazine’s Small Home of 2013 Award for “its shared spaces and connections to the outdoors.” Building plans for the 800 sq. ft. home are available for sale. (Houseplans.com)

3. Prefab Supplier: You may order a prefab house “kit” and hire a builder. Yet many suppliers offer construction services which alleviate stress. Kanga Systems builds your house, ships it, places it on your site and finishes set-up. For about $10k, they will obtain approvals and permits beforehand.

PRE-FAB SUPPLIER: A welcoming, country style is seen in this tiny house. It features well proportioned windows, doors and an open front porch. The board and batten siding makes it feel authentic. Kanga's house measures 168 sq. ft. (Kanga Studio)

PRE-FAB SUPPLIER: A welcoming, country style is seen in this tiny house. It features well proportioned windows, doors and an open front porch. The board and batten siding makes it feel authentic. Kanga’s house measures 168 sq. ft. (Kanga Studio)

4. Shed Supplier: Backyard sheds provide simple, extra space. As tiny structures without major plumbing, you shouldn’t run into permit issues. There are six ways to buy them, from architects to near-DIY projects. One long-standing supplier is Modern-Shed, which delivers and installs modern escapes on site.

SHED SUPPLIER: In Seattle, a felt artisan was fed up with working in her family kitchen and ordered this craft shed which fits perfectly. she selected the nice red color and added the deck. (Modern-Shed)

SHED SUPPLIER: In Seattle, a felt artisan was fed up with working in her family kitchen and ordered this craft shed which fits perfectly. She selected the nice red color and added the deck. (Modern-Shed)

Changes afoot on the tiny and small house front

Be prepared for some house rejections from your municipality, even with help. Your dream place may not be large enough, have the right proportions for space use, or exclude appropriate egress. It’s possible that your foundation or materials aren’t up to snuff. Perhaps the power, water and sewage hook-ups won’t be approved yet. We can’t predict the objections, and sigh with you.

It’s okay if your first plans don’t fly. If you aim to build under 400 sq. ft., then upsize a little bit. We do need to share how a woman moved to Hawaii, bought land and received approvals to build a garage and main home. So far, she has built on the garage pad and lives in that sweet tiny house. Her main house will be constructed and rented out — though she isn’t in a hurry.

Or follow the wheels of tiny housers who have preceded you. If you need and want a full house with comforts and will be using it part-time, then consider buying a trailer-based beauty from 100-200 square feet. In this case, you go to the DMV and get a license instead.

By getting approvals for and living legally in YOUR tiny or small house, you are contributing to the greater good too. Municipalities have opened up their requirements, especially for secondary dwelling units and for trailer house uses. It’s only a matter of time for changes to spread from Portland (OR) and Austin (TX) to other U.S. cities.

who would use your small house?

To plan for a tiny or small home takes conscious effort. It helps to consider questions which clarify your needs and desires.  Let’s start with a simple, key question…who?

Here's a beautiful, 140 sq. ft. craftsman bungalito. Is it a place for you or your family? (Red River Restorations)

Here’s a beautiful 140 sq. ft. craftsman bungalito. Is it a place for you or your family? (Red River Restorations)

Today’s Question: Who would use your tiny or small house?

Envision your place now, as well as in five and ten years. Try to identify WHO uses the house with a twist of WHY tossed into the mix. We’ll share a range of possibilities below, to get this party started.

1. Personal need or desire

  • for your home office
  • for your place of business
  • for your escape, man/woman cave
  • for your art, music or exercise space
  • for full-time living

2. Family and friends

  • for your teenagers
  • for your adult children
  • for your parents, part-time
  • for your parents, full-time
  • for short-term guests
  • for longer-term guests

3. Peace of mind

  • for you, to save money now
  • for you, to save money later
  • for you, to make money now
  • for you, to make money later
  • for you, to live with a lighter footprint

4. Alternative or new location

  • for your vacation travels
  • for your getaway place
  • for your retirement travels
  • for your retirement, period

Feel free to declare your house wishes for yourself or other occupants. You may want to share and refine your ideas with supportive listeners — or even comment below.

tiny houses, cool dogs

We think tiny houses are appealing to dogs because they love cozy dens. Let’s take a little time to honor pooches who give “four paws up” about houses on wheels. Apart from our presidential dogs, the other canines are full-time tiny housers.

Presidential dogs: La Petite Maison was built by Sicily, an amazing 13 year old. She and her mother, Suzannah, were invited to display La Maison at the White House’s Maker Faire. During set-up, Bo and Sunny Obama stopped by.

Bo and Sunny are milling about La Petite Maison, with Sunny ready to jump inside. The house is parked under the East Wing portico and entry to the White House. (Suzannah Kolbeck)

Bo and Sunny are milling about La Petite Maison, with Sunny ready to jump inside. The house is parked under the East Wing portico and entry to the White House. (Suzannah Kolbeck)

La Petite Maison looks great in blue and white, with a natural wood door. Originally built in Georgia, the tiny house recently relocated to Delaware. (La Petite Maison)

La Petite Maison looks great in blue and white, with a natural wood door. Built in Georgia, the tiny house recently relocated to Delaware. (La Petite Maison)

Happy herder: Jenna and Guillaume brought Salies into their tiny house under construction. She is learning the ropes about living and traveling, as the three soon hit the road for a Tiny House Giant Journey.

Salies is a natural diva and photo bomber! She appears in front of nice reclaimed wood siding that's been nailed to her tiny home exterior. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

Salies is a natural diva and photo bomber! She appears in front of nice reclaimed wood siding that’s been nailed to her tiny home exterior. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

During dramatic stormy weather, Salies' house looks lovely. On a more practical note, it appears well-built and sealed up from the rain. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

During dramatic stormy weather, Salies’ house looks lovely. On a more practical note, it appears well-built and sealed up from the rain. (Tiny House Giant Journey)

Beach pup: Ella and Zac live in Little Yellow, sited on the Northern California coast. They discovered and adopted Lobster over the winter, and he relaxes perfectly at home. We believe he also takes ocean swims with Ella.

"Lobster totally gets the tiny thing," says Ella. "He only seems interested in his two happy places: on the bench or on the mat by the door when the bench is taken."

“Lobster totally gets the tiny thing,” says Ella. “He only seems interested in his two happy places: on the bench or on the mat by the door when the bench is taken.” (Little Yellow)

Here's the sweet tiny cottage where Lobster lives with his folks. It is an ideal coastal spot with plenty of land and even a horse paddock nearby. (Little Yellow)

Here’s the sweet tiny cottage where Lobster lives with his folks. It is an ideal coastal spot with plenty of land and even a horse paddock nearby. (Little Yellow)

Four dog family: Heather lives with her fur babies in a tiny house delivered last year. While dogs breathe like humans, a dehumidifier helps reduce humidity during an Alaskan winter. Surprisingly, room for four dogs isn’t an issue!

In this Alaskan tiny house, four dogs are very happy and comfortable. Three sleep on the great room floor, while one has the lucky chair. (Tiny House, Big Adventures)

In this Alaskan tiny house, four dogs are very happy and comfortable. Three sleep on the great room floor, while one has the lucky chair. (Tiny House, Big Adventures)

Over the summer, this Tumbleweed Cypress house looks so welcoming! A brand-new front deck expands the living space, even for the dogs. (Tiny House, Big Adventures)

Over the summer, this Tumbleweed Cypress house looks so welcoming! A brand-new front deck expands the living space, even for the dogs. (Tiny House, Big Adventures)

one cute tiny house can be moved

One cute tiny house caught our eye because of its shape, inspired by a farmer’s traditional corn crib which stores and dries crops. The place seems like an elegant take on a Dr. Seuss type house, right?

Yet the Crib surprised us with an intelligent, environmentally-sound and moveable design. The structure gets shop-fabricated and quickly assembled on-site, and may be dismantled and relocated elsewhere. Let’s take a look.

The Crib Exterior

This very-first Crib house, in rural Maryland, contains a masonry foundation due to its river floodplain. Standard Crib design is reflected in the upper level structure. (Broadhurst)

This very-first Crib house, in rural Maryland, contains a masonry foundation due to its river floodplain. Standard Crib design is reflected in the upper level structure. (Broadhurst)

The Crib prototype gets displayed at the Strathmore Arts Center, in Bethesda, MD. There's visitor interest in secondary units behind homes as well as small getaways. (Broadhurst)

The Crib prototype gets displayed at the Strathmore Arts Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. There’s visitor interest in secondary units behind homes as well as small getaways. (Broadhurst)

By raising a garage-like glass wall, the Strathmore Crib prototype effectively increases its liveable square footage with the porch area. (Broadhurst)

By raising a garage-like glass wall, the Strathmore Crib prototype effectively increases its liveable square footage with the porch area. (Broadhurst)

The Crib Interior

Here is the Crib's interior, complete with a sleeping loft, kitchen and great room. The kitchen is part of a box, which closes to reveal the TV on the outside. (Broadhurst)

Here is the Crib’s interior, complete with a sleeping loft, kitchen and great room. The kitchen is part of a box, which closes to reveal the TV on the outside. (Broadhurst)

From the sleeping loft, you get a bird's eye view into the great room. It features plenty of comfortable seating for such a tiny house. (Broadhurst)

From the sleeping loft, you get a bird’s eye view into the great room. It features plenty of comfortable seating for such a tiny house. (Broadhurst)

The interior plus exterior space looks expansive when the garage-like glass wall is lifted. There's an entire new dining room outside! (Broadhurst)

The interior plus exterior space looks expansive when the garage-like glass wall is lifted. There’s an entire new dining room outside! (Broadhurst)

The Crib: An Enviresponsible Shelter

This tiny house is intelligently designed with structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulated glass and multi-layer polycarbonate panels. Steel, aluminum and rubber are also used in construction. Here’s how Broadhurst Architects describes assembly:

  • “The main structure consists of two shop-fabricated galvanized steel bents that combine the concept of traditional wood timber framing with the structural simplicity of common scaffolding systems.”
  • “The floor and roof consist of structural insulated panels (SIPs) which are supported by engineered wood and steel beams that span between the bents.”
  • “Prefabricated wall panels made of unpainted heat-treated native and sustainable poplar and recyclable translucent insulating multi-layer polycarbonate sheets are weather-stripped and clipped into the framework.”

Heat can be from a propane fireplace, radiant floor heat and/or solar hot water and voltaics. Other features include rainwater catchment for showers and gardening, LED/CFL lights and a fan rather than air conditioner.

Our favorite building feature is the anti-rodent and anti-other animal proofing for when the home isn’t in use. Building above ground definitely helps out.

For more details, please reach Broadhurst Architects here or here.

delightful dressers and drawers

On this summer weekend, we look with wonder at delightful dressers and drawers that toss aside conventions. Here are unusual ways to store your stuff, courtesy of Straight Line Designs.

Vern is taking a trip to a design and decor show. He's a dresser that sits up, with humble posture. (Straight Line Designs)

Vern is taking a trip to a design and decor show. He’s a dresser that sits up, with humble posture. (Straight Line Designs)

Vern and some of his kids are taking a quick breather. The kids sit nicely anywhere, especially indoors. (Straight Line Designs)

Vern and some of his kids are taking a quick breather. The kids sit nicely anywhere, especially indoors. (Straight Line Designs)

Hang up or display Little Black Dresser anywhere, for small storage. Measures 14”w x 46”h x10”d. (Straight Line Designs)

Hang up or display Little Black Dresser anywhere, for small storage. Measures 14”w x 46”h x10”d. (Straight Line Designs)

One or two Raymonds would make great bedroom storage pieces. Measures 38”w x 35”h x 41”d. (Straight Line Designs)

One or two Raymonds would make great bedroom storage pieces. Measures 38”w x 35”h x 41”d. (Straight Line Designs)

Whitney Lou is a curvy dresser that's not just for kids. Measures 48”w x 20”h x 24”d. (Straight Line Designs)

Whitney Lou is a curvy dresser that’s not just for kids. Measures 48”w x 20”h x 24”d. (Straight Line Designs)