Last night I watched an episode of Tiny House Nation on TV. Or, rather, watched as long as I could stand it, less than five minutes. It had this nice looking young white couple with three kids being surprised by their newly built tiny house. The building was a mess. Crudely attached short pieces of “natural lumber,” slate roof (?), dumb porch (don’t subtract from precious interior space), dangerous loft.
Worse was the amazement and delight of the occupants upon seeing their new digs. It all seemed phony and shallow. Reality TV comes to the tiny house movement. “Could you go out, come back in, and say ‘awesome,’ again, honey?”
I tell people that I’m not the tiny homes guy just because I did a book on the subject. I’m the build-it-yourself-guy. Do what you can for yourself with your hands—shelter, food, clothing, firewood, etc.— with the awareness and understanding that you can’t do it all. Find the balance.
I don’t know about other Tiny House Nation episodes, but this one was a commercialization and dumbing-down version of a concept that is very real in its heart for many people. Too bad.
Here’s just one example of bad design in the TH field, and it’s quite prevalent: Are those round steps with no banister actually the way you climb up into the cramped and dangerous loft? The ladder to loft is a bad design in all these gable roofed tiny houses. The space is claustrophobic. There should be windows all-around at eye level to expand your sense of place. And so on. Unfortunately this configuration is the poster girl for the tiny house movement.
What do I think is better? The gypsy wagon, or vardo design, with curved roof and bed at one end with drawers underneath. Lots of eye level windows. Heck, look at our last book.
I’m not one to bemoan the absence of architects, but in this field, good architecture could make a huge difference.
And by the way, a home is more than a house.