Tiny Home in France

Hi Lloyd,

Here are some more photos of our tiny house that we just finished building for our family of four, out here in the countryside of central France.

We (my partner and I) started the design process last summer (just before finding out that she was pregnant), started construction in October, and moved in in February, just in time for our baby to be born in the “living room”!

We spent a lot of time working on a design that would be both functional and comfortable, allowing us to meet the needs of our daily life while maintaining enough open space to move around and play without stepping on each other.  We achieved this by pushing the kitchen and bathroom to either end of the main level, keeping the rest of the space relatively open, aside from our built-in couch and bench, which cover the wheel wells.  High ceilings, large windows, light colors and lots of natural light compliment this design, leaving our main living space feeling light, open and spacious despite its small size.

When we say small, however, we should mention that this house is quite large compared to other tiny houses, at least in France. Since we were designing a space to live in for a minimum of a few years with two small but growing children, we were rather ambitious and really pushed the limits of what is possible size-wise. The house’s large size meant we had to be really careful about the materials we used, so as not to overweigh the 3.5-ton weight limit in France.  For this reason, we used lightweight, thin poplar for the floors and wall coverings, and most of the interior furniture, as well as exterior siding, is removable to minimize weight during transport.  In other words, it’s not a house that is meant to be moved too frequently.

Our home has two loft spaces- one bedroom for my partner and I, and the other as a bedroom and play space for our kids.  Our three year old, Maya, can still stand up in her loft, and we imagine she will be able to for another couple of years.  Our bathroom is quite spacious as well because of a few rather luxurious elements that make life easier with kids.  The first of these is the inclusion of a bathtub instead of shower, because it is much more practical for smaller children, despite taking a bit more space.  At the last moment, we also added in a washing machine because we use washable nappies for our baby and neither of us were keen on spending our days washing them by hand.

He’s reading Tiny Homes on the Move.

The house was built using only repurposed and/or eco-friendly materials and, thanks to its efficient insulation and passive-solar design, we hardly had to burn any wood this winter to keep ourselves warm, even with a newborn.  We built it on a trailer, custom built for tiny homes, that measures 28 by 8 feet. The curving slopes on the front and back of the house add about an extra meter in each loft without compromising ceiling height in the living area, and allows for extra hidden storage space in the kitchen and bathroom.  This makes the house 30m2 total (345 ft2), including the two lofts.

We wanted to find a balance between efficient design and creative shapes and unexpected details to keep the overall aesthetic beautiful and light on the eyes.  Some examples are the use of round windows, copper tubes as curtain rods, and using curves to blend the re-used wood and galvanized metal that we salvaged from old nearby buildings for the exterior siding.

When people ask how we manage living in such a tiny space with two kids, we answer happily that we’ve never felt so comfortable in a home!  Efficient use of space, good organization, and a simple lifestyle that keeps material possessions to a minimum, leaves us feeling light and free in our daily lives. The housework is done in 10 minutes, the cost of living is reduced, and we have more time and energy to spend together as a family.  We’ve found that all of the natural light, warmth and views of the beautiful nature surrounding has a positive effect on our inner well being, especially after having spent years living in the dark, cold traditional stone houses of our region. This has also really decreased our energy consumption- we almost never turn on lights in the summertime, and use them much less often in winter.

Your books and all of the great ideas in them were a big inspiration for this house and other projects in my work as a carpenter and builder. Thanks for all of your work!

–Tomas and Stephanie

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

One Response to Tiny Home in France

  1. Lloyd, I love this little house! I especially love that you included a picture of a nursing mama and baby! 🙂 I admire this couple for achieving their goal of tiny house living with two kids– I would not have been brave enough. While nursing is easy and super-portable, I would not want to use cloth diapers without my washer and dryer. Yep, I’m just that spoiled. I’m glad they at least decided on including a washer. Kids generate a LOT of laundry, even when you’re careful.

    This home is beautiful, and seems very spacious and airy. They seem motivated to enjoy a lot of togetherness. 🙂

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