Designing a tiny house is often likened to building a boat on dry land, the tiny house movement has gained a lot of momentum in the last few years especially in the USA- it seems 50% of new home designs I see on Instagram these days have the hashtag #tinyhousemovement tacked on to them. Every architect and building designer on the sunshine coast seems to have at least one example of small lot houses, shipping container houses or other small architectural interventions on their website, however it seems these are mostly un-built, purely speculative designs to offer an insight into what is possible, which is sad. When people design a house these days often it starts out as a simple and humble scale shelter for living, but somewhere along the journey, this concept of ‘less is more’ seems to get diluted or perverted, whether it’s the insidious voice of the million television reality house shows proclaiming not even remotely subtly “You need a bigger house” “Buy more stuff from Bunnings” or the ever ubiquitous chant “everyone needs a media room!” “this will make you happy” “get a bigger mortgage” (end of rant).
“Everyone needs a media room!”
DO MORE WITH LESS:
Its true that there is nothing worse than not having enough space, or feeling claustrophobic in your own home or worse still the utter terror of cabin fever on a cold rainy day feeling downright trapped and depressed on a cold wet day in a cramped cabin, however the same can be said for houses which have been custom designed so enormous that they leave the occupant feeling insignificant in scale, with an impending sense of doom and gloom at the prospect of cleaning and maintaining such a monstrous building also also the unnecessary stress of an epic mortgage to match, especially when its just a couple living alone in a gigantic place when the kids have all grown up and moved out of home. Surely it is better to aim for a house which is something in-between miniscule and monolithic and find a happy medium, that meets all your needs, while also being pragmatic affordable and ultimately more sustainable.
Yachts are a great example of spaces which can feel generous and homely, yet serve multiple purposes and utilize every centimetre of space, the smaller the boat, the more streamlined it becomes, the less energy is required to propel the vessel through the water and also the less money required to build in the first instance (in theory). You don’t need to go to the extremes of racing yacht designers and employ a carbon fibre toilet and vanity to save on weight as one cruising yacht famously did to qualify for a certain race, but perhaps gleaning the basics such as having a kitchen which is both a practical prep station and also a place to dine would be enough. An elegant and well proportioned island bench configuration in a kitchen often makes a formal dining room redundant, the formal setting lays dormant in favour of the coveted island, the same can be said for a lounge room which has been designed to function both as a space for entertaining as well as a media room in place of two dedicated rooms which serve basically the same purpose.
The concept of using the auxiliary space bellow a staircase for either a snuggery or merely extra storage is often another simple way to reduce the scale of a project and scope of work. There are so many architectural marvels these days in magazines and online with ultra sophisticated ‘feature’ staircases, so much so that the term ‘stairporn’ was coined to describe these objects of desire (www.stairporn.org). Stairs can be very expensive and also very redundant uses of space with both voids above and bellow the area, bellow especially is generally under utilised and merely awkwardly sits in no mans land as a place where nervous dogs hide and dust gathers. TO BE CONTINUED-