Living Large...Or Not

March 15 2012, 1:58 PM

Not until recently had I ever given much thought to a phenomenon called the “Tiny House movement.” Sure, I’d heard of uber-minimalists living solo in the hills somewhere in some hermit-like, one-room existence. But those people were…extremists, right?

Turns out, there’s a rational philosophy behind living in a house that is literally the size of a den—we’re talking 130 square feet. All-inclusive. It’s the simple philosophy that less is more, manifested in the actual physical space in which a person lives. In other words, while the building might resemble a tool-shed from the outside, it actually serves as the sleeping, cooking, lounging, dining, and, uh, bathroom facility for whoever lives there. And it seems that the Tiny House movement is popping up more and more. (Read about Boulderite Christopher Smith and his tiny house construction in the March issue of 5280: “Smallville.” Catch the extended version from local writer Sarah Protzman Howlett on the Tiny House Blog. And check out this 12-sided tiny house in Placerville, Colorado.)

So, naturally, I was curious when I heard about a new book, Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter (Shelter Publications, January), by renowned architectural and shelter writer Lloyd Kahn. The book features a bunch of backcountry cabins, homes-on-wheels, and other compact handcrafted shelters, none larger than 500 square feet. One of the coolest? The Crystal River Treehouse (pictured*), a log cabin–type home that sits on log stilts among the treetops just outside of Carbondale, built by Carbondale-based architect Steve Novy (Green Line Architects) and designer David Rasmussen (David Rasmussen Design). The framing of the house is made of reclaimed or blown-down wood, and the house is stabilized in the earth in a way that minimizes impact on the root systems of neighboring trees. Plus, the space is legitimately appealing in an I-live-in-an-enchanted-forest kind of way. I’m sold.

If I ever get the urge to downsize, I hope this one goes on the market. 

*Photo courtesy of Green Line Architects