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The tiny house movement is making an enormous impact in the world of industrial design. Shows like Tiny House Nation are putting the micro lifestyle in the limelight. This hype for sustainable living that’s financially affordable and aesthetically alluring is taking the real estate market by storm. In fact, the demand for living small is getting larger. Tiny house market statistics report that more than half of adults would consider leaving larger homes for a living space that’s less than 600 square feet.
The real estate market isn’t the only sector feeling the surge of tiny house popularity. The industrial design industry is also evolving to maximize the benefits of tiny homes, providing functional yet fashionable living spaces for the people who want to decrease their expenses and downsize to a minimalist lifestyle. Tiny homes are more than just space savers — they’re a reflection of their owner’s values. From tiny designs to space considerations, here’s everything you need to know about the tiny house revolution.
Many people believe that less equals more. When it comes to a minimalist lifestyle, tiny houses open up a world of possibilities. Blending sustainability and self-sufficiency, tiny homes are becoming a popular consideration for those hoping to adopt a lifestyle that caters to their financial, spatial and personal needs. Appearing in urban and rural areas across the country, tiny homes are designed to provide the maximum availability of amenities and essential living facilities within a minimal space.
Typically, tiny homes can range from 100 to 400 square feet. The term “tiny house” is usually used to label privately owned dwellings. These structures can be permanently constructed buildings on a plot of land, or they can be mobile facilities on wheels — towable from place to place. Micro and nano apartments are other forms of tiny housing units, and while the resident may own these, they are often rented out to single occupants or families at affordable prices.
There are plenty of reasons why the tiny house phenomenon continues to gain momentum. Some people choose tiny houses in hopes of achieving minimalism in every aspect of their lives, while others just don’t need the excess space that urban, suburban and rural homes offer. Four of the prominent reasons for adopting a tiny house lifestyle include:
Financial Control: Many tiny homes, both pre-built and newly constructed, are more affordable than traditional housing and apartments. Monthly expenses are also substantially lower, especially electric bills.
Environmental Impact: Some tiny home designers attempt to build homes that use natural resources, promote sustainability and cater to an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Tiny house features such as solar panels or incinerating toilets also make less of a negative impact on the environment.
Enhanced Simplicity: Efficiency is key to successfully living a simply micro lifestyle. Tiny home designers need to creatively integrate an entire home’s amenities into a space of roughly 500 square feet. This translates to furniture that folds away when not in use, hidden storage areas that are easy to access and elements of the home that convert into other functions to act as multipurpose resources.
Freedom: Tiny homes on wheels offer the freedom to live a micro lifestyle wherever you go. This enables owners to relocate to any area of the country that permits tiny house parking. There are also resources online that help those towing tiny homes find spaces to settle down for any range of time.
Tiny homes are captivating attention around the globe, even catching the interest of those who still prefer traditional housing. States like California, Oregon and Kansas are hosting their own tiny home festivals. TinyFests embrace the concept of tiny living and showcase these micro homes for everyone to enjoy. These celebrations allow tiny house owners to connect with others living or interested in living a micro lifestyle. More importantly, these occasions unite the community and present opportunities to discuss the environmental and financial benefits of tiny homes.
Although tiny houses are growing in popularity from coast to coast, not all cities and states are embracing this alternative housing solution. Each state has its own laws and regulations governing the availability of tiny homes. Those on wheels are typically considered recreational vehicles, while those resting on a foundation usually are considered accessory dwelling units. Ordinances may prohibit mobile tiny homes from sitting on certain properties for multiple days, while other rules may only allow tiny homes on properties that also feature a traditional home.
Some of the most friendly states for tiny houses include:
Some of the least friendly states for tiny houses include:
The largest obstacle in the tiny house movement is generally the lack of clearly defined laws for tiny homes. For example, some states that consider mobile tiny homes to be trailers only allow occupancy for a specific duration — while others will not allow these “vehicles” to be parked in specific urban areas. Other states may have a lack of zoning rules on tiny houses because they don’t define tiny houses as separate entities from accessory dwelling units. Although there are some loopholes, each city’s regulations are often unique.
You can still live large while owning a tiny home. Thanks to innovative and creative industrial design approaches, tiny homes are defying the assumptions of limited space and can provide residents with everything they need to live the mini lifestyle in a happy, healthy and affordable way. These unique additions or adjustments deliver benefits that even traditional homes may lack, such as:
Innovation: Problems often promote progress — and the industrial designers of tiny houses continue to face these unique challenges head-on. Limitations of space and other obstacles inspire designers to come up with creative and affordable solutions. When successful, these design approaches and products may be available to others living a mini lifestyle as well as those embracing elements of micro living in their traditional homes.
Environmental Impact: Sustainability is a priority for many individuals who want to adopt a micro lifestyle. Small houses can be designed to maximize energy efficiency affordably. Eco-friendly appliances, lighting, and even energy-efficient windows or doors can be integrated into these spaces to lower environmental impact while maximizing comfort. The addition of renewable energy systems like solar-powered water or electricity can also reduce total energy usage.
Technology Integration: Technology is a vital tool in nearly every aspect of life, including in the design of tiny homes. With limited space, industrial designers are integrating smart technology into these houses to enhance capabilities. Retractable decks and roofs, as well as voice-controlled appliances, are just a few of the upgrades that can be integrated into tiny homes.
Building Community: Tiny houses come in all shapes and sizes, and those that live within these homes are just as diverse. The tiny home communities found throughout the country encourage the integration of micro living into mainstream society. Surrounded by like-minded neighbors that also appreciate simple living, tiny homeowners work, live and play with the greater area’s community and can help all residents learn about sustainability and mini living while promoting positive changes in tiny home legislature.
The benefits of tiny homes stretch well beyond these small structures. Sustainable and environmentally friendly features reduce negative impacts on the planet. The innovative products, designs and resources developed for tiny homes can evolve into applications for contexts apart from mini living. The act of creating and celebrating tiny communities brings all of society together to discuss ways to solve important issues that affect urban and rural environments.
Problems are inherent in every form of housing, but industrial designers are now tasked with solving the new challenges tiny houses present. Micro apartments and tiny homes are not new to the real estate world, but they’re not common enough to have a standard design approach that provides the optimal living conditions tiny homeowners desire. Common tiny house problems include:
Storage Space: Even though less can be more, it’s hard to define just how much “stuff” is too much. Industrial designers need to creatively maximize storage space so the owners have ample room to store their essentials without feeling cramped or inconvenienced when they retrieve these items. These storage solutions need to be functional without interfering in the integration of other elements necessary to the home.
Waste Removal: With sustainability and a low environmental impact as two critical goals of many micro lifestyles, tiny homes need to be constructed with resources that safely remove waste while using a limited amount of resources. This includes bathroom waste devices like composting toilets or incinerating toilets.
Extreme Weather: Whether a tiny home is a permanent structure or mobile, it needs to be able to withstand the worst-case scenario weather in that area. In many areas, this includes more than just insulation against high and low temperatures. For example, some designers have developed tiny houses that can withstand hurricane force winds. Depending on the area, some tiny homes may need extra protection against heavy precipitation, strong UV rays or flooding.
Security & Safety: Aside from weather environmental threats, there are other hazards to the safety and security of a tiny home. The inside of the home needs enough space to safely move around, cook and generally live without increasing the risk of injury or property damage. These homes must also be designed with security features like cameras or locking mechanisms that decrease opportunities for theft.
Meeting Regulations: Depending on where the tiny house will be located, it may need to meet certain structural requirements set forth by city laws, HOA regulations or county ordinances. For example, a tiny home may be permitted on a residential property, but it may need to meet a specific size or include certain exterior design features to comply with HOA rules.
Tiny homes are unique by design, and their many benefits are not without their challenges. Perhaps the greatest challenges presented to industrial designers are the unknowns of tomorrow. As new innovative products are produced and local laws are instituted, designers need to react to these changes appropriately so that they can achieve a design maximizing functionality and aesthetic — while also featuring the most efficient amenities and complying with the current city, county or state tiny home regulations.
The best small house designs in the world are often the ones that blend practical functionality with imaginative innovation. From a quaint triangle-shaped home that can run off-the-grid to a “supersized” and spacious model that maximizes physical and psychological space, many tiny home designs earn acclaim because they’ve managed to find the balance between simplicity and complexity.
Some industrial designers are combining multipurpose furniture with technology to create robotic home furnishings that are responsive to touch and voice commands. One such product begins as a storage area with a couch and transforms into a bed with a wardrobe. Many manufacturers are taking steps to ensure their new products are compatible with their previous models to provide whole-home solutions for micro spaces. These multipurpose items are versatile and adaptable, allowing the homeowner to control and define their indoor spaces as needed.
Lofts are popular features of many tiny homes, but a dedicated sleeping space takes up a sufficient amount of room. Another revolutionary way to maximize space is the concept of an elevator bed. When lowered, the bed allows residents to sleep comfortably. When the bed is raised, the area beneath acts as a sitting area, storage station and spare bedroom. This convertible space fulfills the needs of the owner and offers a practical sleeping arrangement for visitors without compromising space.
Technology is constantly changing the way we live — and it’s becoming just as vital in tiny homes. Industrial designers are upgrading some tiny houses with the latest tech tools and resources to provide whole-home connectivity that is engaging and interactive. Smart lighting, appliances and entertainment devices are only the tip of the iceberg — the house itself can be controlled too. Retractable walls and floors enable owners to expand or restrict spaces within seconds. In some tiny homes, the exterior walls can also be moved to create indoor-outdoor spaces.
Other inventively designed products innovating tiny homes include:
· Water purifiers that filter clean drinking water from collected rainwater
· Solar-powered security floodlights and spotlights
· Rechargeable batteries with solar-powered energy storage capabilities
· Countertop laundry machines that wash and dry clothing without ventilation
Micro lifestyles and tiny homes are enjoying a revolution spurred by innovative industrial designers. As more individuals and cities support the micro-living movement, industrial designers devote their talents to creatively constructing features, products and resources that enhance the capabilities of these small spaces. Tiny homes will continue to revolutionize design as owners desire more functionality, versatility and individuality in their new living quarters.
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