The tiny house movement is more than just a fad

(Photo by: Tammy Strobel)

(Photo: Tammy Strobel)

Tiny houses might be small, but they’re certainly hard to miss, especially on the Internet or on reality television.

Architects Scott Specht and Louise Harpman spoke at TEDxAmherst last April about the tiny house trend, something they don’t think will lose momentum anytime soon. They refer to their smaller designs as “bespoke” houses, since they are tailored to meet the needs of their owners in both urban and rural communities.

The tiny house movement represents a significant shift in our thinking about the status of living in large homes, the architects say. Since 1950, the average house size has nearly tripled, while the number of people who live within that space has shrunk. We spend less time inside our homes, and even less time taking advantage of the often-superfluous space we have (Cher sums it up best in answer 3). Specht asks: When was the last time your family participated in the same pastime in the same living area? Do you have a great room, a parlor or even a den? Do you use them?

Scott Specht and Louise Harpman. (Photo: TEDxAmherst)

Scott Specht and Louise Harpman. (Photo: TEDxAmherst)

“What we give up in personal space we gain in terms of community,” Harpman says. She cites screening rooms, gyms, and gardens as shared communal spaces common in micro-communities. “These meet our needs for sociability, for connection to transit and social networks and the shared goals of reducing the impact on the climate by literally having a smaller footprint.”

Specht and Harpman have designed micro-apartments as small as 225 square feet and homes that begin at 250 square feet. Since space is at a premium, walls double as storage space, kitchen counters turn into kitchen tables, and bathrooms are tucked under staircases.

“We deal more intimately with our homes than any other part of our lives,” Specht says. “Yet the way we go about conceiving, designing and building our homes often falls way behind other parts of our built environments … We think that by focusing more on the user and the social and environmental context in which a house exists we can have houses that truly suit us at every stage of our lives.”

Watch their talk in its entirety below:


  1. David

    But……….these are NOT HOUSES they are trailers. PLUMBING PLUMBING PLUMBING

  2. David, not all of them are built on trailer beds. There is a huge movement of tiny homes being built on foundations with plumbing just like a regular home. As for plumbing there are many ways to skin a cat as the saying goes!

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