Off-grid tiny home project crams all mod cons into a Matchbox

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The Matchbox is an off-grid and sustainable tiny house

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Living in a tiny house can be as much about lifestyle as it is the size of dwelling. Tiny house living naturally requires an efficient use of space, but that efficiency can also encompass other parts of life. Jay Austin's Matchbox embodies just that efficient, low-impact lifestyle.

The roughly 7.5 x 19 ft (2.2 x 5.8 m) Matchbox has a flat roof with a slight two-degree pitch, which allows rainwater to run off into a gutter. Rain chains are then used to direct the water down into three 80 gal (364 l) tanks below the house, from where it is piped inside for uses such as showering and washing dishes. Greywater from the shower and sink is also collected for reuse elsewhere, while all the electricity needs are met by a solar array.

The house is clad in western red cedar wood that has been treated using a Japanese technique known as "shou sugi ban." This involved charring the wood to not only give it a dark aesthetic, but to help make it weatherproof, fireproof and insect-proof.

Inside, the Matchbox has one large ground-floor space, which effectively splits into living, kitchen and utility areas. The living area features space for two opposing benches on which people can sit when guests visit and that have space for storage underneath. Additional storage space comes in the shape of cabinets.

Storage in the kitchen, meanwhile, includes shelving set into the wall and a number of magnetic vertical or upside down strips onto which metal containers can be stuck. Kitchen appliances are similarly space-efficient and include a small refrigerator, a toaster oven and two induction stoves.

The induction stoves heat only the surface of what is placed on top of them and not the air around, making them also very energy efficient. The sink faucet is operated by a foot-pedal, saving space on top of the worktop and allowing the user to keep both hands free.

Opposite the kitchen worktop is a second worktop with space for four kitchen stools underneath. This provides a space for eating, for working and, when required, additional food preparation space.

Beyond the kitchen is the utility area, which features a pegboard used for hanging clothes and more magnetic container storage space. The entrance to the Matchbox's wetroom is also located in this area and comprises a low-flow shower (that makes use of the collected rainwater) and a composting toilet.

Above the utility area and bathroom is a mezzanine sleeping area. This is accessed using a ladder that attaches magnetically to the side of bed space for safety and can be stored out of the way when not in use. A skylight allows sunlight and warmth into the sleeping area and has a solar-powered electric blackout blind to block light out when required and provide insulation when it is cold. The sleeping area features a TV and so can also double as a comfy cinema space.

The Matchbox build started in 2012 and was completed last year, though work has continued into 2014. It is part of the Boneyard Studios tiny house community in Washington DC, US. The community, which includes the Minim House we covered last year, is described as an experiment in simplicity and sustainability, as well as a showcase of this concept.

In the video below, Austin provides a tour of the Matchbox.

View gallery - 9 images

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