Small homes, big ideas: The best tiny houses of 2017
Considering most tiny houses are a similar size and shape, you'd think firms would run out of ideas to make their models stand out from the crowd, but that doesn't seem to be the case. This year has seen many unique takes on downsizing, including an expandable tiny house, a cardboard tiny house, and another towable dwelling that sleeps up to 10 people. Here's our pick for the best tiny houses of 2017.
All but one of the models we've covered here are the classic tiny house style – that is, based on a trailer and legal to tow on a standard road without a permit or special vehicle. Most are for sale too, and when this is the case we've included pricing.
Read on for our selection of the best tiny houses of 2017, then head to the gallery for additional photos and information.
Aurora – Zero Squared
Zero Squared drew inspiration from the RV scene with its novel Aurora tiny house, which features large slide-outs – sections of walls that push outwards to increase living space. In the Aurora's case they grow the total width from 8.6 ft (2.6 m) when towing, to 15.10 ft (4.6 m) when parked up.
This means that when being towed, the home remains narrow enough to be road-legal, but in its expanded state, residents can enjoy increased living space that wouldn't otherwise be possible. Indeed, despite measuring a compact 26 ft (8 m)-long, the Aurora offers a relatively generous total floorspace of 374 sq ft (34.7 sq m).
Its interior comprises an office that turns into a bedroom with a Murphy-style drop-down bed, a living room with sofa, as well as a dining area and a bathroom with shower.
The Aurora gets power from a standard RV-style hookup or can run off-the-grid with solar panels and a composting toilet. It'll set you back US$88,900.
Wikkelhouse – Fiction Factory
Furniture maker Fiction Factory's debut home Wikkelhouse is a prefabricated dwelling made from cardboard. The home is constructed by wrapping 24 layers of cardboard around a rotating house-shaped mold, then finishing it in a waterproof foil and wooden cladding to improve durability.
Each Wikkelhouse is modular and consists of multiple segments measuring 5 sq m (53 sq ft) each, so it can be easily configured to serve as an office or a weekend cabin, for example. It runs from grid-based power as standard, though solar panels and a composting toilet can be added at extra cost for those who want to cut the cord.
The Wikkelhouse starts at €30,000 (roughly $35,600).
Escher – New Frontier Tiny Homes
New Frontier Tiny Homes impressed us before with the Alpha tiny house and its successor, the Escher, sports a similar overall design, but with some additional touches to make it suitable for a family.
The Escher reaches a length of 33 ft (10 m) and has an attractive exterior partly clad in Shou Sugi Ban-treated cedar, the Japanese method of charring wood to preserve it. It has a garage-like door and awning that lift upwards to open the home to the outside. The interior looks very luxurious and measures around 300 sq ft (27.8 sq m). There's a lot going on in here but the most interesting piece of furniture is a custom dining table hidden under the stairs that's pulled out to seat up to 12 adults.
Japanese-style Shoji paper doors separate the high-end kitchen and the Escher's main bedroom. Over on the other side of the home is a small office, child's room up in the loft, and a bathroom with walk-in closet.
The Escher starts at $139,900.
Retreat – Timbercraft Tiny Homes
The Retreat, by Timbercraft Tiny Homes, is an attractive-looking tiny house that sleeps a family of six. It measures 33 ft (10 m)-long and has a total floorspace of 416 sq ft (38.6 sq m), which is very spacious for a road-legal tiny house.
Visitors enter into the Retreat's living room, which joins to a U-shaped kitchen with lots of cabinet space and full-size appliances. The bathroom has a full-size bath/shower. There are three bedrooms in the Retreat. The first is the master bedroom and has enough headroom to stand upright, while the second and third bedrooms are standard tiny house-style lofts reached by ladder.
The Retreat gets electricity from a standard RV-style hookup and costs $79,000.
Open Concept Rustic Modern Tiny House – Ana White
The Open Concept Rustic Modern Tiny House stands out from the crowd with an elevating bed that makes the interior seem more spacious. The impetus for the idea came from a client wanting as spacious an interior as possible. Self-taught tiny house builder Ana White designed and built the system by modifying off-the-shelf sliding door parts and a garage storage lift's electric pulley system.
The bed is tucked away up close to the roof when not in use, but with a flick of the switch it descends. The bed is supported in place with movable pegs and a coffee table serves as a step. The small lounge space remaining beneath the elevating bed has a couch that turns into a guest bed.
The home measures 24 x 8.5 ft (7.3 x 2.6 m) and also includes a bathroom with shower, composting toilet, and a sliding closet for hanging clothes, while the raised kitchen reveals a hidden storage space.
Traveler XL Limited – Escape
Escape's Traveler XL Limited is an upgrade of the firm's original Traveler XL model that sleeps an amazing 10 people under its small roof. It measures 30 ft (9.1 m)-long and has a total floorspace of 344 sq ft (32 sq m).
The ground floor is arranged around a living area and the kitchenette has full-size appliances, including a range cooker and sink, and there's a 5 ft (1.5 m)-long bathtub and shower in the bathroom. The Traveler XL Limited comes with two bedrooms as standard: a master bedroom on the ground floor and a loft bedroom upstairs. If you add an optional second loft bedroom that has room for a couple of beds, plus the sofa bed, there is space for 10 people to sleep.
The Traveler XL Limited runs on or off-the-grid with a solar power and composting toilet package. It starts at $78,500.
Sakura – Minimaliste
Minimaliste added loads of insulation to ensure the Sakura can stand up to a harsh Canadian winter. The cold-weather home measures 32 ft (9.7 m)-long, with a total floorspace of 380 sq ft (35 sq m), and the firm reports that it can handle temperatures as low as minus 40° C (- 40° F).
The Sakura is clad in white cedar and topped by a small rooftop terrace. Its living room has a coffee table that can be unfolded to serve as a dining table. The nearby kitchenette offers access to the bathroom via a pocket door, which has a full-size bathtub and a composting toilet.
A small staircase leads to the main bedroom while on the opposite side of the home is a loft accessed by movable ladder. This has another small ladder installed that leads to the rooftop deck. The cold is kept at bay with hydronic radiant underfloor heating, an air-conditioning unit, and a ventilation system with heat exchangers.
The Sakura cost a total of CA$130,000 (roughly $102,000).
Millennial Tiny House – Build Tiny
The Millennial Tiny House, by Build Tiny, has some great space-saving ideas that we haven't seen elsewhere. It measures 7.2 x 2.4 m (23 x 7.8 ft) and its center is taken up by a large living area with underfloor storage. Two French doors are positioned opposite each other to promote airflow.
The Millennial Tiny House's most standout feature is its slide-out staircase. It's pulled out from the wall manually and locks into place to offer access to a sleeping loft above. An adjacent door leads to a bathroom with shower, sink, laundry area, and composting toilet.
The kitchen provides access to a loft office area above. This seems a bit awkward compared to the cool slide-out staircase and must be accessed by climbing some steps onto the kitchen counter and then ascending a ladder attached to the wall.
Build Tiny offers the Millennial Tiny House in three stages: Stage 1 costs NZD59,750 (roughly $43,000) and is a watertight shell. Stage 2 costs NZD90,995 ($65,500) and adds wiring, plumbing, insulation, etc. You'll need to shell out NZD120,500 ($86,700) for a full turnkey version.
Tiny Adventure Home – Tiny Heirloom
We're bending the rules with this one as we covered it at the end of 2016, but it's too interesting to let slip through the cracks. The Tiny Adventure Home, by Tiny Heirloom, was built for a couple of climbers who wanted to downsize but keep pursuing their shared hobby and has a real rock climbing wall on its exterior.
On entering, visitors are greeted with a kitchen to one side and a large dining area with two bench seats on the other. Elsewhere in the home is a bathroom with a corner soaking tub/shower.
The Tiny Adventure Home has two lofts, both accessed with a movable ladder. The first, which lies over the dining area, is a snug lounge/office space with a small desk, chair, and cushions, while the second, atop the bathroom, serves as bedroom. The home measures 28 ft (8 m)-long and gets electricity from a standard hookup.
RoadHaus – Wheelhaus
The pint-sized RoadHaus is a good option for those wanting a tiny house that's, well, genuinely tiny. The home measures between 160 to 240 sq ft (14.8 to 22.2 sq m) and has an attractive raised roof that lets in lots of natural light.
Visitors gain access from the deck and enter into a small living room with couch and wall-mounted TV. The kitchenette is nearby and the bathroom contains shower, sink, and toilet.
The bedroom is at the far-end of the home and has enough space for a double bed. The home gets its power from a standard RV-style hookup, though that large flat sloping roof looks well-suited to an aftermarket solar power array.
Pricing for the RoadHaus starts at $63,500.