When it comes to small houses planning and design really counts.
This couple began creating ideas for their future “perfect” home early in their marriage.
They wanted a home that was big enough for just the two of them (and their dogs).
This way they’d have more time and money for their personal interests.
See more of Lily Copenagle and Jamie Kennel’s small house below. They’re the couple behind this 700 sq. ft. house of freedom.
And the home is environmentally friendly, too. They use a rainwater system to reuse water and hydrate their plants. They also have a 550-gallon rain barrel on the property.
Cleaning is a breeze since you can plug the vacuum in at one spot and reach the entire house from there.
It’s a one-room design with a curtain for privacy to enclose the bedroom when desired. The home was completed in 2012 with costs of about $135,000 to build (including labor and materials).
A Rais wood stove that swivels is what keeps the place warm.
They were also able to include an office area for both of them.
Along with bookshelves throughout to store their collection of literature.
Another one of their smart design moves was putting the washer and dryer in their clothes closet so that doing laundry is quick, easy and painless.
Genius, I say.
If you head out back on the property you’ll also notice two storage sheds with living roofs.
One of the sheds is like a workshop with tools, bench and garden supplies while the other holds their recreational stuff like their kayak and other outdoor gear.
And yes, they actually have the spare time to use this stuff thanks to their less demanding home.
“There’s so much personal freedom in going smaller,” says Mr. Kennel in the article at the NY Times.
Read the original article here.
See more by taking a complete photo tour of their 700 sq. ft. home here (click on View Slide Show when you get there).
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They just built this house in 2012. I thought, gee, where are they? How were they allowed to build a 700 sq. ft. home in a normal neighborhood?
It turns out they’re in Portland. They’re neighborhood seems to be pretty progressive.
If you want more details they’re in the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/23/garden/freedom-in-704-square-feet.html
But basically they tore down a 2 bedroom 1950s house that was on the property and built this smaller, 700 sq. ft. home on the lot.
I just want us to be able to build this small in more neighborhoods around the country.
That seems to be the biggest problem for people that want smaller homes is the counties and cities are still stuck on promoting larger houses so they collect more in property taxes and pleases the Realtor’s and land developers that often sit on city councils that make the rules.
The only way to fight it is to get enough people and go to those council meetings and if necessary protest in the media and make a lot of noise.
Show them these smaller houses are better for the environment, can be very attractive and use less land and resources so more smaller homes on less land. They are more affordable for young people, unmarried people and seniors and it is what many retiring people now want.
Thanks LaMar I could not agree more!
I was thinkin, it would be really nice if we had someway for tiny housers and other people interested in the movemnet to be notified when someone is planning a small house that might get resistance from a city council or county so we could organize and show up at the meetings for support or at least send letters or emails of support.
City councils and county seats are all elected people that do not want negative attention. Many are business owners in their communities so if a bunch of people show up in support of a project and those officials are afraid of negative publicity or want to be re-elected they will be more likely to support the projects.
Tell me your thoughts and how we can make it happen everyone?
LaMar, I couldn’t agree more regarding that idea, but let me throw in an extra, take along a Tiny House to Prove to the fools at the meeting exactly what you are referring to so they might have a better perspective of what it is & how it helps the environment.
The obvious answer for organizing local movements is to use Facebook and Twitter. I think that’s how I got here.
Awesome comment, LaMar. I never thought of this, but you are right. Your insight is spot on.
I just cannot believe that in the US building regulations are so idiotic to set a minimum limit on the size of a house! It should be the other way around… allowed to build from 15 square meters and not over 300 sq mt
And to think that it is called the land of freedom… 🙂
I also REALLY like the washer/dryer in the closet feature. That was pretty smart (and I’ve never seen it before)
My exact thought, brilliant to have the laundry room & walk-in closet be the same room !
The big dilemma in a lot of cities is the need to increase densification. It’s not just to collect taxes, though that’s part of it. It’s a lot more efficient to maintain public transportation, distribute services and utilities and maintain good neighbourhood walkability. It also prevents urban and suburban sprawl that often threatens local farmland and wilderness. This usually means multiple residences in the same space a single would occupy. They think in terms of condos and high rises so building a smaller house on a lot is too much the other way. In a lot of cities the best way to increase living space might be to make several small or tiny living spaces inside already existing ridiculously large houses, as long as they were done with health, safety and environmental concerns in mind.
Our area has a community plan that has medium rise buildings allowed along the main street, townhouses and low rises on the next street in and the rest of the area is single family housing with secondary suites only allowed for relatives. Starting this year they are allowing one secondary suite only but no laneway houses or accessory dwellings. Hopefully that will change and some day they may allow small or tiny backyard houses and multiple suites. I doubt that they will ever allow a single tiny house on one lot and the cost of land in our area makes it pretty unlikely.
Smaller houses on single lots work in some cities and towns and it makes sense for people to work towards making it possible there. Cities where densification is the stated aim, not so much.
I agree re densification but this is not the american dream. And many older cities have devolved zoning that is more like the suburbs 🙁 I discovered a few years back that my city of Albany, NY actually values single family residences higher than multifamily residences of the same size which encourages absentee landlordism… especially with a disintegrating public school system, so much non-taxable real estate (several colleges and state govt). It is a complex mess.
That is really cute. It’s funny how the laws have changed over and over.
Our house is 1146 sf, built in 1947. Many of the houses, if not most, in my street were built in the 20’s and are even smaller – 2BR at 800-950 sf or less. Of course, some of them have had additions since then, or have converted their (really small) garages.
My house doesn’t meet the current city requirements. It is grandfathered in, of course (it’s too close to the next house, does not have a garage, and does not meet the minimum amount of “fenced outdoor back yard”). In the past, that would not have mattered – however recently, the city has decided that people cannot add on, or in some cases – even sell their homes until they bring them up to current code.
Now, I doubt we’d have a problem if we sell – we can’t magically create a garage or increase our amount of “outdoor space”. It means, however, we are unlikely to be able to add on. Not that we really need to, but I wouldn’t mind a half bath.
Our city is really also trying to densify. Parking is already such an issue, I don’t really understand it. I know they are trying to make it more affordable for regular people. I don’t disagree that it’s a worthwhile pursuit, but they build these condos and apartments with the assumption of one car per unit, when the reality is more like 3 cars.
Portland calls gor one car per 5 units up to 40 units and one car per 7 units over 41 units. Most renters or condo owners have at least one car. Some of the older neighborhoods have houses with neither garages nor driveways. The city has systematically taken away on-sreet parking for bike corrals or buffered bike lanes. The existing transit system cannot carry the existing number of rush-hour commuters. The city’s and transit managers seem to be spying after they come, ed will build it. When Boston gave Uber, et al, permission to operate, commuters used Uber over public transit. It takes significantly longer to use public transit when you have to catch a bus
to get to a light rail station, take light rail to another station and then use another bus to get to your destination. If you live and work within easy walking distance of a light rail station, it’s quicker to use public transit vs driving a significant distance or during rush-hour on a freeway. And carrying groceries on public transit or while walking isn’t really practical, especially doing so during standing-room-only times. Just installing more bike lanes does not inevitably lead to increased bike riding. Portland’s bike counts showed tenth of a percent gains most years – one year the count dropped 0.01 percent. When done by a neutral agency, the gains were even smaller. The city then switched to counting bicyclists and pedestrians as a single entity. The last available figures showed bike usage to be under 5 percent of commuter traffic. The figures debuted at 3.9 percent and the last credible count showed bikers at 4.6 percent of commuting traffic over a ten-year(?) span).
This one is awesome. Love the office and book space! We are set on a 500 aq ft house, but this 700 ft one is causing me to seriously reconsider. Really gorgeous house!
Glad you liked it Jennie! 500 sq. ft. is a great size. But yeah, I’d definitely consider 700 sq. ft. the way they have it laid out here. It’s perfect for two.
I can see why more people do not buy $25K Park Models…In fact that’s why I set up the 4FAthoms Designs page. But really to get maximum use per sq.ft. is the issue and my hang up with price should not be the issue. This home cost probably includes the land as well and skews the number a bit from the RV pricing systems that are normal for this format. I would like to see something on “Pitting” the tiny home or Park Model, something to show Seniors or Handicapped what could be a solution to access.
I got a really nice Park Model Oak Log Cabin I’m featuring later today. Be on the look out for it Bill- I think you might like it 🙂
WOW! I just found my dream home, there is absolutely nothing at all I would change about this home. . The high ceilings, large windows. the openness, and the all round flow of the home. Perfect !
Forgot to mention that a floor plan of this home would have been nice to see..
I know, I wish we had the floor plan but I wasn’t able to get it, sorry!
I guess you are free to spend 135 K for a very small house.The design looks like a Ken KERN house,
Maybe from that old book 30Houses to build on a budget,
Small house with a big price,They have a rain barrel? BIg Whoop.,
$135K ? Good grief.
And it was really more than that because they had to buy the land for about the same price and knock down an old house that was on it.
That was my reaction, too. I just built a 1600 square foot house for $132K.
Let’s be honest here. The couple lives in 700 sq.ft., but they have two sheds — one for tools and a shop and one for toys. So we should add all that square footage together. My bet is that it approaches 1000 sq.ft. What about a garage? I admit that this is still way under the typical 2000 or 2500 sq.ft. of a modest modern house.
Is it truly more efficient (or more economical or a better use of resources) to build several small structures for all your needs? What I take away from this example is that someone desiring to live in a small house should fully understand their personal requirements for both now and the future. And that a single larger structure may actually be better.
I do like how light and airy the interior is. The huge closet with laundry right there is a good idea. But do these folks actually cook? I only see a microwave and a toaster oven, no stove top, no oven. That is fine for them and I am not criticizing their choice. I would want a more conventional kitchen.
Clyde wrote: “Is it truly more efficient (or more economical or a better use of resources) to build several small structures for all your needs? ”
This phenomenon has puzzled me, too, Clyde, in regards to the Main Home being tiny but then a number of out-buildings (as we called them on the farm) also on the property. I have now resigned myself to “Different Strokes for Different Folks” and send them blessings in their life choice.
If I remember correctly, our very own savvy LaMar is “King of the Out Buildings” on his property and plans on making his own wee compound. It works for him and that brings me joy. (apologies if it’s someone else whom I’m remembering.”
I have a tendency to be more IN-clusive vs. EX-clusive. Both my husband and I own our own firms which demands two separate offices. We also have two messy hobbies: me: weaving and jewelry making/him: stained glass. By some people’s vision, the above could demand FOUR separate tiny houses on our property: two offices and two craft places. But, we wanted EVERYTHING to be within the foot print of our tiny home (800 sq.ft. and rapidly approaching 100 years old!). Currently, in Michigan, we have 6′ snow drifts and -23 degrees for a wind chill!!!! WHY in the world would we want to heat up to four more buildings and run electric out to them, only to have to bundle up every time you need the loo or to grab a quick cuppa? I actually enjoy being in front of the loom and hearing my beloved puttering about in our cottage: it gives me a feeling of coziness and love, plus when he pops in and brings me a cuppa + a biscuit…life is good!
Regarding the laundry in the closet, we’ve had that blessing in every home we owned, including the large 2,800 sq.ft. home we raised our family in. Actually we had two laundries in our home: the stacked closet unit for normal loads but a giant commercial unit in the lower level that handled four sets of sheets, comforters and the billions of clothes that kids can generate.
Now, regarding their cost, estimated at around $150,000, inclusive.
SO FRICKIN’ WHAT!!!! This couple makes a boatload of money. The $150,000 barely buys a condo in Chicago and that would be a low-rent condo, at that. Cost is relative to income: if you can afford a $2 million dollar home but spend $150,000, isn’t THAT to be applauded?
Alex has profiled some very rich and famous folks on his site that went from McMansions to trailers or very small homes and every one applauds them and lauds their downsizing. Someone please explain to me the difference between a movie producer going “small” and this couple’s identical choice? CBS’s “60 Minutes” did a piece on Jay Leno last night, and they showed his massive and extensive car collection, which takes up TWO airplane hangers!!! Where’s the outrage at THAT indulgence?! So many of these comments come across as sheer jealousy. If no one is dipping into my wallet, I could care less how they spend their money. LOL
One practical reason to use outbuildings is to store stuff that doesn’t need a weather-tight, heated/cooled space. If you can clear the junk out of your more expensive living space and keep it in a cheaper storage structure, you need less house. This, after all, is why we park cars in a garage and not in our living room.
I love this, and it’s one of the few THs we see here that also has some practical storage, although I suppose that area should be added to the 700sqf.
Most THs have no storage at all, if you own a cordless drill and a hammer you’re out of luck, there’s nowhere to put them. Let alone a kayak etc. Most people (even minimalists) have a life that needs some “stuff”.
Of course one answer is to chose hobbies that don’t require much.
Thanks Rob, good points. I agree even minimalists will have stuff they need space for. On the other hand as you said you can rent equipment etc and find ways to not acquire so much. Or you can leave it at a friend’s shed/garage or something like that 😀
Take up harmonica, and quit them tuba lessons.
I did get a kick out of the sheds- a interesting Idea- liked the sloped live roof facing into the yard not out onto the alley- I saw those roofs and thought strawberry plants. a gas fireplace I could see- Radiant heat in the floor. some solar electric panels. The bamboo in galvanized livestock tanks. A little bit bigger kitchen- cooking is a hobby. With the bamboo- and the rainwater being funneled into it-how do you handle the leaching away of nutrients in the soil? With enough organic matter in the containers I can imagine they would soak up a lot of water. Another option is turn the footprint of the sheds into a alley rental house to cover the taxes and utilities…
I like the sheds along with your other ideas too. Thanks Curt!
A lot of money,,,, not for us pore folks,,,, but Annie design,,, love the floor to ceiling windows,,,
The problem I see is I see patio homes, small lot 2 car garage full of stuff with 2 or three cars, at least one n the street. We love our “stuff”
Of all the emails I get….
I look forward to Tiny House….. THANK YOU!
It helps to keep my creative juices flowing and always some interesting idea I can incorporate into my future ‘project’.
Thanks Kathy!! 🙂
The NYT post on FB for this article got 20k likes and almost a thousand comments. Hit a nerve. So many people commented on kids when it’s apparent from the article though never explicitly stated that this couple doesn’t plan to have kids.
Also lots of mean spirited comments like trust fund babies, not green at all, get an apartment, etc… If ya can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all, but it’s FB.
John: I couldn’t agree more with you about the NASTY ARSE comments about this couple’s lifestyle choice. I have loads of friends who never procreated but, and this is a BIG but, they use that time to do extensive and exhausting volunteer work for OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS who don’t have the time or money to help their own progeny. One couple I know: the man volunteers three times a week in a literacy program for disadvantaged youth and the wife volunteers four times a week at Children’s Memorial Hospital in the Aid’s section, no less!
Trust fund babies???? Hardly. And if they happened to actually BE trustfunder’s, so what?! That just means they come from a family or families that did well and passed that legacy to their own children, now grown up.
So many bitter people out there; I count it up to sheer jealousy! pfffftttt…
Clovis Smith: your comment is one of the MEANEST replies I’ve ever seen on Alex’s site. Boo, to you!
Two things I would like to see are a street elevation, ie how the house fits in the neighborhood, and a picture of the bathroom. With all the ceiling height, they probably could have added a loft above their sleeping area which would have given them more useable space. This sort of design probably works better in southern California to take advantage of all the outdoor living space.
Cahow, I think it more about people that can’t afford to pay for a large house, it’s more for people that don’t want to owe or have hundreds of thousands in debit. I know I could not afford a new home costing $200,000.00, so I will have to down size to a smaller home. I don’t think 130 sq. but around 5-600 sq. would work for me.
Really a nice package, regardless of whether it’s what I’d choose or not. Not too big, not too small, and I do like the separate “out buildings.” I know that for some this is a no-go (like the folks who said they were in Michigan, with subzero temps and snowdrifts!), but my folks had a place with a detached garage where my dad’s shop was, with an extra “apartment” above that (never finished), and a separate building where the laundry was, separated from the main house by the cedar deck out back. That’s probably not ideal for a laundry room, but it’s the best they could do, it was a prebuilt house they bought and they repurposed as well as they could.
The couple of things I’d like to have seen in the slide show or the articles are before and after pictures of the setting, the way the house sits and appears in the neighborhood. They didn’t show any pictures of the street-side of the house, which I always like to see. Maybe they omitted this deliberately so the owners could retain a little privacy. Still, I’d like to see how it looks on that side, and how it looks next to the other houses around it.
I applaud the small footprint, but 135k? Big price tag for small living.
And it gets more expensive. The NY Times article stated that they bought the 1950’s house that used to be on the property for $190K, tore it down, then built this place for $135K. Certainly more money than I could afford to spend on a small home.
Lovely TH. I just think that I would have preferred doors on the clothing closets. Where is the bathroom? Anyway, I’ve seen more practical and lovelier with less money spent building it.
Please tell me your sources for the small houses that were “more practical and lovelier with less money spent building it.” This is the best I have seen, so I am interested in something better. thank you
I am baffled by the people who bitch about prices/costs. No one is holding a gun to your head, demanding that you buy anything or pay the prices that other people are willing to pay. I am puzzled by the people who complain about cost per sq ft when they obviously know nothing about construction or real life costs of materials or skilled labor. I am terrified when I read something along the lines of..
“…. and Matilda, a secretarial worker with no previous construction training or experience, did all her own wiring and plumbing….” Think of the possibilities for difficulties. Consider resale of one of these cheap and shoddy construction boxes….
I admire the design and well thought out details of this house. The sheds are useful and a real improvement over some OSB uglies from Home Depot. I need a place to keep my tools, and certain types of gear. I have a blow-up mattress in a plastic tote box, that would be better off out of my clothes closet and in to a water proof storage shed. This floor plan is nearly identical to the one that my husband and I are working on for when we build our next house. I want a few extra feet for a kitchen. Thank you Alex for posting this house. I do not get the NY times and would have missed this
I think the take away lesson for me here is how to live tiny but utilize storage. Storage doesn’t have to be insulted or finished on the interior, or built to the same standards and so it can help keep costs down. I think this is a smart approach.
Mike, agreed that uninsulated, no conditioning dry spaces for storage are an economical alternative to storing our needed sometimes belongings. no need to keep my screwdrivers in space I air-condition.
Ooops, insulated, not insulted 🙂
Laws change over and over because Number Two pencils scribble them quick and easy. Remember the olden days… laws were dependable because they were writ in stone!
And in these united states of America, only congress-critters create laws. Everything else, regulations and codes and rules and and and, are scribbled by nameless faceless bureaucrats deep in the bowels of some bureaucracy.
I love this design and think it is exactly what we have been looking for in a retirement home!!
Can you post the link to the slideshow? I can’t seem to find on it on the NY times page. Thanks!
Nice design. Voters, taxpayers, who decide to build a normal size house make a big lifelong investment. For this they must have some assurance that someone doesn’t build a small shack next door and destroy their life investment. I think that’s reasonable. Nothing wrong with sf requirements. However, they should create more neighborhoods for tiny houses–like they have for mobile home parks and others.
But I do think there should be some upper limit on income–or net worth. The rest can go back into the society (and natural environment), from which enabled one to have a very comfortable life. The gross Leno and others who flaunt their wealth in our faces…
Umm….I’m confused about this whole “living small” concept. If I had $135K to build a house, what would it matter if it has 700sq ft or 3000sq ft? I thought the whole idea behind this concept was to build a small house so you didn’t have a mortgage to pay? Now I don’t know about many other people, but I don’t have $135K laying around to build (or buy) anything. So I would have to take out a loan…..hence, a mortgage payment. So how is this working??
I do not understand why some folks have to be so rude or mean about the way other folks live or what they buy. First of all its not your damn business how they spend their money. Another thing is we don’t care about your negative comments, so stop showing us how petty and shallow minded you are. If this type of thing offends you then go away and let the rest of us learn from these folks that are kind enough to let us into their personal space.
Sorry everyone, I am just tired of A-holes that feel they are better by putting others down.
I do agree that we should be considerate to each other on here and try to glean the good stuff and just let the bad stuff roll off our backs 🙂
I love the office and bookshelves. Very nice space.
It’s really great!
Beautiful design, and I would think a lot easier to have built in just about any where with out objection from the building departments in any town….!
I did not see if they were willing to sell the designs??
I don’t see anything in the original article about them selling the designs, I’m afraid.