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On Monday’s episode of Design Star, the three remaining hopefuls were challenged to create a functional home — complete with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living area — all in a “tiny house” of less than 100 square feet. (See the designers’ finished homes here.) That got the team here at HGTV.com thinking: What would it be like to live in a house smaller than some people’s closets? After all, it’s a growing trend. Lili wrote a post about the micro-house movement back in February.

Exterior of Jay Shafer's Home and KitchenThe kitchen and exterior of Jay Shafer’s tiny house.  Photos courtesy of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

We asked Jay Shafer, who’s been living in a tiny house since 1997. He’s also the owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which builds several styles of ultra small-scale prefab homes (including the Box Bungalows used on Design Star.)

Want a peek inside his 100-square-foot home?

So, what qualifies as a tiny house? The term usually applies to homes that range anywhere from 65 to 500 square feet, though Shafer says he considers “any house where no square foot is being wasted” a tiny one. According to Shafer, one or two people could live comfortably in less than 100 square feet (yes, really), but for a family a better option is multiple tiny houses on the same lot.

For Shafer, the advantages to tiny homes are many, but a small environmental impact is at the top of the list.  “An average American household puts out 18 tons of greenhouses gases a year, while I use a fraction of that,” he says. Some companies, like Texas Tiny Houses, even make their mini-homes out of salvaged materials, further reducing the tiny environmental toll.

The homes also offer financial freedom: Once you pay for the initial cost of the home — anywhere from $12,000 to $90,000, depending on the style, size and company — you’re done. And if you want to shell out even less cash, most companies offer free or affordable plans to help you build your own tiny home. “You don’t have a mortgage, not to mention you’ll have lower utility costs,” says Shafer. “And it’s liberating not to have to spend time and money maintaining your home. It frees you up to do the things you really want to be doing.”

Box Bungalow Living Room
And for all your design lovers, living simply doesn’t mean living without style. In Jay Shafer’s living area, above, great design abounds. Check out the handmade tiles surrounding the tiny stove on the right.  And with less space, you literally only have room for things you can’t live without, so you won’t have the surface area to develop piles of papers or collect meaningless tchotchkes. Plus, you’ll be totally justified in saying, “Sorry, Mom, I just don’t have the space for that (insert name of gaudy item here).”

Missed the Tiny House episode of Design Star? Watch the full episode here >>

What do you think: Would you, could you live in a tiny house?

Tell us in the comments below.

120 Responses

  1. Jackie says:

    I would love to have one of the 500 sq ft homes, I have been looking at them for years. Someday……

  2. starr says:

    absolutely not!! I don't care how great the view,the storage,the area, it makes no difference to me. I would go crazy in something like that.

  3. sara arnold says:

    we live in a little duplex now or it just seems little cause we are a family of 4.It is really hard to keep it looking clean cause every time you set something down it looks dirty. I think we just need a toy room. But living in a small house is not fun or easy for a small family.

  4. Elaine says:

    After living in Hawaii posessions mean nothing to me anymore so YES I could live in a tiny house but would have to have a good view.

  5. Marna says:

    I designed ours to certain degrees. I don't know where you all live but I am in Texas and in many counties these are not even taxable as property but can be classified as a homestead exempt. So if anyone wants my builders info. post back here and I'll put you in contact. I believe he can go nation wide. It has been the best move for my husband and I. Would not live any other way. Maintenance, upkeep, taxes, utilities, and all the rest are unbelievable.

  6. inkspeare says:

    In this type of house, by myself, no doubt, yes; however, sharing the space with six cats and a husband might be a bit challenging.

  7. diane says:

    I could live in a tiny house, but what about a restroom?

  8. debbie97058 says:

    I would! I could! I want!

  9. Lorena says:

    I would love to live in a tiny house. That will be our retirement plans.

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Liz GrayLiz is a Senior Editor at HGTV.com. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on remodeling projects with her boyfriend and...

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