Tiny Houses, Backyard Cottages, and Other Micro Dwellings


In the quest for simplicity and eco-friendly living, a tiny house movement has taken over. People are shrinking their living quarters to decrease their carbon footprint, get rid of the clutter, and live smaller and smarter. In other cases, micro houses provide the perfect intimate setting for a no-frills getaway. After spotting a few miniature dwellings during our Internet travels, we compiled a list of unique, itsy-bitsy backyard cottages, adorably dwarfed abodes, and other tiny homesteads. Click through our gallery to take a peek.

Photo credit: Sergio Gomez

Architect Manuel Villa designed a backyard habitable polyhedron in Bogota, Colombia. ArchDaily described the project as:

” … Inspired in the shape’s perception processes the children develop in their first years of life. The basic shapes of things and their differences are key elements in the development of knowledge, and specifically in acquiring reading skills and geometric basic concepts.”

It was intended for a family to share playtime, reading, and other activities — and later for the child to use for their own hobbies and interests.

Image credit: Cathy Scalise

A backyard cottage suitable for Snow White, Marie Antoinette, or Barbie. Cathy Scalise’s oasis of opulence and whimsy appeals to hopeless romantics.

Image credit: Sage Radachowsky

A Boston boy wanted to build a modern day version of a gypsy wagon. He pays under $400 bucks a month for his rent and utilities, and lives within the city limits (that includes a sun room, workshop, garden, and other goodies Sage built himself). Feel jealous, New Yorkers. Skip to 1:18 in the video below to check out an interview.

Image credit: New Avenue, Inc. [via tinyhouseblog]

What do you get when you combine a team of students researching sustainable housing, a Berkeley homeowner with a tiny abode who needs more space, and an interested builder? A net zero energy, 430 square foot, backyard cottage.

Image credit: The Principia

The Mistake House is an experimental structure at Principia College, built by Arts and Crafts architect Bernard Maybeck. It was intended as a “sample house” for Maybeck to work out his designs for several other buildings on campus. It features a variety of construction techniques including half timbering mixed with brick, concrete, and stone. Maybeck modeled the roof after the thatches seen in English villages.

Spotted via BoingBoing

Someone built their very own Deadwood in the heart of Topeka, Kansas. The “Cowboy Town” is currently selling for $20,000 on Craigslist and features several movable structures like The Bank (currently being used as a garden tool shed), The Barn (a multi-level structure featuring a hay loft and Dutch doors), and The Saloon (with an upstairs balcony).

Spotted via tu.no

Containing a kitchen, bathroom, loft, office nook, and dining table with room for two chairs, this experimental, freestanding student house (a whopping 94 square feet total) was built to make a statement about Sweden’s lack of affordable student housing. It is being lived in.

Image credit: PAD

Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) is a tiny house construction company in Portland, dedicated to creating itty-bitty, eco-friendly dwellings. This backyard home has wheels!

Spotted via worldgreen

This three-story, micro house in Tokyo was built on a miniature lot next to a busy street in the Japanese city. The space was meant for just one car. Since housing is so expensive in the metropolis, compact homes like this 90 square foot abode are becoming more popular. To save space, the architects created custom built-in furniture, miniature appliances and fixtures, and used glass interior doors to create a roomier feeling.

Photo credit: Erik Sundström [Spotted via tinyhouseblog]

You might find hobbits in this au naturel home in Ottsjö county of Jämtland, Sweden. It blends perfectly into the lush landscape. All construction materials are organic, except the glass windows.

Also, check out Wooden Wonders’ Hobbit Holes for more mini huts.

A micro vacation cabin made for $200.

Image credit: James Marshall

One of the most famous tiny houses, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate boasts an understated honeymoon cottage where he and his wife Martha lived during the construction of their main home. Other well-known, habitable small fries include Henry David Thoreau’s cabin near Walden Pond (a replica was built where it stood) and George Bernard Shaw’s writing hut.