Tiny House Nation

by Tania Ginoza on August 3, 2014 · 3 comments

FYI TV launched Tiny House Nation in July. Each weekly episode is an hour long and showcases a different family’s transition to and design of a newly built Tiny Home under 300 square feet. Other homes in the small space/tiny home category are also shown as mini-features. Tiny House Nation is not a detailed DIY presentation of the tiny home building and planning process. Nor does it explore legal challenges an owner may encounter in different states. The show does provide an expedited and summarized glimpse into tiny living focusing on the clever use of space and multi-purpose pieces. Whether we live in a tiny home, an apartment or have a room that is multi-purpose, we can all learn a tiny thing or two from Tiny House Nation.

Tiny House Nation

  • Prioritizing – There are many reasons for wanting to live in a tiny home. A resident may desire financial freedom, location freedom, time, a minimalist/simplicity lifestyle or to decrease their carbon footprint. Each family featured has made a distinct choice to live their life intentionally and the tiny home is one of the ways they plan to achieve their financial, recreational and travel goals. We don’t all need to make the same choices in life, there is no one size fits all American Dream.
  • Identifying Wants vs. Needs The occupants immediate need to reduce everything to the basics is a refreshing change from the endless “I need” cries on other home based reality shows. It becomes apparent that separate rooms for each child, a huge kitchen, a guest room and a double sink en suite are wants, not needs. The show will make you think twice about what is really necessary for a fulfilled life.
  • Go vertical Some of my favorite design ideas in the first three episodes involved the use of vertical space. The hanging herb garden would liven up an urban apartment balcony (as well as smell heavenly during morning coffee). I would’ve loved the princess play loft as a reading nook when I was a little girl. Lifting the bed higher to add storage underneath would be useful in a studio apartment or small master. In one episode they even lifted the office/vanity space to place a pull out bed underneath.
  • Get creative with unused space One of my favorite hacks was the smugglers hatch in episode 2, a storage space under a trap door. A tv was placed on a 360 degree rotating arm from the ceiling, which could be watched from any area within the home or pushed flat against the ceiling when not in use. On another episode, one of the owners put a hanging rod in the upper part of the loft stairwell. It reminded me of a friend’s use of a “stairway to nowhere” in a rental as a storage and display of  her shoes/handbag collection. The home was likely once a single family home converted to multiple units and the stairway that once led to the second floor wasn’t removed but merely blocked off.
  • Multi-purpose pieces The custom-made Murphy bed that can be transformed into a fold down couch was an affordable version of pricier small space furniture sold at retail. A desk area could also be used as a vanity by adding clever storage in the mirror above. My absolute favorite multi-use hack however, was the canine crate in the kitchen island in episode 3.
  • Space efficient room dividers When we designed my living space, I sought to limit the amount of space used by internal doors, walls and hallways and THN has done the same. A pocket door gives you the option to leave a door open without taking up valuable space and doesn’t intrude on others in a small space when opened and closed. They used a partial wall to divide a loft shared by a brother and sister. Glass sliding doors in the kitchen or living areas bring in light to a small space and can also be used to expand your living space to the outdoors. Even when closed, the eye has farther to travel so the glass doors will give the impression of a bigger space.
  • Moveable storage and surfaces The fold down table and/or laptop workspace, the ottomans with storage and the caster wheels on the kitchen island were all simple but brilliant.

Do you think you could live in a tiny home? I could if I had to, but prefer not to. I adore small spaces but I also love empty space. My goal is to downsize my possessions so that I can enjoy the feel of spaciousness in my <800 square foot small home. I am tempted however by less floor to vacuum and mop, my floor is a bitch to keep clean! Fellow Mauian Erik Blair is passionate about tiny homes and has written about his experience researching the viability of tiny house living in Hawaii here and here (includes links to other resources regarding the tiny house movement in Hawaii).

If you haven’t checked out Tiny House Nation yet, you can watch the first three episodes on demand (on Maui, it’s under the Lifestyle category, channel  969). All four episodes are being replayed this week and there are six more remaining in the season so check your guide and set your DVR!

You can read more about the show, the hosts and see photos/clips at FYI TV. You can also watch full episodes if your cable provider is listed (TWC Oceanic is not listed unfortunately).

Image via FYI TV.

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