Tiny House – The Making of the Kingfisher

Tiny House PerspectiveWhen friend and master craftsman Dan Neumeyer, approached me about collaborating with him on a tiny house it piqued my interest.

So much of design is about stripping away the unnecessary so that only the essential remains.

Tiny houses do this.

They reduce the footprint of the material world greatly.  In doing so, an alchemical process can take place; one where the reliance on things for satisfaction can be replaced by a love for experience.  That is not to say that the two are mutually exclusive, only that in a Zen kind of way, consciously reducing materialism in one’s life can act as a catalyst for engaging the world more.

I agreed to the endeavor.  My only requirement was that in addition to creating a well-crafted home, we also incorporate sustainable technology wherever it made sense.  Dan enthusiastically agreed.

I grew up in a wooden boat community and am well versed in the magic of small spaces.  However, to learn more about the subject, I decided to research a little deeper.

After reviewing many unique home-built creations and the catalog of Tumbleweed designs, I discovered an interesting pattern:  Nearly all tiny homes are designed with entrances on the end of the building.  This preference, I concluded is primarily aesthetic.  That is, when you visually scale down the iconic home, the natural place for the entry porch is at the end; where the peak of the gable roof provides the silhouette seen in almost every child’s drawing.  This aesthetic preference I realized, runs counter to the function of a home of this size.

In scale and function, tiny homes are similar to travel trailers.  So, when is the last time that you saw a travel trailer with an entry from the end?  Hmmm… that’s a head scratcher…

The reason is fairly simple.  By accessing the building from the end, much of the building length needs to be kept open and available for circulation.  So, I asked:  “Can you design a Tiny House with the iconic look and feel of a home with the economy of space found in an Airstream?”

The Airstream (like most trailers) places the access point on the side about 1/3 of the length from the end.  That allows both ends of the building to be utilized for dedicated purposes and reduces the walkway space in the middle.  Over time, this model has been tested and found to work pretty well.

Kingfisher Elevation

With the layout goals identified, I explored the character.  Much of a home’s style is driven by the roofline.  Given the narrow width of a trailered home, eaves really aren’t all that compatible.  Therefore, I concluded (like many others) that the New England style with its bobbed eaves and wrap around gutter really was the best stylistic fit.

Chances are that you’ve seen the building already in our portfolio.  So, here it is in plan view with annotations explaining its features:

There’s ‘small houses’ and then there’s ‘Tiny Houses.’  I’m not sure where the demarcation between the two is, but considering that the internal area of the Kingfisher is a mere 115 SF I would classify it solidly in the ‘Tiny’ category.  The side entrance design allows for a highly effective use of the space.  So, despite it’s diminutive footprint, it can comfortably sleep four and with the kitchen directly accessed through the main door, it readily connects to the outside for outdoor dining and entertaining.