This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of The High End magazine. For more information about The High End, click here.

As concerns for the environment grow, tiny homes have emerged as an earth-friendly alternative to traditional homes.

By Stacey Staum

In years past, the motto has been “the bigger the better.” The idea lent itself to every part of life, especially in the square footage of a luxury home. But as modern homeowners become increasingly aware of environmental issues, a new trend is emerging: tiny homes.

Tiny homes can be as small as 200 square feet, and provide homeowners with a significantly smaller carbon footprint than traditional homes. Features like solar power, water catchments systems, and composting toilets have made tiny homes the premier housing option for an environmentally conscious lifestyle, and the luxury market is embracing this movement. 

Jason Francis, co-founder and president of Tiny Heirloom in Portland, Oregon, has brought high-end materials and amenities to the forefront of his designs. Francis explains, “We take pride in starting each project with a blank page and assuming everything is possible until proven otherwise.” Tiny Heirloom’s projects have included an $8,000 toilet, a $40,000 custom sculpted rock wall, Jacuzzi tubs, and rooftop decks, all incorporated into tiny home designs.

Customizations are limited only by the imagination. This home features a $40,000 sculpted rock wall on the exterior.

In a tiny home, it is of the utmost importance that all of the area is well utilized. “Using the space effectively is absolutely crucial. To do this well, we start with the right mindset. Every square inch is valuable space that can’t be wasted. When we have this truth in mind, we look at the design differently and begin to think outside the box of ways to maximize space and use or create dual purpose features wherever possible,” Francis says.

Part of the excitement of building a tiny home is deciding where to put the home once it is complete. Tiny Heirloom has finished projects in exciting locations, including the ocean shores of Hawaii and a 9,000-foot bluff overlooking the Rocky
Mountains. Many tiny homes are portable, so homeowners don’t have to commit to only one location. Tiny homes offer the unique opportunity to move the home to different locations without having to pack up for a traditional move.

Wheelhaus in Jackson, Wyoming, also offers exceptional tiny home options, featuring top-of-the-line, energy-saving appliances. The company achieved a Gold standard with the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainability is the goal at Wheelhaus, as is evidenced by its use of High-R-value insulation, windows for abundant natural light, space-saving design, and sustainable building practices. The Wheelhaus aesthetic blends rustic and modern design styles. Wheelhaus’s most remarkable model is the Stack-Haus, with a base price of $365,000 for 1,400 square feet of living space — a mansion by tiny home standards.

The future of the luxury tiny home market looks promising. Francis explains, “The idea and belief goes beyond just tiny homes. The truth is starting to spread like wildfire — that a bigger house, nicer car, and more things don’t equate to happiness. Eliminating waste and simplifying life within one’s respective means creates a lifestyle where you can truly enjoy what you do have and who is around you.”