Tiny Houses




At 10 feet by 6 feet, the quay house at Conwy Castle in North Wales is believed to be the smallest house in Great Britain.  Pictured above and built in a gap between two terraces, the house was actually inhabited until 1900, until its owner, a 6 foot, 3 inch tall fisherman, decided that the house was simply too tiny for his lanky frame.  The house, also seen here, is now uninhabited — but makes its new owner some pocket change as a tourist attraction.

While no one lives  the quay house, some people do indeed choose to live in tiny spaces.  Two curious examples are Luke Clark Tyler and Gary Chang.

Luke Clark Tyler’s story, recently in the news, is atypical.  He pays $800 per month in rent, a princely sum in anywhere other than a few select places such as London or Manhattan.  Unfortunately, the apartment is, in fact, in Manhattan — and he is paying in excess of $10 per square foot each month.  For his nearly $10,000 each year, Tyler lives in a 78 square foot closet space.  His apartment lacks a stove, oven, bathroom (there is one on the hall), or even a sink.

How does he manage?  He calls it a conscious choice, opting for location over elbow room.  An architect, Tyler has managed to maximize his space: his bed folds up against a wall, revealing a couch; a desk sits atop a mini-fridge; and his clothes closet houses his toiletries and towels as well as his microwave.  Have to see it to believe it?  Here’s a video tour.

With an apartment totaling 344 square feet, Gary Chang has nearly 4.5 times the amount of space as Mr. Tyler — and, in and of itself, is not in an extraordinarily tiny space.  (Here are some perfectly ordinary apartments of similar size.)  What makes Chang’s apartment incredible is its versatility.  Using walls which move with hydraulics and rails, Chang has two dozen different ways to arrange his apartment, including as a video game room, a screening room (replete with hammock!), and as a two-bedroom apartment replete with guest bedroom.

Unlike Tyler, Chang owns his place — he bought it for $45,000 a few years ago.  He’s also lived there much longer, having grown up there (his parents were tenants before they moved to a larger place).  But much like Tyler, Chang has also graciously provided the world with a video tour of his amazing home.

Bonus fact: In 2009, a Mesa, Arizona family bought a new (regular-sized) house, replete with pool.  Unfortunately, the pool was derelict and needed to be either repaired or filled in. The family went a third direction: they turned it into a backyard garden.  The garden is now self-sustaining, growing eggplants, cucumbers, bell peppers, a dwarf mandarin orange tree, berries, and many other fruits and vegetables. But more impressive?  The garden features a tilapia pond and chickens — and is able to sustain the diets (with some bartering, trading off extra tilapia and eggs) of the four-person family which owns it.

From the Archives: Open House: A bit bigger, but harder to live in.

Related: “The Small House Book” by Jay Shafer, apparently a leader of something called the “Small House Movement.”  The book is a guide to how to make and live in a tiny home.