Chalk it up to wanderlust, a spirit of adventure, or just the desire to live more simply and less expensively. Whatever the motivations, a growing number of Americans are choosing to live in homes that move when they do: houseboats, Airstreams and tiny homes that can be hitched to the back of a car.
While not everyone could live in spaces that small, the on-the-go homeowners we spoke to believe that the benefits of their life-as-a-road-trip homes outweigh the challenges by far.
Airstream living. Interior designer Amy Carman's family spends most of their summers in this 128-square-foot vintage Airstream Caravel. "When we stay in it, we live much more efficiently and simply," says Carman. "I'm always reminded that we can enjoy a very rich quality of life even though we are living in a tiny space. From a design standpoint, working with a small space forces you to be very resourceful. But we love how clean and modern the interior feels, and we never get tired of being in the camper."
"If the weather isn't great outside, we love eating together at the breakfast nook or curling up to watch a movie," says Carman. The breakfast nook converts into a bed for Carman's daughter, and although the kitchen appliances are tiny, they suffice for vacation-time meals.
Tiny traveling homes. At just 84 square feet, Dee Williams' movable house by Portland Alternative Dwellings (PAD) is smaller than many contemporary bathrooms — but that suits her just fine.
What the home lacks in space, it makes up in portability, charm and affordability. "What surprises me," says Williams, who usually parks her cottage on a friend’s property, along with a few other PAD dwellers, "is how much I still love it after eight years, and how much larger and more engaged I feel with my life. I've also saved a lot of money by living debt free."
Trendy trailers. Courtney Trent of Courtney's Good Cottage designs trailer interiors for movie stars and high-powered executives. She insists that you don't have to sacrifice comfort or luxury to live in a small, moveable space — you just have to figure out how to get the most out of every square inch.
Trent custom designed the galley table, made of white birch with a cerused oak finish. "It can be narrow when only one person is eating or working," she says, "or, alternatively, a leaf pulls out on each side to create more surface space." Photography courtesy of Avery Brighton, Shine Bright Studios
"On most of my 'cottages' I remove the bed and one of the wardrobes to increase the usable space," Trent says. "That extra space becomes, essentially, a third living/work area." Putting some of the furniture on sliders — as she did to the table in this 200-square-foot trailer so that it could be both a dining surface near the kitchenette and a work surface near the couch — maximizes function and flexibility.
How do these homeowners live large in 400, 200 and even less than 100 square feet?
Small space design can be a big challenge. See how designers create petite bedroom retreats with color and smart space planning.
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