McMansion Backlash: The Small House Society

WeehouseinsideSince 1997, Jay Shafer has lived in a 96-square-foot house in Sebastopol that is smaller than some people’s closets. You can see it by clicking here. The house to the left and below is another small house, dubbed “Little Prefab on the Prairie.”

Jay is a co-founder of the Small House Society, which is part of a small-house movement fueled by concerns about the toll big lifestyles have on the planet.

Jay showed off his home on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was quoted in an Incredible Shrinking Houses in the Christian Science Monitor. The New York Times wrote not long ago about the small-house movement. And, of course, Sarah Susanka has been writing about the Not So Big House for years.

Weehouse2Small houses need not be shacks. They can have bamboo floors and stainless steel counters. I love studying the floor plans to see how I could make it work for myself. My 105-pound Newfoundland mix would be a problem. And I wonder about clothes washing; I would hope Laundromats are not in my future.

To see more:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
Wee Houses, St. Paul, Minn.
Modern Cabana, San Francisco
Cavco Industries, Phoenix
Sherpa Cabins, Thompson Falls, Mont.

Upcoming small-house design workshop: Aug. 17 to 19 in Sonoma County. Cost: $499.

(Photos: Wee Houses)

4 Comments on McMansion Backlash: The Small House Society

  1. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Jeannie, good question! Nearly all of Jay Shafer’s designs include a steeply pitched roof and a sleeping loft. You can see some of the floor plans here:
    As for the sleek house pictured above, dubbed “Little Prefab on the Prairie,” you can see a photo of the sleeping nook here:

  2. Jeannie

    Where does this guy sleep???

  3. Kathy Price-Robinson

    I agree, Ragnar! I also need a bathtub. I saw a 250-square-foot model at Tumbleweed Tiny Homes that has all the bells and whistles. That would work for me.

  4. Ragnar

    I saw a similar house when my wife was watching Oprah on TV. It was interesting to see how the person lived. I can appreciate the small house movement and the “less is more” attitude, getting out to know your neighbors and enjoying the natural space in your community, etc. But for myself personally, I would have to draw the line at something quite a bit larger than 96 square feet. I could probably adjust to a laundromat if necessary, but I definitely require a working toilet and shower! A composting toilet might sound glamorous on TV but that is because you cannot smell one through the TV. In reality such a toilet is quite fragrant in a not-so-fresh kind of way.