Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Check out these wee historic homes going back to the 1600s.
After all, it’s easy to carve out a spot for a tiny home: Gnome-sized cabins are easily tucked into small woodland plots or plopped down right on top of brownstones in Manhattan. And you can nab one for less than the price of a car. The little lifestyle has—of course—also been satirized on Portlandia, where one sketch took the desire to downsize to its most cramped extreme. (A tin-roofed chicken coop.)
But while many of the contemporary designs do borrow from clean-lined, Scandinavian-inspired aesthetics, there’s also a rich and varied tradition of pint-sized spreads from around the world.
The throwback DIY
This sketch is from a manual intended for handy guys who aren’t afraid to thatch a roof or pack a wall with mud. Penned in 1920 by Daniel Carter Beard, founder of the scouting organization Sons of Daniel Boone, Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties aimed to teach strapping young guys how to build simple quarters.
The house with a view
This stone structure sits within Bolivia’s Sajama National Park. UNESCO estimates that about 100 families, mostly Aymara Indians, still live inside the park.
The dolled-up Victorian
This ornate little home, preserved by the Seguin Conservation Society in Texas, was crafted by a German carpenter in 1910. It originally served as a playhouse, and is now a miniature museum for antique toys.
The contested cottage
The red Quay House—measuring just six feet wide—boasts that it’s the smallest home in Great Britain. Built in the 1600s, the house remained occupied until the 20th century, when the city council forced the tenants to move out, Atlas Obscura reports. Now, it’s a minuscule museum illustrating the routines of historical Welsh fishermen.
[H/T: Tiny House Living]