tiny house

What brought us to tiny houses….

Granted, tiny houses are not a new phenomenon. People used to live small before World War II, packed with whole families of 10 kids or more in a home that now houses one person. Things have changed since then. Wealth has grown and that wealth had to be shown –amongst other things – in square footage. We started to live bigger and gather more stuff, stuff for which we needed more space. Somehow we ended up in a vicious circle of working hard to pay of a mortgage for our large homes and then working even harder to be able to catch a break from it all in expensive resorts where we could lay our heads to rest and enjoy some much needed free time.

Things started to shift

But then things started to shift early this century. Hurricane Katrina happened and left many people in the New Orleans area without a home. English born and American based architect Sarah Susanka was assigned to design shelter homes that needed to be small. By that time she had already written a couple of books on the subject of small living and was seen as the originator of the ‘not so big’ philosophy that started to take root in America.  She wanted to design a true home rather than just a shelter and did such a good job that people didn’t want to leave their tiny houses that were initially meant to be temporary.

Tiny houses: the movement

Sarah Susanka has been credited to start the tiny house movement which aims to build better, not bigger. She tapped into a growing demand for well thought out smaller scale home design, but she was certainly not the only one seen as the instigator of the Tiny House movement in the USA. Dee Williams and Jay Shafer were –amongst others- also pioneers at the heart of the movement who designed and built their own tiny houses before inspiring others to do the same.


The financial crisis of 2008 brought the housing market to its knees and created a whole group of millennials who did not want to work their whole life away in order to pay off a mortgage, like they’d seen their parents do. And then, of course, there was the growing consciousness of leaving a huge carbon footprint in these times of climate change. Do we really need all this stuff? Do we really need a big house to put it all in? Or could we live comfortably in a tiny house that is well thought out and designed to our own very wishes and demands?

The growth of a movement

The Tiny House movement has slowly grown over the last two decades into a mature movement that has a large number of supporters, including architects who like the challenge of a well-designed tiny house that makes use of every square inch. And as the movement grew bigger in the USA, it inevitably moved over to Europe with The Netherlands as early adapter.  The Tiny House Movement in this tiny country only started a couple of years ago but has already established around one hundred tiny houses spread all over the country and is still growing fast.

Wyke Potjer
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