Despite its modest exterior, this 400 square-foot cabin boasts a whole host of impressive design touches. From the hardwood paneling to the exposed brickwork, visitors would never suspect what this miniscule home is hiding. But there’s one detail that reportedly sets this humble abode in Cobleskill, New York, apart from every other home in America – and it’s found in the bathroom.
Over the decades, houses have generally been getting bigger in the U.S. Back in 2015, though, according to the Census Bureau, lot sizes peaked at an average of 2,689 square feet. Since then, homes have been getting smaller – and a trend for space-saving dwellings has taken off.
As of 2017, the average size of a single-family home in the U.S. had fallen to around 2,599 square feet. Indeed, the “tiny house movement” has been gaining traction, with more and more people opting to live in dwellings of less than 1,000 square foot. However, for a home to truly be defined as being tiny, it’s generally agreed that it has to be under 400 square foot.
And the Cobleskill cabin is a perfect example of a micro-home. The house was erected by Lil Lodges – based in Bear Creek, Alabama – and it comes complete with a lounge, a fully-fitted kitchen, a master suite, bathroom and a loft area, which functions as a pair of guest bedrooms. The builders, meanwhile, described the cabin as being “the most advanced smart cabin ever produced.”
Indeed, the cabin houses some elements which one might expect to be more commonly found in a high-end luxury home rather than in a cabin in the woods. Furthermore, the dinky dwelling’s ingenious use of space has actually seen it being featured on FYI Network’s Tiny House Nation.
Thanks to some large windows, the living area is bright, and the space comes with a cathedral ceiling and patio doors that lead out onto the terrace. The lounge also features built-in wooden bookcases, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV and a log fire. One can all too easily imagine curling up here during the cold winter nights. Interior design buffs will also be impressed by the muted color palette, which blends neutral gray, shiny silver and rustic stone surfaces to create a particularly peaceful ambiance.
The kitchen, meanwhile, looks surprisingly spacious and is fitted with all the modern conveniences you would expect from a dream vacation home. There’s a full-sized oven, a fridge-freezer and a dishwasher. But the designers also added a touch of elegance with a white marble-top breakfast bar and spotlights on the ceiling.
Then there’s the master bedroom, which is minimal and fuss-free. A huge bed commands most of the space, positioned in the middle of the room – yet the room doesn’t seem cramped. The wood effect adds warmth, while semi-sheer curtains and thick, fluffy blankets make the suite feel both sumptuous and homely.
Guests, meanwhile, can sleep upstairs in the attic, which has been split into two bedrooms. The first comes with cotton-candy colored sheets and a white canopy over the double bed. Although the second room exudes an indoor camping vibe – thanks to a thick black sheet hung from the ceiling – there’s a bright orange picnic rug to curl up in and a gaslight within arm’s reach of the bed.
However, it’s inside the bathroom that you’ll find the little lodge’s pièce de résistance. It’s not the stainless steel accents, the shower or the pebbled flooring. This cabin is in fact apparently home to the one and only incinerating toilet in the whole of the United States – a toilet which sends your waste straight to the furnace.
While an out of the way location may mean you need some unorthodox plumbing solutions, a smaller home comes with a number of benefits. Not only is it more economical to run, but downsizing is also good for the environment. More compact living spaces use less energy and require fewer raw materials to construct – so they get the thumbs up from eco-warriors.
Indeed, “the tiny home” trend has inspired designers around the world to explore how they can make the best use of small spaces. One impressive example comes in the shape of the YO! Home, designed by Simon Woodroffe. Despite being a millionaire, Woodroffe has direct experience of living in a compact home – as he lives in a houseboat moored on the River Thames in London, England.
The now-66-year-old British entrepreneur previously dreamt up the popular food chain YO! Sushi and appeared on the business reality-TV show Dragons’ Den. With the help of U.K. firm Glenn Howells Architects, though, he took a side-step into urban planning. The YO! Home was designed to enable a limited space to be transformed into multiple rooms.
The concept meant that the whole layout of the home could be changed over the course of the day, thanks to moving parts and fold-out furniture. For example, a sunken seating area can be transformed into the bedroom using a counter-weight system. In fact, Woodroffe’s design allows the bed to be raised and lowered using a small motor.
Other space-saving features include a dining table which rises from the floor with the touch of a button. Once done with it, residents can lower the table back down and close it away using theater-style hatches. Meanwhile, the kitchen can be completely stowed behind sliding doors – perfect for hiding clutter when guests come to visit.
“Homes help shape our lives,” Woodroffe told Dezeen. “They are our refuge and our rock. Since the invention of the city center apartment, we’ve never really reinvented it. YO! Home is that new invention.”
“Moving parts draw on a wealth of engineering technology taken from fields as diverse as yacht and automotive design and the mechanics of stage production, allowing the transformation of a 40 square meter [430 square foot] space into a much bigger home,” Woodroffe continued. The concept was first put on public display at the London Design Festival in 2012. By 2016, plans had been put forward to develop 24 apartments in Manchester’s New Islington area.
Planning permission was granted later in 2016, though the council had previously withheld its consent over issues around parking and affordable housing provision. That year, YO! Home’s managing director Jack Spurrier described plans to develop apartments in major hubs across the globe where space is at a premium. The company’s larger aims reportedly stretch from Japan and China to Argentina and the U.S.
Spurrier said, “The long-term vision is to build blocks of single space YO! Homes in city centers around the world, from Manhattan and Buenos Aires to Tokyo and Shanghai, changing the way people live in small spaces whilst addressing the growing population issues.” If the plans prove to be a success, then we may see compact but luxurious spaces like the Cobleskill cabin popping up all over the world.
What’s more, the YO! Home could provide a template on which houses of the future are modeled. The concept allows one room to be put to multiple uses, creating what might be seen as a more dynamic way of living. Meanwhile, the YO! Home prototype is just half the size of Lil Lodge’s tiny cabin – proving that small can be perfect.