Top 10 Houses in Our Small Space, Big Dreams Home Awards
These small homes blew us away with their functional yet fun designs.
Written bySunset Staff Updated On September 11, 2021
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Winner: Eco Guest Cottage
Built in 2013, this 550-square-foot split-level guesthouse is located in Portland’s historic, tree-lined Ladd’s Addition close to public transporation and dowtown. The cool mini home has modern amenities and style. Its small footprint isn’t just limited to its foundation—the space earned an Earth Advantage Platinum Green Building Certification for utilizing innovative building practices to reduce dependency on non-renewable energy, resource and water efficiency, indoor air quality, and environmental responsibility.
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How do you describe living in 160 square feet? Quality counts. After shrinking from 2,300 sq. ft., the owners lack nothing in functionality; only extra steps between kitchen, great room, bathroom, bedroom, and a cold microbrew. The outdoors and neighborhood have become an extension of the home. They spend more time on the deck, with their neighbors, strolling in the evening, and exploring local hangouts. Their greatest surprise? Sleeping in the loft. It’s like being in a cocoon. For these residents, size doesn’t matter; it’s how you use it that counts.
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Four in 400 Square Feet
With a budget of $12,000 this family made the most of what an eighty-year-old detached garage/carport had to offer. The family of four made some efficient-living discoveries, including the “slashie rule”—everything must have more than one purpose or be able to disappear. A charming apron also serves as wall décor. An oversized computer monitor functions dually as a TV screen, while a washer/dryer combo and a microwave/convection oven did their part. A Murphy bed and folding table made it easy to change a room and create space.
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Solar Alley House
In 2009 Vancouver, BC adopted a policy allowing small secondary homes to be built on existing properties facing the alley (lane). The E.57th Lane house was built for a couple who wanted to downsize without leaving their property, and found that building a ‘laneway house’ gave them the chance to create something unique while letting their daughter use the main house. The 1,050-sq.-ft. house is one bedroom with two bathrooms (including a 200 sq. ft. “flex garage”) and was built using prefab components and LED lighting throughout. The house has a long folding glass wall, a 600 gallon rainwater tank, and solar panels to make the most of what the environment has to offer.
5 of 10Marie-Dominique Verdier
Cabin by the Lake
This lakeside cabin, designed by FabCab, is only 550 square feet, and yet it seems much larger. The layout has an open floor plan so that the sense of space is maximized and every square inch is fully utilized. Open areas above beams and walls allow the whole ceiling to be visible, which makes the space feel bigger. Large windows not only let in passive solar warmth, but also provide ample natural light and stunning views of the nearby lake. Compact, yet well designed spaces, appliances, and features allow for efficient and comfortable living for one or two people.
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This serene 310-square-foot cabin has an open-plan layout and a strong connection to the outdoors with its thoughtful placement of windows.
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This 580-square-foot L.A. bungalow used to be a jumble of small rooms before it was reorganized into multi-functional spaces.
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Little Box on the Prairie
Situated on the Montana prairie, this home was made of two shipping containers welded together. One wall is comprised entirely of glass, affording stellar views of the gorgeous surroundings.
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Mini House in the Mountains
This 650-square-footer in the High Rockies saves energy and space by minimizing mechanical equipment, yet still provides comfort from the sometimes harsh climate.
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The main room in this home allows for multiple ways for family members to be together, depending on mood.