By David Wulff, AIA

The trend these days seems to be “smaller is better”. I agree with that, but how small is the question. If you catch the TV shows regarding small houses, they seem to think that they invented the small house. Actually upon closer inspection, the majority of them are just a house on wheels. They resemble a camper more than a house. The only difference is that they usually have wood siding and possibly a loft of some sort. I get a kick out of the fact that they think they invented the idea of the tiny house. My question is, if you want something on wheels; why not just buy a camper? The manufacturers of campers have been doing it for years and they know their business. How to store things, how to make things work in a small space. About 95% of campers are better designed than the tiny house on wheels.

So what is it about tiny houses that attract people and what can we learn?

The smaller house is an alternative to the huge impersonal starter castles that one sees in many developments. These homes have too much space and too little substance. A home should give one the feeling of shelter and comfort but too often we use words like “spacious” and “expansive” to describe what we want. This just leads to houses getting bigger. A house should nurture us. To do that, we need to develop a language that describes the qualities of home, not just the quantities. We want to design a house so they will be more than shelters – they will be homes.

If you want a home that nurtures you rather than one that is built to impress your neighbors, then focus on quality design and construction, using sustainable techniques and materials. Start with what is important to you rather than trendy designs and mere square footage. I know it has been said before, but it is worth repeating. Let’s do more with less. And hopefully it doesn’t have wheels.

DAVID H. WULFF, ARCHITECT welcomes the design challenges presented by new projects and is dedicated to developing innovative design solutions.

David H. Wulff, AIA, 167 Trails End, Lake Lure, NC 828-625-5537, www.dwarchitect.com.