Tiny Houses

5 June 2014

Good design will stop us in our tracks and demand we take notice. Minim, from Foundry Architects and Brian Levy, does just that. At only 210 square feet, its creators wrung every bit of utility from each square foot. Measuring 10 feet, 8 inches by 22 feet, it is able to be hitched to a trailer, though ours will be built as a permanent structure. But it’s not the size of Minim that grabs our attention; there are many of tiny houses that are around the same size or smaller. It’s not even Minim’s cool features: the wet bathroom; the window shade that is also a video projection screen, etc. While many tiny houses are made to look like Thoreauvian cabins, or as though someone simply shrunk a conventional house, Minim is boldly and unapologetically accomplishing a mission through design. That mission is to help its owner lead a simpler life and is centered on four philosophical principles that Levy lays out:

1. A contented life is largely independent from the size of one’s dwelling.

2. Humans can and must live more sustainably, but not without style.

3. Living in a small structure should never feel compromised— it should feel amazing.

4. Excellence in design has a role to play in spreading the acceptance of simple, affordable, green living.

Levy didn’t take the design of his home lightly, and you can read more about his design philosophy here.

The house is constructed from pre-fabricated SIPs (structural insulated panels), which are strong, energy efficient and cost effective (costing about as much as traditional framing). Minim’s floor plan is flexible and open (check it out below). The bathroom or closet can be enlarged by taking out one or both of the eight foot bookshelves. Walls have been removed to open up the space and large windows allow for plenty of natural light. The couch doubles as a storage unit and a two-burner stove is set into the countertop, with a covering that can be placed over it when not in use. As far as other appliances, Minim can also accommodate a small dishwasher, combination washer/dryer and full-sized refrigerator. Perhaps the coolest aspect of Minim’s design is the rollaway bed, which tucks underneath an elevated alcove. Minim’s exterior is sheathed in untreated, shiplapped cypress, while its interior is outfitted with rich walnut countertops, built-in furniture and flooring and stainless steel fixtures.

There’s the common expression that a picture’s worth a thousand words. That holds true in this case. Here’s a photo tour of the house. You can also check out a video tour, or, if you have free time and want to get away, you can check out the original house in D.C. in person.

Can you see yourself living in Minim? What are the aspects that you like, or might like tweak? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


  1. This is beautiful. You mention that Minim will be built as a permanent structure. I know that tiny houses are often built on trailers because the city has a minimum size for structures, does Pittsburgh have a minimum dwelling size code?

  2. admin said on

    Hi Rose – I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner. There is no minimum size for a house in Pittsburgh, but you cannot have one on wheels.

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