Tiny houses are the hip new thing, and they’ll continue being the hip new thing for the foreseeable future. The tiny house movement is still going strong, and shows no signs of fading any time soon. For the uninitiated (or those without access to home and garden channels), tiny houses are minuscule, compact cottages (usually on wheels). Most of them are smaller than a studio apartment in Manhattan – but they’re stylish, portable, environmentally friendly, affordable, and ingenious.
Over the past few years, tiny house rentals have been cropping across the country, from simple house-shares to established resorts and tiny house villages. They’re trendier than trailer homes and they have more creature comforts than cabins.
Some tiny house villages are run by tiny house manufacturers, like Tumbleweed, which operates rentals across the country in addition to the tiny houses that it builds and sells. One of their tiny house villages, Leavenworth, is nestled in the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. Open year-round, this Bavarian-themed village is ideal for outdoor activities from fishing to hiking to winter sports. This cluster of tiny house rentals looks almost like a miniature village in the Alps.
If you’re looking for something a little more beachy, head on down to Florida’s Tiny House Siesta, situated near Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. This technicolor strip of tiny houses mainly functions as a place to crash after a long day at the beach. The houses are decorated with beachy, Floridian touches, like the pink and green pastels of the Flamingo House.
A bit closer to home is A Tiny House Resort, nestled in the Catskill Mountains, about two hours away from New York City. There are nine different tiny houses to choose from, each with its own unique style. Owner Bob Malkin’s relationship with scale began in 1979, when he and Phylis Prinz opened “Think Big!” a retail store featuring oversized pop art sculptures.
I got in contact with Bob to talk a little bit more about the tiny house phenomenon and his own tiny house resort. The following interview is edited for length and clarity.
AAA: Where did you get the idea to open a tiny house resort?
BM: I’ve been in the waterfront vacation rental business for about 15 years, but my daughter is into luxury RVing, staying in luxury RV resorts around the country. We got together and thought about doing vacation rentals with tiny houses on a stream with woods and maybe an organic vegetable garden. We’ll have a new type of resort two hours away from NYC. We try to provide anything that anybody would want.
AAA: What is the relationship, do you think, between your Think Big sculptures and your tiny houses?
BM: Scale! I think there’s fun in scale. There are people who collect miniatures—I collect giants! Today, people are looking into cutting down on size. A lot of people are selling their homes and buying tiny houses.
AAA: Why do you think tiny houses have gotten so popular recently?
BM: I think it’s become a movement for people who own homes, still have a lot of taxes to pay, maybe finished with their mortgage—that started people thinking: How do you live smaller and less expensively? How do you live simply? People are trying to live more simply, because of the environment as well.
AAA: Did you build all of these houses?
BM: We had them designed for our specs. You don’t need, for example, a lot of closet space on a vacation. We have room for other things. We have full bathrooms, flush toilets, electricity, AC and heat, propane. We have hens and ducks laying eggs. We have hiking trails on the property, a heated pool. We try and have everything that somebody could need for a wonderful getaway.
AAA: Which tiny house at the resort is your favorite?
BM: Oh, the Mizu. It’s just for two people, but it’s almost all glass, looking out on the water and the trees.
AAA: Do you live in a tiny house?
BM: No, but I just went from a 3,500-square-foot house to a 1,200-square-foot house!
AAA: Do you think tiny houses are better as permanent homes or as vacation homes?
BM: I think it’s vacation homes. I myself would find it very hard to live permanently in a tiny house—but who knows, maybe in a few years! People have stayed here a number of times and just love it. We’ve had guests come four times. They come with a boyfriend, and then they come back with the whole family.
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