When a father/son architect team got together to design a tiny, sustainable shelter in the Wisconsin woods, the design they came up with wasn't just incredibly small and efficient, but also incredibly beautiful, proof that building in a small footprint (and on a small budget) doesn't have to mean sacrificing style.
Five years ago, architect Bill Yudchitz and his architect son, Daniel, bought a three-acre lot on a wooded bluff overlooking Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay. Their goal was to build a tiny house as a family retreat—and they felt that existing tiny houses left a lot of room for improvement. "Everything we saw was ugly, corny, and Spartan," Bill said. "We wanted to prove that architecture can be artful and soulful, but still tiny, affordable, and green."
Their first project, a 325-square-foot cabin they called the EDGE, or Experimental Dwelling for a Greener Environment, hit the tiny and green objectives, but was a bit of a miss on affordability. The structure, topped with a black steel butterfly roof and clad in a white oak rainscreen, was beautifully and intricately detailed, which made for an impressive appearance but also an impressive price tag, of about $100,000. "It's expensive for what it is," Bill admits. (You can see more of that structure here.)
So they started work on a new structure, called the Nest, with a smaller footprint and a much smaller budget. To keep costs down, they used materials left over from the first project, filling in with new supplies as needed. The structure is quite simple, a sort of hybrid of a camping shelter and a tiny house. On the first level, the one marked "living area" on the diagram below, there's a Murphy bed that when folded up, makes room for a built-in table to fold down. (The chairs hang on pegs on the wall, Shaker-style.)
On the second level, there's a sleeping loft, accessed by a ladder which also leads to the roof deck above. The whole thing is only 9 feet by 10 feet and 12 feet high, but it packs in a lot of living space. The wood doors that fold to protect the unit's window wall frame a small front patio when open, and out back there's an outdoor shower, which draws its water from a cistern that collects rainwater from the roof.
While the metal panels on the side (and the folding doors, covered with a white oak rainscreen) give the unit a high-end look, the panels are actually just standard standing-seam metal roofing. The two architects estimate that the home could be built for between $15,000 and $25,000, and that almost anyone could build the house from their plans.
This little structure shelters the family for three weekends a month all summer long (in winter, they move to the EDGE). There's plenty of inspiration here for your own summer retreat—or, if you're planning a more permanent residence, for a beautiful, modern, budget-friendly tiny home.
To see more photos, and read more about the project, check out the full tour at Dwell.