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By Kaid @ NRDC on May 6, 2009 with 20 responses

Downsizing the Carbon Footprint with ‘Tiny Texas Houses’

tiny-texas-houses1On the Tiny Texas Houses website, Brad Kittel states his fascinating architectural philosophy much better than I can:

“My goal is to show people what can be done with a concept I call Salvage Building, thus what you see is 99% Pure Salvage. That means that everything from the doors, floors, windows, lumber, porch posts, glass, and even the siding has been saved and used to create houses that we hope will last for at least another century. I believe that there are presently enough building materials sitting on the ground to build much of the next generation of housing. All it takes to make it so is pure human energy, spirit, and the desire to build something that will last for several lifetimes.

“I also believe we don’t need as much space as we have become accustomed to in this country. Therefore I have created Tiny Texas Houses to demonstrate just how great it can be to downsize our carbon footprint, simplify our lives, and live in a house with a soul that will be energy efficient as well as beautiful.”

tiny-texas-houses2tiny-texas-houses3These creations have some spiritual cousins in the Third Street Cottages on Whidbey Island, Houston’s Project Row Houses, LA’s Watts House Project, and the cottages built to house people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  While they are certainly not for everyone, that may not be the point. The images of Kittel’s houses are exceptionally provocative, given the excesses of our society.


I am certainly not the only one who has noticed: the Tiny Texas Houses have garnered a ton of press.  All the images you see here are from the website, and there’s also a video:

  1. By Jo Jitty on May 7, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Wow, beautiful cottages!

  2. By Agal on May 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Absolutely, why don’t we all buy a dog house instead and live in the courtyard….??

    Perhaps tiny houses reduce the carbon footprint and certainly are energy efficient but what about the Quality of life…???? The tiny living space will have a terrible effect on the quality of life and would probably drive people crazy….So we need a lot more research on this topic in order to avoid destroying another generation with our smart ideas about downsizing carbon…..!!!!

  3. By Kaid at NRDC on May 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Well, it’s not like Kittel is proposing that they be made mandatory. It’s a niche market at best, but an interesting one for those who might be interested.

  4. By dave on May 7, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    stick 4 of these side by side and maybe… the idea of reusing is amazing, but saving space not so good, there is just a limit to how small a house can be and still be worthy of the name house. otherwise lets just have condos.

    The only way to make it a slam dunk is to stick them alongside each other as modular homes so that generations of families can live together, that would work well…

  5. By Jessica on May 7, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Agal, you’re making HUGE assumptions there. There are plenty of people that live in tiny houses and most report a much better quality of life. First they have less to clean, more connection with family, decreased costs, etc. One only need to watch the reality show put on in Canada (was it Frontier Life or something like that) to see that families used to living in large houses actually like a tiny cabin better. When they moved back to their huge home they felt isolated, unsure where anyone was. The family stopped feeling like a unity and started feeling again like disconnected people. The tiny cabin didn’t drive them crazy but when they returned their big house did. Do you have any proof for the statements you’re making?

  6. By DCinKent on May 7, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    The government should require everyone to live in these houses and save us all from the demon that is carbon! HA! This makes me sick! What a waste of time and energy. Good for this gentleman if he’s happy with these houses, to each his own, but don’t dare try and convince me that this is something that is better for me! What a joke! Reminds me of a play house!

  7. By Chris on May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    We already have tiny houses they’re called APARTMENTS. It’s how us city dwellers live…you should try it sometime. In addition to having smaller spaces to heat and cool, adjacent apartments wind up sharing heat and AC through the walls. I rarely have to turn the heat on in my 4th floor apartment, and it gets COLD in the winter in DC. Seriously…city living is the greenest way…I wish the ‘burbs would get with the program and stop killing the planet.

  8. By Jane on May 7, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Definately an interesting concept that someone will go for I suppose. I like “cozy” but just not sure I could do it to be honest. Might just feel a bit too confined. But, as one of the readers pointed out, I think I’ve lived in smaller apartments and actually loved it. Less housework, more time for other things. Wasn’t thinking about reducing carbon at the time in those days though. I think it may take very special people to truly commit. Great idea to use what you can find or recycle to build.

  9. By Lonnie on May 7, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    There were actually SMALLER apartments than what you are living in now Chris-in-DC. They were called TENEMENTS. The TENEMENTS were all located in SLUMS. Families (Two Adults who hated each other and four or more brats) were crammed into them. It could be said that they lived a GREEN lifestyle.
    Those bygone people were probably your Great Grandparents. When the 40′s and the 50′s brought Suburbs– they RAN and never looked back.
    NOWADAYS, people like you are taking the shaft from the Real Estate Industry and accepting piecemeal cut-ups of what used to be Pre-War Apartments that have been chopped into an average of two to three smaller units, you’re charged 10 times what the rent used to be, and you settle in like a cozy little gerbil and are content.
    What this guy is building are cute little dollhouses. Eco-Green or NOT, Humans NEED SPACE. You need MORE THAN ONE ROOM for sanity. People who DON’T have this little bit of luxury are called POVERTY-STRICKEN.
    In Fact, they ALREADY live in one room homes: They’re called HUTS.
    Last time I looked, they were very ecological– Low energy, Low maintenance. Aaahh, how happy their grimy little faces look.

  10. By Kaid at NRDC on May 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Some of y’all are really getting carried away here. No one is arguing that these are for everybody, or that people who like a lot of space *should* move to small cottages. But, for people who don’t mind or can’t afford large spaces – and folks have been living in dorm rooms, efficiency apartments, garage apartments, and in-law suites for a very long time – it’s interesting that they can be well-designed and built with recycled materials. Nothing more or less than that.

  11. By money blog on May 9, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    The invention of the subwoofer made that idea unfeasable for any sane person.

  12. By Tammy on May 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I think we have become to attached to large buildings. It would be nice if we could use less and be happy with it. There are many people who can do this. There are just as many who could not. I am taking classes for architechture…I get to see just how badly people want more and more space. It will take something drastic to convince the McMansion owners that they need to downsize. Maybe not as much as the tiny houses, but at least some.

  13. By keyword tool on May 12, 2009 at 3:03 am

    No way in hell. No corporate profits in salvaged material, DIY, or minimalism of any kind.

  14. By buy blog links on May 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    How the hell does not needing a mud room, guest bedroom, 2. 5 bathrooms, and a finished basement equate to a preindustrial lifestyle?

  15. By meta search engine on May 17, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Yes folks, this is what passes for being progressive nowadays living in a dog house.

  16. By employee clockin clockout on May 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Up next, environmentalists dictate how often you can take a **** in order to conserve water and paper.

  17. By mhersh on May 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    This clearly strikes a very irrational nerve with some people. You would think that anti-progressives would be the very folks embracing a choice of housing without people telling them how/where to live. Alas, any mention of environmental sensitivity sets off cries of dictatorial liberals telling us to live in dog houses.

    If you want to live in a small house, you can — and a nice side effect is that they use very little energy, and, in this case, use recycled materials. I don’t see how this is a problem.

  18. By chris on February 1, 2011 at 9:47 am

    this looks like the place i like

  19. By eri on June 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    yall are some haters. these houses are cute! you can own it if ur like a single person u wont have to worry about a big mess i think its good for people out there not like some of you.

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