Whether tiny living is a trend or just another minimalism fad has not slowed down its evolution. Because of code-compliance issues and their higher-than-average price points (roughly $300 per-square-foot, according to HomeAdvisor), the tiny home movement has always been more of a hip alternative, as opposed to the future of living.
Traditionally, tiny homes have been popular vacation getaways on Airbnb or eco-village dwellings. The bottom line for the average consumer? Zoning complications, location limitations (you have to purchase or rent land), claustrophobia, and lack of tiny-house friendly towns have made homes-on-wheels seem like riskier investments than, say, classic RVs.
But during the pandemic—the past 10 months, to be exact—the downsizing movement has begun to attract an unusual amount of support from both consumers and corporations. A recent survey by IPX 1031 found that 86% of first-time homebuyers have considered downsizing with tiny homes. It’s also worth noting that the median U.S. home price is around $300,000—higher in place like California—while tiny homes on wheels are between $30,000 and $60,000.
These homes are the anti-McMansions. Reality TV shows like HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Nation have capitalized on America’s curiosity with downsized living.
But in places like Japan and Switzerland, tiny homes are not a fad or a niche curiosity—they’re an established trend. Back in March, IKEA began building a 187-square-foot custom home-on-wheels called the Vista Boho XL (the project began in earnest in late 2019). The IKEA Tiny House Project—which commissioned the tiny-home builders at Escape—focuses on sustainability, affordability, the chicness of minimalism. Ideally, if all goes well, IKEA’s tiny homes will be as easy to deliver as a cabinet from IKEA (thankfully, there’s less assembly required than, say, a steel cabinet).
IKEA’s tiny homes are fitted with solar panels, composting toilets, water heaters, and most of the requirements to live off-grid. The Vista Boho XL models are based on a Scandinavia aesthetic that useless neutral colors and whitewashed wood panels and recycled materials that have a hand-forged quality, with steel floors. The exterior uses a Japanese-inspired burnt wood design known as “Shou Sugi Ban,” which looks like darkened, rust-resistant wrought-iron. One can imagine future tiny homes being designed with steel doors and dual-pane glass windows.
With the popularity of tiny homes surging since the pandemic—and with more cities legalizing homes on wheels—one expects IKEA to use as much of their publicity machine required to turn these homes into a first-time home buyer’s “first car.” The cost of IKEA’s tiny home? $47,550.