Minimalist Homes May Be Antidote to Sagging Housing Market

The American Dream in a 8 x 19 feet space.

ByABC News
December 21, 2010, 2:00 PM

Dec. 22, 2010— -- The long economic downturn has led a small number of Americans to downsize their homes to minimalist mini-cabins, not much larger than the size of the average living room.

When Nicki Evans was house hunting a year ago, she knew she didn't need the 1,400 square feet of space she'd shared with her late husband in Oklahoma. Evans, 61, also wanted to move closer to her family in upstate New York to support her younger sister and brother-in-law, who had just had a stroke.

Living alone since her husband passed away several years ago, Evans ordered a custom-built home that's about the size of the average master bathroom in McMansionland: 235 square feet, or 12 feet by 24 feet.

"It's an energy and money saver," said Evans, who retired from teaching in a church. "It's a home I could really afford."

Evans considered buying a traditional house but said they were either too big or she could not afford to make them more environmentally friendly, using less energy and water. She said her electric furnace warms the entire cabin easily and economically for her and her husky when she's not gardening outside.

"It felt like home the first day I walked in and was there," said Evans, a self-proclaimed "ex-hippie." "It's as close as you can get to living in a tree house because of the site and because the outside of the house is stained, not painted. So it looks like a tree."

William Rockhill, who built Evans' home, has been building cabins since 1991 when he started Bear Creek Carpentry in Woodgate, N.Y. He built Evans' home half a mile away from her sister in the woods, and she couldn't be happier about being a part of the small home movement.

Evans said in the past year she started to read in the media about others, mostly younger people, moving to smaller homes.


"I think it's wonderful because these people are really conscious of the environment and the impact they'll have. Let's face it, most of the 'tiny home people' are doing green things and are involved in a lot of causes because they're not tied up in possessions and things."