The boundary between garden office and house is usually a pretty hefty one, but that’s because most people haven’t come across Jay Shafer and his Tiny House company. Shafer is an architect and lecturer in the USA where he has taken minimalist living to a spectacular level, designing and building houses which are fully functional but, frankly, titchy.
They’re built to last and with environmentally-friendly materials to boot. However, to be honest, my first thought was that while my shed has plenty of room for my laptop, I’d have trouble squeezing a kitchen next to my modem. But Jay is undaunted. “A sense of space has much more to do with the quality of a place than with the quantity,” he says. “A well designed little house can feel roomy, and a poorly designed mansion can feel crowded. By opening up the centre of these houses, including a lot of windows, and maintaining unobstructed throughways for traffic, I have managed to make even the tiniest of houses feel spacious.” So, for example, the lovely XS House pictured, complete with tiny wheels, measures just 11’ x 7’ x 11’ (the porch and awning fold up neatly).
Inside my garden office I’ve crammed a chair, a ‘desk , two bookcases, a filing cabinet, several half-used pots of paint, a bit of old futon, a small selection of corn plants, and a Moroccan drum for those moments when I need to really take it out on something. Inside the XS Jay Shafer has installed a retractile table, a real desk, 100 cubic feet of storage, a cathedral ceiling, a six gallon water heater, a shower, a lavatory, a stainless steel counter, a refrigerator, a sink, a heat stove, a double burner. And a vented sleeping loft for two.