“Tiny houses” are homes that are about 200 square feet or smaller. Across the United States, anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people inhabit these miniature dwellings. They often do so illegally, since many building codes prohibit living in spaces this small.
In TINY, co-director Christopher Smith sets out to build himself a tiny home on wheels in rural Colorado with his minimal savings. Since the home will be on a trailer bed, it will be legal—but Christopher and his girlfriend, co-director Merete Mueller, have little experience with house design or construction. And they’re not quite sure what it will take to make Christopher’s sketch of a 124-square-foot home a reality.
As Merete and Christopher work on their tiny dream house, they interview other people who are “living small.” Some have made this choice to save money, others to buck the system, and others to reduce or protest overconsumption. Most of them live in spaces they designed and built themselves—some, like Christopher, without much of a guide other than the internet and their own optimism.
Christopher and Merete learn that a tiny house can require a big commitment. Through their own project and their visits to other people’s small houses, they expand their ideas about what home can mean. As tiny-house expert Jay Shafer puts it, “The world gets a lot bigger when you’re living small.”