2011 in Review: How Small Spaces Trumped McMansions

Small was sexy in 2011. 

The world’s population hit seven billion this year and is projected to reach nine billion by 2050 – a sure sign that we better start figuring out ways to maximize space. The average house size in America has more than doubled since the 1950s, forcing us to consume more utilities and resulting in a housing culture where bigger is better. We think just the opposite.

These Shelter posts from 2011 highlighted the small space trend and showed that less can definitely be more.

Not only are narrow homes more energy-efficient, they’re also genius and popping up in cities from London to Tokyo.

Artists, professionals, and sustainability activists like Graham Hill and Jay Shafer are turning extreme micro-living into an art, but can others follow suit?

When her partner starts building a 130-square-foot wooden cabin from scratch, Merete Mueller decides to document the process. The result is “TINY: A Story About Living Small,” a film exploring the couple’s turn to minimalism and the concept of small living across America.

Small living is one thing, but dumpster homes? Artist Gregory Kloehn debuted Elite Waste, a luxury urban home installation housed in a trash receptacle, at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in September.

Guests at the Tubohotel in Tepoztlan lodge in 6-by-9 foot concrete tubes set in an organic orchard. What they lack in entertainment and facilities, they make up in pure novelty.

Mirrors can instantly make a small abode appear larger. We loved these 12 eco-friendly ones.

If you’re ready to make the leap to little, you’ll need some innovative storage solutions. Try these.


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Jessica Marati

Jessica Marati currently resides in New York City and covers travel and sustainability for EcoSalon. Catch her weekly column, Behind the Label.