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A Dramatic Small Home Illustrates How Great Living Can Be in A Limited Space

Building a small house hadn’t always been the plan. In fact, when the owners first contacted Tomecek Studio Architecture, they intended to place a larger home with a small carriage house on the three-quarter acre lot. Leading a busy lifestyle that includes frequent travel and ample time outdoors, the couple began to consider what they really needed in a home.

Location | Boulder, Colorado Architect: Tomecek Studio Architecture, Original story: Denver Modern Magazine,Tara Bardeen | Images: Daniel O’Connor & Tomecek Studio Architecture,

“A smaller house just made more sense for us financially and for who we are,” explained the owner. “Because we are on the road so much, sometimes 200 days a year, we just need a place where we can come back, get our work done, change clothes, do laundry, and have a zen moment.”The Mt. Sanitas Tiny House, with a footprint of just 450 square feet, embodies minimalism and elegance through efficiency. Particular attention was paid to creating spaces that support multiple functions as well as innovative storage solutions.

Working closely with architects, the team established a hierarchy of spaces based on the couple’s needs. Then they set to work to fit a fully‐equipped kitchen, three-quarter bath, office, living room, sleeping loft, and subgrade storage area into the 450-square-foot footprint dictated by the city of Boulder for an Owner’s Auxiliary Unit (OAU or “carriage house”). In order to maximize every inch, the house design features an open mezzanine-level sleeping space above the kitchen/living room/dining room, and a large glass bi-fold door that allows the west-facing wall of the home to virtually disappear, thus creating a sense of blended indoor and outdoor spaces.

With something that small, every single square foot is important and has to be utilized to really make it work,” noted the architect. “But the biggest thing that we were trying to accomplish was to make it live a lot larger than is actually is, and I think that’s evidenced by the amount of glass on the side that faces the mountains and outdoor area, as well as the vaulted ceilings. You don’t feel cramped when you’re inside because it just feels wide open.” The fluid blending of indoor and outdoor spaces not only creates the sense of a larger living space but also capitalizes on the stunning mountain scenery surrounding the house. The clean, open look of the interior finishes was influenced by the efficient use of space one finds on a catamaran or in a luxury hotel room, which are some of the couple’s favourite places to be when not at home.

To create an expansive feel, the lower living space utilizes a bifold door to maximize indoor-outdoor connectivity, opening to the patio, endless lap pool, and Boulder open space beyond. The home sits on a ¾ acre lot within the city limits and has over 100 trees, shrubs and grasses, providing privacy and meditation space. This compact home contains a fully-equipped kitchen, ¾ bath, office, sleeping loft and a subgrade storage area as well as detached carport.

Creating a home with a smaller footprint allowed them to prioritize quality over quantity and add some high-end finishes. “What we have is exactly what we use,” said the owner. “It’s the bedroom, the bathroom, the office, the kitchen, and living room, and that doesn’t change whether your house is 4,000 square feet or 450 square feet.” The efficiency and economy of this small home is far from superficial, however, as the project incorporates a variety of green materials and technologies. Those include solar panels that provide a 93 percent power offset, an instant hot water heater, LED lighting, and VOC-free paints and sealants. Perhaps the most significant green feature is, in fact, its small size, which directly reduces the impact on the area and generates less construction waste than a larger build.

While Boulder’s building standards require many green building practices, this house earned a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of 11, which exceeds city requirements by -39. At the end of the day, homes are not about numbers, they are about people. As the architect remarked, “The joy in architecture is that we get to tailor solutions for our clients.” This tiny gem of a home not only suits its owners but also showcases the stunning spaces that become possible when we carve away the excess and focus on the essence of a home.

Note the extensive glazing, with very large windows and glazed door.

This image really shows off the open feeling that the full-width folding doors allow. Vaulted ceilings and raked transom windows enhance the spacious feeling and make you forget the small footprint of the home.

The circular stairs solved the access issue to the bedroom but this type of stair is not approved for use in British Columbia.

Lots of light and great artwork make this space feel open and airy.

A mezzanine-level sleeping space looks down over the multi-use kitchen/living/dining space as well out to multiple view corridors on the site.

High end bathroom fixtures give this space a quality look and feel. Note the window higher up on the wall in the shower.




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