560 square feet is not quite a “tiny” house, which is often defined as roughly equivalent to an RV, but it’s a far cry from the 2,261-square-foot size of the average single-family home in the United States. For some people, however, it might be just right. American home sizes have ballooned in recent decades to proportions that many of us are starting to find unnecessary, and downsizing can allow us to live simpler lives on lower incomes. These cute Eastern White Pine models built by Amish Made Cabins in Shepherdsville, Kentucky are a great example of how a strong layout and quality materials can make a very small home feel surprisingly comfortable.
There are plenty of manufacturers out there producing structures of this size, but many of them are little more than slightly upscaled sheds, and they look it, especially from the outside. What sets Amish Made Cabins apart is the fact that the same level of craftsmanship and care goes into the design of these diminutive cabins as you’d see in a grander home. The company uses hand-hewn tongue and groove log siding and pre-engineered knotty pine interior walls to create a low-maintenance finish with a rustic look that’s also easy for the average consumer to build.
Made to order and fully customizable, these cabins are available in a variety of styles, floor plans and sizes, ranging from 14 feet to 30 feet long. You can also connect multiple cabins to expand square footage while keeping the savings that comes with the modular kit approach. After it’s customized and built, the cabin arrives ready to assemble, and the customer completes on-site work like raising the hinged roof, completing the loft and constructing the optional porch.
Some of the features you can choose from include French doors, sliding glass doors, an upgraded roof pitch, dormers, gables, shutters and additional cabinets. Each home comes with plumbing roughed in, 200-amp electric with fixtures, fiberglass insulation, a bathroom, vinyl waterproof flooring, pine cabinets and Wilsonart countertops as well as an on-demand tankless hot water heater. Our favorite model might be the picturesque Appalachian with its long front porch, but the double-gabled Kentuckian (pictured top) is cute too, don’t you think?
For a long time, modular buildings didn’t have the greatest reputation. Many people associated them with cheap, lightweight steel structures that fail to stand the test of time, looking shabby in just a few years. But today, the process of prefabricating sections of a building in a warehouse and transporting them to the site for assembly has evolved, incorporating many different types of materials and adapting to exciting new designs. Modern modular buildings are often more environmentally friendly than conventional construction, as well as faster and more economical to build.
There’s one thing that many modular buildings still lack, however, and that’s a sense of warmth and character. When a structure sits so lightly upon the landscape that it seems almost ephemeral, it needs some solidity and connection to nature to make it feel grounded. That’s where wood comes in. This vacation home by Chilean architectural studio Max-A demonstrates how wood (specifically pine) can make a building feel so much more comforting and welcoming than if it were made of colder, harder materials like steel, glass and concrete.
Located on the edge of Chile’s fourth-largest lake, the Casa Tobita home was designed to be easily constructed by local builders on a tight budget using local materials. Lead architect Noguera Balmaceda chose pine because it’s locally grown and harvested, affordable and adds texture and character to both the interior and exterior. The pine-clad volumes are elevated off the ground and placed several feet below the separate roof structure, protecting them from the weather.
All of the interior spaces are lined with pine on the floors, walls and ceilings, stained in different tones for a natural, organic-feeling color palette that complements the views out the many windows. Outside, the pine siding is treated with a gray oil stabilizer that protects the wood and gives it a dramatic blackened appearance.
“By designing with modules, we not only reduce waste but also accelerate the construction process, making it possible to have the finished home in short time frames,” says Balmaceda. “Using predefined measurements allowed us to work with locally produced wood and play with fitting programmatic needs into these dimensions while not losing spatial quality.”