Last weekend, the Boise High Music Department hosted a tour of 10 tiny homes in Boise’s Historic North End as a fundraiser. Homes ranged in size from 240 square feet for a new home on wheels, to 380 square feet for a historic house (possibly a Sears and Roebuck catalogue house), to 1000 square foot home (500 square feet on the main floor with a basement). Most of the homes were built around the turn of the century, average about 800 square feet and while small were extravagant reflecting their owners eclectic taste. Many features embodied the homes’ heritage. For example, most had fireplaces even if they no longer were functional, many had quirky additions, and one had two front doors. Originally, one door led to the harness shop and the other door led to the family home. Because Boise North end is designated a district, the double doors will stay and owners need permission for remodeling. Most of the garages were stables for horses in early days.
Owners of these homes are a diverse bunch; a retired couple , a single woman, a young couple, a mother and teenage daughter. All impress their unique style on their homes. Since owners have to pare down to what they love to fit in their tiny abodes, tour participants learned the owner’s passion. One house made room for a four-foot baby grand, in one house there was no TV, one house had a sunny sitting room opening to a glorious garden. In another home,the owners had lovingly crafted the furniture to fit the space and the kitchen tiles were hand-made reflecting the park view out the window.
Outdoors is the biggest room in the tiny house. We saw fabulous decks, seating areas with fire pits, handcrafted cement and glorious yards. The tiniest foundation built home (350 feet) had a wrap around porch, a yard composed entirely of zany stepping stones, perennials and a fountain. This house had one chair inside, a recliner for it’s owner to watch TV and a single bed. The owner told us she had lived in the house 13 years and regularly entertained large groups outside in good weather. Boise has 8 months of the year when we can be outside easily. The other four are iffy. These homeowners focus outwardly.
Kitchens are made roomier by opening walls to dining and putting regular size refrigerators around the corner. We had to ask several places where the refrigerator was and found it on the porch or in a hallway.
Most houses have regulation size appliances but the two diminutive homes under 350 square feet both had regular appliances in a smaller scale.
Doors are in short supply. Closets were open or covered with curtains. Creative storage is found in every nook and cranny.
Small does not equate with cheap. We saw exquisite chandeliers, top of the line gas ranges, handsome vanities, Bosch dishwashers, and a gas fire place imported from England.
Everyone had laundry, sometimes popped in on a porch or in a closet or bathroom. Most were high end stackable units, some were small in size.
Since most houses had only one bathroom, bathrooms did double duty. Many had two doors so you could access from hall or bedroom making an en suite, some also served as laundry rooms. There were many full-sized tubs including claw foot tubs but no double sinks. Sharing brushing your teeth must be a tiny house morning ritual.
While small, these houses were not inexpensive. The North end with its walkable restaurants and shops and strong sense of historic preservation sports some the highest prices per square foot in Boise ranging from $200 a square foot up. The sample new tiny house model at 250 square feet without a parking place was $68,000. One of the one bedroom houses was available for rent starting in April 2017 for $1400 a month.