Tiny houses are all the rage. From second homes to off-the-grid retreats with a scenic view, they’ve become a popular option for those looking to have a go-to vacation spot, embrace a more minimalistic lifestyle, make a long-term investment, or simply jump on the current and very cool trend. It might appear as though tiny homes require less planning and building effort than your average spacious abode. In reality, however, they come with their own set of challenges — from measuring in smaller increments to finding creative ways to maximize limited interior space.
Whether you’re obsessed with tiny homes or merely tiny home-curious, you’re in luck. Inspired by the Swan Ball, a white-tie gala that benefits Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, an exceptional, tiny residence is making its two-week debut at Cheekwood this week … and it’s available for public viewing.
Starting May 15, you can head to Cheekwood to tour a charming, one-of-a-kind tiny house adorned with seriously high-end appliances and custom cabinetry, and you can dream of purchasing it for yourself. At 383 square feet, the home feels surprisingly roomy, with vaulted ceilings over a main living space that combines the kitchen and dining quarters and an upper loft that offers enough space for a sleeping area. A short hallway leads to the bathroom, and there are even pre-drawn plans for a 10-by-12-foot add-on room if the future homeowner so desires.
For Craig Huseby, who founded Huseby Homes with his wife, Nichole, the tiny home project is an inaugural endeavor that turned out to be a worthy learning experience. “Any time you’re doing something you’ve never done before, there’s a learning curve; our identity is not in being tiny house builders,” says Craig. “We have projects that are north of 14,000 square feet, penthouses downtown and farmhouses on acreage, so there’s a huge diversity in what we do at Huseby Homes.” Thankfully, there’s always room to learn. The project was a special one with major contributions from esteemed residential architect Noble Johnson Architects, Sierra Pacific windows from Dale Incorporated, custom cabinetry from Saw and Dust, and an amazing package from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery that includes beautiful soft brass fixtures, decorative lighting, and even cabinet hardware. “The appliances alone are $15,000,” says Craig, “and fully donated by Ferguson’s. They donated the plumbing and light fixtures as well as the door hardware.”
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Initially designed to be a saltbox-style structure, the home underwent a few significant modifications during the course of the building process that added even more charisma to the exterior. It now boasts a gabled shake roof, cypress lap siding painted in Sherwin Williams Oyster White, and curved dormers on either end, giving it an authentically Southern look. While most tiny homes have doors and windows on the front and back to accommodate the trailer wheels during transport from one location to the next, this tiny home is unique. “We built our trailer platform higher than the wheels so that we could have huge sliding glass doors,” Craig tells us. “You can go out the side — not the front and back like a trailer. If it’s a nice day, you can have the doors open to the outside, with all of that natural light coming in.”
Natural light is certainly a standout feature of the tiny home, with the front and rear dormers letting light into both the main living area and the loft. “We wanted to bring the outdoors in,” says the project’s interior designer, Jennifer Whisenant of Noble Johnson Architecture, who worked alongside Nichole Huseby on the project. “There’s tons of natural light, natural colors, materials, textures with various kinds of wood, and then we paired all of that natural feel with sleek and soft-brushed brass fixtures. Everything’s very soft as far as color goes.” Additionally, the interior offers classic architecture that gracefully merges with the modernity of fabulous appliances. “We didn’t want to make it look too trendy; it has a more timeless feel to it,” says Craig of the design aesthetic. Jennifer agrees, adding, “We’re keeping paint colors, tile and countertop selections very light and bright to make the space feel more large and open. We had to get creative with maximizing functionality, versatility and volume.”
Getting creative was truly the name of the game, and the tiny house building and design team collaborated to design a space where function is everything. “We didn’t want to give up anything in terms of charm, so it was about marrying the exterior beauty with interior functionality,” says Craig. They’ve certainly accomplished what they set out to do. “When you enter the tiny house, there’s a kitchenette, and then a living space that has a built-in bookshelf,” says Jennifer. “There’s an integrated table that’s a dark-stained wood that can flip down, so that can be a dining space or even a little office space. When it’s not needed, it can fold up. The way it’s designed, the leg of the table has a soft curve to it, so it’s almost sculptural. When it’s folded up against the wall, it almost looks like a piece of art, which is a nice feature.” Aside from the custom walnut fold-up table, the interior design possesses wide-plank engineered wood flooring with a natural stain from Real Wood Floors, Misterio quartz countertops from Triton Stone Group, and a generous bathroom that even has a cabinet vanity for storage. Though the kitchenette is on the smaller side, it has all of the necessities, including a two-burner stove, refrigerator, dishwasher and built-in microwave.
Somewhat surprisingly, there’s no drywall in the tiny home. Instead, you’ll find shiplap. Another interesting facet of the home’s construction that might not be as obvious to the naked eye is the addition of structurally insulated panels — or SIP panels — from a company called ECO Panels. “The advantage of the panels is that they’re 50% stronger than a normally framed home,” Craig explains. “They can scientifically explain why they’re stronger, but the proof is in the pudding. They’ve been in some hurricane conditions where they’re the only houses standing. It’s a very, very strong house. The panels interlock, and they are insulated with an environmentally friendly foam. You can put a heated torch on the installation, and it won’t burn. It’s safer for fire resistance, so the ECO panels are part of the home’s story as well.”
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With endless usage options, tiny homes can serve as dreamy refuges in the woods, a work-from-home office space, an elevated man cave, or even temporary living accommodations while you renovate your primary abode.
We can’t wait to see this tiny home at Cheekwood starting Friday, May 15!
To tour the tiny home, visit Cheekwood Estate and Gardens at 1200 Forrest Park Dr, Nashville, TN 37205. For information on tour times and ticket prices, call (615) 356-8000 or visit Cheekwood.org. Due to COVID precautions, the number of people inside the home at any given time will be limited, and safety measures will be in place to reduce risk.