Tiny Tuesday: LifeEdited Maui Update

We’re checking in on the latest project by Graham Hill and his architecture/lifestyle consulting company, LifeEdited. This beautiful, resourceful Maui home is nearing completion and receiving lots of press. An HGTV special is forthcoming.

In a previous post, I questioned the decision for someone who has repeatedly remarked on the economic and environmental benefits of urban life to build a house in a rural location. How does LifeEdited Maui reflect these values? Short answer: it’s off-grid. The Maui climate is near perfect for human habitation, a quality this house exploits to the fullest. Not only is there plenty of sunlight and plenty of rain, but the temperature is basically 80 degrees year round. Between solar power, rainwater capture, and agriculture, it’s easy to live off the land.

About 700 of the 1000 square feet of indoor space are claimed by four generous bedrooms, enabling the house to sleep eight comfortably. The bedrooms contain a variety of wall beds to give the rooms multiple purposes: one is a desk, another hides a sofa, a third converts into an informal dining/craft table. The rest of the house consists of an open kitchen/dining room (“large enough to host a dinner party for 20”), a hallway, one full bathroom, and two half baths.


This climate lends itself to outdoor living. HVAC is unnecessary when the ambient air never falls below room temperature, and ceiling fans provide ample air movement when it gets hot. The kitchen opens onto a huge covered lanai that serves as an all-purpose living space. The lanai has modular furniture that can be rearranged for conversation, activities, or dining; the coffee tables convert into dining-height tables. There’s also an outdoor bath. None of these spaces count towards the 1000-square-foot number, nor do the garage and utility room on the lower level.


The covered lanai with modular furniture, ceiling fans, and rain chain in the corner of the roof.

The house is powered by solar panels on the roof, and captures rainwater from the roof to store in 20,000 gallons worth of holding tanks. Instead of gutters, innovative “rain chains” in the four look gorgeous and apparently sound nice too. The water is then purified and used for sinks and showers throughout the house. The composting toilets avoid the need for a septic system… and with a little dirty work, they provide fertilizer for the gardens.

Read more about the project here. No word yet on structural design or the final price tag.

Tiny Tuesday: Rocky Mountain wee-Cottages

In Longmont, Colorado, a developer has found the sweet spot between tiny and conventional. Boulder Creek Neighborhoods is building a community of “wee-Cottages”, standalone groundbound homes that will range from 894 to 1354 square feet. As described in this Daily Camera article, more than 400 potential buyers have already joined the waitlist, even though the homes haven’t been built yet and sales don’t open until next month. A similar development in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood went on sale last year and had over 1000 buyers on the list for 30-odd homes.

The houses look charming and have great efficient layouts with an open floor plan below, bedrooms upstairs, a detached garage and a property manager taking care of the grounds. But I think the biggest draw here is the price tag. Metro Denver’s growth rate peaked in 2015, with a 2.8% population increase that year, but newcomers continue to pour in and real estate prices have skyrocketed accordingly. A traditional 2000-square-foot Denver bungalow on a tenth-acre lot goes for $600K to $800K these days, and that’s how a detached condo smaller than 1000 square feet seems like a great deal at $400K.

The Longmont development is located near the Longmont Recreation Center with easy access to highways and bike paths. 27 of the 102 homes will be fixed in the mid $200Ks for buyers who meet certain income restrictions; the rest will be sold at market rate which might mean bidding wars given their popularity. Condo maintenance fees are unknown.

Thanks to Brett Silverstein.

Tiny Tuesday: The Opera Camper

Tiny houses, fifth-wheel trailers, and RVs are great for folks who want to live a minimal lifestyle, with the bonus that they can bring their house along when they move or travel. But all these rolling homes share one major design flaw: a rigid, impermeable roof. Enter the Opera Camper.

Described as “A Luxurious Private Suite on Wheels,” the Opera sports teak finishes and LED uplighting inside, and shoehorns a kitchen, shower, toilet, and two adjustable beds into its roomy 240 square feet. But its big innovation is an “exterior cloth of polyester yarn with natural look.” Yes, the Opera is a tent.


The Opera camper in action.

You’ll get the atmosphere of traditional camping with none of the hassle. The Opera sets up in minutes with the push of a button (not counting the wing shade which you’ll still have to stake by hand). A gas-powered, thermostat-controlled heater provides hot air to the interior, and with R-0 insulation the airspace above your camper gets heated too – a boon for wildlife. A 12-volt battery provides electrical power when staying at “bush” campsites that are so primitive they don’t have a plug-in. The tent fabric folds down for transport under a weatherproof lid, so you don’t need to worry about rain or security except when you’re actually using it.


Inside the Opera camper.

Best of all, at a base price of €27,680 euro plus €340 delivery charges (which amounts to just over $34,000 US), the Opera costs only 1000 times as much as a basic two-person tent. The website explains, “Although accommodation costs can be a consideration for the traveller, particularly on longer trips, this is not our primary concern.” Get yours today.

(April Fools Day didn’t fall on a Tuesday this year, but close enough.)