Wrapped in black corrugated metal, First Light is an off-grid tiny house imagined by architect Anna Farrow of First Light Studio and constructed by New Zealand–based company Build Tiny.
"With big French doors on one face and sliding windows on other, it can enjoy views from either direction," Farrow says. Not only do the large glass doors and windows connect First Light to the landscape, but they also offer an ethereal contrast to the black-painted steel siding that’s at once elegant and industrial—the artful design is available for approximately $82,000; the off-grid solar package costs an additional $14,000.
On the interior, Farrow selected poplar core plywood for the walls and the ceiling. "The floors and the stair treads are crafted with birch plywood," says Gina Stevens of Build Tiny. The light-toned wood supplies the home with a light and airy quality.
An important part of the brief from the original client was a large kitchen for cooking and baking. Farrow and Stevens outfitted the space with stainless-steel countertops and poplar core plywood cabinetry, repeating the wall and ceiling material to create a sense of spaciousness and seamlessness.
The kitchen’s ENO Perigod wall oven and grill, Challenger Domino 2 Burner LPG Gas Hob, and Robinhood power pack range hood ensure that the kitchen is as functional as it is visually appealing.
For the bedroom, Farrow and Stevens decided a mezzanine area would be preferable in order to preserve ground-floor space. "There’s a skylight that draws in light and provides an opening to watch the stars," Stevens says. "And small triangular windows on either side of the bed help to ventilate the space." The designers created ambiance for the bedroom by installing a ledge at the foot of the bed platform with recessed back-lighting that provides a dim glow in the evenings.
"For obvious reasons, the tiny house required plenty of built-in storage," Stevens says. "The living room makes great use of the vertical space with a very tall storage cupboard next to the daybed. It’s very useful for bulky items like suitcases, a vacuum cleaner, and tall brooms and mops—things that are often forgotten about in tiny home design."
Farrow and Stevens also placed locker-style overhead cabinets above the daybed, which itself features built-in storage. "The stairs are the other main storage area," Stevens says. "They’re larger than what you see in a typical tiny house, and every little bit of space beneath them is used for storage."
According to Farrow, pared-down living is the key to freedom: "We’re becoming more aware of the impact of the resources we use and the fact that we don’t need so much stuff. Owning a tiny house means you’ve more free time because you’re not tied up with home maintenance. And living tiny is a great way of obtaining a home more cheaply."
In the case of First Light, a tiny home on wheels, you’re also free to move the home from place to place. "If you want a change, you can just take your home someplace new," says Farrow. "And you leave the land just as it was when you arrived."
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