When Florida couple Jon and Niki Nash wanted a modest weekend retreat near Mississippi State University, where their daughter attends college, they commissioned their nephew, architect Will Randolph of Archimania, to design a tiny house on a beloved piece of family land outside of Starkville.
In designing the 648-square-foot home for his aunt and uncle, Randolph had somewhat of an advantage, having once lived in a fishing trailer on the site while attending Mississippi State University's School of Architecture. Jon, too, had lived on the property with his father—while also attending MSU. And before that, the land belonged to Jon’s grandparents, who lived in a home on the lot. "I grew up going to this property," he says.
When the Nashes discovered their daughter would also be attending MSU, they decided to remove the old fishing trailer and build a tiny house they'd use when they visited her. They immediately called Randolph—he was family, but he’d also lived on the property and knew it as well as they did. And during a Thanksgiving family gathering, Randolph and the Nashes hatched a design plan that would breathe new life into their storied plot of land.
Randolph's first order of business was to site the house in a natural clearing among pine, oak, and hickory trees on the edge of a pond, where the fishing trailer once stood. "There's a sense of seclusion, as the site is a few hundred feet away from the state highway," says the architect, who then designed a 12-by-40-foot rectangular structure with an 8-by-40-foot front porch that looks to the pond and spans the width of the house.
On the interior, Randolph's design for the floor plan includes a kitchen and living room with high ceilings, a first-level master bedroom, a bathroom, space for a stackable washer and dryer, a sleeping loft that accommodates a set of twin beds, and a large front porch that offers an expansive view of the pond.
The architect clad the tiny home in white-painted, galvanized standing-seam metal and charcoal-colored corrugated metal for easy upkeep and covered the interior walls in pine shiplap with knots that provide texture and rusticity. Vinyl flooring modeled after pine offers durability, and the subway tile that covers the kitchen and the bathroom walls lends more simplicity and timelessness.
The exterior metal cladding displays an austere tongue-in-groove verticality that offsets the naturally idiosyncratic quality of the tree trunks around the house. As the sun rises and sets, natural light shoots through the treetops and reflects off of the metal, creating shadow play on the canvas-like exterior walls.
The Nashes requested a budget-friendly tiny house, but the weekend retreat Randolph designed feels at once spacious and rich. "The loft, the high ceilings, and the French doors that open to the front porch and the landscape make it feel bigger," Jon says.
It's a living experience that, in the end, cost approximately $100,000 to build. "But Jon did a lot of the work," says Randolph. "This project was extremely satisfying because of my relationship to the client and the site. Working with family can be strenuous, but [in this case] there was very little turmoil. We've become closer thanks to this process."
Builder: Jon Nash and Bobby Atkinson
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