Care to Rent a Tiny House in the Woods?
Leave it to the Harvard Innovation Lab to come up with a way for anyone to try out the tiny house lifestyle without having to downsize just yet.
Last year, Harvard MBA candidate Jon Staff and Harvard Law student Pete Davis founded the Millennial Housing Lab out of the I-Lab. Their mission? To develop new housing ideas for the next generation. In summer 2015, their first project, Getaway, was born.
What Getaway offers is simple: a quick, relatively inexpensive way to escape the city temporarily. It allows users to rent one of three tiny houses in the Boston area starting at $99 a night.
“The idea is that this is all about disconnecting and recharging from your daily grind,” says Staff.
He explains Getaway provides a way for city dwellers to just do nothing. By that, he means straying from the everyday to-do list. Staff suggests starting out by putting phones in the provided cellphone lock box. Then, visitors can lounge, read, start a campfire, look for birds or flora, and relax.
“It’s just about staying put and learning what it’s like for life to slow down a little bit,” he says.
Harvard Graduate School of Design students Wyatt Komarin, Addison Godine, and Rachel Moranis were tasked with designing the 160-square-foot tiny houses. Staff enlisted the help of his carpenter father to build the structures in East Boston, naming each house to honor three grandmothers. Then, he found three separate (and secret) locations to park them. Their undisclosed locations are part of the adventure, according to Staff.
“They’re guaranteed to be within two hours of the city on beautiful, rural land,” he says.
As the startup approaches its one-year anniversary, we’re taking a closer look at the dwellings available to rent.
Ovida was the first of the houses to be constructed. As with the others, the majority of the cabin is made from wood. There’s an emphasis on sustainable design, aligning with the tiny house movement’s commitment to treating the environment kindly. The 160-square-foot abode in New Hampshire sleeps four, and contains a sink, shower, electric toilet, cooktop, cooler, seating area, and a stocked bookshelf. Cooking utensils are also provided, as well as a few tasty Getaway provisions.
Getaway’s second house, Lorraine, follows Ovida’s minimalist design. It’s advertised as a writer’s or a couple’s retreat, in part because the Lorraine sleeps two instead of four. The queen-sized-bed is found at the end of a “continuous work surface” from the kitchen—the connecting counter space is meant to help fuel creativity. Stylish stools and some small hanging antlers make for a cozy woodland retreat. Like all of the houses, Lorraine uses solar electricity and contains a propane heater.
“Clara is kind of built on all these different levels that are designed for lounging,” says Staff.
He highlights its hanging chair, explaining that Clara’s interior is a bit more whimsical than the others. This newest tiny house embraces the weekend getaway vibe to the fullest. It sleeps four and includes a ladder to the lofted queen bed. There’s also a large window near the bunked twin bed area for nature-filled views. For the record, the same set of goodies is provided at each house. Eight by 20 foot living spaces never looked so good—or modern.