Mother Nature Network Article

Prime time downsizing: Tiny house movement gets a reality show

By: Matt Hickman

July 8, 2014, 3:19 p.m

Zack Giffin, co-host of Tiny House Nation on FYI

Photo: A&E Networks

Aspiring downsizers, micro-apartment fanciers, McMansion eschewers, andvagabond Millennials take note: the tiny house movement is getting its very own cable reality show.

Co-hosted by home renovation gurus Zack Giffin and John Weisbarth, the 1-hour show, “Tiny House Nation,” will premiere tomorrow night, Wed. June 9, at 10 pm EST on FYI, A&E Networks’ rebranded and revamped version of the “Murder, She Wrote” Rerun Channel Biography Channel. In addition to “Tiny House Nation,” FYI —  a “contemporary lifestyle network” — will launch with a handful of other original programs including the Carter Oosterhouse-hosted “Rowhouse Showdown,” “Epic Meal Empire,” and a horrifying-sounding “extreme social experiment” called “Married at First Sight.” Here’s the official description of the 10-episode series via FYI:

In ‘Tiny House Nation,’ renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin, travel across America to show off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them, as well as help new families design and construct their own mini-dream home in a space no larger than 500 square feet. From a micro-apartment in New York City to a caboose car turned home in Montana to a micro-sized mobile home for road tripping — this is a series that celebrates the exploding movement of tiny homes. From pricey to budget friendly, ‘Tiny House Nation’ is not a typical design show, but one that proves size doesn’t always matter — it’s creativity that counts.

Intrigued?Although I’m not always a fan of home design/renovation/remodeling shows — even ones hosted by Vanilla Ice — I’m certainly curious about this one.

I’m most curious about a couple of things:

Like any proper movement, the tiny house movement has its own figureheads, trailblazers, proselytizers, documentarians, and big personalities. Will any of these noted folks — among them Jay Shafer, Dee Williams, Derek Diedricksen, Lloyd Kahn, Kirsten Dirksen, et al. — appear on the show?

From the teaser clip released by FYI, it’s difficult to tell if any big names on the tiny house scene will indeed show face on “Tiny House Nation,” a series that appears to be less a multi-part documentary about the tiny house movement and more a traditional, project-based home renovation program.

That being said, the tiny house movement is just as much about the people as it is about the homes themselves so I would hope that the tiny house dwellers — or would-be tiny house dwellers — profiled in each episode get plenty of camera time and the chance to explain their unique stories and motivations for wanting to go small.

That is an aspect that globe-trotting faircompanies filmmaker Kirsten Dirksen hasmastered so well in her short video tours of sometimes impossibly petite abodes and other sustainable/unconventional dwellings: even if the home/property in question is disagreeable, baffling, primitive, or downright ridiculous, the people living in them are, without fail, engaging, fascinating. It’s the tiny house people, not the structures themselves, that really draw us in — they’re the ones who intrigue, inspire, and challenge our notions of what “home” should look like and how big it should be. When they talk, we listen.

As it turns out, “Tiny House Nation” co-host Zack Giffin, a professional contractor and skier by trade, is himself a bona fide tiny house person. When not on the road for the show, he resides with his girlfriend in a self-built, trailer-bound ski hut that rings in at 112 square feet. Giffin’s mobile mini-chalet has traveled more than 21,000 miles in three years. He’s the real deal; a merrily itinerant thirty-something without a mortgage — or a toilet — to call his own.

In a Q&A with the New York Times, Giffin explains that his own tiny house “… skirts the stigma of the traveler because it’s adorable. It’s made of high-quality materials. It’s built with a whole lot of love, and that’s very apparent.”

In addition to “Tiny House Nation” on FYI, you can also now catch Merete Mueller and Christopher Smith’s full-length, Kickstarter-funded documentary, “TINY: A Story About Living Small,” now on Netflix.


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