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IKEA Puts Form and Function to the Test in Its First-Ever Tiny House

Using a combination of green technology and inviting hygge style, Swedish home goods retailer IKEA is jumping on the tiny house bandwagon with a new 187-square-foot dwelling on wheels

Collaborating with RV and tiny home builder Escape and branding firm Vox Creative, IKEA’s first tiny home is customization of Escape’s Vista Boho XL trailer and was meant to prove that “a small space that can be stylish, affordable, and sustainable,” in the company’s own words.

“IKEA wants to have a positive impact on the planet. We’re always thinking long-term,” says IKEA Sustainability Manager Jennifer Keesson. “We want to meet the needs of generations today without compromising the needs of generations in the future.”

“It was a natural pairing,” Escape founder Dan Dobrowolski told Lonely Planet of the partnership. “We feature many IKEA products in our various tiny home designs around the country, as they mirror the renewable, reusable, and recycled materials we incorporate into the actual structures.”

The green features on these small digs include two solar roof panels, interior planking made from sustainably grown pine, a composting toilet, and kitchen cabinets constructed from recycled bottle tops. IKEA designers also outfitted the mini bungalow with their energy-efficient RYET LED lightbulbs, as well as water-saving faucets and showerheads.

IKEA Senior Interior Design Leader Abbey Stark began the process with logistics. “How I started was really listing out all the needs for the space, like how…you design around a wheel well, and the mechanics of the home. I wanted to source renewable, reusable, and recycled materials when possible to make the space functional as well as beautiful.”

The 60-day build-out commenced with a flatbed trailer that could be transported by a bio-diesel towing truck when needed. Then plumbing pipes (that could later be hooked up to a pressurized water tank) were installed, providing inhabitants with access to running water while living off-grid. Next came the exterior walls, engineered to stand up to the elements, and finally the interior walls and finishings. A video of the entire process can be viewed here on the Vox website.

The decor inside is light and bright with blond wood accents. Stark threw in a few soft textiles like sheepskin throws and cushy pillows to soften the boxy walls.

“Thinking multifunctional in this space is essential,” she explains, choosing IKEA’s NORDEN table to act as both a dining surface and workspace. It can even be folded down when not in use. Stark also tried to maximize vertical space for storage, inserting pull-out drawers under the beds and sofa as well as hanging multiple hooks and racks along the walls.

Of course, if tiny living is your goal, there may be some drawbacks to consider with this dwelling. With so many windows and a flat roof, it may be difficult to regulate the interior temperature in the summer, and because the trailer is not designed to sit on a foundation, cold air could also permeate from below in the winter. And the petite solar panels aren’t likely to be able to generate enough electrical power for hot water. But it does have a small footprint and is mobile enough for a life of wanderlust. If you already own a home with some land, it could also make for a nice guest suite or detached office.

In truth, IKEA’s tiny-house offering is really more of a showcase piece; the company doesn’t have plans to mass produce these abodes anytime soon. For those interested in this particular version though, Escape does offer buyers a similarly tailored trailer on its website starting at $37,550.

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