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Here's a Quaint, Pocket-Sized Tiny House That Defies Expectations

Downsizing is good for the planet and good for your wallet, and it is excellent in terms of mobility and offering a less stressful life, so it's good for your soul, too. Downsizing is also about serious compromising. So, how small can you go with your house before you have to give up even the most basic notion of functionality?
Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout 20 photos
Photo: Baluchon (Composite)
Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layoutGolden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout
The answer depends on who you're asking. You'd be surprised if Baluchon, perhaps one of the best-known builders of tiny houses from France (and the Old Continent), were to answer it. If their latest build, an adorable tiny called Golden Hour, is anything to go by, you can go as small as you want and still have plenty of house-like functionality in the space.

Across the pond in the United States and in other countries where tiny living has seen an incredible boom over the past five years or so, like Australia or New Zealand, or even the UK, there's a decided preference for larger units. People who choose this type of mobile lifestyle would rather give up some degree of mobility than have to downsize "by the book" and fit their entire life within the confines of a road-legal trailer-based house.

While compromise is essential to tiny living and mobile homes in general, there's the misconception that the smaller the unit, the less functionality it has. Golden Hour shows that it doesn't necessarily have to be so: this is a tiny designed as a permanent residence for two adults, with all the creature comforts of a home, outstanding sustainability credentials, and more than a fair share of personality.

Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout
Photo: Baluchon
It is a good example of why this not-so-novel lifestyle has become so popular and could even explain its irresistible appeal. Golden Hour is quaint and very French, like an elegant log cabin you wouldn't mind hooking up to your truck to travel the world with.

Golden Hour is, like most Baluchon units, a fully custom, turnkey project for a woman named Celine, who is now living in it full-time in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. It sits on a double-axle trailer with a usable length of just 6 meters (19.6 feet), which makes it very small compared to the mobile homes we usually cover here. As the golden rule in the tiny house industry has it, the smaller the house, the easier it is to move around.

But the most impressive part about Golden Hour is that, despite the compact size, it has everything you would expect to find in a "proper" home, including standing height in the bedroom so you don't have to crawl on your hands and knees to put on a pair of pants. Again, if you're not new to the topic of tiny living, you know that headroom is among the first compromises to be made when building one such home.

Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout
Photo: Baluchon
Clearly, Baluchon has found a workaround for the problem, and it involves dropping a section of the floor onto the space below. This means that the bedroom, which is located in the loft over the kitchen and the bathroom, doesn't get standing height throughout, but it's the next best thing: it has a landing with standing height that serves as space for dressing.

The ground floor is occupied by spaces for daytime activities, with the only difference being that all of them are brought down to size on considerations of space. Still, Golden Hour has a cute little lounge that could, under very special circumstances, sleep one or two overnight guests, an almost full-size kitchen, a dining area, and a small bathroom.

Celine is a passionate cook, so she wanted the kitchen to resemble a residential one. Baluchon equipped it with a two-burner propane stove, a fridge, a deep sink, and a surprising amount of storage space. There's even a wine rack because you can't go without wine and cheese if you're French. A drop-down extension of the counter becomes a two-person breakfast bar, and there's additional storage under the floating staircase (including a nice little nook for a dog).

Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout
Photo: Baluchon
The bathroom hides behind a pocket door next to the kitchen and is incredibly small but still offers the basics. You get here a composting toilet and a shower but no sink.

Like all Baluchon tinies, the Golden Hour is fully insulated with a combination of hemp, linen, and cotton and gets power from an RV-style hookup. It's basked in natural light throughout thanks to expansive glazing and is finished in red cedar with a matching all-wood interior in contrasting neutrals and whites. Baluchon takes pride in using natural materials for sustainability and enhanced comfort, and this one is no exception.

Another similarity between this unit and previous Baluchon builds is that it doesn't come with a price tag. As a reference, turnkey tinies from this builder range between €85,000 and €100,000 ($93,000-$109,400 at the current exchange rate), while shells start at €25,000 ($27,400).

Golden Hour tiny house proves that downsizing can be functional and elegant even with the most compact layout
Photo: Baluchon
For those of us outside of EU borders or not as interested in downsizing as to make the transition right now, Golden Hour is a delicious, almost magical way to window shop.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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