Architects

Part One: Tiny Home Design With Chris Hawley Architects

Chris Hawley

As part one of our three issue series on tiny design, Chris Hawley of Chris Hawley Architects takes us inside some of his favorite home projects with smaller than-average footprints. We asked Hawley to offer us insight on the upside of downsizing.

Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography, Gilbertson Photography, Chris Hawley Architects, Stahl Architects, Paul Flessland

As part one of our three issue series on tiny design, Chris Hawley of Chris Hawley Architects takes us inside some of his favorite home projects with smaller than-average footprints. We asked Hawley to offer us insight on the upside of downsizing.

Chris Hawley Architects

ABOUT THE TINY DESIGN SERIES

Part two in July will send us to lakes country for a special feature on tiny lake living. Part three in August will take us to the backyard to learn everything you need to know about small-scale designs for sheds, pool houses, backyard office spaces and dreamy playhouses.

Q&A WITH CHRIS HAWLEY

Q: Why do you think the idea of tiny houses and living small has gained popularity recently?
A: “I think people are realizing that they need less stuff. As a result of getting rid of their belongings, they find they have too much space and can live a full life with less. Not to mention there is freedom from the stuff owning the person.”

Q: As an architect, how is designing small spaces different than a typical home project?
A: “The process is the same no matter what you are designing. However, designing smaller has to be much more calculated and exacting because there is little room for ‘slop.’ As a part of this, you really have to evaluate needs versus wants and be really critical of how you use every space you plan to be in.”

Q: What is the smallest home you’ve designed?
A: “We have done 10-by-12-foot cabins for weekend stays, but that kind of project is probably not a long-term stay kind of home. That being said, I would say the most functional home that we have done is probably a 560-square-foot summer home that has three bunk rooms, a nice bathroom, full kitchen, open kitchen/living/dining, fireplace, TV area and mechanical room. And, it’s perfect for sleeping up to 12 people–really fun.”

Q: You previously lived in an 880-square-foot home. How did you make it work for your lifestyle?
A: “It was perfect for 10 years when our kids were smaller and I wasn’t working out of my house so much. As soon as the kids started having friends over and I started to have employees, it wasn’t working anymore. To be honest, I really miss that house and loved every bit of it. It was always enough until it wasn’t. I always kid that we are going to buy it back someday when our kids have decided to move on and I want to scale back, but that may never happen.”

Q: What kind of feedback do you hear from people and clients who live in smaller homes?
A: “I think they like the feeling of not being burdened with having ‘too much’ or ‘waste’ and that it allows them a lot of freedom. They have more money to do the things that they love to do, like take trips, have hobbies and focus on the things that they always wanted to do.”

Q: What kind of design and space challenges do tiny homeowners face?
A: “I think that they are deliberate about what they buy, and the kinds of things that they choose to be a part of. If they buy something, there has to be a home for it. If there’s no spot for it, then maybe they don’t need it.”

Q: Have you noticed a difference in homeowners of small or tiny homes after downsizing?
A: “Absolutely, they seem to be more available to spend time on the things that they really love– travel, spending time with friends, exploring their community and seeing the world.”

Q: Do you recommend any resources for people interested in smaller home lifestyles?
A: “I think people can really pull some great ideas from Sarah Susanka’s book ‘The Not So Big House.’ The whole concept of that book is little house living. Living with just enough. We actually did a remodel that was featured in the book.”

INSIDE TINY DESIGN

Tiny Design part one

This is Hawley’s previous residence of nine years and first small-home project. Its footprint is 880 square feet and is currently the home of Zack and Kelly Dawson. When Hawley took on this personal project, he created a superefficient design to manage his family of four as well as his architecture business.

Tiny Design part one

Hawley had bought the home from an architect who had put in the unique kitchen windows. Sitting at the kitchen table gave them a perfect view of the yard.

Tiny Design part one

About the Shedeau: His office space was a specially designed shed in the backyard that was fondly referred to as the “Shedeau“.

 

Tiny Design part one

To maximize a small bedroom, Hawley designed and fabricated this unique crib and child’s bed combination unit for his two daughters.

Tiny Design part one

The panels were designed to come off and the girls could talk to each other through a little hole between the beds.

Tiny Design part one

“This is probably one of my favorite rooms in my old house,” said Hawley.

Tiny Design part one

“We got to the point where 800 square feet was just not enough for the four of us. So, we went downstairs and the whole lower level was kind of our master suite. We had a little hang-out movie room adjacent to our bedroom. And the girls took over the second floor. What was fun about this is, it was my office, it was a movie room, an extra room outside of the bedroom and we had our own bathroom. It kind of felt like a condo in the basement.”

Tiny Design part one

We had a little hang-out movie room adjacent to our bedroom. And the girls took over the second floor. What was fun about this is, it was my office, it was a movie room, an extra room outside of the bedroom and we had our own bathroom. It kind of felt like a condo in the basement.”

Tiny Design part one

The Hawleys kept the original footprint intact but instead got clever with their selections. A full-size refrigerator would have taken up too much counter space, so they chose to spread their refrigeration amongst four drawers. “I would do drawer refrigerators again, even in a high-end home,” said Hawley. “Sarah loved that the kids could reach the food easier, and we could manage the food a little better. We got everything in there. But it was just a tiny, little farmhouse kitchen.”

Tiny Design part one

Hawley had bought the home from an architect who had put in the unique kitchen windows. Sitting at the kitchen table gave them a perfect view of the yard.

Chris Hawley

Chris Hawley

 

This three-bedroom home located in Evelyn’s Acres in South Fargo was once referred to as the Little House Workshop, LLC, and was a collaboration with three architects: Amanda Thomas, Chris Hawley and Phil Stahl.

Tiny Design part one

Hawley was the lead designer/architect on the project. The project was part of a series of tiny home prototypes created by Thomas, Hawley and Stahl.

Tiny Design part one

Models by Stahl Architects, Chris Hawley, Lead architect.

Chris Hawley farm house

Models by Stahl Architects, Chris Hawley, Lead architect.

Tiny Design part one

This is the former office of Jade Presents and a great representation of maximizing a small space. Architects on the project were Hawley and Phil Stahl.

Tiny Design part one

The design of this modern home features a sideways murphy bed created by Hawley through Stahl Architects.

Tiny Design part one

Mobile Housing

Tiny Design part oneAbout 10 years ago during the oil boom in Watford City, North Dakota, Hawley, who was working for Stahl Architects at the time, was put on a project to help create schemes for temporary and transitional living arrangements. The project was halted as the boom settled, but these plans show the creative design behind using a park model type, tow-behind camper and creating a transitional home. The intention was to create mobile housing that could have various layouts to accommodate a family. Each of the units would be shipped as a singular piece, then additional pieces could be added on to create more bedrooms as needed.

Tiny Design part one

“They were really cute, little cottages and we did a bunch of schemes. The idea was that they were all the same dimension– they fit on the back of a truck and you haul them down the road and it was an instant house for under $50,000,” said Hawley. “So, all you would need is step up for plumbing, septic and power and then you’d insulate the bottom. All the units came with a unit for a single stall garage.”

The 20-Year Plan

Tiny Design part one

One of the most unique design concepts we’d heard of is when Hawley worked closely with one husband and wife duo to create the perfect 20-year plan for their home, giving them ample projects well into retirement. “One was an attorney, the other a doctor. All their friends were retiring, going to Arizona or buying houses on the lake,” explained Hawley. “They said, ‘We don’t want to do that. We want to travel, but we still want to live in our house.”

Tiny Design part one

So instead of building a retirement house, they took on a retirement project. They’re busy people and they like to do things. So, I created a master plan for them to do a project on their house over the next ten to twenty years. Every two years I get a phone call and I go and meet them and we talk about the next phase. They do this room-by-room but they don’t change the footprint at all. It’s kind of like this evolution over time. They might say, ‘Okay, this year we’re going to remodel the pantry and the half bath this year.’ So, they have their master plan and they focus on that. In addition to the detailed drawings, they get a computer model to use as a tool.”

Tiny Design part one

This 1,925-square-foot home was designed by architects Phil Stahl and Dave Uhlir is located in Downtown Fargo. It features a custom, murphy bed system designed by Hawley. This house, including the murphy bed, was once featured on HGTV and in Dwell magazine.

Chris Hawley

Chris Hawley

Chris Hawley

This is a more traditional, maple murphy bed design by Hawley in the Downtown Fargo home of Dan and Paula Wilson. Built-in shelving and maple woodwork by Schmidt Brothers frames in the murphy bed which folds up to create a fully-functioning, expansive office space. Hawley designated areas for computer storage, TV display and a desktop that can be shifted forward when the bed is lowered.

Tiny Design part one

Tiny Design part one

“This project is still one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done,” said Hawley. “Living small, not adding a bedroom on to the house, we designed a murphy bed where the bed flips down. When the bed’s not in use, it flips up. The legs for the bed are actually a coat hook concept. There are three holes in the top of the cabinet to lock it in. It’s basically one-room living and trying to figure out how to make one room do more than one thing. We call this the transformer room, it was a guest bedroom, mudroom, coat closet, or it can be a studio, sewing room and craft room. ”

Chris Hawley

Architect, Phil Stahl being interviewed by HGTV in a Downtown Fargo home.

Chris Hawley Architects

2534 University Drive S. #3, Fargo
701-478-7600
chrishawleyarchitects.com

To Top