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1910 Des Moines Cottage Still Standing, Still Tiny

Welcome to Tiny Homes, an idea that is more popular with minimalists than with neighborhood associations and zoning boards. We'll point out the fun parts. You'll have to check out the logistics and legalities - or at least the covenants.


Cottage and 432 square feet, those two go together well. Seattle has mansions from the beginning of the 1900s, but for every mansion there were dozens of tiny houses, cottages, and cabins. In 1910, this cottage was built, and still stands! It isn't a surprise that there is only 1 bedroom and 1 bath. There isn't much room for more, but then, there isn't much to the price either, $125,000. Just what some person needs who wants to be by the water without having to be a millionaire.

It got here first. Des Moines may be building up around it, but 104 years ago this patch of land probably didn't have as many neighbors as now. A wedge of the view remains, but to get the best views, walk down to the water for those million dollar views. Live in a tiny space a few extra feet back from the water, and enjoy the same sunsets while saving $875,000.

There is plenty of room for styling. Eventually every century-old house gets either knocked down or renovated. If all you need are the basics of shelter, then there's no need to do much more. If, however, you want to play with three dimensional canvas of a home, then get busy and have fun decorating. The task has a rough time getting out of control when the size means eventually running out of things to change.

In the meantime, the extra square footage, conventional appliances, conventional plumbing, a yard for gardening, and lots of grandfather clauses means this cottage can feel luxurious compared to some of the tiny houses on wheels. Everything is relative. At $125,000, it's more expensive, but still cheap relative to conventional housing. A nice niche for a minimalist who likes the beach and a bit of history, and doesn't mind trading a set of trailer wheels for a set of covenants about an air condo.
· 810 S 281st St, Des Moines [Zillow]
· All Tiny Homes coverage [CS]
Written by Tom Trimbath