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Video: Tiny documents big dreams in mini-house movement

For a lesson in living large, look no further than Peyton Manning's new Cherry Hills Village digs, a modest 16,000-square-feet pied-à-terre, snapped up for a mere $4.57 million. But a new documentary from a Colorado couple, charting their quest to build their dream home -- all 125 square feet of it -- and haul it to South Park, contends that it's better to think big and live in a tiny house. Or, as one interviewee in the film Tiny puts it, "The world gets a lot bigger when you're living small."

Graphic designer and aspiring filmmaker Christopher Smith and writer Merete Mueller (a former managing editor of Elephant Journal) took their interest in the tiny-house movement, some cash and a piece of land outside Hartsel -- and became proud new homeowners. Their film Tiny, soon to be released on DVD, follows their effort to build a seven-by-nineteen-foot domicile out of beetle-killed pine and other recycled materials.

And live in it.

Solar-powered and with minimal connections to the outside world, the Smith-Mueller home is off the grid -- and off the ground, too. The couple managed to avoid Park County's minimum-square-footage requirements for residential housing by putting their "temporary" structure on a trailer. But there's nothing temporary about the move in their eyes. Although the project reportedly cost under $25,000, neither one had prior construction experience, and even the erection of a tiny house has its share of challenges and ordeals.

Mueller and Smith captured the experience on film and interviewed other tiny-house enthusiasts -- who point out, among other things, that the size of the average American house has doubled since 1970. Information about ordering the DVD can be found on their website, along with a VIP offer to spend a weekend in the tiny house.

For more details, check out this tiny teaser:

More from our Television & Film archive: "Barbi Benton's oversized crib comes to MTV amid Aspen real-estate woes."

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast

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