By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
Many of us are curious about tiny houses. The craze started a number of years ago, and HGTV has a handful of shows dedicated to tiny homes and tiny living.
However, some people who have moved into tiny homes have decided the lifestyle isn’t for them. After all, these houses are really tiny. Minimalizing what we own is one thing but limiting the amount of space you have to get ready for work in the morning is another.
To officially qualify as a tiny house, a home must be under 400 square feet, including the second floor. The average family home in the U.S. is 2,687 square feet. The difference is a staggering 2,287 square feet.
While tiny living might not be for everyone, these houses have made a splash in the realm of tourism, and the average person can stay in a variety of tiny homes while on vacation. Or, they can use these vacation rentals as a way to “test” whether they could survive tiny house living.
After staying in various tiny homes, I have decided that I could not take up permanent residence in one of these pint-sized pads. For instance, getting dressed in a claustrophobic second story sleeping area is a chore. As is getting up and down ladders to access bedroom areas. However, I have discovered that tiny homes make perfect vacation getaways.
Molly, a tiny home at 10,152 feet above sea level in Leadville, is a wonderful place to escape. Located on West 2nd Street, the Leadville RV Corral offers eight pet-friendly tiny homes for visitors, a block from downtown.
This tiny home features the largest kitchen I’ve seen in one of these teeny abodes. With a full-size refrigerator and stove, a Thanksgiving turkey can be cooked here. The house, with two upstairs sleeping areas, one accessible by staircase and the other by a ladder, comfortably sleeps four. There is an electric fireplace to warm cold toes and while it isn’t big enough to play baseball in, the bathroom is a nice size.
Home to under 3,000 residents, Leadville is one of the last authentically Colorado vacation spots. It has saloons with swinging doors and postcard-perfect, multi-colored Victorian buildings.
The 140-year-old Tabor Opera House is the recent recipient of a preservation contest held by Partners in Preservation. The crown jewel of Leadville, Tabor Opera House is the ideal location to take in a show while in town and is within walking distance of the Leadville RV Corral.
Treeline Kitchen serves remarkable food in a chic mountain setting. The addition of this restaurant to the Leadville scene has been welcomed by many residents and visitors. Leadville’s High Mountain Pie is still a crowd-pleaser after 16 years in business. Many longtime Coloradans name this as their favorite pizza joint in Colorado.
Above: The Gnome Home. Below: The Dogwood Home. | Photos courtesy of WeeCasa.
There are never-ending recreational activities in the area starting with the 11.6 mile paved Mineral Belt Trail that encircles the town. Multiple access points to this trail exist throughout town. Nearly every kind of outdoor activity can be found around Leadville including Cooper Ski Area and Mount Massive Golf Course.
Closer to home, WeeCasa Tiny House Resort is located in Lyons, next to the St. Vrain River. Part of this waterfront property is owned by Lyons Farmette & River Bend, which hosts spectacular riverfront weddings on the property. Many people who have stayed at WeeCasa are wedding guests.
The Mountain Aspen. | Photo courtesy of WeeCasa.
The Molly in Leadvile. | Photo courtesy of Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer.
WeeCasa was established in 2015. Today, it features 22 houses built by 14 tiny home builders hailing from four states. It is a hotel made up of tiny houses and tall, leafy cottonwoods, a boon to Lyons, a town where places to stay are in short supply.
The tiny homes at WeeCasa are all different, from layout to length to interior design. The Gnome Home (formerly The Hobbit House), for instance, features a round door and is on the bucket list of many Tolkien fans.
I have stayed in two tiny homes at WeeCasa. The first, Mountain Aspen, had just 170 square feet on the first floor with 70 square feet of upstairs sleeping space. It put the “tiny” in tiny home. It had an itsy-bitsy but usable kitchen.
My second stay, just last year, was in The Dogwood. The former resident is a chef and lived in the home for a year before it came to WeeCasa. Thanks to the chef, thoughtful touches like a pullout spice rack were installed as well as top-notch appliances.
The Dogwood is 192 square feet but feels considerably bigger because there are two sleeping areas. One is accessible via a stairway and one by ladder. I am a huge fan of stairs in these little homes; there’s something about this feature that makes the place feel homier.
Some guests routinely return to WeeCasa with the goal of staying in all 22 houses. An achievable feat at this little resort. In addition to the houses and several fire pits, there is a communal building with a television, coffee maker and games.
During the warm summer months, guitars often come out around the fire pits and impromptu concerts take place. After all, Lyons is home of Planet Bluegrass, a 20-acre outdoor concert venue and live music is always on tap at Oskar Blues. On Tuesdays, Oskar Blues hosts a renowned Bluegrass Pick.
There is a true sense of community at WeeCasa and in Lyons. Knocking on fellow guests’ tiny house doors to ask to peek inside is not unusual. If a stay is longer than a weekend, guests become known around town, at the coffee shop and St. Vrain Market.
While tiny living might not be for everyone, these houses have made a splash in the realm of tourism, and the average person can stay in a variety of tiny homes while on vacation.
Lyons has a population of just over 2,000 people. It’s not big but offers delicious food as well as many opportunities for recreational activities like kayaking, biking and hiking. Located about 30 minutes southwest of Loveland, the town is a quick mountain getaway without the traffic.
While few places have a collective of tiny vacation homes like Leadville and Lyons, there are some sprinkled here and there. Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs & Cabins in Carbondale is home to cabins, shepherd wagons and one 100-square-foot tiny home. There are tiny vacation rentals in Woodland Park and Ridgway. Check Airbnb and VRBO for a tiny house stay in your favorite vacation town.