I Spent 24 Hours in a Plastic Tiny House in the Desert
One brave editor treks to 100-degree Arizona to see if a tiny house could beat all that heat.
When I was offered the opportunity to fly out to Arizona to give the tiny house trend a go, I was beyond excited—I spend more hours than I care to admit watching home tours of twee little tiny houses parked in all corners of the country.
But in the midst of all of my home-design glee, it dawned on me: Arizona. In August. In the desert. Checking my weather app and finding the temperature solidly in the triple digits for my stay did nothing to quell my fears of dying of heatstroke inside a tin can in the blazing-hot Sonoran Desert. How was I possibly going to make it through a whole 106-degree day?!
Following a much-needed facial (dry heat = seriously dry skin) and a very large breakfast (hey, I was convinced it'd be my last meal!), I departed the cushy Camby Hotel in Phoenix to drive an hour east to Apache Junction, a dusty desert city overlooking the Superstition Mountains. That's where I found the Plastics Make it Possible Tiny House, a 170-square-foot dwelling created by Tiny House Nation host Zack Griffin. From the outside, it looked positively charming, all red siding and potted cacti, and the small size didn't worry me a bit (it's bigger than most New York studios!). The real question, though, was whether I'd like it as much when I was boiling in it.
The answer is yes and, happily, no! With every amenity covered, including soft linens, a good WiFi connection and a fully flushing toilet, the interiors were far comfier than its teeny stature would suggest. And, best of all, I wasn't even remotely roasting—a true feat in shade-free 106 degrees—thanks to air conditioning and the house's ingenious design.
Inside a plastic tiny house
I spy with my little eye some familiar cookware!
With their small scale, tiny homes by nature are more eco-friendly than traditionally-sized lodging, and this one was no exception. The bulk of the house's building material is, you guessed it, plastic: The stuff shows up in the siding, window frames, skylight and decking on the outside; and everything from plastic piping to flooring to insulation on the inside. It's not only a sustainable way to keep unwanted heat out and that glorious AC in, it's as low-cost as it is low-energy: You can pay as little as $180 to heat and cool a tiny house like this one for an entire year.
Without the elements to worry about, I was able to kick back and do all of the things you'd do in a larger home: Read a book, veg on the couch, take a hot shower, cook meals (check out those Rachael Ray pots and pans!), the works. And I even slept soundly wrapped in a comforter—in the middle of the desert. It was a tiny house, sure, but it was also a big eye-opener.
Want to book your own tiny house adventure? Check out these places on AirBnB!