15 Famous (Fictional) Tiny Houses
Tiny-house living appeals to modern ultraminimalists, but it’s hardly new (or limited to reality-TV types). Storybook characters, Hollywood icons and even diminutive brand mascots have all gotten cozy in close quarters. Read on for a few of our favorites.
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Oscar’s Trash Can (Sesame Street)
The Grouch’s seemingly small can would make Mary Poppins proud: Over the years, he’s made space for an Olympic swimming pool, an ice-skating rink, a pastry kitchen, a bowling alley and an art gallery. Too much for one green bachelor? Ah, but he shares his digs with pets such as elephants, a goat, a horse, a dolphin and a worm.
Jeannie’s Bottle (I Dream of Jeannie)
The relationship between Captain Tony the astronaut and Jeannie the 2,000-year-old genie never quite makes sense: If she’s free, why does she call him “Master”? If they get along so well, why does she continue to spend so much time in her former prison? Well, the ‘60s were a strange time—and Jeannie had some awfully good throw pillows in that bottle.
Carl’s House (Up)
Reason 6,412 for keeping things tiny: If your house is small enough, you can tie thousands of balloons to the chimney and fly off to South America without packing a suitcase. Try that in a McMansion.
The Hollow Tree (Keebler)
As Kellogg’s explains on its "All About the Elves" page (and as anyone who watched Saturday morning television in the '80s knows), "the [Keebler] Elves bake their cookies the old-fashioned elfin way, in magic ovens in the Hollow Tree® (aka the Fac-Tree).” The elves are “ageless,” but are they immortal? One hopes the Hollow Tree holds itself to rigorous fire-safety standards.
Hobbiton (The Lord of the Rings)
J.R.R. Tolkien’s hairy-footed folk are famous homebodies, both disinclined to adventure and extremely fond of their Hobbit-holes (which are synonymous with comfort). Some have many rooms and windows, while others are basic burrows; all have room for well-stocked pantries.
Yoda’s Cave (The Empire Strikes Back)
Let’s not mince words: Yoda’s cave is kind of a dump. (Little wonder he makes Luke Skywalker carry him around on his back. Who’d want to go home?) That said, Jedi masters live wherever they want, and holing up on Dagobah is a powerful anti-materialist (and anti-Imperialist) statement.
The Treehouse (Stand by Me)
Stand by Me’s treehouse has each of the hallmarks of a tiny-dwelling classic: It requires a special knock, you can smoke and play cards there, and it will eventually fall into disuse as you and your friends come of age. (Kidding, but the real treehouse is definitely gone.)
The Shoe (nursery rhyme)
Scholars have spent centuries arguing about the old woman who lived in a shoe—not why she made her home in footwear, mind you, or how she ended up with so many children, but who she might have been. Some historians say she was England’s King George II, others that she was Mother Goose herself; none have tried to replicate her living situation (though others have).
The Doctor’s T.A.R.D.I.S. (Doctor Who)
Like Oscar’s bottomless can, the Doctor’s spacecraft is considerably humbler from the outside (where it looks like an old police call box) than the inside (where it houses both mind-bending Time Lord technology and enough sidekick-costume changes to make Marie “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Kondo faint dead away).
Pi’s Lifeboat (Life of Pi)
Piscine “Pi” Patel spends 227 days on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger from his father’s zoo. Their close quarters and difficulties give rise to camaraderie that actually helps Pi survive—a benefit worth contemplating the next time you find, say, a sink full of someone else’s dirty dishes in your tiny living quarters.
Bart’s Treehouse (The Simpsons)
Yes, Bart Simpson lives in a regular-sized house, as well. But his treehouse merits inclusion in a tiny-house roundup because of its outsized cultural significance: It both lends its name to the most iconic series of Halloween cartoons ever drawn and once (as Bart’s Casino) hosted a Robert Goulet concert.
Asteroid B-612 (The Little Prince)
Le petit prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s charming interstellar traveler, lives on a mostly-barren, house-sized rock with three volcanoes, invasive baobabs, and a high-maintenance rose. He leaves her in order to explore the universe and eventually allows himself to be killed by a poisonous snake so that he can return to his codependent relationship in spirit, which could be the most French gesture ever.
SpongeBob’s Pineapple (SpongeBob SquarePants)
Who’d want to live in a tropical fruit? Quite a few of us, it seems—a California nonprofit built a playhouse pineapple (pictured here) for a 2004 fundraiser, and Nickelodeon’s Punta Cana resort offers a two-bedroom, three-bath version (with private butlers) for well-heeled travelers.
The Peach (James and the Giant Peach)
Thanks to a bag of magical crocodile tongues, James is able to flee his miserable life with his cruel aunts and make his home in a hollow fruit with anthropomorphic bugs—a vastly preferable fate when you’re a character in a Roald Dahl novel. James eventually lives with his new friends in a peach-pit mansion in Central Park, which...sounds pretty great, to be honest.
Newt’s Suitcase (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Eddie Redmayne secured his role as the hero of J.K. Rowling’s latest blockbuster by accidentally bringing his own version of Newt’s magical suitcase to a meeting. While it’s unlikely that Redmayne’s real-life valise is also an enchanted home for mythical creatures beyond our wildest dreams and nightmares, people do put some pretty freaky stuff in their luggage.