Small houses take over the hills | New
LOGAN – A trend that exploded in the mid-2010s continues to develop in the Hocking Hills.
‘Little houses’ – often homes built from shipping containers – are a housing trend that took off partly inspired by minimalism, also partly inspired by housing costs.
According to thetinylife.com, a website run by smallhouse advocate and author Ryan Mitchell, tinyhouses are part of a bigger “cottage movement,” centered on minimalism and sustainability.
According to thetinylife.com, the typical American home is approximately 2,600 square feet, while the typical definition of a small or tiny home is a home that is less than 400 square feet.
According to Google Trends, interest in “Tiny Houses” has gradually declined since a peak in 2015; however, it peaked last summer, between early May and August 2020.
The Hocking Hills area welcomes over 4 million tourists a year and has its own mini-house accommodation options. Among them, Hocking Hills Tiny Houses, by Matt and Christine Shaw, which began operations in 2019.
The Shaws call their little houses Little Houses on Wheels, or THOWs. They have three THOWs: the Gladiola, Trillium, and Juniper, two of which are placed at Campbell Cove Campground.
A stay in a THOW is comfortable; limited space is maximized for efficiency and comfort, not a corner or crevice is wasted. Everything is styled in the most modern home designs, neutral color palettes, warm lighting, and trendy decor. Stays in THOWs cost $ 119 to $ 199 / day, according to the Hocking Hills Tiny Houses website.
Hocking Hills Tiny Houses was a dream come true for the Shaws. For more than a decade, the couple hoped to continue their own business, so Matt might not have to work in Columbus “forever,” as they wrote in an email.
After spending nearly three decades working in Columbus and living in the Hocking Hills, they thought, “We have to get into tourism and work for ourselves.
Christine has always been a fan of interior design herself, immersing herself in it when she could. Their kids also love to be involved in construction projects, Matt said. Then, in 2018, the family stumbled across a TV show about the Little House.
“Our oldest son Isaac said, ‘Sounds like fun… we should do it! ”, Said Matt. “Of course, building a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW) seemed out of the question for me and Christine. Why would we do this? How would we pay for it? But, we were sort of running out of construction plans, so I didn’t totally dismiss it as absurd.
A few weeks later, Isaac finds the family a trailer to renovate. They worked on it for about a year, although at first they weren’t sure exactly what the plan was. They had experience in finishing basements, building decks, but never an entire house.
“We thought we could try renting to tourists, although we didn’t know at the time we put it,” the Shaws said. “It’s the beauty of being on wheels! We might find out later, and it wouldn’t need to be permanent in just any location! “
Their first home, the Gladiola, opened in 2019. It has performed well in terms of hosts and finances. The Shaws then realized they were on to something and bought two more trailers: the Trillium, built in the spring of 2020 and the Juniper, built in the fall of 2020.
Each little house is different from the last. Shaw’s five children – Isaac, Clare, Max, Ben and Sophie – all helped build them, the parents said. It cost several thousand dollars to build a small house, they said.
The typical Hocking Hills Tiny Houses guest is a small group looking for a weekend getaway, Matt and Christine said.
“The cohort is mostly couples, not groups of couples or parties, but also small families,” Matt said.
However, Box Hop was one of the first shipping container homes in the Hocking Hills, Karen Raymore, executive director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, told Logan Daily News.
Box Hop, located in Rockbridge, opened in 2019 by Columbus couple Emily and Seth Britt. Like the Shaws, they themselves worked on the houses; Emily designed the layout, floor plan and decor, while Seth took care of the projects.
The first Box Hop, also known as OG, ended up costing around $ 180,000, excluding land, furniture and decor, Erin Eckenrode, Box Hop’s administrative assistant, said in an email.
The Britts then built a second Box Hop, called the Boho, which can accommodate up to four people and costs $ 285 per night, while the OG can accommodate up to six people and costs $ 415 per night.
Like many other visitor rentals in the Hocking Hills, Box Hops remained occupied throughout the pandemic, albeit adjusted to new cleaning procedures, as did Hocking Hills Tiny Houses.
The Logan Daily News previously reported that the Hocking Hills experienced a tourism boom during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; 2020 was a banner year.
This year, too, continues to be one of the monumental numbers, Karen Raymore, executive director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association (HHTA), told Logan Daily News.
Visitor spending, calculated based on accommodation taxes and other factors, was $ 74.1 million in the first two quarters of 2019; in 2020, that figure fell to $ 65.4 million, Raymore said. However, spending for the first two quarters of 2021 was $ 144.6 million.
“The first two quarters (of 2020) show the impact of COVID,” Raymore explained. “I suspect from the way things are going that we’re going to see that kind of huge increase (this year). “
The cabins were closed for 41 days in 2020 but reopened in early May 2020. Closed state parks were also reopened in early July 2020.
“We saw people coming even though the parks were closed,” Raymore said.
2019 has been a more typical year for the Hocking Hills, said Raymore. In total, spending for 2019 was just over $ 193 million; $ 221.7 million. “So clearly we ended the year in 2020 even before 19 – and in a pandemic, that’s pretty phenomenal. “
Raymore attributes the Hocking Hills boom to the pandemic and the circumstances it created; from air travel restrictions to general restrictions, people have flocked to Ohio’s “crown jewel”.
“I think the fact that we’re (less than) a day’s drive from 60% of the American population – in a way, that was sort of a perfect storm,” Raymore said. “You had an event that made people very worried about traveling anywhere … The demand for outdoor activities, combined with individual vacation rentals, was higher than ever. “
Raymore said the HHTA is optimistic about the future and considers itself lucky that COVID has not impacted it like it has for other tourist destinations, some of which have collapsed. She expects the popularity of mini-houses in the Hocking Hills area to continue to grow with her industry, as staying in a mini-house can be considered “glamping.”
“Glamping” is a portmanteau of “glamor” and “camping”. According to Google Trends, interest in glamping has grown steadily since 2004, peaking in July of last year. Raymore said it has become an extremely popular option for visitors to Hocking Hills over the past two years.
Glamping is camping without sleeping on the floor, but also without luxury accommodation, Raymore said. Other examples of glamping that can be found in the Hocking Hills include teepees, yurts, geodomes, and boxcars.
Most visitors to Hocking Hills are leisure travelers, said Raymore, which means they’re not visiting on business. Many come to participate in physical activities and outdoor recreation, such as hiking, rock climbing, fishing and more.
Stays in mini-houses meet the basic needs of these leisure travelers: a roof, a bed, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. In line with the changes introduced by the pandemic, Raymore has noticed that many visitors are extending their stay from weekends to weekdays.
As for the future of mini-homes, the Britts are working on their third and largest rental, the Hygge, a Scandinavian-style five-bedroom. The next addition to the Hocking Hills Tiny Houses will be a one-story rental which will be more accessible, as the other tiny houses have mezzanine bedrooms accessed by a ladder.