Small and Loving It

Small and Loving It: A tiny house community takes root in Flat Rock
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For the Village of Wildflowers in Flat Rock, the motto is “Smaller is Smarter.” At the tiny house community, founded in 2014, homes are sized between 400 and 800 square feet, reflecting a national trend that appeals to those who are looking to simplify and declutter their lives.

Founded by W. W. Gilman, a real estate developer and devotee of downsizing, the site has 20 units on a 26-acre former RV park just off I-26. The community—among the first of its kind in North Carolina­—features ponds, a pool, a fenced pet area, and a clubhouse/visitors center. There are several permanent residences plus rentals available to those seeking a quaint, no-fuss getaway.

The tiny house movement runs counter to decades of increases in the average size of new single-family homes. Gilman speculates the shift stems from the recent recession. “The logic caught on that you occupy very little space in your residence, so why pay the costs?” he says. “It was discovered that when you cut down your home size you also eliminate a lot of unnecessary material possessions.” House prices at the village begin at around $50,000 and go up to about $90,000, with the land beneath them leased from the community.

Of course, such downsizing often entails an adjustment period. Bryant Rionda is a customer relations specialist at the village who moved into a small house with his wife, three-year-old, and two dogs. “The first 30 days was a shock,” Rionda says. “But after that it hasn’t been very hard. You get used to it pretty quick. You realize what you can live without.”

Rionda’s brother, Mike, also works and lives in the tiny house community. As a single guy in his twenties, Mike says this is an ideal lifestyle for him: “I didn’t really need that much space, and this will allow me to save money for the future.”

Gilman is delighted to have some younger folks as part of the community. While the smaller homes are especially attractive to retirees, he says he wants the village to be a multigenerational haven where residents can learn from each other, including a simpler, lower-stress way of living.

photographs by Bryant Rionda