Itty-bitty apartments are nothing new, but many people are moving towards microhouses, free-standing or mobile structures that have all the amenities of a larger home, just with a lot less room. Would you be willing to trade your current digs for a small house that maximizes space, or do these just look like cramped quarters?

Top image: Toronto's Little House.

While some people sprawl out in their homes or apartments, plenty of humans live in rather small spaces: mobile home trailers, RVs, Hong Kong's cramped 40-foot square apartments. Some designers are looking into new ways to make small spaces more habitable with rooms and furniture that shift around, and using every inch of available storages space. Some of these are free-standing houses while others are more mobile homes, but all of them contain bathrooms, cooking space, and living quarters, and all of them are very, very small.

You can see many more microhouses at Tiny House Talk.

Jay Schafer's 100-square-foot Tumbleweed House

Jay Schafer is the owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House company, which makes, well, tiny houses. He also lives in his very own small-scale abode, and you can see in the video above how all the spaces in his 100-square foot home fit together. You can also see more images of the petite (but not inexpensive, unless you build your own) houses he designs over at the Tumbleweed site. Here are some photos of the Linden model:

OTIS, the 70-square-foot Pod House You Can Tow with Your Car

OTIS, the Optimal Traveling Independent Space, was designed by students as one of Green Mountain College's REED projects. The mobile home is designed to be pulled by an ordinary cylinder car on a standard 5 X 8-foot trailer. At 120-watt solar panel provides electricity, and it utilizes a rainwater collection system and a composting toilet.

[via Treehugger]

The 200-square-foot Clothesline House

Compared to some tiny homes, 200-square feet sounds like a lot, but this place actually does house its two designers, Carrie and Shane Caverly of Clothesline Tiny Homes. They decided to reduce their cost of living while making themselves more mobile with a house that they can tow once or twice a year. This residence features a passive solar system, a grey water collection tank, and an incinerating toilet, and includes some clever design choices, such as a sink in the shower and a closet under the bed. They can also place the house on a trailer if they decide to move once or twice a year.

Yahini Homes Butterfly Cabin

Built by Yahini Homes, this 144-square-foot trailer home has a finished pine ceiling and trim with maple floors. The 80" couch folds out into a double bed.

The Fold-Out Shipping Container Home

Discarded shipping containers have been repurposed into stores and office spaces, and the folks at Atelier Workshop have transformed this shipping container into a tidy home, called the Port-A-Bach. This particular house has more room when the weather is nicer, however, since one of the walls folds out to provide additional living space. It might do better as a tiny summer home.

The Cube-Shaped Micro Compact Home

If you want to go really small, there is the 2.6 meter by 2.6 meter Micro Compact Home. To test whether these houses might be viable alternatives to more expensive apartments, the makers had seven Munich students each live in a cube for two months. The students had a few complaints, such as the need for bathroom ventilation, but otherwise found the cubes to be rather comfortable digs. And that's not the only cube microhouse project in the works.

An Alien-Filled Microhome

Photo credit: M.Barkley.

The fellow who lives in this 160-square-foot house has lived there for more than five years—and I imagine rarely pooped when guests were around. He and his brother designed this house together and built it using largely reclaimed materials. The house has a wind barrier wrap for colder weather.

Photo credit: M.Barkley.

Photo credit: M.Barkley.

Photo credit: M.Barkley.

Northwestern's Off-the-Grid Casita

In 2011, a group of Northwestern University Segal Design Institute students, inspired by Jay Schafer's designs, decided to undertake their own Tiny House Project, building a 128-square-foot house that collects its own water and electricity without connecting to an outside utility. A water pillow collects rainwater captured by the awning and the small house is heated by its fireplace.

Ralph Erskine's 1940s House, "The Box"

Photo credit: Arvid Rudling.

Long before the latest tiny house craze, architect Ralph Erskine built his own 210-square-foot house south of Stockholm, called Lådan ("Box"). Sometimes a pastoral view can make a house feel a lot less small.

Photo credit: Arvid Rudling.

Photo credit: Arvid Rudling.

Photo credit: Arvid Rudling.

Photo credit: Arvid Rudling.

A Permit-Free Cabin in the Woods

Robin Falck found out that, if you want to build a house that is less than 96-128-square feet (depending on the region) in Finland, you don't need a building permit. So Falck designed and built this 96-square-foot cabin in the woods, with a loft bedroom and views of a nearby lake. It took just two weeks and $10,000 to construct. You can see photos of the interior at Tiny House Listings, although sadly no photos of the kitchen and bathroom. (Supposedly it has both.)

The Cave-Like Boxhome

Architect Sami Rintala was inspired by Nordic, Japanese, and Korean ideas of living when designing the compact Boxhome. The 205-square-foot dwelling includes a simple loft bedroom with a wooden bed built in and a small bathroom with no door (although a curtain can be added for privacy). Dinner guests cook their own food using the hot plates and sink built directly into the dining table. And the placement of the windows give the home a cozy, cave-like effect.

Toronto's Little House

At 2.2 meters wide by 14.3 meters long, the Little House in Toronto is a mansion among tiny houses. It's also one of the more venerable small houses. Originally, the city intended to build a laneway next to one of the neighboring houses and left the lot empty. Since the city never got around to building the laneway, in 1912, Arthur Weeden decided to build a house on the lot. He and his wife lived in the house for 20 years, and after that, numerous individuals, couples, and (by some reports) families lived in the house. You can see photos of the interior (complete with Murphy bed) at the Little House website, which also notes that you can rent the place through AirBnB.