A few years ago, before the country's economy started its long slide, folks were pulling out all the stops to build ever-larger homes. It was the era of McMansions.
The trend was to buy up older properties in established neighborhoods, tear down the existing house and replace it with massive dwellings offering 3,000 and 4,000 square feet of living space.
When the building boom went bust and the word "foreclosure" became a familiar part of the nation's vocabulary, homeowners who had overextended themselves with such sprawling properties were in financial trouble.
As the building pendulum has swung in recent years, a new mindset has taken over the housing market.
No longer are massive mortgages, high heating bills and sprawling spaces tempting those who want to build a home. Instead, the tiny house with a smaller carbon footprint has become the ideal answer for a majority of homebuyers.
In a recent poll, almost 60 percent of the architects questioned confirmed their clients planning new homes are interested in smaller structures.
These pint-sized dwellings are being built across the country, either from scratch or as pre-fabricated.
For instance, one mini-house builder, Ideabox of Oregon, offers a little pre-built dwelling with 745 square feet, featuring one bedroom and one bath. The tiny house is currently selling for $86,500. But, though that seems high, the builders stress the structure has the "right amount of everything."
These small, cozy homes are being called urban cottages since the word "cottage" evokes everything a little house should be - a small country residence with an urban flair.
Builders note the original idea for their urban cottage came from a winery resort in the Napa Valley in Northern California. With a grouping of small cottages on "cool little sites," the developers felt the design of their community offered just the right amount of indoor and outdoor living.
When I read over the many advantages the developers of these little groupings of urban cottages had focused on, I found myself thinking back to the wonderful seasons our little family spent in a friendly campground community.
The park model camper we enjoyed - 12 by 34 feet - for most of that time had a similar "carbon footprint" to the urban cottage offered for $86,500.
So, though the concept of the cozy urban cottage may be better suited to the Napa Valley, for those who have found "cottage-style" living in a campground both family-friendly and affordable, we'll keep coming back to such favorite get-aways as Paradise Bay Park and Family Affair.