Tiny House, Big World

CaliforniaTInyHouse-Fresno-exteriorThe burgeoning “Tiny House Movement” has caught my eye. Broadly speaking, the concept involves ditching the large suburban dwellings (2 stories, 3-4 bedrooms, 2-3 bathrooms, 2-car garages, luxuriant lawn, etc.) that came into vogue in the U.S. in the boom decades following World War II, for homes whose footprints are appreciably more modest. I’ve come to believe that, for a variety of reasons, this model is no longer sustainable.

I binge-watch a series on Tiny Houses and the folks that adopt the lifestyle they require. The buildings’ square footage is so small that they don’t meet the definition of “house”in municipal codes. Generally built on trailers for ease of relocation (not for me), they feature amenities like composting toilets, solar panels and half-scale versions of kitchen appliances. From what I’ve seen, Tiny House people are often young and just starting out, with professions requiring the ability to pull up stakes, going where work takes them. They often desire to minimize their possessions, while retaining a selection of crucial cultural artifacts (Keurig machines, flatscreen televisions, Wi-Fi).

Tiny Housers cannot be stereotyped. Some are single, others of them have a child or children, a dog, and so on. They want to transition from a standalone structure to something less costly to own and maintain, something that is an outward and visible sign of their philosophy of life. Moving from a conventional home can be tough, though: I’ve watched parents hand each of their young children an empty Rubbermaid tote, with the cheery admonition to decide which of their stuffed animals they love the most. Ick. One mom and dad whose offspring didn’t get to see their Tiny House until it was completed talked endlessly about how great it was going to be and what a tremendous adventure lay in store for them. When the excited children saw the dwelling for the first time . . . their . . . faces . . . fell.

Three things in particular draw me to the potential of Tiny House living. First, I would like to have the opportunity to estimate how much space I really need to live comfortably, modestly and responsibly. (I’m lousy at conceptualizing square footage.) Next, I would benefit from prioritizing the things I value owning, disciplining myself to stay off the acquisition bandwagon. Finally, designers and builders eke out every square inch of storage space in Tiny Homes: I would like to be involved in this process. I do not believe that this is an austere way of living.

I hasten to point out that Tiny Houses are not for everyone. Even though I do not fit the profile of Tiny House mavens “as seen on TV” I would welcome occupying one . . . so long as the place had enough room for my books and Civil War re-enacting stuff . . . and Wi-Fi. Just sayin’.

Enough about my Tiny House mania: what do you think?


2 thoughts on “Tiny House, Big World

  1. I too am interested in the tiny house movement, though I think I could only live in one if it was just myself. I love the idea of pairing down belongings and simplifying. I think we all can live in much less space than we do but we also acquire more things to fill the space we have. More space means we think we need more stuff.


  2. I think anyone wishing to make the move to a tiny house must invest the time to determine just how much square footage they can truly live in. That’s why I describe myself as a “small house” enthusiast!


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