The tiny house movement has become somewhat of a trending topic over the past few years. For most folks, these pint-sized premises are little more than cute, over-grown dollhouses – a novelty, and not something they could seriously see themselves living in.
Admittedly, even as a believer in the tiny house concept, the idea of reducing my family’s little bungalow-with-a-backyard lifestyle to the square footage of the average tiny house is as appealing as reducing my already short stature by a foot. Then again, like many folks who love modern conveniences, my definitions of both need and happiness are carefully curated by the images from the glorious glowing box hanging of my living room wall.
The crux of the tiny house movement is this: a growing number of people are defying Madison Avenue by living small. But the idea of “small-sizing” (let’s not look at it as downsizing), presents many questions, namely, “How do you live in something that by definition is not much larger than many modern family rooms?”
So we’re going to answer that question and a few more by addressing a few common concepts about tiny house living.
1) How Do I Condense My 3-Bedroom Lifestyle into a Tiny House?
Tiny houses can range from a roughly 125 sq. ft. home built on a trailer to a 500 sq. ft. stationary structure, so condensing the contents of an average home into a tiny abode simply isn’t on the menu. You and your family must have the hard conversations that redefine how much of your “stuff” is really necessary. You can’t cram everything into a smaller package, so you have to reduce how much clothing, personal effects, decorations, and more you keep around.
Your whole view on what is useful and what is excessive gets a makeover, but that by no means restricts you to a spartan lifestyle. The tiny house lifestyle focuses on quality over quantity.
2) Where Do We Put Our Clothes?
Like many folks, I have lots of clothes, many of which I don’t often wear. Still, I’m reluctant to part with clothes “I may wear one day.” Transitioning to a tiny house may mean reducing the amount of clothing you own, but it doesn’t mean living with only 4 outfits.
Opting for an interchangeable wardrobe (clothing pieces that easily mix and match) not only saves space, but also money – not to mention the frustration of deciding what to wear.
3) What about Cooking and Cleaning?
In an age of large, garage-sized kitchens and spacious washrooms, imagining how you will cook dinner in a tiny home – let alone have space for a washer and dryer – seems a bit far-fetched. Today’s tiny homes borrow a few things from the RV and boating community: compact appliances. Compact stacking washers and dryers fit snugly into a well-designed tiny home, and with a smaller wardrobe, you won’t need the large capacity units.
Kitchens are equally well-appointed as most homes, though right-sized for application. And if you opt for a larger, stationary tiny home, you could easily fit a full-size range and dishwasher in the kitchen.
4) Are the Bathrooms Outside?
Well, not unless that’s your sort of thing. Like kitchens, bathrooms have been well adapted for the variety of sizes of tiny homes. Tiny homes come equipped with the necessities of personal hygiene (just smaller versions, like in the aforementioned kitchen), and people have also come up with innovative ways to incorporate luxuries like bathtubs in some of the more compact designs.
While toilets are often designed to be compact, they are not “tiny,” so don’t worry about trying to learn to balance on a pint-sized potty normally found in a preschool (though it does make me chuckle thinking about that one).
5) Am I Supposed to Live Without a Garage?
There is no rule about tiny homes that restricts you to one structure. For example, I could never go without a workshop, and in the case of a tiny home, I wouldn’t have to. While having a craft room, a workshop, office, or a garage might not fit into the dimensions of your mini-house, there’s no reason you can’t have a separate, or even adjoining, building to meet your needs.
While it’s true that “small-sizing” is part of the tiny home lifestyle, if your income, art, or beloved pastime needs a separate space, then make one. Given the money you save by living small, adding even a reasonably sized pre-fab shed is an affordable prospect.
Falling in love with the tiny house movement means falling in love with a different way of thinking. Tiny house living is a philosophy emphasizing quality of life over quantity of things. So, while these mini-abodes are a compromise in square footage, what you get in return as a very comfortable and rewarding lifestyle is far better than what you choose to leave behind when you engage in small-sizing.