The Tiny House movement is getting big. Downsizing is not easy but it can be done, necessity helps. The tiny house lifestyle requires: creative use of space, diligence, organization, tidiness and really liking your housemates.
Eli, Dexter (human teen), Luna (canine teen) and I now live in Eli’s 792 sq. foot house, just about half the size of my house in the East Bay. The space is huge compared to 250 sq. foot houses yet, Tahoe weekenders would call our place a quaint cabin.
Dealing with Stuff
We’ve had practice living small. Our 14.5 foot trailer Betty Dawn is our Burning Man home on wheels. We’ve learned to make use of every nook which could feel crowded, but it’s actually quite cozy. The trick is to leave some empty space between furniture, shelves and storage fixtures to avoid feeling claustrophobic.
We’ve done some modifications to the house, mostly using vertical space for storage, shelves, hooks and hanging fixtures. I’ve made some creative and practical space for everything, to avoid clutter. Ikea is a great source for space-saving fixtures, like hanging baskets.
Every item in our little house must have a purpose and spaces have multiple purposes. Our kitchen table is used for preparing food and drinks, eating, sewing, game playing, projects and as an RC helicopter landing pad. I installed a catch-all shelf above the table to keep the transient items from rooting on the table. Eli made me a custom shelf for the butter and jam, out wood from his burned out shop. I love it!
It’s true, we have no space for ceramic pig collections. Eliminating useless nick-nacks is a must, not to be confused with our friend Nick (who we call Nick-Nack), who is welcome anytime.
Less space encourages us to keep only our favorite things. Don’t be too impressed with my downsizing skills. I’m lucky to have my East Bay house f0r my larger furnishings, where my sister and nephew are living. The good news is, I’m inspired to purge every time I visit the big house.
We do have friends over, who often bring musical instruments, dogs and refreshments… so we encourage them. Thankfully most friends bring no instrument larger than a guitar. We have a No Piano policy because Eli plays the cello, which takes up space. I opt for the ukulele; who doesn’t love a tiny guitar?
So far, this house has hosted eleven people at one time (probably just as many instruments) and seven dogs. Again, it helps if you like each other. We obtained a sofa-bed with a twin size bed so we can host an overnight guest, two if they are Hobbits.
Personal Space & Privacy
We are currently converting the 2nd tiny bedroom, previously know as the indoor garage. It will be a sewing space/project room/tool room (because we love our tools), with a cozy loft bedroom above for Dexter. It helps that he loves curling up tiny spaces.
Privacy is possible. Luckily we do have three rooms with doors that close, including the bathroom/laundry room. It works as long as everyone is respectful and knocks before entering a room with a closed door.
If any one of us needs more space, we can always step outside to shovel snow, take the trash and recycling out to the bear box or take the compost out to the back yard. One can also walk up to the Tahoe National Forest (one block away) for plenty of open space. These options usually require putting on boots so you’ve really got to want it. It’s easier in Spring, Summer and Fall when we can use the deck as outdoor living space.
Benefits of Living Small
The larger the space, the more stuff you can and will have… so living small forces you to keep it lean and tidy. A cardboard box from Amazon is usually dealt with within 24 hours because it takes up space. Cleaning a small space is easier and much faster; I can vacuum the whole house in 15 minutes.
The lack of extra space is incentive to keep a tidy house, so I am getting better at putting laundry away, doing dishes quickly and putting stuff away. I’d much rather have space for art, music, friends and creative projects than lots of things.
Living small is challenging, but it makes it easy to recognize what’s important in life. In the end… living small = full hearts.