It’s been several months since we made the transition from our 1,500 sq ft “big house” to our 500 sq ft “small house.” During this time, we realized that we and many of those that surrounded us had misconceptions of what tiny living is.
Today’s discussion takes a glimpse of some of these misconceptions we have observed. I do have to add the disclaimer that we are living in 500 sq feet, which would be considered a mansion compared to those living in true tiny houses. (One day, we’ll get to our own tiny house.)
Misconception 1: Sacrifices
Tiny houses have become a buzz recently, which seems a little odd to me since there are lots of examples of tiny living that have surrounded us for years. What about all of the studio apartment dwellers out there? Has anyone stayed in an extended stay hotel? Didn’t our ancestors live in small cabins and caves? Maybe you know someone who is living in an RV? (We’re looking at you, Think Save Retire / A Streamin’ Life friends.) 🙂
There seems to be two primary mindsets toward tiny houses. The first is the gingerbread-style tiny house that seem to be built with the mindset of being placed in a fancy home magazine. I am always amazed by the creativity, but the prices of some of these builds seem to have strayed from the grassroots mindset from which the tiny house movement began. There still seems to be an underlying need to keep up with the Joneses, even in a tiny house. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a nice-looking house, but I struggle with putting a central vac system in a 200 sq ft house.
With the grassroots mindset, there is typically a focus on lifestyle rather than material possessions and glamour and the “sacrifice.” Many with the grassroots mindset focus on building a low-cost home to eliminate the need for additional debt. In these instances, home design is based on functionality and balancing expense with desire and necessity. The only thing we’ll be sacrificing is any unnecessary expense of living in a big house.
When we begin designing Two Cup House, the 200 sq ft house that will serve as our own tiny house, we will stick to the grassroots mindset. Build it cheap through the use of recycled materials and design based on functionality. Sorry, no central vac system for us.
Misconception 2: Space
I can say that after living in 1,500 sq ft and now in 500 sq ft, we would be just as comfortable with less space if we were to consolidate our living room and bedroom. Basically, we could live without the bedroom we currently have and we’d be just fine. All of our furniture is fixed today–nothing cool and convertible like you see on HGTV.
Steve at Think Save Retire wrote up a great piece about our small house, complete with photos. Check it out!
In our small house, we still have room for a full-size couch, coffee table and a 60 inch tv. Not too bad since it was the same furniture that was in our big house living room.
Our kitchen has a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, dual-basin sink, full-size range and a microwave vent hood. Our kitchen/living area doubles as Claudia’s yoga studio.
Oven Desk: JOKING!
Our bathroom has a tub/shower combo, toilet and a sink. Not many thrills here, but still enough room to move around freely.
Our house has been set up for a stackable washer and dryer. We currently have not purchased one since there is a laundromat next door that allows us to get all of our laundry done for the week in roughly 67 minutes.
As size goes down, I can see one area that we would need to make compromises. Having a full-size oven on in a 500 sq ft house can get quite warm. This is great in the winter but not in the summer. As we design Two Cup House, which will be around 200 sq feet, we will downsize the kitchen appliances and eliminate the oven. We will also need to begin to think of multiple-use furniture and lofting the bed.
Misconception 3: Stuff
We’ve had many questions/comments in regard to making the transition to a home a third of the size. Some of the most popular comments are (and our replies) are:
“That’s not enough space for two people’s stuff.”
It’s enough for us!
“I have too much stuff for a house that small.”
Yes, our house is too small for your stuff, but that’s not my house’s problem.
“You must really like your spouse.”
Yes, we do like each other!
It is true, going to a smaller house typically means “giving up stuff” but looking back, I would really have to think of what “stuff” we actually got rid of. To be honest, we do not have any regret in eliminating the items that allowed us to downsize. Looking back, I feel that we basically had a house-sized storage unit (i.e. the big house) filled with items we used very little. Piles of books read once then placed on a shelf rather than going to the local library. And so on.
What do you think is the greatest challenge would be in downsizing to a smaller house?
ICYMI, we learned a number of things we captured in the Real Talk of Tiny Living series.
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 1: Clutter
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 2: Time
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 3: Diet
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 4: Routine
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 5: Noises
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 6: Smells
Real Talk of Tiny Living, Part 7: Misconception