BEUSCHEL: A tiny house doesn’t fit everyone

One of the newer trends out in the housing market is “tiny houses.” Please note that tiny means tiny. As in a few hundred square feet!
Jul 17, 2014

That’s right — we’re talking 200-400 square feet. 

I had heard about these tiny houses a few years ago as an extension of the larger movement toward simplicity. One I specifically remember is the one that was built to squeeze in between two other row houses in England. It was about as wide as the front door.

Last night, I watched a program where a young couple with a 2-year-old had decided to go in this  direction and have a tiny house built to their specific needs. There was a bedroom with a play loft above it for their daughter. Her twin mattress was wall to wall in her bedroom. She had a ladder to climb up to her play loft — but as time went on, they would move out her mattress, putting it in their bedroom so she could have more play area. Their bedroom was almost wall-to-wall mattress, except for a small nook that held their clothing, which was not much. Each bedroom was a wing of the house, with the kitchen spanning between them. 

The kitchen had one wall of cabinets and appliances, and the opposite wall was a set of sliders which served as their front door. There was a kitchen table that folded flat against the wall and a little bench for seating, which was the only seating in the tiny house. The bathroom had a composting toilet, shower stall and small sink.

The outside of the house was beautifully landscaped with a garden and hanging baskets of herbs. The garden hose doubled as the water source for the hand-cranked clothes washer that was about the size of a large beach ball. It looked like about four pieces of clothing fit in it at a time. 

They did have the luxury of a flat-screen television, which hung from a ceiling pivot device that allowed them to watch it in their bedroom or from the kitchen, and then push it up flat against the ceiling to get it out of the way.

Now the couple was definitely excited to see their new home and move in. Then the reality of living in a tiny house started to sink in. The daughter and wife had no problems moving around in this small space. However, the husband was a big guy. He tried to put on his shirt for work and couldn’t quite stretch out his arms to get it on. Then he wanted to find his belt in the closet and he had to ask his wife to step out of the bedroom so he could get to the closet.

One night, they invited another couple over for dinner to celebrate their new home and had to use their bed for extra seating during dinner. Hmmm.

They were still smiling and having a good time, so only time will tell if they continue to enjoy their tiny house.

I just don’t think I would be smiling to start out with, or ordering a “tiny house” custom-built for my husband and me. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to down-size a little bit — maybe even more than a little bit — but this just seems too extreme for me. 

When I look at the size of these houses, I think what would I be willing to get rid of. I’ve been pitching for a while, trying to prune my belongings down to those I feel are the most important things that I want to keep. I have boxes of pictures — my own, my parents and my in-laws. I have treasured figurines, Christmas village pieces, lighthouse figures, painted horse statues, dolls, holiday decorations, and on and on. Oh, I forgot to mention books, books, books and more books.

I guess I’m not ready to be this simple. I like my full-size washer and dryer. I like my kitchen table, sofas, tables, queen bed and full-size bathroom. 

I think for me, this is like the “Mountain Men” program I love to watch. I enjoy seeing all that they can do to survive on their own in the wilderness and I honor them for that, but it’s just not something I would want to do. Likewise, I think those who can simplify their lives far more than I can, I’ll give a high five to.

I’ve never been one to go to extremes, so I guess I will continue to go to the grocery store for my food and live in a full-size house with my cherished possessions.

Maybe I could build a tiny house for each of my collections or groups of possessions — and then, when I want to downsize, I could invite the “American Pickers” to pay me a visit. Now that will be a whole other story. I wonder if I’ll ever write it?

— By Janice Beuschel, Tribune community columnist

Comments

jlebrasseur

It is amazing how little you need to live well. Americans are brainwashed by the corporations to want more and more, the latest and greatest, and larger and larger homes. Everybody is all about having the latest status symbol.

I live a great life, and beside my car and bike, I can fit every one of my personal belongings in my 85 liter hiking backpack and be totally self-sufficient even in the middle of the forest. It is so liberating being able to live with so little, and it enables me to get out more, spend more time with family and friends, and basically work however much I wish instead of being tied down to a 40-hour work week. Right now, my electric bill is less than $29 each month (even with AC), and my goal is to eventually get rid of grid electricity altogether. My electronics (except oven, dishwasher, AC, a couple lights and fridge) are all low-voltage and can be charged via battery pack, small solar panel, or the 12v outlet in the car; this cuts down on the monthly electric bill immensely.

Having a portable tiny house (it has been one of my goals for several years) would be amazing. I wouldn't have to slave away for thirty years to pay a mortgage on an oversized, flimsy, stick built home and all the other costs that entails. If I decide to check out the country, I could move at a moment notice.

I actually feel sorry for those who choose to buy these McMansions. Your possessions own you; you do not own them.

WWJD

If you aim low enough you will certainly reach your goal.

SCH39339

Well said

LessThanAmused

If you don't have an original thought to contribute why don't you just stay quiet.

jlebrasseur

Eh, WWJD is always saying something negative whenever I post. Doesn't bother me... If they want to be a miserable old grump then so be it; just shows they are not content with their own life. No skin off my back.

SCH39339

JTighe, this is a free country and community, your elder and you cannot now be the censor of GHT comments as you were previously its grammar reader. Move-on or maybe let's meet up and discuss your remark (which actually contributed nothing). I can fly-in to meet you anytime.

Barry Soetoro

Are you proposing a Beer Summit?

LessThanAmused

JTighe? Who is JTighe?

I’m going to assume you’re talking to me because of your reference to grammar and the placement of your post in this thread, but that’s not my name, neither here, nor in real life.

As for the rest of your poor attempt at communication, let me help.

There should be a period after community. The basic rule is that there should be a period at the end of every complete thought/statement. As for that next bit of gibberish, it should look something like this…

“You’re elder and you cannot now be the censor of GHT comments, as you were previously its grammar reader”.

Huh?

First off, look up the definition of “censor”. I have censored no one’s comment here at any time. I don’t have the power to censor, or remove anyone’s comments in this forum. Secondly, I don’t understand what “your elder” even means unless you’re just calling me old, which is mean and smacks of age discrimination. My age has nothing to do with your poor use of the English language. Thirdly, I’m not sure what a “grammar reader” even is, but I am pretty sure I was never the “grammar reader” for the forum either.

As to your thinly veiled threat to meet and “discuss” my comment…You bet! I’ll bring my granddaughter with me and use you as an example as to why a good education is so important these days! I’ve been looking for a real world example to use and you’d do quite nicely.

In closing, let me just reiterate that you started this line of communication by attacking me. I had been ignoring your stupid, idiotic posts for the last several months. Posts that contained nothing more than incessant whining about other people’s posts/opinions. So, you brought this on yourself. Yes, I know that this particular post of mine contributed nothing to the topic at hand and the irony of that obviously went right over your flat (flat, not fat) head. Maybe you should look up the definition of Irony while you're at it.

You go ahead and “fly-in” whenever you want to, after all, like you said, it’s a free country, but I’m pretty sure your village is still missing you.

Have a nice weekend.

Back to the Wall

I agree.

Keeneye

Would Jesus aim for five bedrooms, three baths, formal dining room, four hundred sq.ft living room, family room, game room, two and a half car attached garage,on a wooded two acre lot, For himself and the wife and two kids? I think not. Nor would any REAL christian. wwjd indeed!

Back to the Wall

Thats what's called a "godsquat". A sudden, unexpected expusion of religion based self aggrandizement - When someone finds a small opportunity to leverage the conversation to show the audience how religious they are, and how god must like them more than the target of their "godsquat".

Harry Kovaire

There is a considerable following in the "Prosperity Theology" crowd of hypocrites. I recall back in the 90's an Orange County (CA) megachurch that preached "Jesus wants you to be RICH!"

The parking lot was filled every Sunday with Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, and Lexus. There is a lot of money in the Jesus Business.

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Want...

Keeneye

So what does your view have to do with anyone else's life? Figurines, painted horses? Wake up breath in go outside breath out and live. Most of those things are probably painted with toxic substances. Books? Library. Pickers? Hoarders. Huge carbon footprint small carbon footprint. Lifetime of slavery to pay for this junk or lifetime of enjoyment and ability to tell the boss. No I don't think so. Seeya. Not to mention the utilitiy bills. The only reason to have a Mcmansion is if you have kids for every room. and a large farm for them to work. Unless the stuff your hoarding has a large cash value, I wouldn't even burden the second hand stores with it. People should be allowed to build anything they want on their land. As long as it is pleasant to look at and well maintained. NO junk. and no zoning laws pertaining to square footage.

jlebrasseur

Couple very good short films about how liberating and free living simple and small is:

Twenty-eight Feet http://vimeo.com/94842405

http://vimeo.com/49632767

JimmyJazz

Cool films man!

brodennel

I have been doing a lot of research these tiny home yet they're not for everybody but I would like to have one but the biggest problem I see where would you put it

Keeneye

If the local govt. would get off your back your options would be greater than for 3000 sq. ft. house.

JimmyJazz

I could Jazz this place up a bit.

Barry Soetoro

The ladies will just have to wait in line outside...

JimmyJazz

Thats right buddy :)

gordbzz231

My apartment is 600 square feet, enough for two people

Back to the Wall

I'd had a little house, paid for. I hated it. felt cramped. like a chicken in a pen. Why must you all be so judgemental. what's it to you how someone else chooses to live. why the sudden interest in what goes on behind my closed doors? I'll make as much money as I want and spend it on what I want. if you're lucky, maybe you'll reap some.

Grassyass

Guess who's not hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? Seriously, who could live in one of these with another human being through a Michigan winter?

Keeneye

There is definitely censorship going on here. I commented on wwjd's aim low enough post. Nothing obscene or personally offensive. And it's gone. Not the first time. If your thoughts don't coincide with the censors, bye, bye. As they say on shark tank "I'M out".

LessThanAmused

As of 10pm Saturday night your post is still there Keeneye, it'w just dropped further down the page as more people comment. It's hard to follow a thread the way this forum is set up.

PickleLvr

I feel very sorry for the author of this article. She apparently bases the quality and happiness of her life based on her possessions. Jesus lived with no such possessions. Shame on you for thinking that you need material things. There are millions of people to who do have the need for greed and live without these things daily. It demonstrates how superficial you are deep down. I am glad I am not your friend or relative as you clearly have a need to "own" things.

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