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The Good Parts of the Tiny House Movement

The Good Parts of the Tiny House Movement

By Christine H.

Remember the tiny houses fad? That brief period of time when we all deluded ourselves into thinking that we could totally live in a house the size of a large closet? The golden age kind of hit its peak and faded from view for all of us.

I sound pretty down on it, but you know what? I’m still enchanted by the tiny house movement. I’m not over it. I’m a little sad that the tiny house newsletters that I signed up for don’t still send me updates. I’m not necessarily convinced that I should compact my life that much, but I think that there are some important elements from the tiny house movement that we should hold on to, even though the fad has faded. Here are a few of the best principles of the tiny house fad that I think we should keep.

De-mystifying the Construction Process

I think one of the most interesting things about the tiny house movement was how it promoted the idea that you could build an entire house by yourself, or perhaps with a partner. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve always considered house-building a monstrous undertaking. There are licenses, fire code safety, insulation, and huge equipment needs… I wouldn’t have even thought about trying to built my own house until the tiny house trend started changing my mind. It showed people who knew every inch of their home, completely breaking down the mystique and making it seem doable.

Sure, there is a lot to constructing a house. And you shouldn’t go around erecting huge buildings without knowing your stuff (because safety!) but all the same, it also shouldn’t be something that we turn into such a huge deal. A house doesn’t even have to be tiny for you to take care of certain details yourself. This link actually has a quick guide for building your own home for under $50,000.

Countering Consumer Culture

How many dishes do you have in your kitchen? Do you think you could manage with just the resources of a tiny kitchen – perhaps a pot, bowl, knife, and then a plate, cup, and fork per person? It’s hard to picture for most of us. But I fully believe that physical clutter equals mental clutter. I know that when I cut back on my own possessions, I always feel amazingly unfettered. With it comes some kind of freedom of conscience, and creativity that allows you to make do with what you have.

Beyond the metaphysical relief, there are also a lot of practical benefits to going more minimal, including having a home that’s easier to clean, and saving on rent. This article actually has a chart that can give you an idea how much you can save by cutting back on space.

Conserving Energy

One of the most appealing things about these tiny houses was the way that they were often “off the grid” – not dependent on a utilities company to keep things afloat. Therefore, everything from electric plugs to toilet waste to kitchen appliances were made to be as sustainable as possible. Sure, this could be more of a bother in some ways: you might not have to pay a gas company, but you do have to replace your portable gas tank regularly. Despite this, there’s something appealing to me just about knowing exactly how much of everything you’re using. I think many of the clever techniques that people used in tiny houses to save on energy and water are great when incorporated into any home.

Enjoying the Outdoors

The tininess of those homes allows for you to make something of your garden space instead. Or perhaps the appeal is the fact that you can just attach it to your truck and travel anywhere with your home on your back like a turtle. Or perhaps what’s nice is that it leads you to use community and outside resources – going out to the city’s rec center instead of using a private gym. In any case, getting outside of our own houses is an enriching experience. It allows us to connect with nature and with the community, instead of locking ourselves into our own private existence.

Clever Storage and Flexibility

Hands-down, my #1 favorite thing about the idea of a tiny house is that it requires you to be smart with the room that you DO have. Being able to stow things away effectively and have an open space for your projects is important. For example, you can have stairs that you pull out when they’re needed, but when they’re not, they don’t take up space. I love the idea of having things and spaces be multi-purpose and flexible. For example, having a couch that easily pivots allows you to open or close a space, depending on how many people are there, or it can allow you to put up your feet for a movie, or pull up to the table for dinner.

Those are my favorite things about the ideas behind the tiny house movement… but how do I incorporate them into my own life? Share your ideas below, I’d love to hear them!

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