I have a guilty indulgence.
On the nights that my husband goes to bed earlier than I do, I secretly click over to watch a tiny house show on my laptop.
As one of the hosts of those shows says, “The tiny house movement is the next big thing!”
I don’t know about you, but no one I know (or anyone they know) is even seriously considering buying a tiny house. However, there is a surge in popularity about the concept of tiny houses, as evident by the many television shows on the topic.
Why are tiny house shows so popular?
The hosts of these shows will tell you it’s because people want financial freedom, a lower carbon footprint or to be mobile. Although these are all part of the story, I don’t believe these are the true reasons why we watch.
The true allure of tiny houses must be emotional. We don’t care about watching shows that may save us money, lower our carbon footprint (unfortunately) or give us a simpler lifestyle (again, too bad). Our motivation is purely psychological. We get a rush thinking about living in such a space—but why?
It reminds us of our childhood.
Who among us has not built a fort? How about one under a table when we were home sick from school, using blankets, sheets and pillows? Or how about one on the side of our house using a refrigerator box? Or perhaps you were a lucky one and actually had a treehouse. (Oh, yeah, let’s not forget that there is another show for that one, too!)
That fort had a tiny table to eat our tiny meals. It had a tiny bedroom with a tiny bed and maybe even a tiny window or couch. Mine had a tiny cat (well, it wasn’t that tiny) and a friend to share it all with. It was our own special place, and it was magical. We would create our tiny lives in that space, an entire imaginary world—until, that is, our moms called us for dinner.
We felt so safe and secure in our tiny places. Even now when I think back on those times, it brings a big smile to my face. So no wonder we are entranced by these tiny house shows. We all want to imagine ourselves in those tiny spaces, living those perfect, safe, fun, imaginary tiny lives.
So here’s how to bring the whimsy of tiny homes into your own space, no matter where you live:
Tip #1: Create cozy.
We want to be cozy.
We can’t ignore that the tiny house movement is a direct reaction to the McMansions of the 21st century. According to a 2015 U.S. Census Bureau study, the new average home has nearly double the square footage per person as compared to those built in 1975, from 551 to 1,058 square feet. In addition to the increased space per person, nearly every room now has a television, and, unlike the houses in the 1970s, many rooms host only a single function such as a study, a craft room, a home office, a media room, an exercise room or a gaming room.
All this extra space and spatial separation can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. And this is where the tiny house movement really shines. The limited space serves multiple functions, and everyone is within visual distance from each other.
There is no hiding in a tiny home.
Like the practice of hygge (the Danish term that loosely translates to “cozy,” pronounced “HOO-gah”), tiny houses typically have lofts that require lowered ceilings—a great hygge design detail. And when occupied by more than one person, tiny houses require, out of necessity, living on top of one another. They foster closer relationships, and many tiny house owners speak of the value of togetherness.
We can mimic this coziness in our own homes by turning a corner of the family room or maybe part of the master bedroom into a cozy space. With a comfortable chair and ottoman, a good reading lamp and a room divider, we can have that feel of coziness. How about creating a weekly family night where everyone in the household eats dinner together and spends quality time, perhaps playing games or watching a fun movie?
Togetherness is a great benefit of tiny homes.
Tip #2: Reduce consumerism.
You cannot live in a tiny house and consume like the average American. Nor can you have every modern convenience at your fingertips. Do we really need the single-cup coffee maker, stand mixer and food processor? Something’s gotta give.
Living in a tiny home requires us to reevaluate what we can live without. As one tiny homeowner explained, “I would frame this by asking not ‘how can it all fit in?’, but instead ‘what can I do without?’ The absence of some items from the home might be just as important as the presence of others.”
Every time we get the urge to buy something that is non-consumable, ask ourselves if we can do without it. This is an easy one, I think.
We are sick of full-fledged, flagrant consumerism. Consumerism, or rather, lack of consumerism goes hand-in-hand with a simpler life. Considering the increasingly chaotic world we now live in, who wouldn’t want that?
Tip #3: Reduce the stuff.
Less stuff means less burden and responsibility. One space-clearing expert claims that everything we own has an invisible cord to our bodies. Think about that—no wonder we feel so heavy.
Some say that voyeurism is a huge draw for the tiny house show viewers. We want to watch other people as they go through the process of shedding a good percentage of their belongings in order to fit into a shoebox-sized space.
We visualize ourselves having to go through it, without all the pain.
But we, too, can take the plunge and shed our homes of all the stuff we truly don’t need. How about reducing 10 to 20 percent of stuff, perhaps even 30 percent?
I try to do this on occasion, going through one room at a time. How about you? Imagine how much space you would have. Visualize the openness and lightness you would feel.
Tip #4: Create romance.
We want the romance of living in a cottage-like environment.
Have you ever had the thought of chucking it all out the window and running for the shed? Well, maybe not a shed. Living in a tiny house really means opting for an alternative lifestyle. Although most of us live traditional, “normal” lives, some of us yearn to break free of tradition. But we are fearful of doing so ourselves, so instead, we watch others take the plunge.
I don’t have a clever tip for this one necessarily. But I know that I will keep watching those tiny house shows, until one day, perhaps I’ll have one of my own—or at least a treehouse.
Author: Maureen Calamia
Image: Flickr/Tomas Quinones
Editor: Callie Rushton