Why Am I So Obsessed With Tiny Houses Right Now?
Although home feels small right now, my recent obsession with tiny houses is making me rethink the essentials that make a house a home.
I have something to confess: lately, I’ve developed a tiny obsession. Or more accurately, a massive obsession with tiny houses.
I couldn’t even begin counting the number of tiny house tours I’ve watched on YouTube over the last few weeks. I’ve researched the costs and realities of building one, built one of my own in The Sims, and bored family members half to death with tiny house talk.
And since the tiny house movement has rapidly gained traction across social media and even has its own Netflix show, I know I’m not the only one paying attention.
The backdrop of my obsession seems out of place at first glance. The coronavirus-induced lockdown has confined most of us to the same four walls. It’s easy to feel them closing in. When escaping the confines of home is top of mind, the thought of downsizing to an even smaller space is hardly desirable.
So why am I so obsessed with tiny living spaces right now, when home already feels so small?
What is a tiny house, anyway?
For those who haven’t caught this particular bug yet, the tiny house movement is an alternative living solution for those looking to downsize and escape the traditional housing market. It’s nothing new — the movement has been around for decades, but interest has grown rapidly over the last few years, with reports of a 67% year-on-year increase in the number of tiny homes in the States.
As the name suggests, this solution comes in a pretty small package. Most tiny houses measure between 10 and 40 square metres. Considering that the average single-family home is 76 square metres in the United Kingdom, and 200 square metres in the United States, the difference in floor space is enough to make many retreat in horror.
Thankfully, they’ve got the price tag to match. Depending on labour costs and the types of materials used, the costs of building a tiny house range anywhere between $10,000 and $150,000. Even at the highest price point, this works out at a fraction of the cost of a regular-sized house. This makes tiny homes a viable way to own property while living debt-free, allowing for greater financial freedom and time to pursue the more enjoyable things in life.
Tiny house, big possibilities
The decision to build a tiny house comes with great flexibility. As most are custom built, they are designed with the inhabitants’ lifestyle in mind. Tiny homes utilise smart layouts and solutions that help maximise the limited space. They’ve got that Goldilocks’ ‘just right’ kind of feel.
And they don’t have to stay in one place, either. While some tiny homes are permanently settled on foundations, many are built on trailers. This allows for nomadic movement from place to place.
Tiny home owners often place environmental awareness at the core of their design. Eco-friendly design options include using reclaimed wood and engaging skilled local craftsmen. Energy and water usage is carefully thought through, with systems in place to maximise every single use of natural resources.
Off-grid living becomes possible with the addition of solar systems and water tanks. This further reduces the cost of living in the long run.
This zen-inspired house has got to be one of my favourite tiny house designs on the Living Big in a Tiny House channel.
Of course, there are compromises involved.
The tiny house comes with a built-in lifestyle. The transition to tiny living involves a thorough downsizing of unnecessary possessions. With no room for non-essentials, every object that enters the home must have a clear place and purpose.
All of this leads to a serious lifestyle change for anyone going tiny.
And for those of us who obsess over tiny house living, it might mean some lifestyle changes are in order, too.
Alternative living options, such as the tiny house movement or the wave of minimalism, are still considered quite radical by traditional standards.
Choosing an alternative lifestyle is a blatant refusal to keep up with the Joneses. It’s a rejection of the capitalist mindset of ‘bigger is better,’ and an experiment in finding alternative routes to happiness. Often, it is visible proof that happiness can be found without buying almost anything at all.
Many of us have been in the habit of constant consumption for quite some time. This cycle was almost impossible to break — until an international lockdown forced us all to avoid shopping, spending, upgrading and online booking.
Suddenly, all of the commodities we took for granted split into essentials and non-essentials.
As it turns out, not that many things are essential after all.
What do I need from a home?
Like many of us, I’ve become painfully aware of the shortcomings of my own space since lockdown began and I started working from home.
Living in a small rental apartment, I’ve had very little input when it comes to the layout or design of my home. Truth be told, I would have never chosen the furniture that I use every day. It’s not particularly functional, most of it is too big for the space, and none of it is beautiful.
As with many rentals, the apartment appears to be somewhat of a storage unit for the landlord’s cast-offs. What other explanation is there for the five small glass tables in our living room? I certainly have no use for them.
Instead of creating fullness, these household objects create a sense of lack.
Home feels cramped and stifling when it doesn’t fulfil your needs or reflect your ideals of good living.
Tiny homes don’t have this type of problem. Since they are custom-built, every piece of furniture serves a purpose — sometimes even multiple purposes. Everything is customised to the user’s needs, whether those needs include storage space for rock-climbing equipment, a breakfast nook or a pull-out projector screen.
In a tiny house, everything is designed to feel like home. Don’t we all crave that feeling?
Lockdown already had me thinking about the areas of my living space that I use and appreciate the most, but the tiny house movement brought it home.
Natural light, a comfortable bed, a decent workspace where I can focus, and a place to make healthy meals. These are the things that matter most to me. Everything else is just fluff. If I were building a tiny house right now, those are the things I’d be sketching out first.
My fascination with tiny houses is, of course, a form of escapism.
It’s an easy way to visualise a different view outside my window when every day blends into the next.
But there’s more to it than that. At the end of the day, my obsession with tiny house living is an indicator of the pieces I want to put back into my life when the pandemic is over.
From watching countless tiny house tours, I’ve gathered just how important outdoor space becomes when you live in a tiny house. Sliding doors, outdoor decks and enviable skylights make all the difference. They instantly elevate a home that feels small and compromised to a home that expands out into the vastness of its natural surroundings.
As a result, life itself expands to the outdoors.
Living in harmony with nature feels like the height of luxury to me right now. I don’t just crave waking up with the sun in a tiny home loft. I crave eating breakfast outside with loved ones, sitting around a fire pit, locking up to go travel.
Watching these possibilities on screen evokes nostalgia for all of the simple things that are impossible right now. Like an international lockdown, the tiny house movement highlights the downfalls of capitalist culture, forcing us to look at our most deeply rooted needs.
Instead of encouraging consumption, it is a siren call to pare it all back to the basics. The tiny house movement encourages living in connection with nature and with the people we love. On top of that, it combines the primal desire to provide shelter and build a house with our bare hands with the modern desire for debt-free financial freedom.
No wonder the tiny home movement is so deeply attractive.
Another favourite. Every time I think I’ve found my dream tiny home, another one pops up.
This year has thrown us a curveball.
Millions of people around the world have undergone a massive lifestyle change in the space of weeks.
And given the uncertain state of the world right now, there are a lot of lifestyle changes still to come. A looming global recession, a deeper housing crisis, and great financial losses are on the horizon for many. On the other hand, we can expect greater remote working opportunities than ever before.
Alternative living solutions such as tiny house living might just make their home in the midst of the fallout. Particularly for those of us who want to get on the property ladder in some way!
Whether or not the tiny house movement is for you, this is a unique opportunity to look within and consider the essentials in your life.
Ask yourself: what does home mean to you? And what do you need from a home?
Pay attention to the things that come to mind — you might be surprised at how little stuff you need to feel at home.
As for me, one thing is sure: a flushing toilet is still top of my list. Sorry, composting toilets. You’re just not for me.
Would you ever consider living in a tiny house? Let me know in the comments below or over on Instagram.
And while you’re here, why not check out my list of free online courses you can take to upskill during the lockdown?
#minimalistlifestyle #sustainableliving #sustainablehome #coronaviruslockdown #houseessentials #tinyhousemovement #offgridliving #minimalism #tinyhouseireland #tinyhome #offgridhome #lockdown #benefitsoftinyhouse