65. Tiny Houses.

We bought our house for the garden. It’s a little narrow, but nice and long, and the combination of plants and terraces makes it look like it goes on forever. There’s nothing wrong with the house. It’s prettier from the inside than it is from the outside, but it does the trick.

It’s certainly not a mansion. Each of the kids has a room of their own, and Mrs 23thorns and I share one. The same cannot be said about our cupboard space. But my shoulders are broad, and I soldier on (although I would just like to point out that the one with the broad shoulders should have the most cupboard space. My jackets are much bigger). There’s a bathroom, a TV room/lounge/office, and a kitchen. And an odd little space we laughingly call the dining room.

It's a little on the small side, so we hardly ever use it.

It’s a little pokey, so we hardly ever use it.

We’re very happy there, but if I were to be honest with you, I would like another bathroom and a reinforced concrete bunker where we could lock ourselves away from the kids on weekends. It is, I am trying to say, a little on the small side.

Or rather it was. Until this morning. The house didn’t get any bigger. Someone new just started following my blog. I clicked on their Gravatar, as I often do, and a whole new world opened up to me. She was, you see, a practitioner of Tiny House Living. Yep, those capitals are there for a reason. This is, officially, a Thing.

It used to be much bigger. The rest of it is at the bottom of the hill.

It used to be much bigger. The rest of it is at the bottom of the hill.

There is a community of people out there who want to live in cupboards. To each his own. They will tell you that they want to do so because they are saving the environment. Tiny houses, or rather Tiny Houses, use almost no energy compared to normal houses. They use far fewer raw materials, take up much less space, and can be moved around fairly easily, especially if you build them on wheels.

It may look a little silly, but it spells the end of drinking and driving.

It may look a little silly, but it spells the end of drinking and driving.

Those are the reasons that those who practice Tiny House Living will give you when you ask them why they are living in a cupboard. It is, of course, a lie. They are living in Tiny Houses because living in Tiny Houses makes them happy.

It doesn’t really matter why it makes them happy. They aren’t hurting anyone. But trying to understand people is fun. And I think I know why this makes them happy. When I was younger, we used to take the overnight train to boarding school.

Yes, it was a steam train. No I did not go to Hogwarts.

Yes, it was a steam train. No, I did not go to Hogwarts.

The first time I went on one, the train took my breath away. You walked into a little room. There were two benches, a little table, and two panels on the walls. When the time came, you lifted the table. There, miraculously, was a sink where you could brush your teeth. Done? Time to go to bed. The panels folded down into bunk-beds. It was cool. It was like a Swiss Army knife room.

Tiny Houses are like Swiss Army houses. Things flip over to become other things. Things fold in and out of roofs and walls. It must be like living on the inside of one of those Transformer toys.

How much would this suck in your Christmas stocking?

How much would this suck in your Christmas stocking?

There are lots of people doing lots of peculiar things out there. Some people climb mountains. Some people make quilts. Some people get genital piercings. Some people beat their children or murder prostitutes. I like the ones whose pleasures are harmless, or even better, beneficial.

Look, dear! The Jones's have added another story. How wasteful!

Look, dear! The Jones’s have added another story. How wasteful!

Tiny House Living is beneficial, on every level.  It is to be encouraged. But I do have a couple of questions.

1. What do you do when you fight?

Seriously. I’m going to assume that the sorts of people who are into Tiny House Living are windswept and interesting. Windswept and interesting people generally have partners. And partners have fights. You can have a fight in a cardboard box. It probably helps. But you do need a bit of room for the aftermath.

You need to flounce across rooms in tight-lipped but eloquent silence. You need to slam the odd door. You need to “be alone” as ostentatiously as possible. You can’t really get a good flounce going if your bedroom/lounge/TV room is only three steps wide, and when the only door is the one to the bathroom/kitchen, slamming it more than once will just see faintly ludicrous.

I just feel like I need a little space right now.

I just feel like I need a little space right now.

2. Does your underwear all smell of food?

We used to live in an even smaller place. We slept up in a loft, which happened to be both open and above the kitchen. It was all terribly cosy and romantic until we decided to cook up some butter-fish. Then we smelt like Unhygienix, the fishmonger from Asterix for six weeks. We could have fitted two Tiny Houses into that place. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the kitchen in a Tiny House is not a separate room.

Honey, I think that we should become vegans. It's just so much more.... ethical.

Honey, I think that we should become vegans. It’s just so much more…. ethical.

3. How big is your shed?

Part of the thinking behind Tiny House living is that you are forced to let go of the stuff you don’t need. Our society is far too materialistic. We all have clothes that we only wear once or twice a year. Get rid of them. Those things in the kitchen you never use? The popcorn popper, the fondue set, the three-speed electronic knife sharpener? Throw them away.

"nuff said?

“nuff said?

But what about the stuff you really do need. We all have that stuff. I have a pair of roller-blades I simply cannot throw away. Granted, I haven’t used them since 1990, but what if I want to go roller-blading tomorrow? And where do you keep your books?

I’m sure the rules allow you to have a shed. But it has to be a Tiny Shed. If you live in a Tiny House and have a shed the size of the Vatican so you can hang onto all your stuff, you’re just cheating.

4. Ever heard of these guys?

Not Tiny Houses on wheels. experts can spot the difference.

Not Tiny Houses on wheels. Experts can spot the difference.

Just asking.

5. Do you have tiny cars, too?

Because that would just be cool. You could keep them in your tiny garage. Where you could also keep your tiny tools. Just in case your tiny car ever had a tiny breakdown.

I'm just taking it in for a service.

I’m just taking it in for a service.

6. Do vandals ever move your house while you’re sleeping?

Because I would totally move your house while you were sleeping.

I think it's only fair to warn you.

I think it’s only fair to warn you.

I’d never even heard of Tiny House Living before, and now I’m intrigued. I want in. Not to live in one or anything. But I know a couple of people who would love to. There must be thousands of others out there. I’m going to become a Tiny Property Developer.

I’ll buy up vacant lots in the suburbs and turn them into Tiny Housing Estates. Nice ones. Really upmarket. The streets will be lined with bonsais, and each home will have parking for two tiny cars.

I've already chosen a landscaper.

I’ve already chosen a landscaper.

There will be a tiny communal swimming pool and clubhouse, where the owners can get together for tiny parties.

Everyone will just be super happy. And if they’re not? Well that’s easy. They can just take their Tiny Houses and @#$% off.

And don't come back!

And don’t come back!

*****

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74 thoughts on “65. Tiny Houses.

  1. Nativegrl77 says:

    I have this somewhere … I loved the little house article … looking for it …oh, thank you for liking CARE2

  2. ponderfish33 says:

    My family loves the idea of tiny houses, especially if we could each have our own arranged in a ring around a common yard. This somehow seems to be contrary to the concept, one house per person, but we would all have somewhere to be alone in times of conflict. How do people deal with not being able to slam a door when feeling grumpy?

  3. ponderfish33 says:

    I too am fascinated by little houses, as are my kids. We have thought if each of us could have a tiny house of our own, arranged in a ring around a communal outdoor space, that would be fine. I think it defeats the idea of tiny living, but we all still dream of houses of our own.

  4. gailkav says:

    I grew up in Not Tiny Houses on Wheels. This post was lots of fun, and a tiny house would just suit me!

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  6. Linne says:

    Reblogged this on A Random Harvest and commented:
    Not that a Tiny House would hold all my crafting and art supplies, never mind the memorabilia . . . but I’d still like a Tiny House to live in; a Tiny Cottage, to be precise, rather Hobbity in nature, with elements of Art Deco and Arts&Crafts. With a huge hay barn behind, ready to become a workspace for all and sundry occupations I might be tempted to indulge in . . . ~ Linne

  7. Nylabluesmum says:

    I love this blog!! I live in a 400 square foot ground floor apartment….I can not imagine living in something smaller!!! i have read about these weird little 250 sq foot apartments in New York going for $700. (Amer.) a month!! I just don’t get it at all!. I have a policy if something comes in then something goes out to the charity shop…far from a hoarder I am th opposite & my friends say I live a ‘spartan’ lifestyle….whatever that is!!!?? I have lots of ART & my precious books & Nylablue who occupies all 400 sq. feet with litter I mean it…litter is everywhere & I am a clean person) & her beds…all 7 of them & her toys…probably as many toys as your 2 kidlets combined!!! I seriously need an upgrade here, hahahaha!!! If I did not have a patio & postage stamp front lawn I’d go barking mad…..(not that I am far away from that anyway)……
    Thank you for a great post as always,
    Sherri-Ellen (looking for the exit door)

  8. […] at his blog, he popped into mine and read one of my ravings on Tiny House Living, and he wrote a post of his own that posed a few questions about the lifestyle to which I am largely now […]

  9. Lois Brown says:

    Reblogged this on Rabbit Hole Interiors and commented:
    This blogger has some very humorous and insightful comments on TINY HOUSES:

  10. narf77 says:

    I am just wondering at the logic of a man that thinks he NEEDS more wardrobe space…I never would have pinned you as a fashionista Mr23 Thorns. Most men don’t use the “generous” wardrobe space their wives give them anyway. Most of Steve’s clothing resides in various stages of undress on the floor around our bed where he can reach out and grab any given item (unless Earl has already reached out and grabbed them in the night…) ready to put on the next day. Bedroom floors are men’s wardrobes (bathroom floors are towel wardrobes apparently). The same thing that makes a big dog (say…Earl…) want to squeeze into a narrow space (say… under the bed…) is what makes some people want to live in tiny houses. If you can add wheels onto them so that your cardboard box equivalent is portable you have just invented the snail shell of the moment for closet agoraphobics. They can perambulate around the countryside waxing lyrical about how sustainably superior they are right up until the wider world gets a tad scary and then they can retreat back into their cardboard box and hightail it out of there. You were one of those kids that drove their parents mad asking questions weren’t you Mr23 Thorns? By now, your new tiny house dwelling blog reader has probably hightailed it to the safety of their box-on-wheels to recover from that barrage! You can never have enough shoes, bags or tents Mr23 Thorns…the tent is the tiny house equivalent of a portable cardboard box and a place where a man (why would the woman leave her tiny house eh?) can set up camp and think about his actions before begging his way back into that tiny little cave. I fear tiny spaces. Scratchy chitinous things live in tiny spaces…things that scrape on the walls when you are trying to sleep…tiny thin little walls that most probably wouldn’t stand up to a lot of that slow rasping scraping…nope, give me bricks and mortar where a girl can get plenty of notice before “things” can scrape their way through!

    • 23thorns says:

      I need the cupboard space for my power tools. They get lonely out in the shed.

      • narf77 says:

        Oh NOW I understand! Perfectly logical if you look at it that way, in fact…if you look at it that way, Mrs 23 Thorns is being decidedly unsportsmanlike. How on earth is a man supposed to whittle a spoon, drill a hole in a random chunk of wood or cut a notch in something without a power tool close at hand? I mean lets be honest here…most men only have to roll over in bed, reach over to their bedside table (let alone their wardrobe) and can isolate some form of useful apparatus that plugs in and renders something cut, nailed or glued even in the dead of the night. You sir are missing out! When Mrs 23 Thorns gets back from her N.Z. safari, you are just going to have to read her the riot act!

  11. pfstare says:

    🙂 at ‘I would totally move your house while you were asleep’. The thing is, they’d probably like that….

  12. Nanny Cool says:

    Loved reading this x

  13. PigLove says:

    I’ve seen them and would love to have one. XOXO – Bacon

  14. museconfuse says:

    Not sure if I could live in a tiny house but I love the concept and I’m always browsing Tiny house blog – I find inspiration in the way they organize or lay out or just simply enjoy looking at tiny houses out in nature!

  15. Tandi says:

    I lived for years in a tiny house. And was married too, but not any longer. Hmmm, is there a connection there? What I loved about it is that the outdoors was part of our living space, and we were always in touch with what was happening outside. Yes, we had a shed. But not one closet. ( This was back when I was young and poor and prior to my love of high heels.). Now I still like to live in smallish houses, and love small well made things. In fact I store my Mini Cooper in the garden shed come winter!

  16. sisteranan says:

    oh and… about sulk space… isn’t that what other countries are for??

    • 23thorns says:

      Not at all. A good sulk needs to be witnessed by the offending party. Sulking is an art form very closely related to mime.

      • sisteranan says:

        very true, Mr. 23Thorns. If i did sulk in another country, however, i’d make very sure that the offending party had a direct feed that could never be turned off, somewhere that it was impossible to avoid in say, the kitchen. Or, one Tiny House.

  17. sisteranan says:

    I’ve lived in a Tiny House for years; it’s about the size of one of those Monopoloy houses you put on the cheap lots, and is surrounded by other Tiny Houses, aka. ‘apartments’. The justification of the architects for the tiny little rooms is that ‘one adult staying in the room for one hour is enough to heat it, from body heat alone.’ If i twitch involuntarily, i can put an arm out a window and knock out some unsuspecting crow.

  18. Yet another laugh-along post 🙂

    Many moons ago, when our only chick was a toddler, we rented a 5-bedroomed creepy old mansion, that perched on a cliff edge by the sea, and which was slowly falling to pieces. We spent as little time as possible indoors, where we tended to huddle together for warmth in the smallest room in the house:)
    When the owners retired, and moved back to Wales from South Africa, we moved on to the tiniest house we could find!
    It had 1.5 bedrooms (the 1/2 bedroom was just big enough for a cot bed, and the full bedroom just fitted a 4ft wide bed). The living room was 6ft by 12ft, and my kitchen was in between bedrooms and living room. It was 5.5 ft by 6.5 ft without the fittings but, once everything vital was in, I had a 2ft by 2ft space to stand in!
    Because we had no bathroom, we had to convert a 1/3rd of the kitchen into a shower room (hence it’s size), and the separate toilet room actually sat on a concrete bridge that was built to access the house (it’s very hilly in our part of Wales!)
    That house may have been tiny, but we had the biggest, and most fabulous garden we’d ever had, and we loved it 🙂
    We’ve lived in a few other places since then, mainly old farmhouses, but we are now back to living in yet another small house – not tiny this time, just small – but once again with a fab garden that hubby has created over the years 🙂

    By the way, hubby has just installed a pallet table into a new area of the gerden he’s working on – you have a LOT to answer for Mr 23 thorns! 🙂

    • 23thorns says:

      Toddlers and cliffs. There’s a match made in heaven!

      • Tell me about it! Lol
        We eventually came to the conclusion that she must be part monkey, as she scrambled up and down the cliff with ease – mind you, it probably helped that there were a lot of bushes and young trees sprouting almost down to the ground! 🙂

  19. Buzzwordz says:

    When my dear Mr. Buzzwordz and I finally got together, there we were, 2 Adults, 2 Teens, 1 Set of brand new twins, and an 80lb German Shepherd (that’s an Alsatian to you) in 700 Sq feet. I had to leave the house to change my mind, but we were happy and there was much less to clean and if anyone ever asks me about ‘tiny living’ I can truthfully say ‘been there, done that”! Now I am off to the east wing to get a little ‘me time’.

  20. Ashana M says:

    Lesson #1 of Tiny House living: you do not cook fish. I’m sure everyone knows that.

  21. I love the tiny house concept but simply have too much stuff I cannot part with. I did buy a wonderful book called Put your life on a diet by a fellow who lives in a tiny home. He has no kitchen – take out. He has a storage locker he rents for all his stuff (I think it’s cheating but then again, each to their own) and he has all his books and music and films on hard drive. No paper books, just kindle and such. It made for an interesting and educational read and influenced our decision to move too. Our old house was 3br, 2 living areas, dining room and then the rest. Our current house has 4 br although all are almost 1/2 in size, 1 living area and a half sized kitchen, although we now have a laundry instead of a laundry in a cupboard ( 😦 ) and moch more pantry space. We’re still downsizing all our crap (cos most of it is just that) and working out storage solutions but I love our smaller house.
    As for areas in which to flounce, slam doors, sulk and all the rest, Hubby has a shed. I slam the doors, rant, rave and sulk. He retires to the shed! 😉

    • 23thorns says:

      Sadly I can’t fit into our shed. It’s filled with rollerblades and old exercise equipment.
      I don’t think your guy there gets it. You do not qualify as windswept and interesting if you live on McDonalds.

      • Ha! Give our shed 12 months and I’m sure I can boot the “junk” out of the house and fill it up but for now it’s a 2 month old and still incomplete (just) shed so entry is still absolutely possible. 🙂
        Windswept (only cos he rides his bicycle) and completely unhealthy maybe.

  22. albertine says:

    I just heard on the radio that 10% of couples in long-term relationships live separately. No, they didn’t define any of their terms. If a caravan can’t be a Tiny House, I suppose a canal boat can’t be either. This is a sadly limiting approach.
    PS – glad to see some typos sneaking in. Well done, Mr 23thorns. I appreciate the authenticity.

    • 23thorns says:

      Oddly enough, a canal boat can’t, and neither can a houseboat. But you can build one on a barge. Go figure.
      I do need to stop posting after my editor goes to sleep.

  23. Lois Brown says:

    I love your sense of humor! Your analogy to a Swiss army knife was very clever and right on. If you ever decide to write a book, it would be a best seller!

  24. The two-story, stone and wood cabin in the woods you have pictured is the exact photo I cut out of a magazine years ago and tagged on my cork board as my little dream cottage.
    I currently live in a 425 sq ft apartment and, while it’s easy to clean, it’s just too small for my whirlwind of a child. As soon as I can save up enough $, I’m outta here. I need my own quiet space.

  25. When my husband and I were flathunting – while he lived at a practical distance in another time zone – I insisted we needed a bedroom, a sitting room, a dining room, a bathroom, a kitchen and a library where I could go to be alone. (And also where the books could be stored, all 56 shelf-metres of them.) Tiny Living = Not My Thing. I can live with a suitcase for a wardrobe – and actually did so for 3 years at one point – but a place simply wouldn’t be “home” without my books.

    • 23thorns says:

      I’m obviously tired. I just Google ‘flathunting”. I thought it was some obscure Scandinavian leisure activity. “We’re all going flatoonting this weekend. Wanna come along?”

  26. It is intriguing to me, we are downsizing from 2,000 sq ft to about 750 sq ft. This is a challenge in itself, although I admit I have spent some time exploring this lifestyle for two reasons: financial freedom and environmentally friendly. However in most places you cannot legally live in one due to zoning laws some are finding ways around this roadblock. Great topic and very humorous, I am looking forward to following you. Have a great day, Allie.

  27. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Hysterical! The answer to your question – you each live in a Very Tiny House so that you can retreat in high dudgeon to your own Very Tiny Bedroom. Two Very Tiny Houses make one Tiny House. Where you put your children I can’t imagine. Adding another Very Tiny House would make a Medium House.

    • 23thorns says:

      If you had the money, you could have a Tiny House with a basement the size of an Olympic pool. You would have all that Tiny House street cred, and still have the room for a good flounce.

  28. NIDS LOVE BIG EYES says:

    Here in Joburg there is an apartment block made out of shipping containers. When they arrived and started stacking, it looked like Durban harbour meets Hillbrow. Now that it’s finished, it looks really great. Here’s a link : http://www.sapropertynews.com/container-housing-units-a-big-hit-in-windsor-east/

    • Susan M says:

      I read the article. It didn’t mention plumbing either. I guess I will need to take a tour of one of those converted shipping containers so I can find out! I’m glad the project in Windsor East is a success.

    • 23thorns says:

      I read about those when they were being built. I’ll go and check it out.

  29. Typehype says:

    I LOL at the bonsai trees!!! I’m still laughing. Oddly, I also loved the Old Navy ad. I usually hate ads. But this one reminded me of Moonrise Kingdom, my favorite movie of last year. Very funny post!

  30. Susan M says:

    Here in Seattle, WA in the US, there are some people making houses out of shipping containers. There was an article about the company in the local newspaper, but it didn’t mention the bathroom / toilet. I was interested in how one would “plumb” a shipping container. We also have buildings here that have “apodments” in them. Five or so very small living spaces with a shared kitchen. I’d live in a shipping container before I’d live in an apodment. Plus, where I live now is only 400+ square feet. I don’t have to worry about fighting with anyone since I live alone.

    • 23thorns says:

      They use a lot of shipping containers out here. all you need for the plumbing is an blowtorch.
      The company I used to work for used to make container libraries for poor communities.

  31. nuvofelt says:

    I have never heard of Tiny Houses. I think I could do with one. If I filled it with all my stuff there might be room for me to move in my not so tiny house. Stuff? No! Memories and inspiration. How firghtful to live in a house too tiny for inspiration…. 😉

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