Downsizing to a Tiny House

How small a space could you feel comfortable living in? My current house is 1,100 square feet and sits on a 1/3 acre lot. That is already downsized compared to some in my community, and greatly downsized compared to others in the world. I’ve thought of down sizing even further, but had never considered going to a space as small as some Americans are moving into.

Jay Shafer is a leader in this. He lives in about 100 sq ft, in Iowa, and has been featured in news articles and on television. He creates small homes for others and founded the Small Houses Society.

If you’ve read Thomas Friedman’s book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need A Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America you will know that the world is in the midst of a population crisis. The massive growth in population is causing a huge drain on the resources of the world. Living smaller is one of the first things we can do to reduce that impact on Mother Earth.

So, what do these small houses look like? When I saw them, I immediately recalled some of the small “out buildings” you can buy prefabricated at Home Depot. While you can go through a builder, designer, like Mr. Shafer, if your land has no restrictions on what kind of building you erect on it, you could conceivably start with a shell like Home Depot and other shops of that sort offer.

One that I went into had a great loft that would make a perfect bedroom & reading room for me. These are shells, so you can let your imagination run rampant. Pull the electricity onto the property and get started.

Unless you are way handier than me, you’ll have to have a plumber come in and plumb out a tiny bathroom. Most of the tiny houses stick to a shower and not a tub. I’d find this a problem, but adding a “hot tub” somewhere outside the house could solve this.

Sometimes even a tiny fireplace can be added inside the small house. For me, I think I’d add a “fire pit” outside the house … near the hot tub.

I would want this home to be NEAR a big city. I’d want to be within an easy commute to movies, zoos, art museums and good restaurants. But there are lots of cities that fit that description and I actually have mine “staked out” but won’t share that with readers because I don’t want a run on it.

As I looked at the houses, recently featured on TV, I immediately noted that there seemed to be a lack of insulation inside the walls. I’d want to live in the NC mountains, so I’d need a layer of insulation and some drywall. However, with one assistant, I believe this is work I could do myself.

I’m an electrician’s daughter and though my dad is deceased I currently do a lot of the electrical work at my home. I believe I could probably do most of the electrical work for a small home, have it look neat and pass any code. Others could probably have electricians come in and have the electricity working in a few hours. If you are only dealing with 100 sq feet, it won’t take long.

You’ll need electricity for your appliances: a small fridge, a tiny two-burner range, a microwave, countertop convection oven, and maybe a coffee maker. I can’t live without TV, so I’d need an outlet for that and a small stereo/radio. You’ll need a downstairs light and an upstairs light if you have a sleeping loft.

In the tiny homes I’ve viewed, the beds were surprisingly large. With a loft, you can do without a bed frame and basically use just a mattress, as plush and comfy as you want, or can use the complete box springs and mattress combo without a frame. I personally would create built-in bookshelves for the loft and use one for a TV, one for books & videos, and some for folded clothing like sweaters and sweatshirts.

I’m a clotheshorse, but I’ve known for a while that I’d need to make a big donation to a local Goodwill or other charity to live simply. In a tiny house, I’d scale back to three pairs of jeans: one blue, one black, one beige. A few t-shirts, a few sweaters, one good jacket for warmth, and one for “dressier” times.

Females, like me, admittedly have a harder time in scaling back the clothing. But, I think my choice would be to keep a few sets of “good travel” clothes. I’d have one good business skirt and jacket, with a suitable sharp looking blouse. This can be an EXPENSIVE one, because it would be the only one.

I currently work from home, but do occasionally have to go out to make presentations and to luncheons. I’d want one good basic luncheon dress, and one good evening outfit. So, one section of the tiny house would be a “tiny closet” for an assortment of clothes and shoes.

Since I think of SOME clothing as “art” … I could actually use my Tibetan jacket as artwork on one wall … wearing it when needed. I could also put my basic black Christian Louboutin pumps on the wall as art, with one red sole turned to face the viewer, when not being worn.

I think I could live, happily, in 100-200 sq feet. Hey, I’ve done it. When I lived in New York City my studio apartment was no larger. And, I think I could do it without feeling I’d lost a huge quality in lifestyle. I believe even my cats would feel happy with this move, since they do love cozy and comfortable. It doesn’t take an estate to feel that way.

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