Originally, I had planned to write a post about the more mundane (but necessary) matters of tiny houses: bathrooms and storage. However, along the way I got inspired by The Big Tiny Bash hosted by Modern Tiny Living on August 5, 2017. To celebrate the launch of their new Cedar Springs Tiny Village (New Paris, Ohio), the people at Modern Tiny put on a great event, featuring model tiny houses and top-notch speakers.
One of the Tiny Bash speakers, Bruce Faris (who is the architect for Modern Tiny Living and lives in a tiny house himself) gave a helpful overview of the “Top Ten Decision Points to Live Tiny.” For the final point on “why go tiny?” he started naming things such as financial freedom, sustainability, enjoying other aspects of life, independence. Then he said the magic words: “Less House, More Home.”
QUALITY OF LIFE
That’s it, I thought! “Less house. More home,” which, I found out later, is the byline of Modern Tiny Living. Also, a nice twist on architect Mies van der Rohe’s classic statement, “Less is more.”
I got the message: If I’m going to downsize my house, the emphasis needs to be on the quality of life in that home, not on the quantity of square footage or stuff.
Bruce posed some other questions that got me thinking:
- How much private space do you need?
- What stuff do you want to keep? (What do you need vs. what do you want?)
- What kind of space do you need? (Consider what you plan on doing in the space.)
Bruce’s comments dovetailed nicely with those of Trevor Gay, HGTV Field Producer for “Tiny House, Big Living.” In his presentation on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Tiny House Living,” Trevor’s first “don’t” was, “Don’t compromise the healthy parts of your lifestyle to go tiny.” (Trevor knows of which he speaks; he built his own tiny house, detailed on Heart of It All House.)
The idea of compromising lifestyle has special resonance for many of us seniors. We may be slowing down a bit; our interests may be shifting; our friends and family may not be as close by or as available as before; the things we like to do may be harder to access.
So we wonder how our lifestyle will be forced to change further as the years progress. Which makes it all the more important to ask ourselves:
- How DO I want to live my elder years?
- What IS important to me?
- What do I need LESS of? MORE of?
THE KEY TO SIMPLIFYING
Here’s the thing I’m finding out about tiny houses: You can make room for what is important to you.
One of the presenters at the Tiny Bash told a story about a woman who had a shoe collection that was very important to her, and they found a way to create space for this collection in her tiny house. While the audience laughed, the point was made: Prioritize what matters most to you, even if you have to do with less of other things.
While shoes may not be your thing, consider your options. What will make your house your home?
Love light? Add roof windows. A UK company called VELUX (with offices in the U.S.) makes roof windows with remote controls, blinds and shutters.
Got books? Add a bookshelf wall. This particular book wall is in a 540-square-feet cottage on Sauvie Island, 15 minutes north of Portland.
Love clothes? Find unique places for closets. Home Designing shows how storage closets can be added in a less-than-300-square-foot floorplan.
Live in a cold climate? Add a fireplace. This living room is in the 400-square-foot “Bellevue” park model home by West Coast Homes.
Love to cook? Full-size kitchen appliances will fit! This kitchen is part of a 400-square-foot tiny house designed for a family, where cooking would obviously be important.
Enjoy entertaining? Create a big corner sofa so everyone has a seat. This welcoming living room sofa (and large TV!) is in a 355-square-foot apartment in Sweden.
YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL!
Lest you get carried away and think that you can have ALL of these features in one small house, the goal is to choose what fits your lifestyle, your activities, your body type, your abilities. The point is not to add MORE but to include what makes your house uniquely YOURS.
As Trevor Gay put it, “You make up the rules!”
What do you want in your house?
— Marcia, host for Tiny Houses for Seniors