I get claustrophobic just thinking about living in a tiny house. Among my friends, though, I am outnumbered. There is a distinct and growing enthusiasm among my peers, and across the country, for living small (er, living large in tiny spaces).
I’ll admit it; the tiny house designs can be awfully charming. With their built-in nooks, ladders, lofts and storybook appeal, they entice the little girl in me who loves dollhouses and hidden treasures. Besides being adorable in photos, though, what’s all the rage? Why is the micro home trend so appealing to some and so off-putting to others? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Free Your Mind, Environmental Conscience and Wallet?
The yoga-loving, inner-peace-seeking woman in me understands the importance of doing without. Due to the nature of small home living, each purchase must be carefully considered. One might ask herself: Do I need these new shoes? If I do, will they fit in my closet? If not, can I live without whatever it is I’ll have to get rid of to make room for them? Living in tiny homes really forces people to take a close look at the different between “want” and “need” – an important distinction we should, I think, learn to make.
Additionally, it’s hard to argue against the environmental friendliness of these homes. Typically ranging in size from about 100 to 400 square feet, many of them generate energy from solar panels or small windmills. Given the tiny size of the homes, it’s easier to create enough energy to power the whole home in these natural, environmentally sound ways. Additionally, even if the house is reliant on more traditional forms of energy, it will use far less than the average-sized house.
Tiny home dwellers also need fewer items to fill their limited space. There isn’t much space for furniture. Additionally, impulse shopping for clothes, knickknacks and even food becomes less of an option. Reducing consumption saves energy and cuts down on the amount of waste poured into already over-burdened landfills.
Those who crave life in smaller spaces tout the lifestyle benefits in regards to savings. By spending less on utilities, home costs, furnishings and other “stuff” to fill their micro homes, they have more to spend on hobbies, education, travel and other adventures. Who doesn’t want more money to spend on valuable experiences?
Cramped Space, Cluttered Soul?
I should note that I don’t live in a sprawling mansion. I’m not exactly drowning in living space, but I am very comfortable in my sweet, 1000 square-foot upper flat. For me, there would be some distinct downsides to cutting that space in half.
Because every item that enters a micro home requires a distinct place to live, it takes a very organized person to keep the space neat and tidy. A messy home makes my mind and soul feel cluttered. I understand that that point is to cut down, but it seems to me that we have many “must haves” (or at least many “very nice to haves”) that are tough to fit into 400 square feet. We have important documents to store, like tax returns, wills and bank statements. We have a constant influx of mail. We have photos, books and family treasures that have been passed from one generation to the next. Where would these items fit in a home the size of a studio apartment?
Also, there must be limitations to the comfort. If you live with a partner – heck, even if you live alone! – you’d have very little personal space. After a long day of interacting with others, I love having the choice to unwind with a book in the bedroom, a TV show in the living room or a project in the study. Additionally, some things that look cute in pictures may become less than charming realities. Many of the micro homes that have lofts don’t have staircases. How cozy can it be to climb a ladder to get up to bed every night?
Lastly, entertaining friends and family would be difficult – extended visits would be nearly impossible. If you don’t take pleasure in entertaining, then you’re all set! I, however, crave the experience of having the people I love in the place that I call home.
What do you think? Ready to rid yourself of excess and go tiny? I’m not sure I’ll ever get there, but I admire you. Now send me some photos of your adorable little home.
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