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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The bird’s eye view of extremely tiny homes

OK, I agree that small is relative.

But take a look at these homes.

They’re so small you can’t take a picture except from above.


And these folks aren’t living that way to make a point about sustainability.

The photographs were commissioned by the Society for Community Organization, as a means of drawing attention to the housing crisis in the Hong Kong, a city with rents that average 35% higher than New York City and housing prices that average a staggering $1,300 a square foot.


Living with less — and the New York Times

I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.Blaise Pascal

I think old Blaise might have hit the proverbial nail on the head.

We have more because we do not have the time to learn to live with less.

This story from the New York Times is about someone with exactly that problem.

Graham Hill, the founder of was one of those very bright people who made a great deal of money starting up and selling an internet company. For more money than most of us will ever make in our lifetimes.

What does a young man with virtually unlimited funds do?  Go on a shopping spree, of course!  In fact, he hired his own shopper to do all the boring stuff — he just pointed to polaroids and nodded to bring more stuff into his life. A big apartment in New York AND a large house in Seattle.  Plus everything you need to live in those places.

But then he needed to hire people to look after his stuff.  Because looking after his stuff was a job. And he didn’t have time to do it.

My house and my things were my new employers for a job I had never applied for.

It took some time, but Graham stopped worrying about owning things and concentrated on doing things. Now he lives in 420 square feet in New York.

It’s a pretty sweet space — check it out. Or read about it here. And his life has gotten much better now.

I’m still a serial entrepreneur, and my latest venture is to design thoughtfully constructed small homes that support our lives, not the other way around….My space is small. My life is big.

His newest venture is LifeEdited — a way to help other people live smaller and better.

In the end, I don’t think it’s a case of not having enough time to learn to live with less.  I think a change like that — like we are making — calls for a shift in priorities.  And that is probably a very good thing.

Decluttering — does it ever end?

Keeping in mind our new lifestyle — less is best — I am continuing to toss stuff right, left and centre.  But it’s not without pain.

I look at things and think “I can’t throw this out — it has too much value.” But then I wonder if it only has value because I’m imbuing it with the value I think it should have.  Sounds complicated (Oh. I. Am. Complicated.) but what I’m saying is this, “I don’t own crap, I own valuable objects. I own it, therefore it has value.”

But then I say “Don’t be an idiot.  Toss it.”

Now I have found support in this article at Houzz.

It’s okay to feel pain, and worry, and concern and anxiousness.  That’s normal.  But it’s IMPORTANT to move beyond that.

The truth is, as you declutter, you will probably make mistakes. You will almost certainly get rid of things you’ll later regret, but I’m here to tell you it’s going to be all right. Don’t let the fear of potential regrets get in the way of a new lightness and freedom.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed?  Get help.

Now, who do I know with that kind of organizational skills?

(Of course I’ll have to clean out my closets before I let them look through them).

A visit to the Home Discovery Show

I had another chat with Ian and Steve at the Home Discovery Show .  I followed their chat with Melissa of The Thirties Grind, who coincidentally had a post last week about laneway homes that I left a comment on. The circle of life.

Ian and I talked about the garden plans for the laneway, what the City of Vancouver expects of us, and about the living roof we plan to install.

We are very lucky, when we told our builder, Novell, that we wanted to put in a living roof, they assured us that they are qualified installers of LiveRoof — complete system of plants plus growing medium to give you the roof you want.



It’s truly a garden on your roof, and it’s installed in such a way that it protects your roof from the very harmful rays of the sun, which eventually break down the membrane on regular roofs.

Ian was also kind enough to mention my Celt in a Twist podcast, and the fact that we’ve been nominated for an award on 2013 Readers' Choice Awards

Just a friendly reminder that you can vote here for the show every day until March 19 in the Readers’ Choice Awards. And maybe for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll want to hear the show itself.  You can find out more about it at

Shopping for a tiny home in the US

Living small is certainly not a new idea.  But in the US, the housing crash of about 5 years ago really made people think about buying more house than you need (or can afford).

If you’re interested in living small in America, this site has listings for some nice little homes.

Interested in a vacation home in Arizona? Florida? California?

If you’re honestly interested in the tiny house movement be sure to check out Tiny House Talk for great ideas.

Hear ye, hear ye — another visit to the Home Discovery Show

Be sure to be listening to the Home Discovery Show tomorrow morning.

I’ll be talking to Ian and Steve about our building of the laneway home.  I visit every couple of weeks — and I love the intro they’ve made for “my” segment!

A small apartment in Manhattan

I love Style at Home magazine.  For many years (at least 10), I have received a year’s subscription to the actual paper-and-ink magazine from DH for Christmas.  One year I also received one from my sister, such is my love of SAH known throughout my friends and family. But one thing used to drive me crazy.

All the homes they showed were large.  Sometimes very large.  Ten-foot ceilings.  Sitting rooms you could put a bowling alley in.

Recently they have completely redeemed themselves, by showing how to decorate small spaces.  Their March issue is all about getting the most from the least amount of square-footage.



This article shows how you can make a small space pretty and feminine. There’s no need to stick to slick surfaces and sleek lines when what you want is lace and loveliness. The designer gave the owner of this 600 square foot Manhattan apartment a very pretty place to come home to.

SAH313-2Check out how the designer keeps the look light and airy while still bringing in the touches that make it soft and luxurious.

File this one under Small Spaces Rule!


Containers — for living

Our home will be built from the ground up — all ours, hand-crafted!

But some people like to take a few shortcuts — like using shipping containers to build houses.

Here’s my pick:


I like the roof — of course!

Here’s a selection of some of the best.

Friends collaborate on vacation retreats — 350 square foot each

Hands up everyone who had a vacation cabin on a lake!

Anyone?  When I was a kid it was no big deal for a family to have a cabin on Christina Lake.  (Yes, I was one of the luckiest kids on earth.  I still am.)


Our handy-man Dad built two cabins, an a-frame, then we sold that and he built one with a flat roof. They were built on land leased from the government, on the west side of the lake — that is, the side with no road.  Every board, every nail, the wood stove and every stick of furniture had to be loaded onto the boat or made into a raft that could be towed.  A lot of the materials were salvaged from shacks that the railway was tearing down.  We spent every weekend away from the heat of our BC interior house, in the beautiful cool woods and warm water of Christina Lake.

Those cabins have been passed on to other families to enjoy, and I hope they love the memories of those halcyon days as much as I do.  But I’ve always thought a cabin retreat, far from one’s daily life, is a wonderful thing.  It doesn’t have to be large, and the less fuss required to keep it up the better.  Just something the whole family can enjoy.

Four Texas families had the same idea, and built their vacation homes close together.

The woods are a little sparser than those of my childhood, and the river is nothing like that beautiful pristine lake.  But they have the rustic charm I remember (although we did without electricity.  And running water.)

And they are small.  To me, a real get-away does not include extensive housekeeping.  A quick sweep-out, an occasional dusting.  Cabins are for relaxing.

Green Builders — an emerging force for laneway homes

A new organization called the EGB — Emerging Green Builders of  Metro Vancouver are inviting the general public to an information session on laneway homes on March 20.


Find out more and register for the event at their website.

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Artist and Desert Dweller with Big City Style.

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