I was chatting with an acquaintance the other day, who knowing how
fanatical keen I am on small houses, told me that he and his wife are planning on building a tiny house. Not small — tiny. One of the houses that fit snugly into the Tiny House Movement, at under 120 square feet.
Currently they are renting a nice condo in Vancouver. The tiny house (on wheels) would sit on his in-law’s property out in the Fraser Valley, and would serve as their quarters as they help her parents renovate their home. If the home is then sold, they would just roll the home onto some recreational property, or onto a corner of the subdivided property. Or they might just decide to move out there and stay.
It’s the perfect solution to their current dilemma, although presently they are not planning to live full-time in the home.
But others do.
Dee Williams has lived for 10 years in just 84 square feet. It’s an accomplishment, to be sure, one worthy of having a book written about her experience.
Time has become her most valued and abundant possession. “I have time to notice my natural environment and take a breath through the seasons, to puzzle over the way that nature is throwing itself at me and the community. I live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. If you’re working all the time, sitting inside, you miss a lot of it. I feel lucky and blessed that I’ve been able to pay attention to it.”
Tiny houses come in a surprising variety of designs. This couple has a luxuriant 240 square feet in a space no wider than 8 1/2 feet and no taller than 13 1/2 feet.
What makes tiny houses so liveable?
The blog Tiny House Talk has some suggestions to get the most spaciousness (if not space) in your tiny home.
Some of them are fairly apparent, such as combining your living room and your bedroom to avoid partitioning already small areas even further. But some I would never think of, like
Keep the space uncluttered above waist height. Anything above waist height that projects into the living space will make the space feel that much smaller. That means kitchen base cabinets are not a problem, but upper cabinets might be. Limit cabinets, shelves, or anything else that intrudes into this space.
This one is a given
Use light colors to create a spacious feeling. Light colors make a space seem bigger, while dark colors make a space seem smaller. Choose white or light-colored finishes for the ceiling and walls. (The floor color is less important for this purpose).
In most of the tiny houses I have seen have seen the ceiling and walls are all the same light colour, so your eye travels from the walls up to the gabled roof without interruption.
And of course
Open up to the outdoors. In addition to windows, think of creative ways that doors or even whole sliding walls could allow you to open your house up. (Check out the Virginia Tech LumenHaus for one elegant example). With a porch, deck, and a whole landscape outside, your tiny space won’t feel at all claustrophobic.
I know that just having our deck outside the upper floor of our laneway makes the entire storey seem larger.
As the author at Tiny House Talk points out
There’s no doubt about it—downsizing and simplifying your life to fit in a tiny home is a very difficult thing to do. And you certainly will want some storage space, partitions, and so on. But beware of the “big house mentality” in which a room can be packed with cabinets, bookshelves, and furniture and still feel spacious. In a tiny house, it can’t. Restraint, and a little bit of good design, will go a long way towards making your small space feel plenty comfortable.
And as DH has pointed out several times, Good Design Trumps Space.