Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tiny Houses: Are we using the right adjective?

From the earliest days of this blog, the posts about tiny houses have been some of the most popular. (I keep trying to market a reality show where Mad Max and the Copenhagen Wheel live in a tiny house together. I think I could retire early if I could get that one project off the ground.)
My wife and I live in a 1500 square foot house – it’s closer to 1900 square feet if you count my favorite part of the house, the garage. We have a phenomenal young lady in college who is home for holidays and summers. We definitely don’t live in a tiny house, but it’s no McMansion either. For years it seemed to be on the small side of medium. We’d visit friends in their much bigger houses and we would consider ours quite modest.

Even so, our house is quite a handful to keep up with. The bigger the house, the more you pay in utilities, taxes, and insurance. And our house is ancient - 17 years older than I am! The yard is huge. We have some monstrous elms that need a lot of maintenance. It needs painting. We recently had a leak in the attic that brought down the ceiling. There’s water damage on the back porch. The sidewalk is crumbling. The floors need refinishing. The list goes on and on and grows much faster than we are stemming the tide. But we spend most of our time, money, and resources pursuing and maintaining other things – like family, dogs, education, gardening, and restoring/maintaining things with wheels. (Yes, I can admit I have a problem.) The same is true for most of the people and houses around us.

So, when I see a tiny house or a tiny house article, a simple side of my brain sighs and thinks, Wow, less house means less debt less maintenance less stuff less worry less worry less worry less worry better life. That simple side of my brain is repetitive and has little patience with commas.
But a different simple side of the brain pipes up and asks some really tough questions. Where would you put the recliner? How bad would it be when the dogs fart? (They do that a lot.) Would the West Texas wind huff and puff and blow our house over? Helloooo! Aren’t we big on personal space around here?

The general consensus among all of the simple sides is that we do not need or really want a tiny house. On the other hand, as we look at ways of being good stewards and caretakers, of having more time and more money to enjoy the world and people around us, the question starts growing of whether or not a change in adjective may make all the difference. How about replacing tiny with smaller? How about a house that requires less but offers enough?

In fantasizing about the extremes, may you find the just right.

(For more MH tiny houses, please click here.)