I am hooked on the fantasy of tiny houses.
Not just smaller-than-average houses. Not just cute little bungalows. I’m talking houses that are barely bigger than your average dorm room. Houses that make New York City tenements look like palaces.
It all started when I saw the show “Tiny House Nation” on FYI. People downsize from traditional homes – some quite large – into so-called tiny homes. Those tiny homes range in size from 100 to 400 square feet. With the average home running about 2,600 square feet, it is a downsizing of drastic proportions.
The show’s host helps the homeowners cut down on their possessions. Want space for a hobby? It has to fit in this plastic container. The closets, it there are closets, are barely two feet across. The bedroom is up a ladder, above the kitchen. That kitchen might not have any full-sized appliances, and the bathroom might have a composting toilet. The entire house be on wheels.
I liked the idea of designer downsizing. When I moved from college to my first job, everything I owned fit into my two-door Chevy Cavalier. Since then, like most people, I’ve acquired more books, furniture, paperwork, electronics, memorabilia and doo-dads. I am far from being a clutter bug, but occasionally I watch shows like “Tiny House Nation” and wonder what it would be like to have just enough. One plate and a spoon. One bath towel – maybe two if I want to get crazy. A couple pairs of pants, two pairs of shoes and Netflix and Amazon subscriptions that take the place of dvds and books.
But then I remember I have kids. And I laugh.
There have been people on the show who have downsized with toddlers. I can’t help but think what happens as the toddlers grow and take up teenager-sized space. Sure, you can play outside but what about when it rains? I giggle when I realize the couple plans to have the children’s sleeping loft ten feet away, a pretty grim form of birth control. And every person has their stuff, even little ones.
More importantly, couples have disagreements. It’s all well and good to say, “we will have to get along.” Try practicing that after a heated discussion with your spouse when all you want to do is walk away and cool off. In a tiny home, you can walk about three feet away.
Both my husband and I grew up in smaller homes with larger families. We both shared bedrooms with siblings and one bathroom with the entire family. We’ve owned a total of two homes as a married couple, both houses being much smaller than the bank said we could afford. We are used to smaller spaces, but not tiny ones.
Do I still think about downsizing? Sure. That might happen after our daughters are on their own and we move closer to wherever they live. We still want a house that’s big enough to welcome them and their families, and big enough to have our own personal space.
So for now, tiny living is still a fantasy. In the meantime, I will indulge in my full-sized refrigerator, a bookcase filled with books and other little luxuries. When it comes to living comfortably, tiny homes just don’t measure up for me.