Saturday, April 11, 2009

Living Tiny

While searching for a playhouse for my daughter on Craig's List recently, I came across this posting:

Tiny House On Wheels - $34000 (rohnert pk / cotati)

Intrigued, I clicked to learn more. The husband and wife owners have lived in the home for over a year, and will now move into a larger home to start a family. The home's outside footprint is 7x18, and the owners describe it as follows:
"Custom, hand built, tiny house featuring true craftsmanship and recycled materials. Traditional cottage styling with contemporary accents. The compact but smartly designed space boasts seating area with two upholstered chairs and Dickinson Marine fireplace, kitchen with stainless steel refrigerator and cabinets from IKEA and a large sink, fold down eating table for two, walk-in closet/bathroom with toilet, sink and shower and an intimate sleeping loft accessible by a rope ladder. The seating area has a vaulted ceiling and feels spacious." This is what I saw.

A home has a soul which is lovingly revealed when the inhabitants no longer see it as a mere "house." Years ago, I fell in love with a book by Scott Russell Sanders called "Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World." Sanders' words come to me now as I try my hardest to dream up a way to make this tiny house a part of my family's story. "Real estate ads offer houses for sale, not homes. A house is a garment, easily put off or on, casually bought or sold: a home is skin. Merely change houses and you will be disoriented; change homes and you bleed. When the shell you live in has taken on the savor of your love, when your dwelling has become a taproot, then your house is a home." I am fortunate, my first house has surely become a home over the past ten years. I suspect that this tiny home did, too.

Wanting to learn yet more about the tiny house on wheels, I followed the photo links and This is what I found.

The Avesund’s “Hermitage’s Cabin”-- just big enough for one person and equipped for all seasons

Williams Cabin based in Durango, Colorado and featured in the latest Dwell magazine is one of Stephen Atkinsons minimalist projects.

The fuselage of a Horsa glider - the type used by airborne troops in World War II - is being converted into a home for a London businessman by Mr. Arthur Bedford, a building contractor at Southbourn, Bournemouth, Hampshire. The glider-home will have three rooms - a bedroom measuring 10 ft by 7 ft, a living room 15 ft by 7 ft, and a kitchenette 8 ft by 7 ft.

The tiny hand-hewn log cabin was once a children's playhouse and was relocated not far from Deep Creek Lake. It looks like it’s always been perched on its windswept ridge above rolling fields and forests.

Simon and Jasmine Saville built this unusual eco-house in Wales. This is not your transportable home but one built right into the land.

This little cob cabin was built by members of and cob cottage. Located in Mayne Island British Columbia, Canada.

I have long been offended by the incessant race to build bigger often at the expense of creating smarter through good design. So many beautiful old neighborhoods have been scarred by individual owners wanting to enlarge. And we end up with 3-5' setbacks, windows hovering over neighbors' gardens, and a skewed architectural vernacular which almost always subtracts from the neighborhood's sense of place and consequent level of comfort. I am equally saddened by the increasing reality shows, which demean the concept of home, rendering it but a commodity to "turn," a sexy envelope, or a prize in a competition. For these reasons and more, I am heartened by this tiny voice urging us to live tiny: build with quality, respect the land and your materials, design smart, and lighten your footprint.

On 29 March, 2009, the Tiny Village blog was conceived at

The first post speaks of the mission:

"Americans from all over the country are joining us and
clammering for the same thing:

1. the ability to live in a small, affordable home without
breaking any laws in the process;
2. the opportunity to "park" that home on a small piece
of land;
3. to live with other like-minded people and maybe grow
some food together.

To paraphrase, we just want to live a little more simply.

These requests should not be complicated, but because of
the bloated housing industry, distorted municipal codes
and unnecessary zoning laws, they are incredibly difficult
for the average person to navigate.

It's hard for me to express how important I think this
project is. The numbers should speak for themselves: home
vacancy rates soar, tent cities are on the rise, more and
more people are living in and around the edge of poverty.

The Tiny House Village Network is 100 people strong today.
Let's make something of it! Please join us and help us on our
journey for a new era of affordable small housing."

Perhaps one day we may form a tiny village...

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