Did you know that the average North American house size is 1,948 to 2,100 square feet? And the general trend seems to be to go bigger, as evidenced by the souring numbers of people opting to renovate and/or add additions. I know that homes in our little neighbourhood have become larger and larger in the years we've lived here.
How then, has the tiny house movement become so strong, alongside North American mindset to go big or go home?
I believe that human beings are naturally drawn to contradictions, some have innate urges to be contrary, baulk at the moving masses and opt to swim upstream. They question the accepted norms and pursue alternatives to see what else might be out there.
I also believe that North Americans generally live excessively. We produce a lot of waste and expend a lot of energy in the pursuit of materialistic bliss. Keeping up with the Joneses has never been more alluring with the over-saturation of social media depicting what appears to be enviable lifestyles which we yearn to covet. So to compensate, some seem apologetic for these excesses and go in search of redemption by going tiny. So for some, this style of dwelling is considered a lifestyle choice. But for others, it's a viable financial necessity. A mortgage, taxes and utilities can add up to a hefty sum.
With personal debt loads at an all time high, downsizing to a tiny house can be the solution to relieve pocketbook strains. No doubt about it, tiny living is a major lifestyle shift. One of the factors that appeals to me is the opportunity to really hone your DIY skills as most of a tiny house's components may need to be custom made for custom fit. You may be presented with many opportunities to think creatively outside the box.
Many of the elements can typically be found on boats and campers with slim profiles and multi-purpose functionality. You can also have fun implementing unconventional building materials, such as SIPS (structurally insulated panels). They are exterior wall, insulation and inside wall all as one product for a slim profile and ease of construction. Get your creative juices flowing!
If your skill set is not as strong in this area, there are still many ways to organize and decorate a home to your tastes. I am very much a techy girl and that means my tiny home would be loaded like a James Bond car or his gadget filled tuxedo.
Do not for one second think that a tiny house should be "home on the range". It can be a slick, urban oasis, or somewhere in between. Even a houseboat can be beautiful and comfortable. One thought comes to mind. Could I do it? Could husband and I successfully coexist within a tiny footprint and not end up on divorce court?! What about those with kids and pets? What about those composting toilets?! Yikes! I've come to the conclusion that my tiny house would be best suited for recreational living, a guest house or separate home office.
I like the idea of them being single function dwellings for short term use. Between you and me, I just can't climb down a ladder to have a pee in the middle of the night. Sorry, too much information?! Regardless of my personal views and varying ideology behind tiny house living, those who do it, are doing it well and in style!
In the last couple of years, I have seen many examples of tiny homes built all around the world. Some are on wheels, some are stationary, some dare to be off the grid while others prefer to be more connected. But the rules remain the same.
The basic guiding principles for making a house a home are the same whether you chose to live in expansive luxury or a quaint, little mountain home on or off the grid.
- Does it need to be climate appropriate?
- Don't be lured by the dream. Be completely realistic about your needs.
- What are your wants?
- How do you function from morning till night?
- Location, location, location
- Is it where you would like it to be?
- Observe how you and yours move and live in your home
- What could you realistically live without?
- Prolific collectors need not apply.
- Can you and yours easily coexisting the same space for long periods of time?
- Does your occupation need to be taken into consideration?
- What are your pets needs?
- Will you have more children?
Of the hundreds of tiny house tours I've seen, the following is one of my favourites. The bed isn't positioned on a high perch loft and there is adequate living, cooking, dining and bathing facilities, despite its tiny overall footprint. Space planning has been masterfully considered. Most of all, I don't feel claustrophobic.