Hatching a Plan to Live Small

After sharing a room with my older sister, I moved into my very own room when I was about 5. It was a glorified closet. I picked out the wallpaper border myself at Gervic’s paint store–light blue with a repeating scene of a castle, rainbow, and unicorns. My dad custom-built a loft bed that tucked into one end of the roughly 6′ x 9′ space. There were built-in shelves for my clothing underneath the bed and space for a little desk. There was also a small nook in the wall at the opposite end of the room–space taken from underneath the landing of the stairs that went up to the attic. It was a tiny room, but it was awesome.

Perhaps my love of tiny spaces blossomed in that first bedroom. I’ve always admired the Tumbleweed House company (mentioned here before.) The ingenuity of the space utilization–built-ins, multipurpose furniture, loft sleeping, minimalism–it inspires me! I thought maybe we’d have a tiny house on a piece of land in the country one day, as a summer cottage and writing retreat.

Tiny house in a windstorm by Tammy Strobel on Flickr

Tiny house in a windstorm by Tammy Strobel on Flickr

But as we lament about the Toronto housing market, we have started to turn to the idea of a tiny (or at least very small) house as our primary home. We even found a whole street of tiny homes here in Toronto–Craven Rd., which has the highest concentration of homes under 500 sq. ft. in the city.

Of course, it’s mainly (or at least initially) the financial reality of Toronto driving us to this possibility, but there are other big benefits to living tiny:

  • A smaller ecological footprint (after all, even the Pope is telling us that abuse of the environment is a sin!)
  • Forced decluttering and maintaining a more minimal lifestyle
  • A smaller mortgage that allows for more resources to dedicate to life experiences rather than space and stuff
  • The ability to have better quality finishings and furnishings in the home because there’s less of it (less roofing, siding, flooring, countertop, smaller appliances, etc)

It really seems like it’s not just about a change of place, but a change in the way you live.

I’m no trailblazer in this–there’s been a wee tiny house movement brewing for a while now. Tiny house dwellers cite all of these reasons and others as part of their decision to go tiny (watch “Tiny: a story of living small” for more wisdom from real tiny home dwellers). And the ways they make it work are just ingenious. In fact, I think one of the biggest deterrents to the idea of living small is that traditional small homes don’t maximize the space very well. They are trying to mimic bigger homes while being stuffed into a smaller space–and the small space therefore feels less functional and more confining. What the present tiny home movement brings to the table is an ingenuity of design that I believe can make small living more palatable for a wider variety of people.

Embed from Getty Images

There’s a lot of romance to the idea, but it would require some major paring down of our stuff, and it would be a big adjustment to go tiny. Nevertheless, I believe we could do it. I have been hooked on the idea ever since we struck on it–I couldn’t sleep the night after our first conversation because I was plotting and designing and imagining our tiny house life. There’s freedom in the idea of living with less, and it’s certainly an unconventional approach. As we talk more and more, I am beginning to feel like I’m somehow meant to do this.


I always assumed that I would live in a house like the one I grew up in–a beautiful Victorian that wasn’t huge but was certainly spacious with dedicated dining, living, kitchen, breakfast nook, 4 floors, porches on the front and back… But it’s starting to feel more likely that I will live in a house more reminiscent of my tiny first bedroom. Tiny Town, here we come!

Do you live in a tiny or small house? If you do, what’s it like? If you don’t, do you think you could?

**I feel there may be a tiny house adventure starting here. I will certainly be sharing our story if that’s the case, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my tiny house pin board as I tuck away ideas for this possible future! 


4 responses to “Hatching a Plan to Live Small

  1. I’d love to live in a tiny house! Our apartment is less than 700 sq ft and I love how it required us to be mindful in acquiring baby items, it forces us to stay organized, and I can clean the whole place during one nap, all with Sally visible or in ear shot.

    • Yes, having a space limit is a great check on how much crap you can acquire–especially with kids! I have turned down lots of hand-me-down items because I just didn’t want to have all that crap. And I love that Linden’s toys occupy 2 shelves in our living room–it’s not a baby stuff explosion by any means, but her space is well-defined and hers, which I think makes her feel like her stuff is important and not just an addition to the room. And cleaning it up is easy.

  2. I am right there with you Jean! I too had a miniscule bedroom growing up, and I have also been drawn to cozy little houses…Interesting.

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