Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tiny House Nation

The tiny house movement started several years ago, so it was a just a matter of time before there was a TV show featuring tiny houses.  It's actually kind of a welcome change from episodes of House Hunters and Property Brothers, where the people couldn't possibly live in a house that doesn't have double sinks in the master bathroom, space for a 70-inch TV, and enough cabinets to store an entire aisle of oversized packages of food and paper products from BJs.

The other night, I watched the first two Tiny House Nation episodes sitting in the living room at our fairly tiny house. Our beach cottage is about 340 square feet, 450 if you count the screened porch.

And that's actually not as tiny as some of the houses featured on the show. One, built for a couple and their two-year-old daughter, was less than 200 square feet. I'm pretty sure I couldn't live in a house that small, especially with a toddler, but the people who design these houses have some really great ideas for maximizing space, including telescoping tables, Murphy beds that turn into couches, sleeping lofts, and even a smugglers cabinet built into a deck.

We don't have anything quite that creative at our beach cottage, but watching the show got me to thinking about all the ways we've worked to fit in everything we need. We do have built-in storage cabinets over the bed, where we store extra sheets and pillows:

A military trunk, purchased for $50 on Craigslist, serves as a coffee table in our living room while also storing a food processor, a waffle iron, and a crockpot:

The living room also features a vintage Coleman cooler that hides our supply of Mutt Mitts as well as some magazines, while a picnic basket and another cooler hold binoculars, board games, and puzzles:

In the kitchen, we have mostly open shelving that Doug built from repurposed doors.  Vintage wooden crates, bread boxes, and picnic tins are our pantry:

We also use lots of cup hooks and a magnetic knife holder, taking advantage of valuable vertical space:

Doug also fashioned a mini pot rack out of a turkey roaster and some hooks he bought at a kitchen store:

On the porch, a yard sale dresser holds placemats, dog towels, candles and barbeque tools:

In the dining room, a bar Doug made from a free crate holds all of our glasses, while a vintage cracker tin stores happy hour snacks.

And a vintage hamper hides a mattress cover for the futon:

The best thing about all of this is that we can justify our ever-growing collection of vintage containers because we use all of them.

I plan to keep on watching Tiny House Nation because it's fascinating to watch the host show people how much space they actually have for storage--and then watching the homeowners sort through their stuff. It makes you think about what you really need and what you have just because....

It's kind of funny though that the pendulum has swung so far from the McMansion direction.  I don't think most of us are ready for Tiny House Living, but we could probably get by pretty well in a lot less than 3,000 square feet.

And one nice side effect of little houses? At least in the two episodes aired so far, they brought the family members closer together.


  1. I don't really watch TV much, but that tiny home show sounds interesting. I think i would enjoy it. I like how you have organized your cottage using all the vintage things, that's my kind of organizing :) I have a small vintage mobile home for a cottage, but would like something even smaller at times. Blessings

  2. Thanks, Shelley. The show so far is pretty interesting, and I love the idea of living smaller!

  3. I agree with your statement about society getting away from McMansions. I was touring through a new neighbourhood in my city a few weeks ago, and had no desire to move into one of the terrible generic houses offered there. That said, I do live in a neighbourhood that was developed during the 50's and 60's, and can spot my same floor plan repeated a few times. However, it doesn't feel sterile.

    I am intrigued by the tiny living movement, too. I grew up in a mobile home with two brothers, and dog, and a piano. Close quarters aren't new to me. Maybe trying it out at a cottage is a good first step.

  4. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Schaughn. I definitely don't think I could live truly "tiny," but I do think it's an intriguing concept, and I think our entire society could gain much just by returning to the smaller houses of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

  5. Hi there! We live in a Sears house, about 998 square feet, and it really forces me to be very selective and only live with the things that I love. I really like the way you have decorated your beach cottage, and I can't wait to catch up on the rest of your posts!
    Have a great day!

    1. Thanks, Carol, we have had a wonderful time decorating it. (Thanks for stopping by--sorry I didn't see this sooner, but I didn't get an email notification that I had a comment awaiting moderation.)