open tin of colourful gummy fish
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box

Was Radiohead referring to tiny houses? Ok, it’s not that bad, but I’d be lying if I said adjusting to tiny home living was easy. We’ve been tiny home dwellers for a couple months now and we’re still getting the hang of it, but I thought it’d be a good time to share what we’ve learned so far.

Insight #1: Cleaning takes much less time, but you’ll need to do it more often.

Pretty intuitive: two adults and one cat generate the same amount of dust and dirt no matter the size of the home. So, while it takes half the time to clean a 500 square foot space as a 1,000 square foot space, you have to do it about twice as often.

Insight #2: You’ll likely need to rearrange your “stuff” several times until you get it “right.”

If you’re like me, you’ll notice that where you initially put some “stuff” isn’t the ideal place for it. I’ve been making small rearrangements and changes based on how often we use or need to access certain items. The good news is that every time rearrangements are made, the living space becomes more comfortable.

Insight #3: Fridge space is important.

We’re staying at a temporary rental until some of the early build-out on site is done, so we didn’t get to choose our kitchen and its half-size bar fridge. We will be going with a full-size fridge in our permanent tiny home: more fridge space means more fresh/whole foods, without having to rely as much on packaged/processed foods.

Insight #4: Schedules are important.

Two remote workers in a shared space means one of you is taking a Zoom call in the bathroom if you don’t plan ahead. Every morning we discuss what our schedules are for the day and we check with each other before we book any Zoom meetings.

Insight #5: Include white noise.

Speaking of bathrooms, it’s good to have a noisy bathroom fan. The white noise from the whirring of a fan provides an aural barrier for sounds that need not carry throughout the whole space.

Insight #6: There are ways to get “alone time” even when you can’t be alone.

You know when you see a coworker wearing headphones and it means “don’t bug me?” Well, I’ve learned that works well in a tiny household too. When it’s harder to get “alone time” (especially in winter when working outdoors is less comfortable), you can create alone time by putting on some headphones and listening to ambient sounds or your favourite tunes, which also subtly lets your partner know you’re “busy.”

Another “alone time” trick: if you can’t see your partner, it’s almost like s/he isn’t there (don’t judge until you go tiny). We have three “workspaces,” one of which is around a corner, out of sight. It works.

Also, earplugs and an eye mask are critical for the later sleeper. That’s an obvious one, but worth mentioning.

Insight #7: Once you get past the initial challenges of tiny house living, it’s really quite nice.

I like knowing that all the “stuff” we have is “stuff” we need, or, that that is an achievable end goal. Tiny home living is simpler living. You know how the late Steve Jobs always wore the same outfit so he didn’t have to think about it? It’s kind of like that, but it extends beyond one’s wardrobe. And, perhaps the best thing about tiny-house living – particularly when it’s out in the wilderness – is that nature’s beauty is just outside your door, reminding us that there’s a big world outside our cozy abode.

Photo by Roseanna Smith on Unsplash

a jumble of clutter household items
CategoriesLifestyle,  Tiny Homes

All the Things That We Can’t Leave Behind 

So. Much. Stuff.

We closed on our property, which we have named Big Calm, at the end of June. It has a lovely, but old, cabin on it, in addition to a beautifully-built post-and-beam barn. Our plan is to develop and live in the loft above it, which we have named the Shangri-loft. It comes in at about 500 square feet of functional space, half the size of our condo in Calgary. 

We have to downsize. A lot. Not only do I have way more shoes and clothes than I need, I’m ashamed to admit that some haven’t even been worn. I have two giant canvasses, that have been sitting there for five years, blank, waiting for me to be inspired to create something beautiful. CDs and DVDs. I found dried corsages from my high school graduation. I’m sentimental, but this is ridiculous.

I guess one amasses a lot of stuff, especially having not moved much. That said, my husband has moved more than a dozen times and has more stuff than I do (Ed. Not true!). 

There’s a saying that “the stuff you own, ends up owning you.” So true. It just becomes a burden, especially when you have to get rid of it. And more importantly, most of it could be very useful for those who are less fortunate (not the corsages of course). 

We didn’t employ the “only keep what brings you joy” approach, but rather “does this have a function?” approach. It turns out that we have several things that serve the same function, and many things that don’t serve any. Looking at it through a permaculture lens, the ultimate goal is to ensure all elements perform multiple functions. We did our best to donate the rest.

Not only has “the great purge” been liberating, but it’s also the first step to living a simpler life, collecting more experiences than stuff, and acquiring memories, rather than things.

Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash