Author Topic: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?  (Read 11424 times)

Weedy Acres

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Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« on: January 09, 2014, 07:40:28 AM »
We've moved to a new (small) town, to eliminate my 100-mile commute, and have downsized from 4500 sf to 900 sf.  The tiny house was originally intended to be my weekday crash pad until the big house sold, at which time we'd take the $200K in proceeds and by a properly-sized 2500 sf house for the 2 of us.  However, median home prices here are $100K, so $200K puts us at the top of the market, and I don't fancy owning a top 10% house again, after seeing how long it took us to sell the last one.  Plus we're deliriously in love with the $644 annual taxes.  So we've decided to hunker down and see if we can make it work in the the tiny house for the longer term.

Any tips from those of you fellow mustachians that have figured out how to love (and successfully live in) tiny houses?  In case it helps, here are photos and a floor plan: http://littlebeau.weebly.com

Cromacster

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 07:54:02 AM »
by a properly-sized 2500 sf house for the 2 of us.

::Facepalm::
The house you have looks HUGE for 2 people!  I have a 1400sqft house, but the two of us only use about 900 of it.  Plus you have an unfinished basement.  Are you considering finishing that space if the walls don't collapse?  Looks like you have done some nice reno's or did the seller renovate it?


Ok now that I got that out of the way.  Living in a small space is great in my opinion.  It does take some ingenuity and creativity.  The first tip I would recommend is think vertically.  The most wasted space is usually walls.  Shelving and storage on walls will make it seem like you have much more space.

This episode has an interesting section on how to outfit a small kitchen.
http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/calls-for-8-2-713

And while this site has completely sold out to commericialism, it still has some great stuff in the archives and renovation journals.
www.apartmenttherapy.com

anastrophe

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 08:10:00 AM »
Um, yeah. Firstly, 2500 sf is not "proper," it's "excessive," and your new house is not "tiny"--my last apartment was 450sf and that's pretty typical of urban apartments--remember, millions of people live in much smaller homes than 900sf.

Now that I have that out of the way...you might want to try looking at some blogs and books geared towards apartment living. Try this: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/categories/small_spaces

And while this site has completely sold out to commericialism, it still has some great stuff in the archives and renovation journals.
www.apartmenttherapy.com

Yeah, I miss the old days too. Re: commercialism, try not to be suckered into thinking that you need more stuff to get organized--the best tip is have less stuff. It's not more complicated than that. Just get rid of anything you don't use regularly, and you will suddenly feel like you have much more space. Especially furniture, which is often a very inefficient use of floor space. Do you really need a wardrobe or can you put your extra clothes in bins under the bed? Hang stuff on the walls rather than storing it in drawers and shelves, that way you can get rid of your kitchen island and actually walk across your kitchen. Etc.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 08:12:42 AM by anastrophe »

MissStache

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 08:11:45 AM »
We live in 1250sf and it is HUUUUUGE for the two of us.  We could easily ditch 350sf just by getting rid of our guestroom, but we like to have guests to we stay in the larger place.

The key to living in a "small" space is by eliminating unecessary stuff and being organized (we fail on both of these counts, by the way!).  I agree with the above poster about shelving and upwards space, but don't let that be a crutch in which to keep things you don't need/use. 

And stop thinking of it as small!  Go read some tiny house blogs and you will feel like you live in a castle!  My FI plan includes moving to a 600-700sf cottage, so I try to think of the place I live in now as really huge.  Big swaths of open floorspace frustrate me now!

arebelspy

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 08:12:46 AM »
There's just one tip: Get rid of your junk stuff.

The wife and I live in 416 sq ft. (under half the size of yours - look at that floor plan, cut off the whole right half, bedrooms and bathroom, and then fit in our kitchen, bathroom, and 2 rooms into just your living room and kitchen), and it's still way more than we need; we're definitely going to be downsizing in a few years, after we have a kid.

If you feel like you need 2500 sqft, and 900sqft seems "tiny" to you, you have way too much stuff for two people.  :)

You don't use it all.  Get rid of the stuff you don't use. Be happy with the stuff you have.

..wait, there's even a basement, too?  That probably means you're closer to 1,100 sqft.

You can store some of the stuff there.  Sell the rest.

I mean, really.  You can research cute tips and find neat DIY projects where the fucking table folds out from the wall and everything is organized in amazing cubbies and it's picturesque and you dream of how perfect that would be, but it really boils down to: own less stuff.  Random tips to shoehorn more things into a small space isn't the way to go here.    :)

EDIT: Just finished looking through your blog.  You guys are doing a great job on the rehab!  Also your kitchen is huge.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 08:17:22 AM by arebelspy »
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SunshineGirl

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 08:25:53 AM »
Nice job with your project! And good on ya for staying small. In terms of advice, continuity helps a lot with the look and feel of a small space. I have a small guesthouse, and the curtains in both rooms match, and it really makes a difference. Hooks to hang things, buckets to keep gloves, etc., in by the front door, the idea is "a place for everything, and everything in its place." The less furniture you have, the bigger the space will feel.

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 08:28:43 AM »
Yeah, on these boards I wouldn't complain about 900 sq ft being small! I was going to direct you to:
http://tinyhouseblog.com/
or
http://community.apartmenttherapy.com/contests/smallcool/2013

but erm, all those are for homes less than half your size and honestly, I can't imagine struggling in a house of that size so I have no advice. Just let it settle for a while and see how it's going. Clearly it's a big adjustment from 2,500 (wow!) but honestly, it is definitely liveable and will help you keep a handle on the accumulation of stuff.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 08:32:41 AM »
Hey, go easy on me.  The severe downsize has been quite a shock (said with an ironic british accent).  Our current bathroom is the size of our former whirlpool tub.  The bedrooms are both smaller than my former closet.  And on and on.... :-) 

Nonetheless, the living area should suit us just fine, with the renovations we're making in the kitchen.  The bedrooms seem to be the bigger hurdle, as we've got to house our clothes plus an office in 2 11x11 spaces with 2 6' closets.  I have not bought clothes for 3 years, but still have more than 12' worth. 

Yes, all the work is DIY.  The basement is too low overhead to be finishable, but will be fine for storage. 

We sold off a boatload of furniture when we moved ($2000 pocketed...chaching!)  Good point about getting rid of stuff.  We DIY renovated our last house the entire time we lived there, and have boxes of things we never opened from moving there, so we plan some massive garage sales come springtime, of stuff we forgot we owned. 

Building up the wall is a good idea too, as we've got 8 1/2' ceilings. 

I will review the other links when I get some time.


markbrynn

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2014, 08:33:16 AM »
I'd like to answer your question (and give you some tips), but I'm not sure where your problem arises. Clearly it's from a perceived lack of space, but I'm curious on what you want more space for. I could understand a lack of storage, but you have a huge basement, so your effective square footage is close to doubled (at least in terms of area that could be used for stuff).

Apart from the basic advise given before me of having less stuff. Here are a few ideas:
1. Make your rooms more general use. Living room is where you hang out with friends, hang out with your wife, watch TV (if at all), read, play games, have friends/family sleep if you have more than can fit in the second bedroom, etc.

2. Don't use lots of specialist items in the kitchen. Bake bread in the oven, make rice on the stove, no big coffee machine (I don't drink it, but I think there are ways to make good coffee without a big machine). Kitchen tools are fun, but mostly unnecessary (beyond a modest number).

3. Go digital. Music, movies, photos, books, etc. don't need to take up lots of room. Or better yet, get them from the library, or second hand and resell. I like to keep books I've read, but if I had a space issue (I do) I would get rid of many of them (I have).

I'm sure we could help you with more ideas if you let us know what your concerns are. Enjoy the house. Looks nice.

arebelspy

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2014, 08:35:18 AM »
Hey, go easy on me. 

Sorry, hard for most here to relate.  :)

I will point this out though: it's completely a mindset thing.  You're used to bigger, so it seems small.

It seems huge to some of us that are used to much smaller.

That should be encouraging to you, because it means it's not actually small - it just is in your mind.  You just need to change that mindset, and it can seem enormous. 

It might help to go live in something the size of a hotel room (say 100 sqft) for a few months, then you'll appreciate all the sudden space!
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markbrynn

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2014, 08:36:57 AM »
Re: office, is this official working place office or "home office?"

I retired my home office and do my admin and other "office" activities in the living room with a laptop. Paperwork goes into boxes, filing cabinet or other "away" place until it's needed again. Might work for you.

lizzzi

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2014, 08:37:10 AM »
We did the same thing, although our little house didn't need the kind of renovations that yours did. Two quality-of-life issues jump right out at me: You need to have at least a second toilet somewhere--probably in your basement. It can be unglamorous, undecorated, just hidden behind a curtain or whatever…but there are times you will be ecstatic that it is there. Even better would be if you can also put in some kind of shower and sink in your unfinished basement. We have that here, and while it is not a nice bathroom like the "real" one upstairs, it can be a godson at times…hokey or not. The other thing you might like is some kind of outside room, like a screened porch if you can add one. Ours is small and not fancy, but what a pleasure in the warmer months. Other than that, I agree with all the de-cluttering comments. I got rid of a lot of "stuff" before we left the 2400 sf house in NY, and got rid of even more here in Ohio. What is in this 1100 sf house is only what we really need  or what adds to the comfort and beauty of the place. I agree with those who say it isn't really all that small. What is small are the taxes here compared to NY--what a godsend, as combined property and school taxes are less than a quarter of what we were paying in NY.

adam

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2014, 08:37:34 AM »
A little over a year ago we moved from the wife's 1200 sq ft house to my 1400sq ft house.  We now have an extra bedroom, but 1 less bath (weird, right?) and somehow, less storage.  So I'm going to re-iterate what someone said about going vertical.  My kitchen has more cabinets at first glance, but they somehow hold less stuff than her fewer cabinets did.  She had higher ceilings (like 12ft) so there was a foot or two of extra space there.  Her drawers were also deeper, so we keep having problems in my house where stuff doesn't fit like it used to.

Speaking of going vertical, is there an attic space?  You'll probably need it.  I refused to turn my garage into just a storage building (still, it only has room for one car now, needs work), so I have to crawl through a tiny hole in the ceiling to store the 7 rubbermaid tubs of "Christmas stuff".  The wife is a little crazy about the holiday if you can't tell.

Also, if you're getting new furniture, get things that can pull double duty.  Getting an ottoman? Get one that is hollow and opens up to store blankets/magazines/whatever.  Stuff like that.

lizzzi

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2014, 08:41:52 AM »
Sorry for my typo--the downstairs toilet is a godsend…not godson.

anastrophe

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2014, 08:43:42 AM »
We did the same thing, although our little house didn't need the kind of renovations that yours did. Two quality-of-life issues jump right out at me: You need to have at least a second toilet somewhere

The other thing you might like is some kind of outside room, like a screened porch if you can add one. Ours is small and not fancy, but what a pleasure in the warmer months

I have never lived anywhere with either of these things. I'm fine. Probably you will like them, but they are not needs.

arebelspy

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2014, 08:44:35 AM »
Sorry for my typo--the downstairs toilet is a godsend…not godson.

Oh good, that'll save you on christening gifts.

We did the same thing, although our little house didn't need the kind of renovations that yours did. Two quality-of-life issues jump right out at me: You need to have at least a second toilet somewhere

The other thing you might like is some kind of outside room, like a screened porch if you can add one. Ours is small and not fancy, but what a pleasure in the warmer months

I have never lived anywhere with either of these things. I'm fine. Probably you will like them, but they are not needs.

+1 to all three sentences (well, after college for the first sentence - my parent's house had more bathrooms, as did the dorm rooms).
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 08:46:18 AM by arebelspy »
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yyc-phil

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2014, 08:54:16 AM »
A few years ago I downsized from a 2500 sq. ft house (wife, me and four kids) to a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom 700 sq. ft condo. At the time, only my youngest daughter was left with us in the household so a small condo made so much sense. The easiest part was not to move into a smaller place but to clean up and get rid of whatever stuff I had accumulated over the years. Once I was able to let go of my tools, parts of all sorts, old motorcycles, ski-doos, and old trucks, most of which I just gave away, life became so much clearer. About a year ago, one of my older sons is now back at home and sleeping in a corner of the living room. It is bearable because he is relatively tidy for a guy, but since our floor plan is open concept, it makes it almost impossible to invite friends over for a meal or drink. I admit I can't wait for him to get on with his life and move out. Regardless, our 700 sq. ft condo is more than enough for my wife and I and my daughter, and once she moves out in a few years, we plan to downsize even more, likely to a 400 sq. ft ocean-view studio apartment which I am in the process of buying in Nanaimo BC.

Incidentally, my daughter, who lives there on a 38' sailboat with her boyfriend and two dogs, is learning how much useless stuff we usually have in our kitchens cabinets and cupboards, bedroom closets, basements, etc. Living on a sailboat teaches you how to pare down your lifestyle to what is really essential for your daily needs and ultimately survival.

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2014, 09:01:41 AM »
The severe downsize has been quite a shock (said with an ironic british accent).  Our current bathroom is the size of our former whirlpool tub.  The bedrooms are both smaller than my former closet.  And on and on.... :-) 

i am british :) so i think i said that in the perfect british accent in my head for you!
sorry if we're being hard on you but this might help explain:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8201900.stm

It's an article from the BBC with a diagram showing the average new-build American home at 2,300 ft2 and the average new build home in the UK at 816 ft2 (well under half the size).

I honestly cannot imagine the sizes you are describing! want to try my bathroom for a while? it's 51 x 56 inches! and my bedroom is apparently the size of your old closet... and seems plenty large enough to me!

anyway. back to the task at hand!
multipurpose rooms are a great idea for which multifunctional furniture might be quiet useful. look for ways to maximise storage (e.g. coffee table/end tables with drawers or shelves, under bed storage, furniture which acts as storage/foot stool/extra seating etc)
perhaps put a low, open storage unit part way across the living area to differentiate dining and living room.
if clothes space is an issue (after a good clear out), try rotating your wardrobes so you only keep seasonal clothes in your bedroom closet and the rest in the basement in good storage boxes.
also depends on the style you like and what you're trying to store. i love books and also love the look of bookshelves built around doors on narrow walls, providing there is plenty of light elsewhere.

i think the key issues are sort out what you really want/need to have around (at least upstairs) and then start adjusting your mental attitude to feel more positively towards this space.

EK

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2014, 09:23:03 AM »
If you can't fathom fitting 2 people in 900 square feet then you clearly have way too much stuff.  Time to declutter.  You probably can make a bunch of money selling your old junk that you don't need too.

12' of clothes?  How many you you wear?  I'm guessing maybe 10% get worn on any regular basis.  Get rid of the others.  You won't even remember them once they're gone.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2014, 09:23:53 AM »
We have five people in 720 sqft.

Dressers in closets. If you're handy, custom shelves can add a lot of storage/organization space.

We declutter/rearrange the main living area about once a year. Every change makes it better :) The only downside is that it's not a house we can entertain more than two guests in comfortably, so I only host family gatherings in the summer when we can grill and be outside (small house but generous yard for my neighborhood).

anastrophe

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2014, 09:24:12 AM »
want to try my bathroom for a while? it's 51 x 56 inches! and my bedroom is apparently the size of your old closet... and seems plenty large enough to me!

I've always said the advantage of our little bathroom is that you can wash your hands whilst still sitting on the toilet. Not that you'd have any occasion to do that, but you can. You cannot, however, fit two people in it, and the door doesn't open fully because the tub's in the way. But that's okay, it fulfills its purpose as a bathroom perfectly nonetheless.

Greg

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #21 on: January 09, 2014, 09:26:14 AM »
As a residential design/builder, I can understand how you might feel you need all that space, or how 900 sq. ft. might feel small.  But you will get used to it.

For advice on how to live with less room, a few observations.  You mentioned needing to fit into 2 11'x11' spaces.  For comparison, my wife and I share a 6' x 6' walk-in closet.  And you can see the floor.  The trick is to have less clothes.  We each only have about 4' of hanging clothes, the rest is drawers.  Use your basement for out-of season clothes storage.

For other areas, de-clutter.  If you haven't finished unpacking, only un-pack what you need, not the things you usually have out.  After a while, you can get rid of what you don't unpack.  Check out these guys' story:
http://www.theminimalists.com/21days/

Failing that, combine space uses.  For instance, the laundry room might also be the rear door entry/mudroom and pantry, or include a bathroom.  My main floor bathroom is 6'x12' and serves as the main bathroom of the house with shower, and laundry (stacked) and is accessibly designed, meaning you can turn a wheelchair in there.

Your office can be a corner of the living room.  The dining area can double as a work space for the kitchen.  An open plan like you have helps with this combined use strategy.

Looking at your floorplan, maybe you can move the laundry into the bathroom, and use the former laundry as your office, that sort of thing.

Good luck and congratulations.

Added after more thinking:
I would suggest looking at your furniture, couches and chairs up on legs and with open frames appear to take up less space than floor-hugging, solid pillowy ones.  Also, arrange furniture so that you can see the edges of the room, where the walls meet the floor, this give the illusion of more space. 
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 09:32:35 AM by Greg »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 09:35:45 AM »
How low is this unfinishable basement ceiling? Our basement joists are ~80inches from the floor but we'll still be finishing it where it's currently unfinished, and replacing the terrible 70s fake wood paneling and ceiling tiles where it was finished before.

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2014, 09:40:51 AM »

The wife and I live in 416 sq ft. (under half the size of yours - look at that floor plan, cut off the whole right half, bedrooms and bathroom, and then fit in our kitchen, bathroom, and 2 rooms into just your living room and kitchen), and it's still way more than we need; we're definitely going to be downsizing in a few years, after we have a kid.


I've got no qualms with living in 416sqft as a couple (though, we live in much more)... but am I reading correctly that you want to downsize after you have children? I think you underestimate the need for private space away from the kid, and vice versa :)

kt

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2014, 09:41:20 AM »
want to try my bathroom for a while? it's 51 x 56 inches! and my bedroom is apparently the size of your old closet... and seems plenty large enough to me!

I've always said the advantage of our little bathroom is that you can wash your hands whilst still sitting on the toilet. Not that you'd have any occasion to do that, but you can. You cannot, however, fit two people in it, and the door doesn't open fully because the tub's in the way. But that's okay, it fulfills its purpose as a bathroom perfectly nonetheless.

haha! you could indeed wash your hands sitting down in my bathroom! though it actually only has a shower. technically someone could shower and someone could wash at the same time. if you really wanted to! i use a towel as a bathmat because all the bathmats I could find are too big for my available floorspace. it also feels a little crowded when I have a new packet of loo roll. none of that's the end of the world though!

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2014, 09:44:17 AM »
Pack up all your summer clothes and put them into storage. 

If you're saving clothes 'til they come back into style or 'til you're thin enough to wear them again, give them away.  If they do come back into style, it'll be with a slightly different twist or in a more modern color.  If you do lose weight to get into those high school jeans, you'll want to treat yourself to new things anyway. 

Give away all your fiction books that aren't special in some way (they're not likely to be re-read, easy to get from the library later).  Keep only books that are useful for reference. 

Pack up all your kitchen gadgets, etc. and put them in a box.  When you need something -- say, a pizza wheel -- take it out of the box and put it into the cabinet.  At the end of two months, throw away anything that hasn't come out of the box yet. 

Scan everything in your saved paperwork, save all your important papers to a disk or flashdrive, and make two copies to save in two different locations.  Likewise,  go through your photographs -- toss duplicates, put the ones you care about into albums. 


arebelspy

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2014, 09:48:57 AM »

The wife and I live in 416 sq ft. (under half the size of yours - look at that floor plan, cut off the whole right half, bedrooms and bathroom, and then fit in our kitchen, bathroom, and 2 rooms into just your living room and kitchen), and it's still way more than we need; we're definitely going to be downsizing in a few years, after we have a kid.


I've got no qualms with living in 416sqft as a couple (though, we live in much more)... but am I reading correctly that you want to downsize after you have children? I think you underestimate the need for private space away from the kid, and vice versa :)

Yeah, just one kid though.  At that point we might RV for awhile, so it'll be substantially smaller, or travel the world and live in month-to-month apartments under that size, or if we settle somewhere it'll likely be in tumbleweed size. 

If/when we have more kids (after a few year gap), we may go with something bigger - probably 1000-1200 sqft for us and 2-4 kids (but lots of outdoor space).
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anastrophe

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2014, 09:52:14 AM »
want to try my bathroom for a while? it's 51 x 56 inches! and my bedroom is apparently the size of your old closet... and seems plenty large enough to me!

I've always said the advantage of our little bathroom is that you can wash your hands whilst still sitting on the toilet. Not that you'd have any occasion to do that, but you can. You cannot, however, fit two people in it, and the door doesn't open fully because the tub's in the way. But that's okay, it fulfills its purpose as a bathroom perfectly nonetheless.

haha! you could indeed wash your hands sitting down in my bathroom! though it actually only has a shower. technically someone could shower and someone could wash at the same time. if you really wanted to! i use a towel as a bathmat because all the bathmats I could find are too big for my available floorspace.

The space between my toilet and tub is 13" so I use a towel too. I actually prefer it as you can wash a towel more easily than a bathmat.


it also feels a little crowded when I have a new packet of loo roll. none of that's the end of the world though!

I keep mine in the bedroom closet, actually. Which is another "tip," if you can call it that--stop thinking you must keep bath things in the bathroom and kitchen things in the kitchen, etc. It's okay to store items wherever they fit best, even if that means you keep TP in your bedroom and clothes in the living room.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2014, 09:53:51 AM »
One thing that will really help the transition is to get smaller furniture than you probably have in your current gigantic house. Small bedrooms that feel squished with a dresser and large bed, can be quite spacious with a full or queen size bed and a small bureau. In the living area, big sofas and chairs can also make a decent sized room feel cramped.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2014, 09:58:15 AM »
If/when we have more kids (after a few year gap), we may go with something bigger - probably 1000-1200 sqft for us and 2-4 kids (but lots of outdoor space).

Outdoor space or nearby public parks is far more important than indoor space for kids, especially if you live in a non-snowy climate. We do okay with 3 kids in 700 sqft, but it's far more manageable in the temperate months :)

NumberCruncher

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #30 on: January 09, 2014, 10:12:06 AM »
My husband and I lived in <300 sqft for over two years  -- you do get used to it.

There are things you can do to adjust, like others have mentioned, but I feel like maintenance is also a big thing - how do you go on living in that space without pining for that 2,400sqfter?

Two tips:

1) Capsule Wardrobe
Have a small wardrobe made up of interchangeable parts -- you always have something to wear for a particular function, yet it takes up little space: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsule_wardrobe#Examples

2) One In, One Out
When buying new things or bringing new things into the house, take something of equivalent space out. For us a big thing that pops up is books - if you really want that new book, and don't want to just read it through the library, you need to sacrifice a book you already have.

We recently implemented these techniques after moving to a slightly larger location (idk how big... >600 sqft, but definitely <1000 sqft, with an unfinished basement). It feels huge to us, and we want it to stay that way. We were disgusted at the amount of stuff we accumulated but never used in the old place and actually donated a ton of stuff when we moved to the bigger place.

_JT

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #31 on: January 09, 2014, 10:18:28 AM »
There are tiny house blogs and websites all over the internet these days. Of course, they all consider a tiny house as a dwelling under 400 sq ft, so your house will be huge to them.

I live with two roommates, my gf, and two dogs (totally nearly 200lbs) in 1100sq ft, and we manage fine. The trick, as many have said, is getting rid of your crap.

aj_yooper

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #32 on: January 09, 2014, 10:21:02 AM »
Congratulations on your major downsize and easier commute!

Start donating your surplus.  Share.  Your excess clothing, furniture, and household items will help people who are less fortunate and you will feel a release from all the  useless and bulky obstacles.  Go for it now.  You probably will not miss any of it when you are done.  You have the opportunity to be free from unnecessary baggage and really get focused on a simpler life.

Our friends downsized from a very large, full home to a furnished 1200 square foot condo.  They are overjoyed that they no longer have the house and possessions anymore.  Their life is so much easier.

We have a 2400 sq ft house and are looking forward to moving shit out and simplifying, eventually moving to a much smaller place.  Our son is smart as he won't take most of it. 


Weedy Acres

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #33 on: January 09, 2014, 10:33:24 AM »
Wow, as a newbie on these forums I'm overwhelmed by the speed and number of responses.  Thanks!

I'm glad to hear from your personal experiences that hedonistic adaptation should apply in the case of severe downsizing.  I just can't yet see the end result on the bedrooms/office/clothes stuff.  We moved in 2 months ago and just moved stuff we knew we needed in the short term into the house, but it's still in boxes, partly because we're still renovating (e.g., I tore out the 3' closet in one bedroom and haven't yet built the new 6' one).  So it's hard to see the end yet.

I thought I had already done some pretty serious clothes culling.  I'll have to analyze the winter/summer stuff and see if the seasonal swap-out gets us where we need to be. 

Office/paperwork: that'll be a challenge.  I do have room for improvement on the tossing of old documents.  (But I did request my credit report last weekend and one of the challenge questions involved the payment on a mortgage I paid off 7 years ago (!!), and had to dig through files to figure that one out.) Any tips for processes on dealing with the incoming mail/paper and processing/filing/tossing it?

Interesting point about the extra kitchen stuff.  Since I'm slowly building cabinets as we're living there, we have all the boxes of kitchen stuff in the dining room.  As we use stuff we move it into the kitchen.  It's turned out to be a good method for figuring out how to organize things--and what to get rid of!  But I agree we will have a very decent size kitchen when we're done.

The basement is <6' at the shortest and just >6' at the tallest (slopes down for water drainage).  We've got our washer and dryer down there for now.

I do thank you for the face punches.  :-)

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #34 on: January 09, 2014, 10:43:30 AM »
I envy you.  I'm longing for the day we can leave our 3k sqft home and move into something MUCH smaller.  We have three grown/nearly grown children who still live with us.  We have eliminated lots of stuff in the past year and will get rid of a bunch more this year. 

There are lots of minimalist websites that may help you with the transition.  You don't have to become a hard-core minimalist to benefit from their ideas and insights.

Best of luck to you! 

bogart

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2014, 10:49:56 AM »
Haha, this is fun!  The house looks lovely.  Since you ask, we'd put our son in one bedroom, sleep in the other, and make sure there was a door on the kitchen so we could close the dogs in it when we didn't want them to have the run of the house.  And with the w/d in the basement I might use the laundry room as a small office/reading room so I can get away from DH's and DS's noise when I need to. 

(We're 3 people in a 1500 sq ft house and no complaints, so while 900 is smaller count me among those who hardly consider it tiny, or 2500 sq ft to be "proper" for 2.)

Yeah, get rid of stuff.

Two things I've noticed over and over again traveling in Eastern Europe are totally tiled bathrooms where the (small) bathroom basically IS the shower -- just a floor drain in the middle and maybe a shower curtain across part of the room, but no truly distinct shower space and no tub), and homes where the living room is also the parents' bedroom (so, pretty commonly, 2 kids in 1 bedroom perhaps divided by a bookshelf/sheet, and then a living/dining room where the sofa is also the bed.  Not that I'm advocating this, I'm actually not -- but as commenters before me have noted, plenty of people in the developed world are living in that size space, or smaller, and not thinking anything of it. 

Bethersonton

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2014, 11:04:05 AM »
Definitely second/third/fiftieth everyone above who says that once you have less stuff the space will seem huge. It will also have the added benefit of decreasing your cleaning time. My parents experienced this after they did a huge decluttering a few years ago. Unfortunately they have been unable to find a smaller house in the area (they would kill for 900 s.f. instead of the 3000 they have now), so it's been an uphill battle to keep the clutter down. Everyone expands to fill their space. Decluttering is overwhelming for sure, especially in the midst of a renovation. Once everything is finished and packed away and has its place, you'll be so happy you didn't move into a bigger house. And I agree with making sure that your furniture is scaled to your new house. My parents and I moved seven times while I was growing up (5 houses, 2 apartments) even into spaces that were "identical" sq. ft.-wise and not one of those moves ended with them keeping the same furniture between houses. It just never worked in the new space.

My husband and I are building a tiny house that is 200 s.f. including a loft sleeping area. We'll be parking it next to a cabin that will be our "studio" for our businesses and art-making. The cabin is 256 s.f. We own very, very little and like it that way! Saves money, time, etc. Give it some time and effort, and try for getting rid of 10 things a day every day, even small things.

Elaine

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2014, 11:32:30 AM »
Hey! I'm a small space dweller (475 sq feet for two people). Since you're downsizing it's a bit more of a process (whereas I've never lived in a large space so it's easy for me). To get rid of clothes, kitchen, and office stuff, I would recommend packing away 50% of what you have- just stick it in a corner or something.

Pack away the 50% of stuff you think you'll miss the least. In 3-6 months try and make a list of what you think you've packed. For one thing, you won't even remember everything you own (which is kind of embarrassing). If you can't even remember the stuff you have, then it isn't that important:
1. anything you can't remember, get rid of.
2. If you have been longing for something daily, missing how easy life was without it, then keep that. But, get rid of EVERYTHING else.
3. Also, with seasonal clothes we have a rule, each person gets one box. Your wardrobe should be efficient enough to transition with only one box of seasonal clothes (long underwear, bathing suits, winter boots, flip flops, etc.).


mgreczyn

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #38 on: January 10, 2014, 07:58:07 AM »
Yeah. Enjoy it!  Two of us lived in a 950 sf house for 3 years, it never felt cramped until the kiddo came along. 

HappyHoya

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #39 on: January 10, 2014, 08:08:00 AM »
We have two people in ~700 sq. ft. (apartment, so no basement or opportunities for other outside storage). Our apartment is normal-large for two people in our city and I think it's plenty for us. It's only 1BR, so our individual rooms are large and open.

As several people here have already suggested, getting rid of unnecessary stuff is the absolute best thing you can do to make your space feel larger. At any given time, I want my home not only to fit what we already have in it, but to have some wiggle room. This has given me a little bit of peace for when we do have to accommodate things that unexpectedly comes into our world (this saved my sanity over the holidays, when gifts always do come in, regardless of what we've done to discourage it). There are all sorts of guidelines on these forums and elsewhere online for decluttering. I prefer the approaches that have you do a little bit everyday (or almost everyday).

I find it also helps if you keep the space where you spend the most time really organized, clean, and minimally cluttered (including decorative clutter). For us, and I suspect for most people, the area where we spend the most time is the living room. As much as I'd love for our bedroom to be a serene retreat, we don't spend as much time in there, so if I have to stash a basket of laundry that's waiting to be folded, it goes in the bedroom behind closed doors. To the extent that it's at all possible, we avoid using the living area for storage and instead have put up a makeshift closet with shelving along an empty bedroom wall. Having this designated calm space goes a long way towards my peace of mind and my contentedness with a small space.

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Anyone got tips for living in a tiny house?
« Reply #40 on: January 10, 2014, 08:34:39 AM »
Very envious of you right now with the 700 sq ft. We have a 2800 sq ft house and are planning on moving to a much, much, much smaller space when my husband gets a new job (hopefully) later this year. We want to buy something with cash outright.

With our toddler and another on the way, I find that having a bigger space makes us feel obligated to own more stuff.

We find that we doing all of our hanging out in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. We use our bedrooms for sleeping. Not sure yet on ideal square footage (it really depends on a good floor plan), but we need at least 400 sq ft for a living room/kitchen area, 2 bathrooms (DH's requirement but luckily they can be tiny), and at least smallish 2 bedrooms (1 for us, 1 for kids). Like others mentioned, our next home will be close to a park or outside area for our kids. Easy walking to grocery stores too to cut out driving and good way for me to get exercise with our kiddos.

Just want less to clean, less to own, less to pay for, less clutter in my mind in general.

As others have mentioned, rethink your 2500 sq ft...