Living Large in a Small World – One Man’s Quest to be ‘Tiny’

Jonathon Ensor is a freelance design blogger for Empire Today. When he’s not poring over micro-plans for his own foray into “tiny houses”, you can find him losing to his wife at Trivial Pursuit.

Have you ever discovered you’re part of a trend you had no idea even existed? I recently discovered the “tiny house movement” after several decades spent obsessing over small spaces. I might be late to the party, but I’m prepared to rage with these lil’ homes until the break of dawn.

In junior high shop class, my best friend and I decided that we were going to build a full-scale fort, a hideaway tucked into the woods near where we lived. First, we were brutally ridiculed by classmates for our immaturity. Evidently, 8th graders are too old for “forts”. Next, we were lectured by the teacher that our plan was entirely unrealistic. Expectations of what two fourteen-year-old kids can pull off were pretty low at my school, I guess. We were suitably shamed. Needless to say, I ended up building a tool box that semester.

Two decades later, I still rue our missed opportunity. Fortunately, the instinct to carve out my own diminutive domicile is still going strong. And just in time, it would appear, for the heralding of the downsized home. That it’s no longer immature or unrealistic to yearn for a “fort-sized” house is excellent news.

Learning I wasn’t alone in my admiration came as a complete surprise. This “tiny house” thing is, apparently, a huge industry. From blogs, books and magazines, to themed hotels and regional tiny-construction specialists – this is clearly no flash-in-the-pan. It’s a new way of life.

I’m not one of those folks who are overly preoccupied with “being green”. Nor am I the sort of fellow who looks at a new, cookie-cutter McMansion and nods enthusiastically. Quite the opposite. The self-sufficiency aspect is what draws me in the most. I consider getting off the grid a valiant endeavor, no matter the size of your residence.

However, the drawing factor for many is the financial one. Little houses cost less to build, heat, furnish, maintain…you name it, it’s probably cheaper. Though the houses are frequently featured in rural areas, set atop vast acreage or integrated into the wilderness, the tiny home phenomenon has infiltrated urban areas as well. That crack between those two big, brick office buildings? It soon might be the site of a 4-foot-wide home. You never know.

I have yet to see one of the trailer-bed buildings being towed on the highway, but my wife and I have always fancied being “RV people”. Our latest mindset is – why wait? This bandwagon is actually moving. Upscale downsizing, as I heard it put, makes so much sense. This isn’t camping. With amenities like flushable toilets, functioning kitchens or hardwood floors, you’re only leaving room for the essentials.

Regardless of your priorities, there appears to be a tiny house plan out there for everyone. Whether you’re a ski bum, organic farmer, drunken poet, doomsday prepper, tech whiz – if you’re looking to simplify your belongings (or, quite frankly, simplify your existence), I implore you not to think big. Think small!

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