Monday, October 8, 2007

Learning about the Small House Society

I want to move to a teeny, tiny house. Am I crazy? Do I love punishment or suffering? Have I forgotten our old place and how cramped it was?

No, no, and no. You might want to start here, at the small house society

You see, I have been a non-practising admirer of the simple living lifestyle for about 3 or 4 years now. A lurker, if you will, in magazines like Ready Made and Simple Living, a flybaby on and contributing somewhat to a few discussion boards on about getting rid of all of our junk and becoming free. I am a huge fan of Walden. I choose a tent over a fancy RV, outdoors over indoors, etc.

I want to simplify. We are getting rid of our things. Each weekend we are giving away clothes to the goodwill and salvation army. We are purging our house as the first step to freedom from our possessions. We are discussing special trips for Christmas instead of more toys. We have pared our schoolroom down and down and down to what we really actually use and need and love. We have been trying to have hearty, simple meals such as just baked potatoes with toppings, soup and crusty bread, granola and milk...We have gotten rid of tons of dishes, and the children each have one special spill proof cup. We each have 2 sets of sheets and one comforter for our beds. (the babies have more sheets)

But its not enough. I want to move to a tiny tiny house someday. Look at this website. Type tiny houses or small house or simplify or declutter into Google and see what you get. I fantasize about being forced to have less stuff.

At our old house, it was a bit of a hellish nightmare. We had a "normal" (American) amount of c-r-a-p, but no garage, no attic, no basement and miniature closets. And so things like sleds in the kitchen and clothes in Rubbermaid containers in the living room made for a home that looked completely filthy and gross and chaotic almost all the time. We werent knowledgeable about simple living and so the smaller house was just a nightmare. We were slaves to the shuffling, cleaning, distributing, resdistributing, arguing about, and "organizing" a giant landfill amount of CLUTTER.

So we moved to this big house, near to Daddy's work, and we love it in many ways (1800 square feet 1950's brick rental, long L-Shaped ranch, one story, garage, no basement, lots of closet space) and it can look really neat and tidy whenever we need it to--company coming, etc. even with four homeschooled kids home all day long. But its a total sham. We still have WAY too much crap. You cant even open our garage door without mystery flim flam spraying down on top of you.

So, here are all the ideas I would want for a tiny tiny house with a family of six. Everything I want to own on this Earth. This is my actual list of what I would want to keep in our lives. (Then I am going to get to work on it!!!) I think being in denial that this is right for us has kept us back all these years.

Bunk beds. Custom made, if necessary, for more than 2 children. (Triple bunk!!) In the tiniest of rooms you can still fit many bunk beds. They are cozy and private and fantastic.

One bike for each person, hung from ceiling or stored somewhere clever.

Basic toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, mild soap, mild lotion



Big pot

Little pot

Frying pan


2 Mixing bowls






6 Plates

6 Bowls

6 Cups


One container for each person of "special possessions"--jewelry or trinkets.

Drawing Paper


One curriculum box for each child

One computer (laptop would be so cool, and save space but we don't have that)

2 Hampers

One giant garbage can, one little one for the bathroom

Our favorite books, the ones we really want to read and refer to, (not just the ones that seem cool to own or display)

Our favorite DVD's

Portable DVD player

One boombox type radio/CDplayer/Cassette player-recorder


One sled for each child

One pair of boots per person

One pair of snow pants per person

One winter coat per person

Seven t shirts apiece

Seven long sleeve shirts apiece

Seven pants or shorts apiece (I don't even have this now)

Seven socks apiece

One pair of tennis shoes

One pair of dress up shoes apiece

One bathing suit apiece

One pajama set

Seven pairs of undies

Seven sweaters or sweatshirts

Full set of cloth diapers (the one size fits all kind would be ideal)

2 hats (baseball and snow)

2 mittens

One scarf

One large Rubbermaid box of old photographs

One couch (possibly a hideabed for mom and dad if it was a one bedroom cabin)



Minimal toys: music toys, wood blocks, multitasking toys such as Lego or a wagon

Large family tool box with hammer nails screws screwdriver drill level pliers wrench and ratchet. Also in here could be magnifying glass, funnel, scissors, flashlights, batteries, tape, stapler,glue, hole punch, needle and thread and buttons, and measuring tape and magnets.

Sewing machine

My makeup and hair elastics

Extreme minimal first aid kit: herbal and regular medicines, bandages, peroxide

Coffee maker (or french press using boiled water from teapot)

Recycling bins (even if I had to take the stuff into a different town)


Bunnies + supplies

Rugged jogging type of stroller for lots of walking and not using cars.


Lamps and candles

Bleach-vinegar-borax-baking soda-natural washing soap



Beloved board games

Wristwatches and clocks

As far as toys: my older kids love their gameboys and pets, and my littler kids love their traintracks and matchbox cars. We all play with blocks and EVERYTHING else we could go enjoy "in town."

I have left out a few things that I love and use daily but could live without and am actually a bit curious to see how I would do:

TV (Love it/hate it/would rather go outside with my kids)

Washer and Dryer (love it but some tiny houses aren't equipped and would be willing to laundromat as a weekly event)

Microwave(convenient/dangerous and scary)
Well, that's it. That is all I would bring. this list might have been incredibly boring to read, and I apologize--but it was really fun to write and it took me a long time. Tell what you think!

Currently reading: Simplify your life with Kids and Simplify your Christmas, both by Elaine St. James. So far so good, although she she doesn't have kids and doesn't refer to or even seem to know about homeschooling, these are both nice reads so far.

***Mom gets to keep more shoes as a gift for being so fabulous :)

***Mom reserves rights to extraneous undies :)

Please check this page for tons of info and great links and pics!

Click this to see an amazing home that you wont believe the pictures of the square footage :)

I will need to whittle down my list but if I really got to the point where everything we had in this house was that list, then maybe we could look into making some kind of huge amazing life changing move in the future--a few years down the road.


Rixa said...

It's amazing how much stuff you accumulate as you live. We have a lot of "things" right now and, although I wouldn't say it's "crap", it still is a lot.

A great deal of the stuff we own are tools from all of our renovation projects. I can totally justify owning those right now because they save so much money (and have allowed us to pay cash for our last house, because we did almost everything ourselves). So yeah, lots and lots of tools are currently living down in the basement and multiplying at a horrific rate!

Another big category of "stuff" for us is furniture, but that's in large part because we bought a B&B so it goes with the territory. Next time we move, we'll be getting rid of a lot of things because I don't want to live in such a big house. We're in 3700 square feet right now.

Another fairly big category: books. I do sell ones on Amazon quite regularly, but when you have two academics you have to accept the fact that you'll have books. I don't know if I want to give up my lovely shelf full of birthing and breastfeeding books, but I have sold most of my college text books.

Let's see: clothes. I do need to go through them again and give more away, although I am fairly pared down as it is, especially for pants. I own 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of capris, 1 pair of dress trousers...and that's about it! I have lots of skirts, most of which are fairly old and worn out by now.

I also have a lot of sewing supplies right now...sigh...but I do use them.

That's part of the problem: how do you downsize when you're really using a lot of the stuff?

Well, you've inspired me to go make a run to the thrift store. I have a box of stuff waiting a new home!

BTW, I love the book "The Not So Big House."

Michelle said...

I just wanted to say that we are reading the Simplify Your Life with Kids and it is AWESOME. We are reading it slowly so as not to miss anything. We are really trying to move more rapidly in that direction. We are already there in a lot of areas. I think the most interesting part of the book so far has been the part on health insurance and how a lot more people could simplify if HI was reasonable..
I also appreciated the section on how to communicate your reasons and ideas to your children. I struggle with how to show my children that we live a certain way but because not everyone else does, doesn't make them 'bad' people..YKWIM? That everyone needs to find their own path and journey so to speak.
Thanks for the discussion, I stumbled on your blog from another and I'll be checking it out now.

Naturemama said...

While most think we're nuts, Dh and I want to build either This one or This one . We could easily add an extra room on to either later if need be and I think they have just enough room.

Kelley said...

Hmmm. We are trying to pare down our belongings, but I'd never considered a tiny house before. I'm not sure if I'm ready to think about that, but I certainly am interested in ways to have an organized, useable house. I loved the pictures of Steve Schafer's home. So cool. How practical would it be with kids, though?

Housefairy said...

Rixa-- I totally understand about things you use and love, and hope I never came off as people who dont want to do this are greedy packrats or anything :) For some reason(s), learning about this completely filled me with a *YES* feeling and it was so opposite of everything I had been lamenting for all these years (We need more space, we need this and that to be happy)

There are tons of ways to store things vertically, like the whole IKEA mindset of using the walls all the way up for Cd's, Books, everything--keeping the walkways clear and uncluttered. We have tons of books and I always felt that I would never get rid of a book, that it was so noble and impressive to have a humungous library, but when I read Circle of Simplicity she metioned this and I realized that, for me, what she said was true, that there is so much energy involved in keeping and dusting and shuffling and making room for things that we do not ever intend to use--it struck a chord for me.

Thanks for the recommendation on The Not So Big House, Im gonna go look for it!

Housefairy said...

Michelle--so cool that you reading this too! It is a nice little book, and I am going to follow your example and slow down and really let it sink in.

I like the kids seeing that we feel strongly about certain things and YET still do not judge other families who do it differently. I think its really good for them.

Housefairy said...

Naturemama--THOSE ARE SO CUTE!!!!!!

Oh man. What do you get for the $700, is that just the blueprint or some materials? I had no idea Lowes had little houses! I was showing everyone the pictures! Adorable. I hope you do it and blog about it!!!!

Housefairy said...

Kelley, I had no idea how practical any of it is, and going on a vacation to a cabin would be the best way to get into the mindset--especially if you didnt have your days all filled with plans but just went to a cottage or cabin with regular food and regular plans and tried to imagine if it was something you wanted or could see being a good thing for you long term?

Trish said...

I just can't get with the tiny house thing. I can 100% get behind the "we have too much stuff and it's time to pare down" thing, though!

I'm a recovering pack-rat. It takes me great effort to not hold on to things that I really don't need. Living in this 1200 sq ft small house with no garage and no basement (5 or 6 people, zillions of cats, dog, rats, rabbit, gerbils, etc) has made me take steps to not collect unnecessary things.

Very s l o w l y we've been getting rid of our stuff. We have more toys than any 3 kids could ever need! We have a shed full of bags to be sold or donated - so many toys and still the house is full!

I'll have to see if Simplify Your Life With Kids is available at the library. It sounds like something I'd love to read.

I'm worried about the upcoming holidays. We just don't need any more crappy toys (or even high quality wonderful toys!!)!

Anyway, I'd love a medium sized house (not small like ours, but not huge either) with far less stuff in it! And maybe some solar panels or wind turbines? :-)

Naturemama said...

The $700 is just for the blueprints which is the average cost these days. : ( I had found a nifty caluculator online though, need to find it again, that estimates building cost for your area. We figured we could build doing most of the work ourselves for about 40K. If all goes well I'm hoping we'll start building one next year and I'll be happy to blog about it all.

Housefairy said...

I am looking forward to reading all about it! Take lots of pictures.

Barbnocity said...

Hi, Housefairy!!

I am with you on wanting to scale down. I know we used to fantasize about buying a *big house* and living the ??Dream?? but now I imagine moving into a smaller home and dumping all the crap in the basement that is in boxes still from when we thought we were going to move 6 years ago. I mean, seriously...if you haven't needed it in 6 years, you probably don't need it ever.


mamalove said...

I love small spaces! Our house isn't small by our standards but to lots of folks, living in 1600 sq feet with (almost) 4 kids is cramped. We also don't have closets like normal people, but that's another story. When I want to be inspired to get rid of stuff, I check out these great pics.

Housefairy said...

Barb, I hear ya about the boxes of mystery stuff! good riddance!

MAMALOVE, oh how can I thank you for re-finding these for me! I waslinked to these a while back through someone on Mothering but lost the link. Thank you thank you thank you! Love them all, so so so inspiring. For me, a breath of hope. I really want this now.