All You Need is Less
Chewbacca's father and I recently watched a great documentary on Netflix called "Tiny" which is about people living in tiny houses. When I say "tiny" I mean TINY. Turns out "tiny houses" is a term meant for a specific type of house, which are often self-built, almost always are on wheels (due to getting around building codes) and are less than 500 square feet but are most often around 200-300 square feet. Yeah, you heard that right, a whole house under 500 square feet.
Tiny seems to be an appropriate word because beyond being just small, they're often just plain adorable:
No, that's not a play house, that's someone's 312 square foot permanent residence.
Not sure the square footage on this one, but I think a third of the house is on the deck.
Big enough for one or two people at most. Hideous sweater optional.
The reason the people in the documentary were drawn to tiny house living are that they're inexpensive--so people often pay all cash for them resulting in no mortage and better savings-- and they don't allow for owning too many things, which also keeps costs down. So for a lot of people in the documentary, chosing a tiny house was about saving money.
Some/Most of the people in the documentary were as crazy as you would expect. But, a lot of them had valid points about how things begin to own you, how they're happier with less, how living in a tiny house encourages them to get out into the world. As I was watching the movie, I started to feel guilty of our 1600 square foot place and all the things we own. And then I started to fantasize about sellling it all, only owning 3 plates and 5 shirts and 1 pair of shoes, and moving into a tiny house on a beautiful piece of property in the middle of nowhere.
And then I came to my senses and realized that living in 200 square feet is a little insane. Strike that, definitey insane.
Out of all of the people interviewed on the documentary, all but one of them seemed to have gotten a tiny house to escape something: mounting debt, an unfulfilling job, a failed relationship. But there was one guy, who moved into 500 square feet once he got married and had two kids (and let's just take a break right there to consider the insanity of that sentence) who seemed to have some perspective on the issue. Having moved to 500 square feet, he said that the tiny house mentality could be used in any living situation. For him, it wasn't a competition about who could live with less, but rather a challenge to use the spaces in which we live in the smartest way possible.
The point, he said, was to think creatively about your spaces, and think critically about your things. Use every space in a well-thought out manner, making sure everything is best utilized with hidden storage, lofted beds, and increased outdoor space. And make sure every thing you own you really need.
And it was that sentiment, from the non-crazy guy on the documentary, that I really liked. Because come on, none of us are going to move into a tiny house. I mean maybe I still have fantasies about doing it for a vacation home on weekends in New Hampshire with my two ficticous Portugese water dogs named Magellen and Izabella... but we're probably not going to do it.
But we all do have to live our "regular" lives and it's a great exercise to think about whether we could be living with less. Our 1600 square foot place is bigger than any place I've lived in for the past 12 years, so it feels like a cavernous mansion. But everyone keeps telling us that when Chewbacca (and any future star wars cast members we might have) get bigger, we'll want to have more space. But I love living in the heart of the city. So I'm going to try to hold on to the tiny houses mentality for as long as I can so that we can continue to live here.
And so when Chewbacca is bouncing off the walls and driving me crazy and I think I need more space, I will remind myself to go out into the city and use that as an extension of our house. And when our closets are bursting and I think I need more closet space, I will remind myself that all we need is less, and to throw away some things. And when the sound of our growing family is too much to take, I will go into my cabinet and grab some liquor and drink heavily, but don't worry, it'll be a TINY bottle.