We bought our house for the garden. It’s a little narrow, but nice and long, and the combination of plants and terraces makes it look like it goes on forever. There’s nothing wrong with the house. It’s prettier from the inside than it is from the outside, but it does the trick.
It’s certainly not a mansion. Each of the kids has a room of their own, and Mrs 23thorns and I share one. The same cannot be said about our cupboard space. But my shoulders are broad, and I soldier on (although I would just like to point out that the one with the broad shoulders should have the most cupboard space. My jackets are much bigger). There’s a bathroom, a TV room/lounge/office, and a kitchen. And an odd little space we laughingly call the dining room.
We’re very happy there, but if I were to be honest with you, I would like another bathroom and a reinforced concrete bunker where we could lock ourselves away from the kids on weekends. It is, I am trying to say, a little on the small side.
Or rather it was. Until this morning. The house didn’t get any bigger. Someone new just started following my blog. I clicked on their Gravatar, as I often do, and a whole new world opened up to me. She was, you see, a practitioner of Tiny House Living. Yep, those capitals are there for a reason. This is, officially, a Thing.
There is a community of people out there who want to live in cupboards. To each his own. They will tell you that they want to do so because they are saving the environment. Tiny houses, or rather Tiny Houses, use almost no energy compared to normal houses. They use far fewer raw materials, take up much less space, and can be moved around fairly easily, especially if you build them on wheels.
Those are the reasons that those who practice Tiny House Living will give you when you ask them why they are living in a cupboard. It is, of course, a lie. They are living in Tiny Houses because living in Tiny Houses makes them happy.
It doesn’t really matter why it makes them happy. They aren’t hurting anyone. But trying to understand people is fun. And I think I know why this makes them happy. When I was younger, we used to take the overnight train to boarding school.
The first time I went on one, the train took my breath away. You walked into a little room. There were two benches, a little table, and two panels on the walls. When the time came, you lifted the table. There, miraculously, was a sink where you could brush your teeth. Done? Time to go to bed. The panels folded down into bunk-beds. It was cool. It was like a Swiss Army knife room.
Tiny Houses are like Swiss Army houses. Things flip over to become other things. Things fold in and out of roofs and walls. It must be like living on the inside of one of those Transformer toys.
There are lots of people doing lots of peculiar things out there. Some people climb mountains. Some people make quilts. Some people get genital piercings. Some people beat their children or murder prostitutes. I like the ones whose pleasures are harmless, or even better, beneficial.
Tiny House Living is beneficial, on every level. It is to be encouraged. But I do have a couple of questions.
1. What do you do when you fight?
Seriously. I’m going to assume that the sorts of people who are into Tiny House Living are windswept and interesting. Windswept and interesting people generally have partners. And partners have fights. You can have a fight in a cardboard box. It probably helps. But you do need a bit of room for the aftermath.
You need to flounce across rooms in tight-lipped but eloquent silence. You need to slam the odd door. You need to “be alone” as ostentatiously as possible. You can’t really get a good flounce going if your bedroom/lounge/TV room is only three steps wide, and when the only door is the one to the bathroom/kitchen, slamming it more than once will just see faintly ludicrous.
2. Does your underwear all smell of food?
We used to live in an even smaller place. We slept up in a loft, which happened to be both open and above the kitchen. It was all terribly cosy and romantic until we decided to cook up some butter-fish. Then we smelt like Unhygienix, the fishmonger from Asterix for six weeks. We could have fitted two Tiny Houses into that place. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the kitchen in a Tiny House is not a separate room.
3. How big is your shed?
Part of the thinking behind Tiny House living is that you are forced to let go of the stuff you don’t need. Our society is far too materialistic. We all have clothes that we only wear once or twice a year. Get rid of them. Those things in the kitchen you never use? The popcorn popper, the fondue set, the three-speed electronic knife sharpener? Throw them away.
But what about the stuff you really do need. We all have that stuff. I have a pair of roller-blades I simply cannot throw away. Granted, I haven’t used them since 1990, but what if I want to go roller-blading tomorrow? And where do you keep your books?
I’m sure the rules allow you to have a shed. But it has to be a Tiny Shed. If you live in a Tiny House and have a shed the size of the Vatican so you can hang onto all your stuff, you’re just cheating.
4. Ever heard of these guys?
5. Do you have tiny cars, too?
Because that would just be cool. You could keep them in your tiny garage. Where you could also keep your tiny tools. Just in case your tiny car ever had a tiny breakdown.
6. Do vandals ever move your house while you’re sleeping?
Because I would totally move your house while you were sleeping.
I’d never even heard of Tiny House Living before, and now I’m intrigued. I want in. Not to live in one or anything. But I know a couple of people who would love to. There must be thousands of others out there. I’m going to become a Tiny Property Developer.
I’ll buy up vacant lots in the suburbs and turn them into Tiny Housing Estates. Nice ones. Really upmarket. The streets will be lined with bonsais, and each home will have parking for two tiny cars.
There will be a tiny communal swimming pool and clubhouse, where the owners can get together for tiny parties.
Everyone will just be super happy. And if they’re not? Well that’s easy. They can just take their Tiny Houses and @#$% off.