Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Recently I watched a documentary called Tiny: A Story About Living Small (available on Netflix Instant View, ITunes, and Amazon). Merete Mueller (one of the individuals in the film and it's co-director) sums it up on IMDB like this:
What is home? And how do we find it? TINY follows one couple's attempt to build a Tiny House from scratch with no building experience, and profiles other families who have downsized their lives into houses smaller than the average parking space. Through homes stripped down to their essentials, the film raises questions about sustainability, good design, and the changing American Dream.
Sounds interesting, right? Well, it was. I recommend this movie to anyone who is feeling cramped in their current quarters. I can almost guarantee that you will feel like you live in a veritable mansion after 66 minutes of viewing houses 300 square feet and smaller (often much smaller). It will probably also give you the urge to purge, a desire to run madly through the house, filling a large receptacle destined for Goodwill as you go. And long after that fervor passes, it will leave you with much food for thought.

While the synopsis says "couple," the tiny house highlighted in the documentary is primarily the brainchild of Christopher Smith. Though his girlfriend, Merete, grows more and more attached to the project, her future relationship with the tiny house (and Christopher) remains ambiguous at the end of the film. So there's the first thing about tiny houses: they're tiny. So small that one wonders if that, by necessity, they are isolating. Are they big enough to hold even two lives, two wills, two egos?

Yet, despite my doubts, some do it. In addition to Christopher and Merete, the film also introduces other individuals and couples who live in tiny houses. In their interviews, some of the tiny householders focus on the amount of time and money that is saved over a traditional home. Some mention the peace that one finds in simplifying one's life, the freedom of not being forced to work constantly to buy goods that are unnecessary. Some even mention the newfound ability to focus on relationships rather than things.

As a minimalist myself, I found myself nodding along in agreement. Yes. Yes! That rat race. I want out of that rat race. I don't want my junk. I want relationship. I want intimacy. I want freedom. Freedom.

Even though each person spoke about the topic differently, it all came down to this one thing: freedom.  I do want freedom, and a freedom not just from things, but for things. Good things. But that's where I have to part ways with the movement (and yes, it is a growing movement). My good things involve a spouse, and unfortunately, he's not as much of a minimalist as I am (though I don't think it's so unfortunate when one of his "random" purchases turns out to be just what I need).

And we like children. Our first one. Our second one. Our third one. Even our fourth one. And even other ones. More ones. Future ones, so to speak. And that may not be tiny, but it sure is good.


  1. Yes! Crazy how STUFF can make you feel trapped. We've been purging here too. Thanks for the food for thought!

  2. I've had this on my "to watch" list for a while!! I'm definitely a minimalist and my husband generally is too - I did my fair share of complaining about our cramped quarters of 1100 square feet with 3 kids, but it wasn't at all because I felt like our "stuff" was too much...I just didn't know how to deal with the lack of outdoor space!! I grew up with cows in my backyard out in WNY and I had no idea how to keep 3 tiny kids occupied in a more urban setting :) I feel like most of the tiny home stories I see in articles or news segments are situated out in the middle of a wide expanse of nature. I'm curious to know if the individuals and couples featured on the show tend to view access to nature as a critical component to tiny living or if any of them did this radically tiny living in a city setting. I don't like to keep a lot of stuff around, but I do need space and fresh air!!

    1. Jamie, I'm the same way about stuff and space - keep the stuff and give me the space! I did notice that many in the movement who dwell in a more urban setting seem to live in the Pacific Northwest, where coincidentally, the year round climate is fairly temperate. Even in Colorado, where the movie's main couple builds, the winters aren't harsh in the same way as here in good old WNY. So I think that is definitely an important thing to take into consideration when considering this lifestyle - out of every month, week, day, how much time will actually be spent indoors?

  3. I really want to watch that!

    And yeah, extreme minimalism can be just wrong when it becomes a higher value than people. I remember reading one of those minimalist bloggers pondering whether they should have a second child. Like, using the same criteria you would use for deciding whether to get a second car. Minimalism was made for man, not man for minimalism. ;-)

    1. Well put, Laura! I know that personally, minimalism can almost take on OCD like shades if it isn't reined in and subordinated to the higher and the deeper aspects of life.


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