Tiny Homes Don't Have To Be Limiting

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Americans are obsessed with big. We think big. We have big ideas and big plans. Little things can be a big deal. We want to be a big wig, perhaps bigger than life. The bigger, the better. You get the idea.

But the problem with such a big appetite for bigness is that enough is never enough. We learn the hard way that bigger is not always better, especially when our budget gets bigger than our income.

Fortunately, many people have discovered a big word that makes a lot of sense: downsizing. Rather than always thinking big, we are learning the value of thinking small.

The area of life where thinking small makes the most impact is housing. Compared to the rest of the world, our houses are simply too big. We have become convinced that we can’t live a full life unless our house is two and a half times bigger than the average house dweller around the world.

But when downsizing is applied to housing, many wonderful things take place. The fundamental question that drives consumerism shifts from, “How much can I acquire?” to, “How little can I get away with?” 

Once you start considering a tiny home as a serious option, the thought of regaining control of your life through downsizing can be exciting, and also frightening.

Here are some ways to maintain the excitement, and overcome the scary bits:

Bigger on the Outside
In the sci-fi hit, Doctor Who, there is a time machine the size of a phone booth on the outside. But on the inside, it has no apparent size limit. But it is not that way for us. We have hard limits. Clutter can make a living space unlivable. But many of us have an option that we never explore. If you have some kind of yard, your house is likely bigger on the outside. 

Using Rhino metal building kits, you can take an unused outside space, and turn it into a usable space. According to Rhino: A large percentage of our metal buildings are erected by the buyers themselves. The building has been prefabricated at the factory with the steel components cut, welded, and drilled for easy bolt-together installation. It’s basically a big kid’s erector set.

This episode of Tiny House Nation featured a couple that increased their space for entertaining by expanding beyond the house to the outdoors. Even a small metal building on the property would have helped with storing necessities like heavy tools used in their business. When considering a tiny house, don’t forget: It’s bigger on the outside.

More than One Function
In a tiny home, you don’t have room for redundancy. If you have one thing that can serve two functions, that’s one less thing you have to put into the space. A computer monitor looks a lot like a TV. There are plenty of ways to use it as both. A kitchen chair can serve as a desk chair. And on it goes… 

That creativity does not just apply to individual items, but entire spaces. Once you stop thinking in terms of distinct rooms, the space can really open up. 

By night, your living room can become a bedroom with a Murphy bed. The dining room becomes an office, and so on… 

Make each space multi-functional, and you double your living spaces.

Functional Decor
Do you have too many pots, pans, and other kitchen supplies? Put hooks on your ceiling and underneath cabinet space, and hang them. 

No space for your coats and hats? A slim-profile coat and hat rack in an unused corner becomes functional art. 

No room for a side table by the door? Hang a cork board instead. Put nails in it. And hang your keys, and other doodads when you enter the house. There is no reason decoration and necessities have to be different things. Don’t hide it. Hang it.

You can live in a tiny home. Much of the world does just that out of necessity. You might be surprised at just how liberating it can be. 

But the good news is that you don’t have to get down to 300 sf. to enjoy the benefits of downsizing. All of these tips that are true for a tiny home, are also true for bigger homes. 


  1. I love my tiny home. Of course, it's not nearly has tiny as these little numbers, but it's small by today's building standards. Really, how much space do we need? When the kids are home, everyone is in the family room or kitchen...lots of empty, unused rooms, even in this cottage!

  2. The size of a home is not simply about how much space do I need for my stuff, but, how small of a quarters can I live in psychologically. I could live in a somewhat smaller house, but my husband could not. He does not do well unless there are spaces within the home that he can work in, think in silence in, keep the tools he needs to maintain the outside of our home, etc. Small works for many people, but not for all people. We have rooms that don't get used often, but they are necessary when children come to visit... certainly can't hang them from the ceiling like the pots and pans. LOL I love the 'idea' of a tiny house, but people really need to think seriously about making that decision to live 'tiny' and if it would really work for their life. We tried to downsize the last time we purchased a home, but in reality it simply would not work for us.

  3. By those standards, I don't live in a tiny house.

    But, I do live in a small house and our rooms serve dual purposes. Our dining room is probably the most used room. The table is used for all family meals, but in between it is my blogging spot. Steve builds his frames and canvases on the table. I read on the window seat and often stretch out for an afternoon nap in the sun.

    Our garage holds Steve's car, our bicycles, the washer/dryer, and it serves as a workspace for me. One entire wall in the garage is for my craft supplies.

  4. Love this post, Brenda! Laura and I live in a small, 2 bedroom, ground floor, apartment with a patio. We really love this apartment, yet we are thinking ahead to renting/possibly buying a duplex unit when she finishes high school and is working. That way, she and I are still close, but have our own space. The picture of the RV is something I would love! That is just about the indoor size I would need and the outdoor space is wonderful! Laura and her 2 good friends have also talked about getting a house that they would share, have it on a fair size piece of land and having something small for me to live in. Would be the perfect place to put that RV! I love the posts that you write about small-space living. Also love the small decor and plant posts.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Brenda, just got back from Kris' feature of Cozy House. I knew a little about your situation just from reading between the lines but never knew why you lived alone in a cozy little house. This touched my heart. You are gifted beyond words. I'm so glad you were vunerable and shared.

  6. People buy and hold on to entirely too much crap/stuff.. I don't need to touch something or see it to enjoy any memory it might bring.. Not to mention that at a certain age a parent should clean up and clear out stuff so their kids don't have all that to deal with upon your demise:)
    Either your mind and memory are intact enough to take those strolls down memory lane- or they aren't and if they aren't then 12 thousand knick knacks aren't going to bring the memory back. plain n simple.

  7. When I think Tiny House I think about how quickly I could clean it. That would be so nice. I could easily move into the second picture's tiny house. But with a husband who snores I would have to have 2 bedrooms to get any sleep at all, with insulation between! Maybe a loft for him?

    I am fascinated by the Tiny House shows on television and continue to dream of one.

  8. Great post. These homes were gorgeous. Great collection. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Our home is a spacious 1300 sq.ft.... but while we are redoing our camper...I'm constantly thinking of ways to use up all the space inside that 7.5 X 13 sq.ft. So that while we're away from home in our' lil camper that could'... we are making the most of our tiny living space!
    I love a lot of the ideas mentioned here...incorporating them to camping is about as small as I can go at the moment. Though living in a Tiny House...is always out there on the horizon!

  10. As parents who have a severely handicapped daughter, we could not downsize to a tiny house. But we have a smaller house than the industry thinks we should have. When family comes over some people sit on the floor and some people eat away from the table. And the house is paid off. Something some people can't say.


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