Sunday, March 08, 2009

Tiny Houses

Okay, so Tracey has her yurt.

I have to admit I fantasize about Tiny Houses - I have, ever since I saw a story on them in a magazine. I ran across the Tiny House Blog and have been enchanted. (My favorites are the ones where they show the interiors, and where the interiors are all wood-paneled, like the inside of a log cabin or a ship's cabin).

I like the idea of a tiny house. Now, granted, it would never work for me with the lifestyle I have now - I have too much stuff (too many books, furniture inherited from family) for it to actually WORK - and I fear I'd maybe wind up getting a bit stir crazy in bad weather - but I love the idea.

I love it because it seems so self-reliant. I'm not in love with them because of the "tiny ecological footprint" idea (though I admit, if you can do that without major discomfort, there's nothing wrong with it. Though I don't like the actively preachy, "look how PURE I am because I am living lightly on the Earth" attitude that so many who devote effort to reducing their footprints exude. They are the environmentalist equivalent of the Pharisees praying loudly in the temple, IMHO.)

I like the idea because a lot of these little houses, the emphasis is that the owner can build them - you go out, get a plot of land, put up a house (and maybe get a plumber and electrician to help you with that part). They're not complicated. But they are well thought-out - in my favorite examples, there are things like built-in bookcases (next to the kitchen to hold cookbooks), and bay windows designed to hold a desk, and all that kind of thing. The idea that you could personalize your house rather than taking some existing box appeals to me.

And I have to admit, the part of me that is kind of a hippie (or maybe, a better description is "kind of a survivalist") likes the idea of a tiny little house where you could just maybe live "off the grid" by using solar and having your own well and maybe having a wind turbine. I like the idea of being able to tell the rest of the world to go to blazes, and only being dependent on my own self.

Oh, I know I could never do it. I try to garden and at least in the climate where I live now, it rarely works out well - the tomatoes wither on the vines. Or a borer gets the squash. Or it gets really hot all of a sudden and the lettuce bolts.

But I secretly cherish the idea of making it "all on my own" - of chopping my own wood for the winter, of growing my own food, of not needing to depend on other people. I have enough of the "git off my lawn!" cranky old lady in me to like the idea of going off and living off my (posted No Trespassing) land and not having to deal with other people.

And when it gets loud in my neighborhood, I fantasize about buying a big plot of land somewhere, and clearing the middle part of it, and building my tiny house there. And then being surrounded by this giant sound buffer. (Oh, I know, in reality, I'd probably wind up with coyotes howling or loud birds or something else, but somehow coyotes seem more tolerable to me than the boom car of the post-teenager down the street).

I think also the coziness of the space - the idea of everything being so close at hand, of sleeping in a loft bedroom like Heidi did (though the thought of having to climb down a ladder in the middle of the night to get to the bathroom does not appeal so much. Perhaps I'd have to have the bathroom up on the same floor as the sleeping loft. Or a fireman's pole so I could at least get DOWN to the bathroom quickly).

I greatly prefer the wood-paneled ones. The ones on that blog that are super-modernistic, the white boxy rooms with minimalist furniture, leave me cold. If I'm going to live out in the woods, I want it to be a CABIN. I want it to look like that. I want little nooks in the kitchen to hold my cookbooks and spice jars, I want that wooden look, I want to feel like I'm living kind of like Heidi or kind of like Laura Ingalls or kind of like some character in a folk tale.

A lot of the tiny houses are designed to be transportable - hook a trailer hitch onto them, put wheels under them, and go. I'm not sure I'd want that, though if the neighborhood deteriorated it would be nice to be able easily to pick up and leave. (or if a forest fire threatened - maybe this is the solution for those who INSIST on living in fire-prone or flood-prone areas - make houses that they can drive out of there if conditions get bad). But I'm not sure how you'd do plumbing on a house like that, and one thing I would HAVE to have, would not live without, is plumbing - I need a bathroom and a shower and a sink in the kitchen. I would not want to have to haul water. (Even if that made me a conservationist goddess). I also don't think I'd want a "modern Murphy bed" as the Tiny House site shows; I use my bed for other things than sleep (I like to read in bed, I also sometimes sit in bed to crochet or knit or listen to music) and I don't like to think of having to make it up every night and put it up every morning - I'd want a designated sleeping area that was my sanctuary and ALWAYS had a bed ready in it. (And also I get migraines - sometimes which the only solution to is to collapse into bed and sleep for a couple hours - and I'd hate to have to put down my bed before I could crash).

I think I'd also want a tiny dishwasher as well. (and of course, my own washer and very likely dryer as well. Which might mean I couldn't "live off the grid," but oh well). I like my comforts, and I dislike washing dishes.

I can kind of imagine the house in my mind. Oh, it would have to be bigger - with my washer and dryer and a decent sort of bathroom and my tiny dishwasher and enough space for my cook books and my books and some of my craft stuff - than the really micro houses, but still I can envision a small place - a place with a tiny living room, and a little kitchen, and upstairs a little sleeping loft. And it would be all mine. And it would be way out away from all the noisy Special Snowflakes, away from the people who look at me hopefully and say things like, "We're having this group of high school students come through and we need host families who can give them a place to sleep...?" or any of that. Somewhere where I can be alone and people cannot find me to bug me. And where everything I want and everything I love is close at hand.

You can see I've thought a lot about this. As I said, I know it would never work - I have too much stuff, some of it stuff I really could not part with - but oh, is it a nice fantasy - curling up with a book in the sleeping loft as rain drums on the roof, cooking a pot of soup in a tiny kitchen that looks like Hobbits designed it, being able to look out my windows and see only trees...

1 comment:

nightfly said...

"look how PURE I am because I am living lightly on the Earth" attitude that so many who devote effort to reducing their footprints exude. They are the environmentalist equivalent of the Pharisees praying loudly in the temple, IMHO

PERFECT. That's exactly the right description.

(w/v - "picalit" - describes houses powered by a small Pokemon.)