Big Thoughts About Tiny Spaces

Last weekend we went to the Tennessee Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga. We didn’t “fall in love” with one single home, which is how I know this recently resurrected idea of ours might actually have some traction this time.

This time? Yes, in 2015, we met Scotty and immediately fell in love. Scotty was a vintage 22-foot travel trailer in need of a little TLC…or so it said in the ad. At the time, we were so caught up in our grand ideas that we didn’t think much about the practical aspects of RV living or the problems one might encounter when dealing with a 30-year-old trailer and quite quickly we came to realize that TLC more aptly meant “Totally Lost Cause”.

For anyone who followed us back then, you know that adventure was sidetracked and we ended up staying put in Tennessee to help my mom. For anyone who wasn’t with us then and is interested in knowing what happened, here’s a good place to start.

What we learned from our flirtation with tiny living back then was that we had the specs right but our method was wrong. In short, we would have been better off with a tiny house in a permanent location than trying to haul a leaky hunk of aluminum all over creation with a mid-size SUV and a super-size cat.

Which brings us to the present…

We constantly toss around the idea of putting a tiny house in my mom’s backyard. Our city recently revised zoning to allow for tiny houses on permanent foundations. While we’re not yet sure what that means for tiny houses as accessory dwellings in a residential area, we’re still pretty excited by the progress and are finding the topic of tiny living coming up much more often.

A good example of a bad ladder.

As we toured the tiny houses at the festival (all of which were on wheels), we oohed and aahed along with everyone else while also having a serious conversation about the practicality of tiny living. We decided some things were just a non-starter…like a loft bedroom that is only accessible by ladder. We’re not old by any stretch of the imagination but we are over 40 and falling headfirst down a ladder during a midnight potty run is not high on our list of fun things to do at night. Besides proper stairs, our other “must haves” include: a combo washer/dryer, a covered porch, and off-grid plumbing and electricity.

We saw several homes that partially met this criteria but none that ticked all the boxes (as they say on HGTV’s House Hunters). So what does this mean for us? I’m not sure yet. We are in our current lease until next summer so we have plenty of time to flesh out a proper plan to go tiny should we decide to move in that direction. In the meantime, we still need to find out if a tiny house in the backyard is even legal here. I’ve also suggested we find a tiny house rental through Airbnb and try that for a week – not during vacation but during a regular work week. A trial run is something we should have considered two years ago. I can’t help but think of the headaches it would have saved!

Could you live in a tiny house? What are your “must haves” to give tiny living a go?

Here are some of our favorite elements from the Tennessee Tiny House Festival.

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The Carefully Curated (Facebook) Life

Angie and I are following the coverage of Hurricane Irma with great interest. Many of our closest friends and former neighbors live in South Florida. Some are under mandatory evacuation orders and are scared they might not make it out in time due to traffic and gas shortages. Others are still trudging to work during the day and watching Netflix at night instead of the news. This is the way things work in the Sunshine State. For every person who is panicked, there are 6 others stubbornly clinging to the notion that this is just another storm and just another “day in the life of a Floridian”. I’m not here to judge. I’m here to pray that those six friends of mine are right and Irma loses steam somewhere out in the ocean.

When Irma hit Barbuda, Angie pulled out her phone to look up this tiny island.

“Have we been there?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.” I replied.

As Angie and I both thumbed through Facebook photos of our Caribbean adventures to see if we had ever been to Barbuda, a screen appeared offering various frames for your profile picture. Some offered an overlay of the state of Texas, showing support for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, and others added words like “United We Dream” and “I Stand With Dreamers” to show support for DACA. For a moment, I hovered over a few of these frames and then backed out of clicking on one.

This is not the first time that I’ve opted not to post (or like) something on Facebook. In fact, my personal Facebook page is so carefully curated that, aside from the photos, I’m not sure it even reflects who I am. Get this, there’s not even a link to this blog on my page! Why? Because I am the Switzerland of my Facebook community, the one person who takes a neutral position on all issues so that my other friends can firmly set up camp on both sides of the aisle, on every issue, all the time. How ridiculous is that? I’m gagging on my own words as I type them. It’s wonderful to be considerate of other people’s feelings but it’s equally as important to consider your own.

I’m not neutral when it comes to issues facing our community today (and by community, I mean the whole of humanity). I’m a freak when it comes to food waste. We dive in dumpsters for God’s sake! I’m anti-consumerism. So much so that I’ve been known to lecture my own family members for buying things they don’t need just to discard them a month later. And if you didn’t know this already, I’m a minimalist. I purposefully live with less for all sorts of wonderfully valid reasons…none of which I ever really share outside of this blog and it’s corresponding Facebook page.

I support immigration. I believe the entire world should be open to movement. Let people live and work where they feel called to be and in whatever abode they chose – be it a tiny house, RV, home in the hillside, yurt village, or city apartment. The fewer restrictions we place on others, the more opportunities we have for ourselves. But hey, that’s just my opinion…and one you won’t find anywhere but here.

I know exactly where most of my friends stand on politics, the environment, equality, immigration, and more. I know because they don’t hesitate when they hover over the “like” or “share” button. Does knowing their stance change my opinion of them? Not usually, though I do on occasion shake my head in wonder at how seemingly sane people can post such close-minded stuff sometimes. But I still love my friends. I still accept them for who they are – Democrat, Republican, Jesus Freak, Atheist, Socialist, Hippie, Baby Boomer or Millennial. I need to trust that they will do the same.

Curating one’s online presence is a difficult job that ultimately leaves everyone with only a one-dimensional view. I’m not advocating that everyone go out and use their social media platform as a soap box to air their grievances. In fact, I wish my niece would do a little less of that. I’m simply saying that it’s pointless to have a social media presence that is not reflective of who you are. As I look back through my years on Facebook, I see hikes and bike rides, kayaking trips and ocean cruises, cross-country moves, and a year of sampling craft beer in Colorado. What I don’t see is the soul of the person doing those things. And that needs to change.

If I looked at your Facebook page today, what would it say about you? Is it tailored to suit potential employers? Is it something your family would be proud of (in other words, do you limit what you say in order not to offend your family, like I do)? Or would I instantly know who you are from your posts and likes?