Life on the Frontier… Tiny House Living

1-Mike Staton

This is me, Mike Staton, the author of this feature.

It’s head shaking… this craze of building Tiny Houses.

My friend Sharon loves the HGTV channel, especially the shows House Hunters, International House Hunters and Tiny Houses. I do like to watch people hunting for new homes in the U.S. and overseas. I like the tiny house shows too, although I can’t really identify with the mindset of people who want to live in them.

Often it’s just one person or a young couple, and that seems reasonable to me – kind of like our great-great-grandparents living in a cabin or sod-house out on the frontier in the 19th Century. Not wanting to deal with a high mortgage and not needing 3,000 square feet of space, they opt for the 200 square feet of a tiny house. Instead of a $300,000 home, they build a $30,000 home. What’s perplexing to me, though, are the couples who choose tiny house living – and they have two or three children, and a dog and a cat. Seriously, living in a tiny house? Making your kids, often a boy and girl, sleep in a loft, sometimes in the same bed? That’s just weird, even when the kids are under ten years old.

Tiny House2

Great look to the outside… front deck with rocking chairs, corner porch, and wood planking/shingle walls.

 

I guess it’s hard for me to fathom because I treasure my privacy. I like to be off by myself reading a book or working on my novel or a short story. In a tiny house, there would almost always be someone within a few feet of me. Even on the space station, the architects tried hard to find places where astronauts could go for privacy. Of course, they have a real problem… they just can’t leave for a walk. Tiny house people can take a stroll through the nearby woods.

Some of the owners really go all out to be off the grid – compost toilet where the waste becomes a garden’s fertilizer, rainwater cistern and/or water well, outside washbasin for a tub, solar panels for electricity. I’ve got to tip my hat to them. That’s cutting-edge roughing it.

Tiny House1

Look what we have here… stairs to a loft bedroom, a couch and a study/desk on the left, and in the back a kitchen. Tiny house living.

I’ve come to the conclusion that tiny houses are not for older people – for example, me. I broke my hip in 2010. I don’t get around like I used to prior to that fracture. Climbing a ladder to a loft to go to bed isn’t something I’d want to do. Even sleeping in a loft where if I rise up on an elbow, I’m going to crack my head on the ceiling. Tiny house living seems to be a dream for young people with nubile bodies.

I have to admit, though, the architects and builders who build the tiny houses are very ingenious in how they find ways to provide a tiny full kitchen and some limited storage space. At the end of the shows, they always bring the camera back to see how the folks like their new tiny house. And they always say: “We just love tiny house living.” Is that for the benefit of the camera? That can’t very well say: Lordy, we made a huge mistake. On the other hand, I concede that for most it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. They went into the tiny house hunt with eyes wide open.

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I’m the author of a fantasy trilogy that’s available on the Amazon and Barnes And Noble websites. My latest endeavor is a Civil War romance novel, Blessed Shadows Dark And Deep.

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29 Responses to Life on the Frontier… Tiny House Living

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    I could see living in one by myself. Of course, I might just buy a travel trailer for the same price (or even less) and live in it all over the place instead of just one location.

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    • Mike Staton says:

      Some of them are small enough that they do have wheels and can be transported. The bigger ones require a semi-trailer. Smaller ones… a pickup truck. Me, if I went that route, a bus or RV that has been converted into a tiny house would probably work out for the right person.

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  2. katewyland says:

    We recently downsized to a 1700 sq’ house. While that give us plenty of living space, storage is much more limited. I can’t imagine where we’d put stuff in 200′! Do they have outside storage sheds? Also, I’m like you, I need alone time. I think I’d really feel claustrophobic in one of those.

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    • Mike Staton says:

      I’ve seen some with storage sheds. They can be quite creative in providing space in 200 square feet. When there’s stairs up to the loft, the of the stairs is often storage cabinets.

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  3. Doris says:

    I think you hit it when you said “kind of like our great-great-grandparents living in a cabin or sod-house out on the frontier in the 19th Century”. I’ve oftern thought have no privicy of our ancestors and now. LIke you, I want some space to just be me. Still, the thought of having a smaller space, less to clean,etc. is compelling. Doris

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    • Mike Staton says:

      Good point on having less space to clean. Still, never to have any privacy inside. And the bathrooms can be quite scary. Showers extremely small, sometimes just spraying down without a cubicle. Some have had a tub about half the ‘normal’ size.

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  4. I’m with you, Mike. Tiny living isn’t for me. Let those young people have their fun.

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  5. Kathy Waller says:

    You make some good points here–where do they put the children? Dogs can go just about anywhere and be happy, but children need a bit more consideration. I need privacy and at least the illusion of space. Don’t want to feel like I’m living in an MRI. But some of the tiny houses are so cute. I saw one the other day I was convinced I wanted until I learned it cost over $500,000. Well, I still want it, but…

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  6. Neva Bodin says:

    I think it may be a fad that will fade. However, my folks lived in a two room house, probably almost twice as big as a “tiny house,” with three kids for many years. My sister was 18, my brother 15, and I was 3 when they built and moved into a two story with three bedrooms and a basement, and I was terrified. We knew how to share, get along in a close space, be a tight knit family. However I know of people who buy a camper to live in when they retire, and soon are buying a house also. I wonder how long they last in their tiny house.

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    • Mike Staton says:

      All good points, Neva. My maternal grandparents in Rittman, Ohio, lived in a three-room downstairs — living room, kitchen and dining room. Upstairs were two bedrooms and a strangely shaped bathroom — a long hall leading to a toilet, sink and claw bathtub. They had my mom and my uncle. Mom was 10 years old than my uncle. I’m thinking maybe my uncle lived on a studio bed with my grandparents when my mom was a teenager and still living at home. In later life, grandparents lived in separate bedrooms due to Grandpa’s loud snoring, and I’d sleep on the studio couch when spending the night with them.

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  7. I also enjoy watching Tiny Houses on HGTV. I love seeing all the different designs and where people choose to put the house. Those tiny houses are smaller than our cabin, and that’s plenty small for me — and we don’t live there fulltime (and not sure that I could). It is amazing the small quarters our ancestors lived in. Great post, Mike!

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  8. I love the show Tiny House Hunters! I especially like seeing the layouts. My problem with a tiny house is that as one ages the ladders cannot be a safe way to get to the loft to bed. Imagine having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and having to come down when you’re half-asleep. That point taken, Ralph and I do live in a tiny house for six months of the year and find it very doable. Our tiny house is in the form of a 32″ camper with two slide outs. We find it sizeable, have plenty of room, a king sized bed in the bedroom, and a large front kitchen. With everything all on one floor we are comfortable. When I want privacy I go out on the deck and watch the lake and listen to the birds while I write or read. We also have an outside shower. However, this is only for six months of the year and we still have a house with all our stuff waiting for us to return in late fall. Our little bit of paradise is only 9 miles from our house but seems like we’re in another world. We come home once a week to wash and mow and head right back. Not sure I’d want to do it year around, though.

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  9. S J Brown says:

    When we decided to leave our big old Victorian we looked for a smaller house. Something all on one level for the years to come when we have mobility issues. I still wanted a room of my own where I could write, sort photos and escape. We now have a 3 bedroom house with a full basement. The basement has become hubbys domain. He can access it a few ways one option includes only 5 steps instead of a full flight. I have my own office and we have 2 rooms only used when we have out of town guests. When you add in the basement this place isn’t any smaller than our old Victorian. But everything we really need is all on one level. The tiny house option just seems to crowded and compacted. I am not organized enough to make something like that work long term.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Staton says:

      My maternal grandparents, Frog and Mid Franks, had a small two-story farm-style house. Three rooms on the first floor, living room, kitchen and dining room. The front-door entrance via a step-up porch led directly to a hall with the stairs immediately on the left, living room on the right, and kitchen at the end of the hall. The stairs (had a mid-way land with a jog to the right) led to a two-bedroom upstairs, with the bathroom between the bedrooms. One bedroom had two huge walk-in closets, one used for storage, one for clothes. The other bedroom had one walk-in closet. There were two other entrances into the house… a side door that led to a stairs landing. Going up the stairs led into the kitchen, down the stairs to the basement; grandpa would use the entrance, then open the front door for Grandma and me. The other entrance into the house was through a back porch that led into a walled and roofed storage room that housed grandma’s freezer full of tasty stuff like chocolate drop cookies, candy and the best apple sauce in the universe (came from an apple tree in the backyard). A small house, but in no way a tiny house. Yet it seemed spacious to a eight-year-old boy on vacation from Southern California.

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  10. I don’t watch HGTV but saw a commercial or something for the Tiny House show on Lifetime or Bravo or one of those channels. I was astounded that people choose to live in these. I would be so claustrophobic! It seems to follow the eco-friendly trend and I wonder if it will phase out as a fad. They remind me of dollhouses for giants. They are cute and it would be fun to tour one but I could never live in one, even though I live with just my dog. I used to live in a tiny studio by the beach but that was in my 20s and I often was out with friends so rarely home. It was so small that I could leap from my bed into the bathroom without touching the floor. My “kitchen” was a mini fridge and a counter. I lasted a year there. Now I have a 1200+ sq. foot home and it’s perfect for me. I’m more of a homebody now. But I did think like Doris…less to clean! Thanks for the fun post, Mike.

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  11. Nancy Jardine says:

    I don’t watch any of these house shows but I know what can be achieved with great inventive planning. I agree that kids need some space and in my part of the world rain is a lot more common than sunshine and playing outside just isn’t so convenient. Even if the playing in the rain isn’t an issue I dread to think of how they dry the clothes and do the kids laundry in a tiny house. Claustrophobia would have to be banned! 😉

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    • Mike Staton says:

      Everything you brought up were my concerns as well. A tiny house filled with kids… I just can’t imagine it. Now one young person or a couple… it could work. In the mid 1970s I lived in a small apartment… kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath. Not sure of the square footage… probably 600 to 700.

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  12. Wranglers says:

    A tiny house like this? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154178232592318&set=gm.1736537199891509&type=3&theater That’s a link to a photo of our truck. LOL I was raised in a house where I had 4 brothers, my parents and me. People had to double up somewhere when there are only 3 bedrooms. I had to sleep on the top bunk in the same room as my two younger brothers. In the next house also a 3 bedroom, I shared a room with my two younger brothers with a petition added. Finally at 15, I got my own room when my next to oldest brother went off to war. Just the way it had to be. LOL We also thought about living on our houseboat at one time. We were going to put a big storage building on our property. (I don’t think they made a big enough storage building). We downsized, but still sharing the house with my SIL gives us the bedroom, office/spare room, Florida room, small work shed, dining room and part of the kitchen. Not to metion the Lanai. In WV I still have a 12×30 Art Building, now storage building that is stuffed. But I am working on getting rid of some more stuff. LOL Cher’ley

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    • Mike Staton says:

      The back of semi cabs are virtual tiny houses. That’s funny but some truth to it. Your observations of growing up as a kid reminds me of my grandparents’ two-bedroom house in Rittman. Mom was about 10 to 12 when my Uncle Denny was born. He’s still living, so I could talk to him about the years mom lived in the house before she got married at age 19. I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think Denny’s bed was a studio style bed in grandma/grandpa’s room for the time Mom still lived there. She had the other bedroom (teenage girls need privacy lol). That was back during World War II and the late 40s (mom graduated in 1947 and was married in 1949). I loved that house and still miss it.

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  13. Wranglers says:

    Great blog BTW and I think these little houses are adorable. I’d like to have one for my grandchildren to play in. LOL Cher’ley

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  14. A tiny house would definitely be good for keeping clean. I don’t own a tiny house and it seems that the house duties are forever coming with something new. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the space and right to privacy when needed, that is, definitely a plus.
    I would like to thank you for bring much gratitude to me for my not so tiny house. Beautifully done!

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    • Mike Staton says:

      Glad I looked back to see if there were any other comments made to this post. You’re like me, Darrah, but not quite as late as me. I could probably live in a tiny house, but it would have to be 600 to 700 square feet — kitchen, living room, bath with a shower, and two bedrooms. I’d use one as my study, but it would include a bed for guests.

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