Our (small) house. In the middle of the street.

We live in a small house. Our main house, where the four of us spend 85% of our time is 635 square feet.  We have a converted garage that adds 300 sq/ft, and the ability for us to have a family member, or two at most, stay from time to time.

We had a big house, with big rooms, high ceilings, integrated sound system, hardwood floors.  We had a guest suite on a separate floor with a private bath. We had a double car garage, and a finished attic.

We also had big energy bills, big property taxes, big mortgage payments, very few guests, and a massive list of wants:

  • New furniture to fill the big rooms
  • New music to play on our big sound system
  • New cars to fill our garage
  • Even a new kitchen at one point!

Now. In this house. I want a new rug for the living room.   My husband, however, is fine with our current rug.

I’m surprised that downsizing our living space has downsized the “need” for stuff.  There is the obvious: less space = less space for stuff.  But it’s more than that.  When you live in a small house the stuff you DO have is more visible.  There is no hiding, losing, storing, closeting, etc.  The things that you have and hold onto invade your daily living as constant reminders of all the things you ALREADY have. When your life FEELS full, you lose your appetite for more.

While many of us aspire to lead happier lives and reduce our impact on this planet, I wonder how much we consider our living space as our inspiration?

This brings me to my current fascination: The Tiny House Movement

“The rhetoric of modern tiny-house living begins with the assertion that big houses, aside from being wasteful and environmentally noxious, are debtors’ prisons.”

via The Rise of the Tiny-House Movement : The New Yorker.

Our house is enormous compared to Tiny House standards (100-130 sq/ft), but the effect on my life has mirrored the ideals of the movement.  Tiny houses are the outcome of ideals: less debt and less impact on this planet.  My small house is not the outcome, but the inspiration of those ideals.

I have planted vegetables for the first time since elementary school science.  My kids wear hand-me-downs.  We do not have car payments, nor plan to in the near future.  We are more thoughtful about where we spend our money.  Most importantly, we talk less and worry less about money and “stuff”.

Consider these numbers:

From 1950 to 2000 in the U.S., average residential living trends
have been towards bigger homes with fewer occupants:

  • the number of occupants per house decreased by 22%. 
  • living space per person increased by 183%. 
  • home size increased by 120%
  • 26% of available edible food is wasted at the consumer level.
  • In 2000, the per capita consumption of all materials in the United States was 23.7 metric tons, 52% more than the European average.
  • In 2008, the average American generated 4.5 lbs of municipal solid waste (MSW) each day, with only 1.1 lbs recovered for recycling.  For comparison, MSW generation rates (in lbs/person/day) are 2.42 in Canada, 3.5 in Germany, and 3.44 in the UK.

–  Center for Sustainable Systems, University of Michigan. 2010. “U.S. Environmental Footprint Factsheet.” Pub. No. CSS08-08

We did not buy our small house for altruistic reasons, but living in a smaller space has had the unintended benefit of curbing my desire for “stuff”.

The Tiny House Movement is most likely not in our future, but hopefully what we learn from this small house, we will take with us to our next (admittedly, probably bigger, but not as big as it might have been).

For more information about the Tiny House Movement and other small house endeavors, check out the Tiny House Blog, This Tiny House, and The Small House Society.

Might be late, but it’s a fabulous party!

Apparently 4,000,000+ people are already in attendance, but it’s like I’ve discovered Ibiza for the first time.

I give you: designboom

The best source of design inspiration on the web.

It’s like you’ve just entered the cool kid party and you’re not sure where the keg is. Don’t be afraid. You have on your Cloak of Invisibility  and no one cares how you stumble about, just go and have fun. Get inspired!

Why am I so obsessed?

If you think this is just “cool, new-age, artsy stuff on a website” then you have not partied at designboom yet. It doesn’t matter if you are an engineer, housewife, sales manager or psychologist, I promise you will find something on this site that speaks to you. One of my favorite discoveries is “design in science”. Art + Science = WAY COOL.

- image from designboom.com

They also have a small store, perfect for finding that perfect gift.  See my last post, Give a Little Love,  to understand why I love this section.

Where else can you find that perfect stocking stuffer for your reader/student/cookbook enthusiast? For $19, you can get some of that holiday shopping done TODAY!

- image from designboom.com

If you aren’t into reform of any kind, or shopping in August for Channukah presents, fear not, there is a chill room at designboom just for you.  Look around for a bit and I promise you will find something that makes you go hmmm…

- image from designboom.com

Go get inspired people.  Nobody is watching where you click.

Give a little love.

I love giving awesome presents.  Awesome doesn’t necessarily mean ultra-cool, expensive, designer stuff – it’s awesome because it’s personal.

Case in point: For my husband’s 35th birthday he got the Sham WoW system.  No joke. He loved it.  He had been talking about it for months.  Had there been a phone and credit card easily accessible during any of the infomercials, he would have owned them much sooner.  Luckily, our couch practically has seat belts.

My friend recently had a baby and I wanted to send something special.  I originally met her at the park with her adorable little girl wearing ruffly pants with her name sewn across the butt.  Our daughters were only months apart, and she was an important part of my life during those early years.

Enter baby girl #2 and I went searching for the perfect gift – and VOILA!

Today’s Indulgence: www.makaboo.com

Why I love:

It’s adorable, affordable, and easy to order!  There are a lot of choices from baby through toddler and their previews make it easy to see just how awesome the finished product will look.

My nephew recently moved from sunny California to not quite as warm Utah, so I ordered this:

I will note that knit items do have a longer lead time, several weeks usually, so not ideal for last minute shoppers.  But how CUTE is my nephew??? Well worth the wait, I think.

I love this site for finding that perfect present and if it helps you for even one future present, then this post has done its work.

Happy shopping y’all!

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