10 Guiding Principles for Living Tiny

Posted February 1st, 2010 by Hillary "Tinyhouse" and filed in Issue 15: Small Space Tricks

Since plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, I borrowed some of Andrea Zittel‘s writing (from her ongoing “Things I Know For Sure” series) because, well, I’m quite a fan. Below I’ve put together a mashup of tricks for living in small spaces — or guiding principles, or billboard-quality truisms. Whatever you want to call them, I hope they are as useful and inspiring to you as they are to me.

1. What you own, owns you.

2. What makes us feel liberated is not total freedom, but rather living in a set of limitations that we have created and prescribed for ourselves.

3. Things that we think are liberating can ultimately become restrictive, and things that we initially think are controlling can sometimes give us a sense of comfort and security.

4. People are most happy when they are moving towards something not quite yet attained.

5. Ideas seem to gestate best in a void—- when that void is filled, it is more difficult to access them. In our consumption-driven society, almost all voids are filled.

6. Maintenance takes time and energy that can sometimes impede other forms or progress such as learning about new things.

7. Surfaces that are “easy to clean” also show dirt more. In reality a surface that camouflages dirt is much more practical than one that is easy to clean.

8. All materials ultimately deteriorate and show signs of wear. It is therefore important to create designs that will look better after years of distress.

9. Ambiguity in visual design ultimately leads to a greater variety of functions than designs that are functionally fixed.

10. The best rules are never stable or permanent, but evolve, naturally according to content or need.

Image credit: Andrea Zittel, Andrea Rosen Gallery

Hillary lives in a 677 sq. ft. historic home with her partner while renovating a 50 sq. ft. tiny trailer and preparing for full-time travel. Her blog is located at thistinyhouse.com.

4 Responses to “10 Guiding Principles for Living Tiny”

  1. [...] to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!The Small Living Journal published my article entitled 10 Guiding Principles for Living Tiny in Issue #15, where you can find tons of great writing about occupying a smaller space, both [...]

  2. Mo SkbaNo Gravatar says:

    Interesting and thought provoking. I will enjoy pondering the balance of owning my home and it owning me. Does it serve me? or do I serve it? I like the (relative) permanence, not having to constantly find, create/build or share a living space with others. I like that I have a place to build dreams and launch adventures from.

    Conversely I do have to spend some of my life earning money to pay for it, though typical rent around here is more than my mortgage payment. The garden does require my labor though working the soil is very rewarding and the fruits of my efforts can extend far into the future…

    Fascinating balance.

  3. Deek DNo Gravatar says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with rule 8….most wood surfaces after taking a beating, ultimately will result in a still-pleading rustic look (depending on the setting), while the more modern use of materials like stainless steel countertops for example, once damaged, scratched, and worn, just look lousy…

    New “Humble Homes…” book is out NOW…

  4. CarolNo Gravatar says:

    I saw her work at an exhibition a few years ago and kept going back – wonderful things!