Living Small – What is Small?

Posted April 20th, 2009 by Kent Griswold and filed in Issue 3: My Current Home

This article is about where we live and the question, what is small? I get this question fairly regularly on my blog, the Tiny House Blog. How does a family of four or six live in a tiny house? What is the answer?

First off here is a picture of my home, it is not tiny like Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed, but I do not live alone in this house. Our home is a 1200 square foot home built in the early 60′s, 1600 square feet if you count the garage.

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We rent this home which is on a private boarding school campus outside of Healdsburg, California. The home is on a quarter acre lot with a garden area on the side. The campus is on 360 acres and is surrounded by the Russian River on three sides. Both kids have gone to school here and it is a real joy to live here.

There are four of us living in this home, or to be more realistic only three most of the time, as our daughter is away at college more than she is home. We do still keep her room available to her, although now that I am working full time at home I am looking to convert a portion of her room into an office.

By today’s standards our house is small. Apartment Therapy is running a contest of small homes and here is how they list the different sizes:

  • TEENY-TINY 300 Square Feet and under
  • TINY 600 Square Feet and under (but over 300 Square Feet)
  • LITTLE 900 Square Feet and under (but over 600 Square Feet)
  • SMALL 1,200 Square Feet and under (but over 900 Square Feet)

So a home like my family lives in is considered small. If you divide the space down for each person, we each have 300 square feet. So yes, we live in a small, but not a tiny house.

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My wife and I do plan to downsize even more when our nest becomes empty. When both kids have finished school and moved out completely, I visualize us living in a home in the 400 to 600 square foot range. With a separate office/spare bedroom for the kids and grandkids to use.

At the Tiny House Blog I tend to emphasize homes smaller than 400 square feet, but each person must figure out the amount of square footage each person requires and downsize your family to fit the home that is best for your needs. Tiny or small house living is not a set and sound rule that requires a certain size, we each must find out what is best for us.

-Kent Griswold publishes the Tiny House Blog.

Living Small the Dream

Posted March 22nd, 2009 by Kent Griswold and filed in Issue 1: Introductions
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My name is Kent Griswold and small things in general have always been an interest to me. I enjoy tiny cars, tiny RV’s, tiny cameras and tiny houses.

As a kid I dreamed of working in a fire lookout tower and ended up spending a couple of days in the Prescott National Forest in Arizona on a tower to see what it was really like. This tower was an all inclusive workspace and eating and sleeping area. You did have to hike down the tower to the base to use the outhouse or take a shower though.

Later when I was in college, I was still undecided as to a direction to major in so took a year off and went and worked on the Navajo Indian Reservation as a school bus driver and teachers aide. I lived in an old 20 foot airstream trailer that year, and it was quite the experience as we had every type of weather, from snow to extreme heat.

In college I had the chance to take a course in homesteading. The school had a 5 acre parcel, that was developed into a small homestead over the years. I was lucky to get involved early on and we built a tiny cabin structure and learned some log building skills and did some gardening.

Over the years it has always been my dream to have a small cabin in the mountains or by a lake. Nothing fancy, just a nice little rustic cabin. My first choice has always been log for the building structure. It is not perfect, but you just can’t beat the old log cabin look in my opinion. This is still my dream, although it has expanded to be not just a vacation cabin but a full time home.

When I became interested in the internet, I started bookmarking cabin and small house sites that interested me. Later, when I learned about blogging, I decided to start sharing what I had been bookmarking and I started the Tiny House Blog. I had discovered Jay Shafer early on and the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. I found out that he had moved about 25 miles from my home in Healdsburg, California. We have sense become friends and I enjoy the times when we are able work and talk together.

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I have been publishing the Tiny House Blog for about two years now, using my preliminary finds on the internet as a starting point, adding stories of those who are living the tiny house life and sharing it with my readers. It has been fun to be involved in the growing tiny house movement.

One of the joys of being involved in the tiny house movement is the people you meet along the way. Here is a picture of a group of us at Jay’s house and we jokingly call it “A Meeting of the Tiny Minds.” This group is built up of designer’s, builders and bloggers. We had a great time getting to know each other better and sharing experiences.