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.


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.


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.