The rise of tiny houses, and with it the realisation that less might just truly be more, has made a huge impact on how we perceive and live our lives. This minimalist-at-heart movement has infected the world with the feverish idea that downsizing is good and that tiny living is the first step on the road to freedom.
Most of us remember being kids, dreaming of the big houses (insert description of your own proverbial castle here) we’d one day own and live in, brimming with beautiful things, like covered garages lined with gleaming cars, or in my case, baby grand pianos and a Beauty-and-the-Beast-esque library.
When the word “downsizing” was bandied about, it used to carry with it negative connotations. No one fantasised and wasted precious daydreaming time thinking of living in a smaller home and owning fewer worldly possessions. It was all about getting more. “Go big or go home,” as someone once said.
But time and perspective have a lot to do with change.
My daydream of a giant home which would house my baby grand piano collection and extensive, floor-to-ceiling library has now morphed into a dream of a different kind. In this new dream, I see a quirky mobile home that I can travel around in while I live life as a digital nomad. Save a few of my most prized books, my magnificent library has been replaced by a well-loved (and extremely space-saving) e-reader, and my future keyboard (where I can still play my beloved music) will live in some nifty, pull-out drawer/desk that can just as easily be stored away. Yes, I dream of a tiny home.
From 2007 to 2010, the United States experienced a subprime mortgage crisis, thanks to how easy it for people to get approved for loans on houses that they could not afford. A severe economic fallout ensued, and in its aftermath, many people had to think creatively to come up with more affordable and sustainable solutions to their living situations.
Tiny houses, which usually measure between 100 and 400 square feet, became an excitingly hip and environmentally responsible option.
The fallout also caused people to evaluate all their belongings, thinking much more conservatively and realistically about what they need in a home.
It was around the same time, 4 or 5 years ago, that the decluttering movement also swept the globe. Organising expert Marie Kondo’s best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (published first in 2011), in which she shares her KonMari Method of organisation, took the world by storm, contributing to the rising global mentality that less is more.
Since then, the tiny house (and alternative home) movement has taken flight. People are choosing to give up bigger houses in favour of camper vans, trailers, shipping containers, boathouses, and other smaller, more mobile abodes.
Singaporeans are no strangers to living in smaller homes, with 80% of the population living in Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, which have evolved over the years to create spaces for different types of home owners, from singles to multi-generational families. But would you consider going even tinier?
So where is the appeal in going tiny? What’s in it for me?
1. Freedom from too much stuff
It’s not a myth—there is true freedom in cutting down on owning unnecessary items. Think of all the (literal) baggage you carry around with you in your life—clothes and shoes you don’t use, books you don’t read, house items that never even get touched or moved, and what about those boxes and boxes of random “memorabilia”?
Downsizing to a smaller home will streamline the process of decluttering. You only have room for the things you need, and space of any kind becomes a valuable commodity. Free yourself from the weight of clothes you barely wear and shoeboxes of receipts from years gone by. Free yourself from the stress that clutter and excess can bring.
2. A more earth-friendly lifestyle
A smaller space will require the use of fewer building materials, will take up much less space, and will require much less construction. A smaller space means using smaller appliances that use less power and electricity. A smaller space means that there is much less to cool down or heat, in terms of air-conditioning and heaters. A smaller space means fewer chances of over-buying food and supplies, which only leads to spoilage and waste.
Many tiny homes can be outfitted with solar panels that can supply enough energy for daily use, and other sustainable ways of living can be explored. If we are thoughtful in our decisions, going tiny can reduce how much of the earth’s resources we use up on a daily basis.
3. More time on your hands
Think about all the chores you do on a daily basis. How much time does it take to complete them? Couldn’t you be spending some of that time doing more of the things you actually enjoy? Downsizing your home becomes an upgrade when it comes to how much more time you will have on your hands.
Let’s face it—a smaller space means there will be less to clean. Bigger bathrooms take a longer time to clean than smaller bathrooms. You get my drift. By making your living space smaller, you are opening up other areas of your life.
4. Creative reign over your home
Designing your own home can be extremely fun, and the best part of it all is that you get to make all the creative decisions. When it comes to going tiny, it’s the perfect opportunity to combine the elusive trinity of creativity, innovation and utility into one kick-ass idea. Let those brain juices flow!
Your home can truly be of your own design. It’s not just about picking wallpaper patterns and paint colours. You want a bed that folds away during the day and reveals a fully-equipped working desk? Go for it. Or how about a pull-out staircase to the loft that also doubles as a wine and spirits holder for your dinner parties? The sky is really the limit when it comes to creative design and the tiny house movement. You can design your home to fit your needs exactly, and a great plus of this is that you’ll be a proud owner of a one-of-a-kind home.
5. Freedom to be mobile
When many people go tiny, they also choose an option that will allow them to move around. While some want to live on one plot of land their whole lives, others of us want to explore more. If you’ve got nomadic stirrings in your heart, perhaps going tiny is the movement for you.
Hitch your tiny home to the back of a trailer and drive away to your next adventure. Home doesn’t have to be the same place; it could simply just mean that you are at home wherever it is you are. For some, the appeal to live and move around freely could seal the deal into going tiny.
Do you have any big dreams of joining the tiny house movement? The internet is full-to-bursting with enticing (and adorable) photos of tiny homes, customised for easy and efficient living. Netflix’s popular show, “Tiny House Nation”, provides even more fodder for going tiny, with its ingenious solutions for everyday challenges and heart-rendering stories of people finding happiness and fulfilment downsizing. While going tiny is definitely a novel thing, all bright and shiny and exciting, there is true merit to its intentions and outcomes. /TISG