More Than Square Feet: Why I Don’t Want to Live in a Tiny House

Tiny houses are all the rage right now, but large-space living and simple living are not mutually exclusive!Tiny houses are all the rage right now, but large-space living and simple living are not mutually exclusive!

Tiny houses seem to be all the rage right now. A lot of people want to downsize and reap the benefits of small space living, but “tiny” houses (the trailers and 120-square-foot cabins) are the ultimate hardcore minimalist dwelling.

In my lazier moments of working from home, I’ve wondered down threads of the Web and got stuck clicking through photo galleries of these miniature homes for far too long.

They pull me in.

I’m fascinated by the Hobbit-like dwellings built into hillsides, tree houses decked out with bamboo furnishings, cubes on stilts over the water, and adorable cabins rigged with loft beds and fold-down tables.

And at the rate these tiny houses are popping up around the web, apparently I’m not the only one fascinated by living quarters that could double as postage stamps.

It’s got me thinking: what’s up with this tiny-house living craze?

Why Tiny-House Living Appeals to People:

  • We like seeing space maximized to perfection
  • We like to feel cozy
  • We’re fascinated by size distortion
  • We want to live more simply
  • We have an imaginative, whimsical streak that tiny homes bring out
  • We want to live debt-free (a tiny house could mean less mortgage)
  • We want to be more environmentally-conscious

And those are just a few of the reasons!

Tiny Kitchen -

Although these things appeal to me, too, I’ve decided that I don’t want to live in a tiny house.

Not long-term, anyway. We lived happily in 450 square feet when we first moved to Michigan, and I think we could be quite satisfied with the little cabin on my parents’ property if we ever moved back to Alabama. But when it’s no longer just the two of us, I want more space.

Benefits of Large-Space Living:

Besides the ample porches, room for libraries and reading nooks, and floor space for blanket forts, big houses have room for people!

People. That’s the kicker for me, and I can’t help but wonder: does a tiny house shut people out?

I’m all for taking a getaway trip with Eric in a just-big-enough-for-two bungalow, or making an ocean voyage in a tall ship, but living that way all the time? It’s not my dream.

A larger space can accommodate your friends and family (and mine’s pretty big!) when they gather for a visit. A big kitchen is invitational–and we love practicing hospitality! Big houses have space to host overnight guests.

The exact square footage doesn’t matter, but I want our house to be big enough to let people in. And if we live in a really big house? That’d be fine, too! I wouldn’t mind a mansion with wardrobes in spare rooms waiting to be discovered on rainy days.

Grand Staircase -

Large-space living and simple living are not mutually exclusive.

Large-house living is not inherently selfish, gluttonous, or materialistic; people who live in gigantic mansions can still enjoy a simple life! If you’re craving the simplicity of a hobbit hole nestled in the Shire, keep in mind that Bag End was NOT a tiny house! It was a well-lived-in maze of rooms and cellars and walk-in pantrys, but all comfortable, personalized, and authentic. (And it’s one of my top 10 favourite homes from books!)

A tiny house may embody things you value, like self-sufficiency and a personalized touch, but you can achieve all those things in a big house, too!

Think about the elements you want in a house. And then consider: are these things specific to a large or small house, or could you have them in either? For instance, I want my home to be breathable, full of natural light, and able to interact well with the outdoors. I want it to be simple, breathable, and uncluttered.

Most of those things aren’t dependent on size at all.

Regardless of whether you want to live in a converted trailer or a Victorian mansion, think about how you can create the feel of your dream home right now, in the space allotted to you. I have a few ideas about practical ways to do that, but we’ll save that for another post(:

Everyone likes talking about their dream house, right? So tell me–what does yours look like? Do you want a mansion, or the tiniest possible house that money can build or buy?

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  1. I think about my dream home all the time, probably more than is good for me…lol. I definitely want something more open and airy like you described. I don’t ever see myself living in a giant mansion but it would be nice to have room to explore like that, especially as a kid. I also like room to stretch out and enjoy a different scenery or room when I want to instead of being stuck in a tiny space all the time. What I want most in a home is a nice big kitchen and a good size yard so I can have a garden and enjoy the outdoors more often.

  2. We’ve lived in several small places (though not hard-core tiny homes), and now that we have three kids I am with you on this. I know we could MAKE it work and I would want to be content with whatever we have, but as we are currently searching for a home to buy we are coming to realize that we really want space for each of us to be as noisy as we want to be (within reason) and not bother each other (some of us are introverts and some of us are… not). We also want to be able to entertain and offer hospitality/shelter to anyone who needs it without being too uncomfortable.

    That being said, we have a 1100squarefoot condo right now with 5 of us – so not huge – and we have LOTS of people over all the time. It’s a bit chaotic, but I know that if we weren’t in the position to buy something bigger, we could be happy here indefinitely!

  3. My dream house would be about 2600 square feet because I love to entertain, we love to help people in need, and I love to be able to spread out. I don’t need to have tons of overly fancy things IN my house, but I don’t want to feel cramped or on top of everyone. I also want to have enough space to rearrange furniture in each room.

    Nothing drives me crazier than having rooms laid out so that you can only put your furniture in one place, and never, ever move it. 🙁 Sadness.

    I would not be happy in one of those minimalist homes. I need people in my life and room to help others when needed (to open our home to people or families in need), etc. No space for stuff means no people can come over which means I’ll be cranky. 🙂

  4. My dream house would be a large 4+ bedroom farmhouse. With plenty of room for overnight guests and a barn out back. Something we could have room to grow in and entertain in but not so large that it was overwhelming

  5. I want to want a small house. But I don’t really — where would I put all my STUFF? (Most of which I suppose I don’t actually need… sigh…)
    On the other hand, tiny houses have lots of features I would like to incorporate into my dream home–like sleeping nooks for the kids, and one common playroom.
    Ahhh… now you’ve got me on House Dreaming again…
    Unless someone has a small-ish manor home somewhere in the UK or Ireland they want to give me. I’d take good care of it. I promise! 🙂

  6. I’ve talked with some friends about having a tiny house community. Several families living on the same (big) plot of land with tiny houses, and a shared main house in the middle with a large kitchen, probably a library and a TV room. We’d also talked about having a big garden and livestock that we can take turns taking care of and all enjoy the benefits from. There are a few of these “tiny house villages” around the country and I am very drawn to that community aspect — but it would have to be with the right, like-minded people. Here’s an example: I think some people do use tiny houses to escape other people, and that may be right for them, but not everyone.

  7. Another thing about larger houses is that they are more friendly for those with limited mobility. Our home is built with wider doorways and hallways, and handicap walk in shower and tub. The stairs are wide enough to accommodate a lift chair, or two people walking side by side (and also have safety lighting). We also have areas in our home that aren’t included in many homes, such as a root cellar, canning pantry and attached greenhouse. These areas make it bigger, but are very practical.

  8. I agree that tiny houses fascinate me. In our younger years we camped in a fully self contained camper with 3 kids. When our family grew to six children we opted out of camping and a small house and built a 5 bedroom house with a full basement. Now we have married kids and a bunch of grandkids who love coming to grandma’s house. I am very glad we have room for everyone. We may build a tiny house on the edge of our lake for visitors!

  9. Tiny houses are fun to look at and for empty-nesters or young couples might be practical – or maybe for a vacation cottage. We have a 300 sq. ft. travel trailer that we stay in for a week or two before we feel claustrophobic. Our home is a 5,000 square-foot, hundred year old country home in a small town with lots of room for family and friends…we often talk about down-sizing but when we try to decide what we would do without, we know we have to stay put.

  10. We just moved into a house that we designed ourselves. Farmhouse with a huge kitchen, 7′ x 6′ island completely open to the dining and family room. There is a loft overlooking. Front and back porches span the length of the house and there isn’t a formal room to be found. Out back is a large red barn and a wide creek sits at the back of our 7 acres just through the woods. At 4500 square feet (including the basement) it is large but every space from the 12 x 12 laundry room to the 85 year old clawfoot tub was chosen for its usefulness to our family of boys. We live in every inch and love it.

  11. Just found your blog. Im enjoying it so far!
    I couldn’t agree more about the tiny houses, although Im sure that it is possible to have a tiny house AND still have gatherings and guests stay over night, maybe like a guest tiny house and lots of outdoor entertaining. Personally it wouldn’t work for my family. We’re a family of 7 , live in a 1600sqft 3 bedroom home right now and sometimes it feels small.
    Id love to have a larger home that has things like 2 bathrooms, a library/den and a large kitchen and eating area. Plus a laundry room with a walk in closet! Im guessing that something around 3,000 sq ft would be comfy for us, that and a shop for my husband to work in;-)

    1. We are a family of 6 in a 1800 sf, 3 bedroom house and most of the time it feels like just the right amount of space. I know that a big factor in that is having two bathrooms and a large bonus/playroom. I am fascinated by both ends of the house size spectrum but I am also thankful every day for the house that we have. We moved here from an 800sf+some storage house where our first two kids were born and that was starting to feel cramped.

  12. Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing the other side of the coin. I was somewhat getting sucked into the small house thing for the reasons you shared, but you’re right, people are so much more important to me, and God has given me a modest, yet decently sized home. I should be thankful and content with that!

  13. I have to laugh at the push to convince Americans that Big Is Bad, and Small Is Super. Builders began drinking the Smaller House koolaid when the housing markets collapsed 2006-2009. Yet, the problem was never bigger houses, but thoughtlessly located houses. Communities were plunked down in areas that had no shops, restaurants, or entertainment nearby; houses were sited on lots backing up to unsightly features; people moved to the exurbs just to scoop up a bigger house with luxury features they’d be priced out of in their closer-in neighborhood. Those neighborhoods continue to resist recovery, and may suffer for years to come, reaffirming the axiom that it’s location, location, location.

    After being priced out of a move-up home for years, my husband and I seized on the housing market collapse to move up and move in closer to appealing amenities. I’ve done cramped kitchens, and shared bathrooms, and multi-purposed rooms…and I was itching for extra space: an extra bathroom, a dedicated office for my husband, a kitchen big enough for my whole family, walk-in closets, and a full basement. Also, there is definitely something to be said for “wasted space.” It allows for a certain graciousness of scale…a place for guests to enter without having to squeeze past one another; a powder room tucked discretely out of the way; an upstairs loft that serves as an airy space to build a puzzle or stage a Christmas tree; an accommodating master bath that my husband and I can comfortably share simultaneously.

    Clearly, I’m not alone. Where I live, they continue to build luxury houses with huge kitchens, optional 3-car garages, soaring ceilings, and all the usual “McMansion” trappings. And absolutely nobody is clamoring for exquisitely built, $250/sq ft bungalows, ranchers, or cottages.

  14. I am completely with you! We have a large house and I do think life would be simpler if there was less to clean, but there’s room for all 6 of us and we still strive to live simply.

    Pinning and sharing!

  15. Thank you for speaking up for people who DON’T want a tiny house! So many stories online make a person feel selfish for wanting to spread out. I appreciate seeing something to support that!

  16. For me, the ideal is for the home to be a center of production, not consumption. Tiny houses reduce consumption by necessity, which is good, but there is no room for production in them.

    I currently live with my husband, toddler, dog, and cat in a 600 square foot apartment. My husband is a painter and modeler of miniature figures, and a woodworker. I am a fiber artist with a spinning wheel, sewing machine, serger, and all the tools and supplies that go along with that. I cook all our meals from scratch in my tiny scrap of a kitchen.

    We are unwilling to sacrifice our commitment to making as much as we can by hand, repairing our things, etc. We are unwilling to put our skill development on hold for years or decades while we try to afford a house in crazy markets. So our house as it is will never be clean because there is simply not enough space to keep our things. We do not have a house full of china-produced junk we never use; indeed, except for some seasonal and sentimental items, everything we own gets used at least once a month. Yet every single surface is perpetually covered with projects or tools. I keep the house sanitary – but that means temporarily moving everything in the kitchen to one corner, scrubbing under it all, then moving it all back.

    I would describe our current living conditions as overcrowded – not something to strive for. We are doing our best with what we have, but I don’t consider tiny houses to be a good fit for our life values and philosophy.

    I pray that one day we will truly have the space for production in the home, as well as hospitality. My ideal would be a small core of insulated and climate controlled space for the main activities of living, centered around an abundant kitchen, with attics, basements, porches, garages, and workshops for our other activities. I think this would strike the best balance between conserving energy for heating/cooling and having the space to pursue what matters to us.

  17. We live in a trailer right now (been in it for 12 years) as we build our house. It took us a long time to figure it out. My husband and I both have large families so birthdays (all but two are winter,) is very hard to do anything for.
    We are building by ourselves and as we can pay. (hoping to get in this winter). We owe nothing on it. It is 6 bedrooms and three bath. There are three floors not including the basement. We have it all set for adult foster care when my children are moved out.

  18. I really love researching tiny homes because they are so clever and imaginative with their use of storage space! I want to use those design techniques in a larger home, so that we maximise the space we do have. We have a lot of people visit, so a tiny home wouldnt work for us. 🙂

  19. Elsie, I too am fascinated by tiny houses but know that I could not, at least at this stage of my life, live in one. Instead, I choose a small house. I liked Anjanette’s comment about 5 of them living in 1100 square feet. As an introvert, I’d probably wish to have 1500 square feet for that number. But everyone is different. I know a retired couple who just bought a 2700 square foot house for the two of them, and that’s okay. But I don’t want to have to clean or maintain more house than I need, and I don’t want to accumulate more stuff. I practice the one-in-one-out rule and so never “need” more storage or space. I know some people get rather judgmental about these things, but I just do what I do and not worry about others who make different choices.

  20. Thank you for this! Im on a journey to live more simply and don’t believe that means we need to give up our 3000 square foot home. With 5 of us, it gives us space to spread out and breathe. We have pared down our belongings, furnishings and clothing to a level that’s easier to maintain. Instead of buying “stuff” we use that money to pay for services that free up our time and make our life simpler. Im not cleaning, doing yard work, and growing our food because hiring someone tondonthose thing makes our life easier. We use the extra time to cook more, enjoy hobbies and spend time together as a family. If we were in a 1200 square foot house it would NOT be would be stressful.

    1. Yes! We are a family of 6 in 1400 poorly laid out square feet. Everywhere I look there is a mess, not because of too much junk, but because there just isn’t space for it. It’s stressful.

      I like your approach!

      1. Thanks! It’s kind of like what Dave Ramsey says about paying off debt–sometimes you have to find ways to bring in more income if you want to make a difference in the debt. And sometimes you just need more space if you want your things to have a place! We’re currently living in a small basement apartment, and keenly feeling the lack of closet space. We’ve simplifed and simplifed, but the place just isn’t built for a household!

    2. That sounds perfect. Simple living and small space living just aren’t the same thing. We don’t own a home, yet, but I can picture myself living a simple life in a 5-bedroom house as easily as a 3-bedroom!

  21. This is such a well-thought out post. You’ve got some great points! We did the tiny living thing as a family (450 sq. ft. apartment with 3 kids) and it definitely was too small near the end. Although we knew we needed more space, the experience totally got us hooked on small living. I think that there are some aspects of small living –specifically in a small house– that cannot be easily replicated in larger homes. For example , cleaning is much faster/easier. I also think that you have to fight harder to NOT fill the space up with stuff, because it’s human nature to want to fill up blank spaces with things. Smaller homes simply limit the spaces to fill up. 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts– I really enjoyed this. 🙂

  22. I happened upon this blog and I really enjoyed this article. My husband and I have been married 30 years. We started out in a very small home–which our daughter and her husband and their two children now live in. We live in the 3500 sq ft home that my husbands parents built when he was 4 years old. Not only do we have room for family (3 adult children still living here) and friends, but for a great kitchen, a large garden, chickens, a pool we can share, an extensive library (I would have a hard time living without), grand piano and other musical instruments (also very important to our family) and craft room (I had a home based sewing business for many years, and also make jewelry, scrapbook, make soaps and personal care items, among other things). There is no wasted space! I do not fault others for making the decision to go tiny if they want, but I agree that having a larger space is not necessarily gluttonous or wanton. My family is a group of highly creative and intelligent people. We try to use all the blessings we have (and we consider them exactly that) to do good, serve and produce something of value to ourselves and others. For me and for my family, this creative space and the opportunity to create daily is a need, not a luxury. We all have different needs! We are not all the same, nor should we be, and in my ideal world, there is room for all of us to live the life that fulfills us! Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful post and comments!

    1. Welcome! Thank you for leaving a note! You might enjoy the book The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer. It’s about using our creativity in every aspect of our homelife.

  23. The reason I want a small (not tiny) home between 500 to 900 sqft is because 1. I don’t need the space. 2.I don’t have a lot of people the I care enough about to want them in my house. 3. Small =Easy to clean, heat,cool and live in. I plan to spebd the majority of my time out on my land and in the world rather than in a house all day.
    Issues like composting toilets and small kitchens are simple things I’m ready to deal with as long as I don’t have to deal with my annoying family that currently living with my parents are always asking for hand outs. Small allows me to say sorry I don’t ha e the room. Someday when i habe children I plan add on when needed, because adding on seems simpler to me than to downsize your home.

    1. Good point; allowing for future add-ons does seem to make more sense than trying to compress into a tiny home after you’ve been dealing with a large one. Makes me think of the American pioneers, adding on an extra room as finances and family needs required. Enjoy the blessings of your small home!

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