House size and ruminations Thereupon.

tiny house Vermont

I am fascinated with the Tiny House Movement. Tiny House on Wheels is THOW btw. I would like to have one as guest quarters (or an airstream) but after living in a smallish (900 s.f.) house for 15 years I know that a tiny house is not for me. I do have plans to add several hundred square feet in the form of a functioning kitchen, eating area, mudroom, and a work area so I can ditch the in-town office. A THOW would have been perfect when I was young and single. I actually lived in an 8×12 cabin in the woods for 6 months sometime in the 90’s. Other than the mice and raiding raccoons, it wasn’t bad. I moved out when I started getting cold in late fall. -Pictured above

Kids take up a lot of room and in our climate, you can’t just kick them outdoors to ride their bikes or do huge art or building projects. Plus each kid has to have two snowsuits, multiple winter boots, sleds, tons of books, a guinea pig (my daughter wants a cow and chickens) Not very applicable to tiny house living. Check out my friend Sean’s tiny house related blog UnBoxed House. He is building his own house using a shipping container.
Although I have done a few tiny houses for clients I find I have to keep the tiny house mentality out of my regular work and attitudes, at least for now. I have found that some people are Big House People and a few (very few) are small house people. The usual conundrum comes when people have tiny house budgets but are horrified when I suggest that they need to be looking at something smaller than 1500 s.f. given their budget and their desire for quality. I once had a client who was horrified and outraged that I had designed a house with 10×12 bedrooms for her boys. (her budget was 350k) (plus she wanted a garage) Where I grew up that was a big enough bedroom for 2 boys to share. I will push and nudge and suggest like crazy but some people are just “Big House People” I have a hard time relating sometimes but I try. I nod my head sympathetically when a clients who are expecting their first child and live in a house twice the size of my own have called me in to discuss an addition to accommodate their growing family. Fine if they can afford it. I know from experience that I feel strangely uncomfortable in a house bigger than 2000 s.f. It feels wrong. Likewise a big bedroom. I contribute that to my introvert nature more than anything. I must be a medium house person.
I follow a few tiny house groups on Facebook but try to ignore them mostly as people put up photos of their tiny houses that they built that, as an experienced architect, I can see that in five years, the house will be a falling apart mold factory. My face hurts too much from that sort of thing. But I applaud the do-it-yourself nature of the movement and the growing wealth of information and support.

5 Comments

  • Vanessa says:

    I have also realized I am a medium house person, despite being really inspired by the small house movement. We live in Canada where we have longlonglong cold winters. I have three sons (huge, their daddy is 6’5), whom I homeschool. For 6 months out of the year we are in our home almost all day, every day. We don’t need 3000 sq ft, but 1500 – 1800 sq ft, with an unfinished basement is just about right for us. Minimum requirements are: mudroom, kitchen/eating, couch/tv/library/toy space, 1 bathroom, 2 bedrooms, storage (basement). I’ve discovered that sometimes “simple and frugal living” and a “minimalist and small living” DO NOT operate together. Want to grow your own food? Animals? Gardens? Canning/preserving? (all of that takes SOME stuff, and therefore SPACE).

    Blah. Blathering on. I enjoy following you on facebook and your blog.

  • bob says:

    How big should a mudroom be? answer: at least half again as big as it is.
    I think tiny houses can work very well in a rural environment/lifestyle with the support of other space – such as parked in someone’s yard. In urban so much of life can happen outside the home in the community. This is one of the things that really excites me about the tiny house movement; the building community aspects.

  • Dana says:

    I love the idea of being a medium house person, and can totally get behind a medium house movement if you want to lead the way! As an armchair architect, my idea of relaxation is drawing small-ish/medium house plans of about 1000 square feet…a place where my husband and I can entertain close friends and family, work from home, house the [maximum] three-night house guest (or future grandkids as long as necessary), and cook together; admittedly, I am using an imagined walk-out cellar that can be fitted with workshop, family room, and bunks. I’m infatuated with built ins and thick walls that provide more insulation than our 70s ranch we’re ready to leave behind. And I love windows, and am pleased to see them being built with ever increasing energy efficiency. I too am in awe of the tiny house movement, but only for the ideas it gives me for a) more items I can dispose of, and b) built-ins I haven’t yet considered. Am thrilled to have stumbled upon your site and your architecture, for you seamlessly weave beauty and efficiency into your designs.

  • bob says:

    Sarah Susanka started on things with her “not so big house” book but that was more about a 2500 s.f. house at $300/s.f. instead of a 5000 s.f. house at $200/s.f. I’m talking 1000 to 2000 and simple as all get out + super insulated.

  • Michael says:

    I love this idea–1000-2000 sq ft, simple looking (none of those trying-too-hard angles and jutting objects), well insulated with a large mudroom and an open …it seems that plans like this are hard to come by, although I’d bet they would suit a lot of people. I found you through houseplans.com–I love what you’re creating!

Leave a Reply

Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz
Robert Swinburne in Brattleoboro, VT on Houzz

Contact

Robert Swinburne Architect, LLC AIA, NCARB, CPHD, DAD bob@swinburnearchitect.com 802.451.9764
Browse Home Office Products on Houzz- For Example: