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You and Your Family’s Behavior At Home

The idea of simple living is no new concept but over the last decade simple living has evolved into the ever-popular concept of tiny house living. The recent movement has grabbed the attention of pragmatic people all over the world as they look for ways to maximize living space and cut living expenses, particularly amongst from retiring baby boomers to millennials who are just starting out.

While these tiny dwellings often measure less than 200 square feet, the modern concept of simple living is not about sacrifice. With innovative designs, homeowners are discovering that life in a tiny home yields a fuller life as it connects them with their family, while freeing them from costly living expenses and mortgage debt.

You and Your Family’s Behavior At Home


Image © J. Arnold via WSJ

In fact, a UCLA group conducted a study to determine just how much space in the typical American home goes routinely unused. The study measured activity on the first floor of a home occupied by a family of four, which measure roughly 1000 sq. ft. The study indicated that only a mere 400 sq. ft. was used routinely. Studies shedding light on residential behavior, such as the UCLA study, are breathing even more life into the modern simple living concept of tiny housing.

New generation builders are using recycled and repurposed materials like shipping containers, that otherwise wouldn’t have been used, and transforming them into functional homes that can be placed anywhere. While tiny houses are beginning to make a big impression on homebuyers, their economical footprint is minimal.

What part of your house do you think gets used the most? And how much sq. ft. do you think you really need?


If you enjoyed this article on residential behavior studies and tiny housing you’ll absolutely LOVE our free daily tiny house newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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Kaitlyn is a writer, coordinator and project manager based in beautiful New Bern, NC who served 5 years as a Sergeant in the United States Marines. Tiny House Talk is honored to have her as part of the team.

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Cahow
    January 19, 2015, 6:32 pm

    I’m having a case of Deja Vu! Didn’t we just see this study?

    I feel like I’m back in the 60’s and trippin’. LOL

    • Stacy
      January 20, 2015, 4:03 pm

      I was wondering the same thing, Cahow. It’s nice, as a reader who brings something to the discussion, to receive the credit or thanks for the finding when it’s then used in an article that same week. Also, I noticed the EIK dining table is used a lot, which would take care of your concern for proper etiquette and manners, I would think. 😉

    • Kelli
      January 21, 2015, 4:43 am

      Do you subscribe to LifeEdited.com? I know they featured it several times over there and it was one of their most popular posts of 2014. I hadn’t seen it in Alex’s newsletter before, so I don’t think this is a duplicate from a recent post… maybe you saw it on LifeEdited?


      • Cahow
        January 21, 2015, 9:38 am

        I do, Kelly. That must have been where I saw it so recently. 😀 Also, I believe a commentor also posted a link to it this past week.

  • alice h
    January 19, 2015, 7:56 pm

    Family of four? I think there should be more dots in the bathroom. Whenever I had to share with 3 other people there was always somebody in there. Must not be tea drinkers. Plus, for all the dots by the toilet only 1 at the sink? Tsk, tsk, not enough hand washing, even if half the other dots are for the shower. Must be winter, nobody is hanging out on the porch.

    • Alex
      January 19, 2015, 9:20 pm

      Good point Alice. The only reason I can think of is that they use bathroom(s) upstairs mostly (which we don’t get to see dots of unfortunately).

  • Megan
    January 20, 2015, 9:24 am

    I’ve recently started really noting where I’m spending most of my time when I’m home. Even though I live in a small (almost 600 sq ft) apartment, most of my time is in the kitchen, on the couch and on the porch, and sleeping. My ‘dining area’ is filled with the things I’m purging that will soon be donated. Taking a really good look at what you do and how you spend your time will definitely help determine what amount of space you TRULY need.

    • Kassie
      January 20, 2015, 12:04 pm

      Same here, Megan! Right now, our dining room table is just a catch-all for things we don’t want to sort through (like mail). We have seating for up to 12, but I can’t even think of a time when we’ve hosted that many people EVER. Somewhere we could use more room is the bathroom… always having to fight with my husband for counter space! Very interesting study!

  • Korie Veidel
    January 20, 2015, 11:58 am

    Very interesting! I love seeing this. I wonder what our activity would look like in our tiny house. We only have an 8×18 space, so I’m pretty sure we use it all. We do have one corner of our house with a small banquet that we don’t use as often, but it still gets used daily!

  • Karen R
    January 20, 2015, 3:09 pm

    Economically and environmentally irresponsible to heat, cool, clean, insure and pay taxes for unused space. But, as no one realizes more than I (I am fighting York County, Virginia to stay in my Williamsburg home per previous posts in this newsletter), government entities don’t want to get on board the Tiny House movement.

  • Pat Allen
    January 20, 2015, 3:19 pm

    Thank you Kaitlyn. It’s nice to see the red dots for the usage. I’d like to do something like that with my current house so I could actually see what we really do use. It would help in designing a smaller home. If you’ve suggestions on how to do this please share with us.
    Love and Light,

  • AL
    January 20, 2015, 3:28 pm

    It is funny. We spend most of our time at the dining room table! We eat our meals there, we write there, we draw there, we do home school there, we hang out there. It is bright & sunny there, too. 🙂

    • Cahow
      January 21, 2015, 9:57 am

      Hi, Al. Well, you and I can form a group of 2, called, “Dining Room Dudes and Divas.” LOL

      My family, too, used the dining room table every single day, as I did as a wee girl growing up. On our farm, there was never a moment that my Gran’s massive dining room table wasn’t used (seated 20). First, it served breakfast at 6:00 am, after the cows were milked from 4-5:30 am. Then, Granma used it for her next staging of the noon day meal: rolling out biscuits and pie dough, snapping beans, shelling peas, etc. After the farm hands were done eating at 11:00 am, then Gram would be using the dining room table to lay out fabric and cut out the next piece of clothing for her or myself. I would be on one corner, playing with my tea set and Raggedy Ann.

      Supper was served at 5:00 pm, then the Whist board or cards were taken out. Granpa would be playing with fellow farmers that would come over whilst smoking their cherry tobacco filled pipes, Grandma would be making the dough for the next day’s bread and I would be tucked into a corner of the table, watching it all and playing with McCall Paper-dolls. Depending upon the time of year, the table was used for canning, butchering, ironing, quilting, etc. That dining room table was the HEART of our home.

      So, because I remember it so fondly, I made sure that MY family did the same on our dining room table. Eating three squares, home work, school projects, Christmas Cookies, pattern cut outs, canning (yes, I still can), board games in the evening, and anything else we could through at it.

      I think it just becomes too easy to ignore other rooms and that most people are just inherently lazy in not using them. You know, like wearing the same pair of shoes or pants every day because you can’t be bothered to put in the effort to find a different pair of shoes or pants. In our large house, we had a family room and that was where we had the piano and squishy chairs/sofa for reading. The LIVING ROOM is where we installed the TV and fireplace, so it became a natural place to gravitate to for warmth and entertainment. Yeah, we could have installed the TV in the Family Room and added a fireplace but it was a conscious effort on our build-out to make sure we weren’t duplicating what we already had.

      Now, in our 800 sq.ft. cottage, our 15′ x 15′ All Purpose Room houses the dining table, sofa, chairs and TV, so you know that room gets used excessively. Both my husband and I have our own office space (8′ x 8′ twin rooms) that also serve as my art studio and a guest room (his office). So, we use every square inch of our home, every day.

      And I agree with aliceh: NOBODY hanging out on the porch???? In California????? Even when we have a sunny 40 degree day in Michigan, we’re sitting out on our deck, ‘taking in the sun’. Fair Weather Wimps, I tell yeah, wimps for sure. LOL

  • Lisa E.
    January 20, 2015, 3:36 pm

    The majority of my time is spent in a very tiny office, the kitchen or bed. The living room, dining room, back bedroom and back bathroom are totally ignored and are nothing but catch-all storage spaces (for which I pay property taxes.) I figure I live in about 1/3rd to 1/4 of my 1800 sf home. Definitely time to downsize!

  • Elle
    January 21, 2015, 3:50 pm

    This is great. For some reason I can’t access this UCLA study via the link at this time but I’ve actually been wondering about this. I have noticed that big dining rooms are usually conspicuously empty except maybe for a few holiday spreads. Then they take on sort of a sad, ghostly, abandoned presence -like the Forbidden City in China. Good post. It will be an interesting read.

  • kid
    January 21, 2015, 11:32 pm

    Very interesting. Growing up in my family (there were four of us), we are kitchen people. We use the kitchen for just about everything when it comes to social time or even alone time. The only time I use to see my bedroom was to fall asleep and then it was back to the kitchen. Since we had only one bath with shower there was not much of a choice there.

  • Janezee
    January 22, 2015, 1:58 am

    Even when I lived in a 500 s.f. house, I found that I only used about half of it. I’m counting on not having a problem downsizing to 192 s.f. next month. I’m only picking out things I want to keep now, and will donate the residue of the house to the local thrift store/food bank.
    I do have some hobbies that take a bit of space. I have a small storage unit for the bulky things, and the smaller things go in the storage loft.

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