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Tiny House Living Perspectives from a Tiny House Family

Tiny House Living Perspectives by Hari of the Tiny House Family

Last night, I read Alex’s post and the wonderful discussion that followed on “Let’s Face it: Tiny Houses are Not for You.” Rather than downsizing to tiny or some ideal size, imagine right-sizing your life. What space do you need to live happily? More importantly, how can you make the most of where you live now?

We’ve just set the foundation for our “big” house, and we are all feeling nostalgic. For a growing family of 4, we know we need the extra space our “big” house will provide, but we realize that our time in our tiny house is finite. It’s bittersweet.

It’s been 20 months of pure growth! We might live in our tiny house for another year or so; we really could live in this house for the rest of our lives, but the constant compromise on our solitude and creative endeavors doesn’t feel right for raising two creative kids. Knowing we are building our right-sized house feels good and makes our time in this house that much more precious. I imagine the lessons we’ve learned while living tiny will help us navigate our new space with peace.

Tiny House Family's Big House Foundation

Photo Credit TinyHouseFamily.com

Downsizing to tiny forces compromise. Compromise can make big things happen, like building a mortgage-free dream house. During the compromise, unexpected and amazing gifts appear. For us, the gifts are deeper relationships and connection as well as a clearer vision of how we want to live our lives. It’s like we’ve been in some sort of therapy–the therapist is a house, and she made us fall deeper in love.

Our ultimate goal: build a mortgage-free micro-homestead.

Our plan has three phases:

1) Save for and buy land

2) Save for and build a tiny house as a “temporary shelter”

3) Save for and build our main house

We are starting the final phase! We’ve lived in our 8′ x 21′ tiny house happily for 20 months, but a little more space will give us the room to explore our creative work more deeply. For example, our son, Archer, is a musician. He bangs out wonderful rhythms on the ceiling of his loft. In my better moments, I tell him that is a wonderful rhythm, but it’s too much in the tiny house. He needs a space to make loud music.

Our daughter, Ella, is an artist, and needs space to make art with clay and paint. I am a writer and struggle to find the quiet I need to really focus my words. Karl needs space to design and dream. We’ve adapted and found ways to keep up our creative practices, but I sense that our creativity will surge with a bit more space. We’ll see.

Our “big” house is 828 carefully-designed square feet. For a growing family of four, that seems (at least now) to be right-sized for us.

No one else can say what is the right size for your home. It is the most intimate and personal space there is. Try listening to your home; it has lessons to teach. Make the most of where you live right now.

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Hari Berzins

Contributor and Tiny Home Owner at Tiny House Family
Hari Berzins lives with her husband, Karl, and their two kids, Ella and Archer, in a cozy 8’ x 21’ tiny house which they designed and built. They are currently building a bigger tiny house as part of their plan to build a mortgage-free micro-homestead on their three acres in Southwestern Virginia. Follow their journey at tinyhousefamily.com.
{ 12 comments… add one }
  • December 21, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I always enjoy what Hari writes and the perspectives she puts on the table. Thank you for sharing another of her pieces.

  • John
    December 21, 2012, 7:17 pm

    This was always one of my favorite tiny homes. That was even before I knew it was in the next county over from me. Your three step plan sounds similar to mine. Thank you for sharing!

  • Keven
    December 21, 2012, 11:28 pm

    What space do you need to live happily? That is the key. If you need a work room, build it. A play room for the kids, its OK. If you are a family of 4 do you need 6 bedroom? Who am I or anyone else to tell you what you need or don’t. Remember that you are trading a part of your life to get money to build and maintain what you have. Make wise choices because you only go around once.

  • jodi kautz
    December 22, 2012, 1:54 pm

    Well said.

  • Carolyn B
    December 23, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Hari, I enjoyed this article very much. I like the idea of right-sizing. Not many families of 4 would consider 800+ square feet as enough.

    I look forward to your next article.

    • December 7, 2013, 6:23 am

      Hi, Everyone!
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments on my article. It’s been almost a year since I wrote this piece and wanted to give you an update.

      The foundation in this picture is the foundation upon which we built our house, but it grew up a bit. Once we started building and then had our tiny house questioned by the building inspector, http://tinyhousefamily.com/2013/02/06/my-worst-tiny-house-fear-being-told-i-cant-legally-live-here/I realized that I didn’t want to build a house that would be even the least bit questionable by a building inspector. Our 828 sq. ft. design had ladders to the kids’ lofts and ladders won’t pass code. So after we built the foundation, we altered our plan. We added a full staircase and a full second story. The house is now almost 1400 sq. ft. The additional sq. footage gives us a full staircase, three bedrooms, a home office and one and three-quarters bathrooms.

      We still live in the tiny house (2 1/2 years and counting), but the big house stands tall up the hill from here. We are REALLY looking forward to having our creative space.

      • Alex Pino
        December 9, 2013, 11:24 am

        The plan sounds exciting Hari and like it will be a really great long term solution for you guys. I’m really happy for you!

  • Grace
    March 5, 2014, 10:13 am

    I am curious where you got your 828 square foot plan.

  • Maria
    May 5, 2015, 6:17 pm

    Thanks for being candid and sharing your realism. There are season’s in our lives and what is appropriate to one season may not be to another. I happily raised 3 kids in 1,054 sq feet. Many thought our house was small; we thought it was large! Now I am living in 1,200 sq feet and soon will have an empty nest. My husband, Jim and I are looking to right-size (in our case, downsizing in contrast to your upsizing!) to between 400 to 700 sq. ft. I think that no place is too big or too small if it is used thoughtfully, does not unnecessarily impact the environment and allows for the activities which feed one’s soul!

  • Sally
    May 7, 2015, 12:41 pm

    You write so beautifully…I can visualize your son drumming on the ceiling just as mine does a room away (full drum kit!) and paint spills now and again. Thank you for your insightful piece and good luck!

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