We have an interesting tiny apartment that allows a product designer to live and work in such a small space. He has some really interesting design ideas and I really like his loft bed!
Lots of folks talk about utility and organization of physical space when it comes to living the tiny life. This is absolutely essential to creating a home that truly meets our essential need for shelter but I’ve found less conversations when it comes to balancing the emotional and mental aspect of relationships in a small space. I thought it might be helpful to discuss the ways that Cedric and I have been learning to navigate tiny living and ensuring the health and stability of our long-term, romantic relationship.
Designing private and communal space.
When designing La Casita, privacy was a big issue. We were trying to figure out how in the world we were going to create communal and private space in such a tiny structure! Cedric and I both believe it’s essential to have these designated areas to sustain a healthy relationship. At first, we tried to build two separate rooms downstairs but there was so much wasted space in the design we ended up tearing it all out and starting over! It was a tough decision but ultimately the best one.
In our original plans we had an open loft space but after realizing we weren’t going to be able to separate the space downstairs, we decided the loft would be closed off. This has done wonders for our need for alone time. When one of us is in the loft, it feels like a completely isolated, cozy place that you can relax, read, work, meditate, write letters or take a nap. When one person is downstairs and one up, you get a feeling of separation that allows us to recharge and, in the case of a disagreement or high emotions, a sanctuary to cool off.
Open, honest communication.
Before Cedric and I moved in to La Casita, we decided to take a workshop on Non-Violent Communication. Non-Violent Communication is a method developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg that focuses on reconnecting ourselves with our compassionate nature, even under the most trying of circumstances. It implements a non-judgmental, non-accusatory structure of expressing feelings and needs. You can’t hide from issues in a home the size of many people’s garden sheds! It’s absolutely impossible and if you try, conflict will quickly escalate. Cedric and I are constantly working on hearing each other compassionately and meeting each other’s needs and it is not without challenges but I’ve found that living the tiny life benefits our relationship in that we can’t let things fester. We have to face the issues that crop up. Working on our relationship this way creates a continued emotional closeness necessary to living in such close physical proximity.
Yesterday I was talking about tiny houses with another tiny house aficionado when the topic of how do tiny houses intersect with the need in the future for more urban density. There have been several studies suggesting that in order to meet the needs of the future, more and more people are going to have to live in cities. The land around cities will also have to be shifted to agricultural spaces to support these cities with food that can be produced within a few hours travel time.
So what do tiny houses mean for this potential future? Tiny houses provide a living laboratory for people to try out different design ideas, utility systems, storage solutions, and learn lessons that can be taken and applied to small sustainable housing of the next evolution of the city. I have been asked many of times: “how do you think you’ll get the same density with tiny houses as you do apartment buildings?” The simple answer is I’m not.
In a city setting essentially you could have same interiors, but the outside form would be one that is stack-able. Since you can’t have side wall windows or a sky light, we are going to have to make the end walls floor to ceiling windows to get enough light in. We will need to design as part of the master plan, outdoor living spaces that people actually want to hang out in, with roof top gardens, building courtyards, local community gardens, and great parks.
In the suburbs and rural areas I’d expect to see more mini villages pop up in the form of co-housing projects. These villages would most likely allow people who want to live in the country do so, but also be the hubs for agricultural activities for themselves and the cities.
I struggle personally with the notion that we may be faced with living more and more in dense cities because I am one that likes room to roam, a quite place to sit and think and green space to be in. Here in Charlotte, while it is a very sizable city, I live on several acres. I have been fortunate enough to travel a good bit and even cities that have done a really good job with their parks and green spaces, I still find myself feeling smothered by tall buildings and concrete. Cities certainly offer a lot to do, but there is something deep inside of me that resonates with being outdoors in the woods. Something that I fear no high density city will be able to provide me with.
- How do you see the future of housing?
- What will the cities and country look like for a sustainable future?
Today we have an interesting house and office that takes ques from Japanese small lot architecture. The house is 780 square feet, but that is for the house and the office which the owner works out of full time, sometime with another employee. Located in Hollywood, you can see the Hollywood sign from the spectacular roof deck. The architects talk about this house:
The width of this lot is exactly 15 feet and so shares at least one interesting quality with some Japanese urban building projects. The existing building was originally built in 1929 on the same size lot that it sits on today – approx 780 sq.ft. For this reason it is a very unique property. Special planning permission was required to extend the house up an additional story increasing the usable interior space by double. The views from the roof extend as far as the Hollywood sign and the San Gabriel mountains yet the house is surrounded by dense urban development. The interior was designed to maximize the availability of daylight and the stair well is what conveys this light like a conduit.
So this Thursday night at 8pm EST Macy Miller (minimotives.com) and I are taking the hot seat and asking each other questions in this no holds barred round of Tiny House Chat. The two of us decided ‘hey, you know what, we each have a TON of stuff in the works, let’s lay it ALL out on the table!’ What do you want to know about?
So I need ideas for questions for Macy specifically or tough questions about Tiny Houses that no one seems to have answered.
This chat will be:
- Monday, March 14th, 2013
- 8pm-9pm Eastern Time (5pm-6pm West Coast)
Mark your calendar!