Little houses for you and me

Tiny 1Tiny 2I’ve become a big fan of tiny houses.

It’s the darnedest thing.

For years, I’ve disliked the seemingly millions of home- repair/decorating/buying/renovating shows that fill hours and hours of cable-TV programming. I mean, really, why would anyone watch House Hunters International when you could go for a walk outside, read a book or watch paint dry after you redo your own bedroom? If the question is Love It Or List It? I say: Lose it. Both the house and the TV show.

I’ve never understood how people can watch marathons of this dreck for hours at a time. And I’m sure it’s because no one will ever confuse me for Norm Abram — see Tuesday’s post about my “bumbling dad” tendencies.

But for reasons I don’t fully understand, tiny houses fascinate me.

It’s an idea that has become a big trend. A Google search for the term tiny+houses revealed 22.2 million results, including recent in-depth stories by everyone from the New York Times to the New Yorker and Whenever I see a link on Facebook to a story or a video about a tiny house, I can’t seem to stop from clicking to read or watch it.

I think it might be due to my housing history. I grew up in a family of six that lived in a three-bedroom ranch-style house that had one bathroom and couldn’t have been more than 1,000 square feet. Until I left for college, I shared a bedroom and a closet with my two brothers.

As an adult, I have owned four houses that ranged from a cute 800-square-foot two-bedroom 1950s bungalow to the middle-upper-class American dream with three bedrooms and a bonus room, three bathrooms and three-car garage. The other houses were bigger and older. They were houses that required more care and maintenance than I was capable of — or interested in — providing.

Like many other Americans, I’ve spent much of that time house poor, buying houses that were more than I could really afford and bigger than what was really needed. That experience has helped me clarify what I’d like in a house when Janet and I someday buy one together, including

  • A kitchen that opens to a room that would be the heart of the house — a room where we would eat, maybe watch TV, read and entertain. It would have a nook or a corner that would serve as an office. There would not be a separate living room, den, man cave or any of the other places where people go to hide in their homes.
  • Probably just one bathroom, but it would be big enough for both a separate shower and a whirlpool tub big enough that even I could comfortably sit in it.
  • One or two bedrooms with perhaps an additional bedroom in a loft.
  • An attached garage with a mudroom and laundry room as you enter the house.

What I don’t want when we someday find this dream house is to spend all of our spare time cleaning or fixing it. I’m not going to spend entire weekends mowing or doing yard work. And living in my dream house will mean never having to shovel snow.

In other words, I want to own our dream house. It won’t own me because that’s a scenario that would limit the time we could spend bicycling or vacationing or just simply having fun together.

Wherever this house is, I’m confident we’ll know it when we find it.