Tuesday, July 11, 2017

More Tiny House Thoughts

I'm calling it tiny house, as it has been prompted by me spending roughly two weeks in a 32 ft RV recently.  A 32 ft RV, while being as long as my house--although that was bumper to bumper, not necessarily interior space--is less than maybe 1/3 the width of my house. Which meant that while we had three 'bedrooms', a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining 'area' and a living 'room', every room was small and narrow.  One bedroom was essentially two bunks on the wall that slid out when the camper was parked. When not parked, those bunks ate a lot of floor space, leaving you a hallway with a width of about 18", maybe, to access the bathroom and rear "master" bedroom.

 A house on wheels, but a very cramped house indeed, without adding people and their belongings.  (Occupancy on this trip varied from 3 to 8, depending on the day, as DD1, Honorary Son, DS2 and two of his friends came and went based on their own vacation plans.  DD2, DH and I were the constants).  I think even if it had been just DH and I, I still would have found it rather more confining than I am comfortable with.  Even so, it wasn't all bad.  While I found many drawbacks (or not-so-good things), I did appreciate the good things of living in an RV/tiny house.

Good Things:

  • Less area to get dusty/have to clean.  Who wouldn't love spending less time cleaning less space?
  • Everything has an assigned place to be kept.
  • Belongings are kept to just the necessities.
  • You really think twice before you buy something that requires indoor use or storage.
  • You can't put off cleaning up.

Not-so-good Things:
  • It looks cluttered very easily.  One thing out of place, one book left on the table, one pair of shoes next to the door, one shirt discarded across the bed and it's a pigsty. . .
  • Similarly, it looks/feels dirty very easily.  Walk across that short expanse of flooring six times, and you can practically hear the dirt crunch under your feet.
  • Teeny tiny bathrooms without windows don't dry damp (used) towels very well.  Teeny tiny showers are hard to bathe in (forget shaving your legs in the shower).
  • No work area, per se.  Counter space is usually nil in a tiny kitchen, and that means doing any sort of batch cooking or baking, or even prepping a meal with many parts is practically impossible.  Unless you want to turn your table, sofa, bed, etc. into somewhere to temporarily hold cooling baked goods, or veggies chopped for stir fry, or even the different parts of a salad before they are all combined in the serving bowl.  Forget trying to make bread; nowhere to knead it.
  • Similarly, not much food storage.  I'm not fond of shopping, and going to the grocery store every other day doesn't appeal to me much. But there is only so much cupboard space for bread, crackers, fruits and veggies, nuts. . . The fridge is similarly small, as a typical house-sized kitchen refrigerator takes up kind of a lot of floor space.  
  • Also similarly, not much area for serving food.  So, unless you like casseroles, it's kind of hard to serve all your dinner components at the same time.  Me, I prefer to eat my veggies at the same time as I eat my meat, and it's really nice to be able to build my own taco or burrito with as many parts as I like rather than just tortilla-meat-beans-cheese.
I think that what I should take from this recent experience is to use the Good Things as concepts in my regular house.  Maybe not the less space to need cleaning, as I can't really cut down the size of the house at this little place here.  But, the other four ideas I can utilize:
  1. Everything has an assigned area to be kept.  This is a motto we've tried hard to have through the years.  But, it's not always easy, and with the kids grown up and being mostly transient (dorms, apartments, shared rental houses and sometimes short stints at this little place here), we find ourselves with a house that has gotten pretty full.  To the point where "this is DS2's, it gets stored in his old room until he gets a permanent house of his own" and "well, sure DD1 doesn't have room in her current apartment for this (couch, end table, box of cookware/serving dishes), but this is something that will be useful in her next home, so we'll toss it in our basement until then" has resulted in being really cluttered up with stuff that is irrelevant to my and DH's daily lives.  It also, since the kids' old bedrooms and now our basement are so packed with things that are being stored, makes it incredibly hard to keep those areas cleaned and dusted.  If you don't see the corners of the floor for two years (or more), you can't sweep them or keep the cobwebs from forming.  I think I should reassign areas.  Former childrens' bedrooms should be for those (now adult) people to sleep in when they are here; as well as any other overnight guests we might have when they aren't.  Their stored belongings should go elsewhere.  Like the attic.  Or maybe a shed.  (I not so jokingly told DH a few months ago that this year for Christmas we should buy each of our offspring a shed.  A shed that would be kept here, lined up in a row with the sheds belonging to their siblings.  And all their belongings that are being stored at this little place here could be kept in the appropriate person's shed rather than taking up room in my house.)
  2. Belongings are kept to just the necessities.  This kind of ties in with the personal shed idea.  DH and I don't need extra pots and pans, books, camping gear, end tables, dining room table, etc.  Heaven knows we've accumulated just about all that the two of us need by now.  Why keep all those extras in our living space?  But also, we need to make sure that we aren't buying more items than we actually are going to use.  I have to confess that I'm rather guilty of having more crafting stuff than I've actually had time to make use of in the last handful of years.  Clothing, too has gotten a bit out of hand.  As I had less kids to have to outfit, I've fallen into some impulse buying where clothes for DH and I are concerned.  I need to go back to only buying needed wardrobe items rather than "ooh, I like this, and it's on sale/found secondhand/otherwise cheap".  Which ties in nicely with the next concept:
  3. You really think twice before you buy something that requires indoor use or storage.  Yep, that sundress at Walmart is cute, but I all ready have a sundress or two that fit, and more closet space, not less, would be nice.  That polo shirt at the thrift shop looks just like new and is DH's size, but remember he has about a dozen polo shirts all ready. And fabric, oh fabric!  Being a quilter I am a sucker for even small cuts of fabric that I think would be nice in a future quilt.  Yarn too; I have only been knitting for 4 years, but somehow my stash of yarn has grown to several containers, all of which must be stored somewhere.  If only I actually knit as many pairs of socks as I have acquired yarn for!  DH isn't much better, the garage is filling up too with things that seemed awesome at the time, but have gotten little or no use and still need a place to be kept.   We need to stop doing that.  Use up the old first, before bringing in new.
  4. You can't put off cleaning up.  When there is lots of space (or you think you have lots of space), it is easy to procrastinate about cleaning stuff up.  Why put away your book when you will just want to read it tomorrow?  Just leave it on the couch.  Same with this magazine, or the newspaper DH isn't done reading. Why go through the mail right now when you can just set it on the counter until tomorrow, when you have more time?  Except sometimes tomorrow is busier.  Or someone else brings in the mail and, seeing the pile all ready on the counter, tosses it there for you to look at later.  And pretty soon there is so much mail you can't even use the counter and you really don't think you have time to go through a stack of mail that huge.
Hmm.  Me thinks I have much to learn.  And apply.  Then maybe I won't feel so overwhelmed trying to keep this little place here cleaned and organized.

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