While the size of the average home gets bigger and bigger, it's refreshing to see the conscious shift to smaller homes that some people are making. Because along with that decreased space comes a decreased environmental footprint, and a decreased energy bill. If the home is well designed with functionality in mind, the living, as they say, is easy. And there's even a Small House Society!
Enter people like Jay Shafer of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, who builds homes between 65 and 774 square feet. His homes are carefully designed to make maximum use of every square foot. They come equipped with a small kitchen, and up to three bedrooms and two bathrooms, depending on the design chosen.
One major bonus of Shafer's homes is the low cost of heating. Heated with propane, his own home-a smaller model-costs him $170 per year to heat, and that's in Iowa, where winters are winters. Plus, a smaller home requires less maintenance. Everything is smaller and therefore the amount of work to be done is less: less to dust, less to vacuum.
The biggest challenge is likely to be paring down your stuff to be able to fit into a smaller space. But isn't there some spiritual lesson there? Didn't some prophet state that we don't own our possessions, they own us? There is certain simplicity to owning less that perhaps we should all consider. And in a tiny home, there certainly isn't room for unused, or even under-used, stuff.
However, if a permanent downsizing is more than you can bear, or if you just have too many kids or pets to make it practical, these little homes make great guest cottages, vacation homes or temporary dwellings while you build something larger. Or, if your grown kids are refusing to leave home, perhaps you can take a cue from the Small House Society president Greg Johnson, who lives in a home designed by Tumbleweed's Jay Shafer, and have some tiny homes on your property to give your kids, and yourself, some private space. Johnson home is on his father's property, and he shares his father's bathroom after sacrificing his own in order to have more storage space.
Another thing that can make a small home more economical and environmentally friendly is using recycled materials. Dee Williams, who built her own home based on one of Shafer's designs, salvaged a door from a dumpster and old wood floor panels from a home that was damaged in a fire. But far from looking like trash, these salvaged items give her quaint home even more character, and give her a little story to tell.
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