Tiny House Hate and the Future of Shelter

Tiny House Hate and the Future of Shelter

tiny house

When we moved DFC from the Toronto suburbs to the deep wilderness of the Frontenac Arch, we downsized majorly. At the time, I drew inspiration from philosophies like KonMari (“Sorry, Jill, that chewed up stuffie that used to be shaped like a dolphin no longer sparks joy.”) and minimalism (“Do I really need a kitchen whisk? I could just use three forks!”).

I didn’t go to full extremes, though: While trimmed, our household still boasts all the necessities, including a whisk. And I’m glad — because a backlash against these streamlining trends is a-brewing, and it shows that they could really drive a person mad.

In one such account in Fast Company, Adele Peters writes of life in her “Tiny House”. (The Tiny House movement aims to reduce human consumption, minimize our dependence on private property, and solve the housing crisis by making homes out of structures under 400 square feet.) Peters confesses she’s motivated more by personal economic concerns rather than fears for the fate of the planet: She lives in the Bay Area, where a normal-sized apartment is frankly too expensive for her. But even so, she hates what her tiny house has — pun intended — reduced her to.

“It’s small enough that doing anything — getting the vacuum from a tiny closet or something out of a drawer in the kitchen — often involves a Tetris-like game of moving multiple other things out of the way. Right now, because I have one chair too many, lowering my Murphy bed from the wall means moving the chair, which then blocks something else. […]
My bathroom, a 3-by-6-foot ‘wet room’ with a walk-in shower, is so small that it doesn’t have a sink, and I have to use the nearby kitchen sink to brush my teeth. Though the apartment is fast to clean, it gets messy equally quickly. Invariably, I meet friends elsewhere, since there aren’t enough places to sit. Even as a minimalist who once happily lived with an ex-boyfriend in a space that was only a little larger, I think it’s too small.”

Most importantly, tiny house living distracts from other solutions that directly address the systemic nature of housing shortages. Why else should someone see a 240 sq ft shed as their only option in a city where, say, rents are artificially driven up by folks who own condos but don’t live there — *cough* Toronto *cough*?

There has to be an in-between solution: comically small tiny houses and monster manses that are more conspicuous consumption than the home must not be the future of the market. I’m interested in the debate, as the Tiny House develops from trend to bellwether.