Dreaming of Small Homes and Simpler Lives

shipping container house deck

Most of my friends and I seem to have happened upon an “evolving consciousness.” I dig it. I’m glad we’re changing our awareness and increasing personal responsibility.

I suppose it’s  from seeing more and more exposes done on what’s happening with the environment in all corners of the world. We’re becoming aware of what we can call “the sins of our fathers,” in how mismanaged our planet has become and largely through excessive living of the last four or five decades.

Simplifying my life

My bucket list I’m working toward is to spend 2016 to 2021 seeing how the rest of the world lives. Simplifying my life to fit in a couple suitcases, and off I go, journeying. There is much humility for us North Americans when we see how the world lives, whether it’s Haiti or Asia, or poor South American towns — there’s poverty all around the world that reminds us just how little we need for true happiness.

At the end of my travels, my further dream is to find a place to spend the next chapter of my life, then build a small home and continue a simplified life, living off art and writing.

Less becomes more

This is what small homes allow — less overhead, less risk, more security, more time, more freedom. It’s easy to look at that lack of space as if it’s a sacrifice, but that “lack” means less of the bad stuff too — less investment, less risk, less maintenance, less time-suckage. What you lose in space, you gain in life.

I guess it comes down to where you do your living — indoors or out. With a balance of both, a small home shouldn’t be such a comedown for any of us. So, in my hazy shade of future-seeing, what kinds of small or tiny homes can I see myself living in?

Shipping containers

Having lived all my life by both railyards and the ocean, I can’t tell you how full-circle it would feel to make my home in shipping containers. It’d be cool to use two or three and attach them in an as-yet-determined shape. For example, an “H” configuration would be cool but so would an offset “X” as both would allow maximum natural light with good windows, but even a “double/triple-wide” would work.

shipping container small home

I’d want to honor the industrial feel outside and flip that on the inside. Wool insulation for the walls would be amazing and so eco-friendly. Cork floors would be ideal, better for the back and feet than hardwood but still au naturel in feel. Lots of windows and even skylights would be perfect. Plenty of stone and brushed metal accents would continue the natural sense.

Cobb or adobe house

Whether it’s Cobb or Adobe, living in a home that’s truly of the earth around me strikes me as a cathartic and healing life to lead. Off-gassing, what?

Stone, plaster, exposed woods, hand-hewn curves and soft round corners. Timeless accents that blend with any decor. Probably cork flooring again because it’s just a product I really love. It would require a lot of learning and research, but there are many designs I’ve sighed wistfully over.

Cobb Home_at_Hollyhock

Hollyhock home, an example of a cobb home from Nanaimo, Canada (image: Gerry Thomasen)

Updated traditional yurt

I know, this sounds completely insane. “Hi, I’m Steff. I live in a yurt.” But it’s a really cool idea and it’s an option for a ready-made home with lots of built-in features, and it’s an 800-square-foot home (fully loaded, but without kitchen and bathroom features and, you know, walls, or electricity or solar, etc) for $35,000 all-in, including additional fancy French doors and three more windows.

Part of my awareness of native beliefs and cultures makes a circular home quite appealing to me. Life is a circle in mythology. Born of the earth, return to it, so forth. It feels like a natural thing to do. The yurt also a truly nomadic home because it can be dismantled and moved where you like.

Yurt village

A yurt village in the west country of England (image: Wing Nin Chan)

It’s suited for everything from alpine winter conditions to tropical rainforests, and because it’s made of things like cloth, wood, and metal, it still has that natural feel to it.

Humans have lived in yurts since as far back as 450 BC. This isn’t some gimmicky home. They’ve been improved upon for millennia, and anyone wanting a natural life off the grid could easily kit one out with solar, a composting toilet, and other zero-waste amenities.

It’s weird but living in a yurt has long on my bucket list.

Getting fussy: kit homes

There are so many home kits out there now that the possibilities increase by the month, especially in the “tiny home” category. Want a lot more say in how it plays out but still a minimum in investment and problem-solving? A kit’s a proven way to go.

Tiny house kitchen interior

A cozy kitchen in a tiny home (image: http://livinginatinyhouse.blogspot.ca)

There are many rustic options to suit my style, all available for under $100,000. The right plot of land, the right hookup, and a perfect little brand-new home could be completely customized inside to suit my needs as a work-at-home creator.

No end of options

The more I look for in already-existing solutions, the more I realize just how flexible smaller homes are. If I am successful at wanting to live more simply and I plan my space out, I think I could live more affordably and more happily, while redirecting my efforts into things that make me feel alive, rather than just another rat racing on the wheel of life.

They’ll tell you that, in writing, “less is more,” and the older I get, the more I realize having less would give me far more. That’s the small-home living ethos for ya.

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