The Ergo- and Eco-nomics of Small

I've been giving some thought to what "small" means lately and it would appear that it's a pretty relative term. It's much more relative, to my thinking, than what "large" means. Right now my husband, my cat and myself are all living in a "small" house of 160 feet plus a loft area for sleeping. I occasionally have friends ask when we're going to build our house (our "big" house? our "real" house?). Some can't believe we haven't killed each other living in so "small" a space. Others totally understand the appeal and a surprising mix of people alternate between disbelief that we live full time in our little home and a desire to come inside and see how things are laid out...then come a fairly frequent number of comments along the lines of, "Wow, this has really got everything you need in it!" "This isn't really very small at all!" "I love it, it's so cute!"

While we originally built a tiny house as a builder's cottage intending to begin building a small house within about 6 months, we've come to like the tiny house very much. We're not quite ready to leave it yet. It's wonderfully spacious (thanks to high ceilings over the living room and plenty of windows) while also cozy and comfortable. It's got most of what we need and not too many drawbacks. When I consider all the places I've lived in my days, I can always recall certain things about those spaces that were drawbacks so this home doesn't seem to be any different than others in that regard.

What do I consider the biggest drawback? I'm a scratch cook, so sometimes I'd like a little more space in the kitchen. But I've been able to do it all (really!) even in a kitchen smaller than most bathrooms (and I mean I bake all my own breads, process honey from our bees, can, freeze and dry foods for winter use, make 95% of our meals at home, and do all the dishes to boot!). And I'd have to say that it is more difficult to have friends for dinner in close quarters. But one or two visitors for afternoon tea or a talk are no problem at all!

So why all the random thoughts attached to this one little word, "small?" I guess I'm mulling it over because as we develop new home plans and consider our own future desires, the thought is reinforced that much of what makes a place not just satisfactory but also pleasing is a personal feeling about the structural surroundings that make up our homes. What do people often desire from their housing? Shelter and safety, of course. Also we want something well laid out, comfortable, a refuge from things outside when we need it to be, a place we can be comfortable and share time with loved ones. We need places that are reasonable to heat, cool and maintain, laid out so that things are where they need to be and useful without being too much or too many and places that offer enough clean, comfortable space for all the people living under its rooflines. A home should provide the space you need to do what you need and like to do in a method that is appealing aesthetically and also allows one to be unstressed financially. These kind of things make a home a home and in that sense, size is somewhat irrelevant.