The Tiny House Movement Isn't Tiny At All

The tiny house movement isn't tiny at all, as it is in fact a large scale proposition. It promotes a certain way of living that started in America, that we Filipinos can adapt, or at least try to live by, in principle. 

I highly recommend it. 

To be honest, I was expecting a lecture on how to maximize the use of a limited space, like, say, investing on multi-purpose furniture, the use of strategic lighting to give an illusion of a wider space, et cetera. But at the brief seminar given by Tiny House Nation hosts John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin at the recent History Con 2017 in Manila, I left the room with new life principles I was convinced to live by—or at least, try.

In short (pun intended), a tiny house is more than a structure that’s less than 500 square feet. It is a manifestation of a bigger movement that promotes living simply, in a cost-efficient house, and taking with you only the things that will make you happy. Sounds philosophical, don't you think? I thought so, too, and it's precisely why I love it.



It's not about the measurements. John and Zack have stressed more than enough that a tiny house goes beyond a “small home” defined by its size. Instead, it is a space that allows you to do what you you need to do, is affordable and within your means, and is a tool that is supposed to better your life.

Now what does that exactly mean? Why does a house suddenly have so much responsibility on my quality of life?

Well, the movement pays high regard for efficient design, wherein a house is *custom-made* to its owner, in such a way that it helps her prioritize what she values the most, whether it's a space for creation because she's into music or arts, or a private area because she is all about having five-hour long me-times. At the same time, the designs is also supposed to rid her home of unnecessary clutter that may only slow down her daily progress or serve as distraction. 

In short, the house must be designed particularly in accordance to her needs and requirements, keeping mind important factors, such as possibilities in her future life (if she is to become a senior citizen soon, and might not want to have to climb a bunk bed to sleep, or if she is to wed and reproduce), the nature of her work (does she need a private, well-lit space for writing, or a soundproof room to practice her music?), and what are truly important to her (if she’s into arts, then there must be space for her collection of paintings!).

And at this point, I am completely sold with the idea of a custom-made home with targeted spaces to two to four of my top priorities in life.



Wait, what? Why? What's with all the turning inwards and seeking your soul?

“Happiness is not expensive,” said John, pointing to the girl in the crowd who was actually wearing the slogan on her shirt. Often, like you and me, the initial reaction concerning tiny house living is, “where do all my stuff go?” but John assures us,  that “most of the things you'll leave you’re never gonna miss—you’re not gonna miss it because you’ll be spending so much time doing whatever else is important.”

He continues with his theory that out of all the things that we own, there's a good twenty percent that are considered necessities, while an equivalent twenty are things we can do without. And with one quick glance at all my belongings, I think he's right.

But the good news is, scaling down what we own doesn’t mean living boringly with only the basics, such as food, three shirts on rotation, and a roof. John actually allows us to hold on to sentimental memorabilia, which technically doesn't have a functional purpose, as it is also of value to us. After all, if seeing that everyday contributes to our happiness, then by all means it deserves a space in our tiny house!

"It is possible, when you’re honest with yourself and really think about what it is that really brings you happiness” he says, adding that the size of your house or the amount of your belongings can take so much time maintaining, and you wouldn’t want all your energy spent on that. "What we'd like to achieve at the end of the day is to avoid going down the path of ridiculous excess”.



For Zack, living in a tiny house himself, the power of a home lies in its being a tool that propels a person’s life forward. He recalls how his childhood home didn't really give him that private space a growing teenager like him needed, so he used to hang out a lot in his car instead. "It was a space that was mine and no one could take it away from me," he proudly shares. 

I feel the same, too, with the little corner I've created for myself, to accomodate my late-night writing sprees.

Back at the seminar, NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy test pilot Barry Wilmore was also present, and the hosts were quick to point out that a spaceship is likewise a tiny house. There's probably not a square inch in there that has no use! 

While the thought of a tubular home for years and years made me feel claustrophobic, and rethink my dreams of traveling to space, I realize I've been convinced by John and Zack. All my life, I have never ran out of reasons to accumulate more and to consume more, or, if I should get to the point, to shop more; but the tiny house movement poses for me a challenge to make do with what I have. That is, in my home and in my life, I should hold on to what it is that contributes to my happiness, and let go of what doesn't. 


Cover photo via History Asia.



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