Simple, Spiritual, Outdated Living in a Vintage New England Home on the Southern Coast of Maine

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I was once a minimalist who lived in a "tiny house" in South Burlington, Vermont



Before tiny houses were a thing I lived in this adorable teeny house in South Burlington, Vermont from 1995 - 1997. I was in grad school and it was all I could afford yet it was all I wanted. Except for the spiders. My steel-toed Doc Martins came in handy then. Someday I'd like to return to tiny house living.


I still have that NYC Marathon poster and the bookshelves are in my current home office. I had been using plastic milk crates and a friend/classmate took note. Her husband was a skilled professional furniture maker and they surprised me with those two units! Also in the photo above is an old school BAG cell phone. Back in the day that was high tech stuff and it came with a gigantic antenna.


That bureau was also made by the same fellow, although I designed it. Next to it are antique wooden soda crates that I still use. I didn't hold onto the repro Edward Hopper posters. 


Even when I was very busy, leaving my house shortly after six a.m. and returning home sometime after ten p.m., I managed to cook for myself, but it was always pasta! It was all I could afford. A few times a week I treated myself to Chinese take-out, the buffet at the health food store and french fries at Nectar's.

What got me thinking about my old place that the UPS man mistook for a garden shed while I waiting for a package one day and had to chase after his truck is that a tiny house trend is catching on. I've found myself wondering about what it would be like to sell off all of the vintage things I've worked hard to acquire and adore and go back to living with very little. I do know I couldn't part with my rather large collection of books and holiday decorations. And, well, I think I could come up with a compelling reason to keep everything so I don't know that I would want to do it.

Have you ever considered trading in a mortgage and most of your possessions to downsize and live in a tiny house?

9 comments:

  1. I think the key phrase is "and I adore". If you adore the items you've collected and curated over the years, it would be hard to get rid of them. I have a large collection of books that I treasure (yes, I could and probably will dispose of some of them as they're read through, but some are inheritances, classics, and/or really beautiful editions that are keepers). I will never downsize to having my whole library on a Kindle. I also have a large collection of rescue dogs, which in and of itself precludes much of a tiny house. I have, however, lived much of my adult life in what many would consider a starter house, and been very happy doing so. So - no tiny house for me, but a small house (big enough for me, DH and the dogs) suits me just fine.

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    1. Hi, crunchycon! I also live in what many consider a starter house; it's 1200 square feet. By today's standards and compared to newer McMansion-y housing it's pretty small. I like that you have a collection of rescue dogs. : )

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  2. My husband and I live in an apartment but we both had houses in our previous lives. At this point in our lives it's very convenient living in a beautiful complex with a pool. The only reason we are thinking of buying again is to have extra space and a backyard for our grandkids. But they sure love the pool!

    I think 1200 sf is perfect, Averyl. If we do buy again or even if we just rent a house I don't want a very large one. It's too easy for me to fill up the space with possessions, never mind the extra maintenance inside and out.

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    1. Right! Maintenance AND the cost of heating and cooling it. In Maine heating season is long and expensive, especially if you have a very large house!

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  3. And in Texas it's the opposite! Nearly six months of very warm to very hot resulting in a large electric bill via the a/c.

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  4. My house is just under 1000 sq ft. When me and the husband first moved in, my mother came over and said it was cute. I later heard from my brother that mom made disparaging remarks about the size of my house. My mother had us children as free labor to help clean the larger house I grew up in! Meanwhile, I barely have time to clean up a house this small after a work/commute that eats up a sizable portion of my day! I had a flashback reading crunchycon's comment about not getting rid of the book collection. When I first married and moved three times in one year (long story) - I got unsentimental fast! My mother once laughed at me as I was packing and walking around in a circle trying to find an empty box for a vase -till I left it behind in frustration. Charity trucks were making the rounds at my place regularly for a few months because I was so sick of lugging everything that once had meaning.

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    1. It's funny how "cute" is often code for "small" when talking real estate. Now, I've heard of having kids to help on the farm but to help around the house is a new one! : ) I totally get the last minute charity truck calls. I've had my share of those when my husband was still in the USMC.

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  5. When I was in my 20's I lived in a small studio apartment. Not sure the square footage but it was perfect for a busy single gal. It had a galley kitchen (very efficient layout), a real (tiny but real) dining room, and a good size closet. I loved that place.

    I don't think my family could live in a smaller place than what we have now. The kids need their space sometimes. We do a lot of family outings so when we get home it's nice to have time to ourselves. When the kids grow up and are out of the house it will certainly feel too big. We just bought this house last year and it's about 3400 square feet. Our old house was about 2700 but we bought this one because we fell in love with it and the location. The extra space was a nice bonus. We now have a guest room for when our parents visit.

    My home was built in 1925 so it's big for the time but is small compared to the Mc Mansion trend. There's a new house going up in our old neighborhood that is 5500 square feet! Seriously. The family will never see each other! Our house doesn't have a "family room" on the first floor- just a living room, dining room, and kitchen. But we actually use our living room. I let hubby put a tv in there so we all hang out together often. I hate that in new houses the living rooms are very small because the assumption is that no one will use it. It's crazy to have a room that's saved for special occasions only. And when the living rooms are small they rarely get used for holidays because they're too small. I hope this trend goes.

    Your grad student place looks really cool!

    Sarah

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    1. 5,500 square feet-- are you sure they aren't building a mini strip mall in your hood?! : )

      I didn't realize the new trend with small living rooms. How strange!

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