A Master Suite Or An Annual Month of Vacation?

A Master Suite Or An Annual Month of Vacation?

Everybody on House Hunters seems to want a master suite – a bedroom connected to a private bathroom, with an optional fancy walk-in closet that sometimes connects the two spaces. But would you choose an extra-private bathroom over almost a month of vacation every year? Because my math says that’s just about what it costs. Read more…

How to Decide Whether to Buy, Rent, Borrow or Repair

How to Decide Whether to Buy, Rent, Borrow or Repair

A tricky question we face as members of a consumer society is not, “To buy or not to buy?” But, “How can I have access to what I need?” Shopping might be the most common means to that end, but it’s only one of many. You can buy (new or used), but you can also trade, repair, rent or borrow. One of my goals for the month that I tried not to buy anything new was to try some of the access methods I don’t use often enough, and figure out when each method makes the most sense. Read more…

How to Change Obligatory Shopping Traditions

How to Change Obligatory Shopping Traditions

Let’s say you’re working on yourself to become a more conscious consumer, but then it’s the holidays or somebody’s birthday, and you’re suddenly obligated to buy stuff. And just thinking about how to explain to your sister that you’d rather not buy her son the plastic toy set he wants makes you so exhausted that you just give up and get it for him.

Shortly after beginning the Unshopping Challenge, a month of not buying anything new, I got on a plane to visit my family. I knew this might be my downfall in the challenge, because our shopping habits get extra complicated when traditions come into play. And, honestly, living by your values is hard enough without anyone else around. But I accidentally made some headway in how I handle that culture clash last week, and I’m excited to share it. Read more…

How To Forgive Yourself For Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

How To Forgive Yourself For Buying Stuff You Don’t Need

Last week I signed up for the “Unshopping Challenge,” a commitment to buy nothing new for a month, except consumables like food and gas. I wanted to take the challenge because I’ve been thinking about my possessions more than usual lately. It’s spring cleaning time, and I have the urge to purge. But it’s also my birthday soon, so I have the urge to treat myself, too. When I’m already having strong, mixed feelings about my relationship to material life, what better time to learn from it?
 
I’ll start with some of the first steps I took to change my relationship to stuff: figuring out why I loved to buy, and forgiving myself for buying the wrong things. Read more…

Why Do We Love To Look At Homes?

Why Do We Love To Look At Homes?

Do you like looking at pictures of houses? ME TOO. But…why? When we look at pictures of other people’s homes, what exactly are we looking for? Design ideas? Eye candy? “10 Stylish Ways to Store Shoes”?

It took me years of drooling over other people’s living spaces before I realized what I was really looking for: not inspiration for my kitchen design, but inspiration for my whole life. I’m sure some people are just having good, clean fun when they browse Apartment Therapy, but I don’t think I’m the only one looking for something else beneath all the attractive surfaces in home photos. Read more…

How Tiny Houses Promote More (and Better) Experiences

How Tiny Houses Promote More (and Better) Experiences

What is a “perfect day” for someone who lives in a tiny house? Everyone I interviewed gave unique answers, but they shared a common theme: they listed experiences, satisfying ways to spend their time.

Is that any different from someone who lives in a conventional house? I don’t think so. I think tiny houses just have a special way of reminding people that life is about doing more than having. Read more…

Why “Do It Yourself” When Someone Else Can Do It For You?

Why “Do It Yourself” When Someone Else Can Do It For You?

The ranks of tiny home builders are growing rapidly, so it’s easier all the time to buy a tiny house instead of building one yourself. This is great – not everyone has to, or should, build a tiny home themselves. But is there value in doing it yourself when having it done for you is a viable option?

I was reminded yesterday of one of the many things I learned from my tiny house interviews that had implications far beyond houses and home. While many of us live in a culture that makes it easier than ever to have things, there’s just no substitute for doing things. Read more…

How Tiny Houses Changed My Life – Even Though I Don’t Live In One

How Tiny Houses Changed My Life – Even Though I Don’t Live In One

Interviewing people about how they decided to live in tiny houses has changed my life – even though I don’t live in one, and don’t plan to. I embarked on this project knowing that while tiny houses won’t work for everyone, they’re more practical and possible than many people think. But I also suspected that it could teach me something else, too. Something about how we pursue our dreams, and build the lives we want to live. Read more…

Tiny House Parking: A Perspective That Works

Tiny House Parking: A Perspective That Works

How do people who live in tiny homes handle parking and legality? To me, this was one of the most interesting things to discuss with the people I interviewed for my ebook, Life in a Tiny House. People who are interested in tiny homes often cite the parking and legality issue as their greatest barrier. Yet people who already live in tiny houses say their biggest challenges were things like roof rafter patterns So where’s the disconnect? Why is parking the central issue for some, and an afterthought for others? Read more…

Tiny Houses In Context: What’s a “Normal” House, Anyway?

Tiny Houses In Context: What’s a “Normal” House, Anyway?

A lot of people ask me what a tiny house is, but I think these questions are just as interesting: “What’s a ‘normal house?’ Where is it normal? And for how long has it been normal?”

The main thing that makes a tiny house tiny is what we’re comparing it to, and the context in which we see it. But context changes over time, and is different from place to place. When we look past the cultural moment we’re in right now and widen the lens of our perspective, do tiny homes still seem weird? And do they still look as tiny? Read more…

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