Living spaces

  • Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tiny houses are the rage now—and by tiny I mean shoebox-sized. Cramped is cool, according to sites like Tinyhouseblog.com and Tinyhouseplans.com. A blog, ourweehouse.com, offers tips and info from a couple living in a 130 square-foot house. Can you imagine? If Widdle and I tried that, there’d be a murder in the first week.
We I don’t have a huge house and I’m glad. I can’t keep what I have clean; why would I want anything larger? The Ponderosa has three bedrooms, two baths, a dining room, den, living room and kitchen. At any given time, at least one is a disaster area. (Usually it’s the den, which contains dozens of dog-eared magazines, a half-dozen plants dying by degrees and a giant tobacco basket filled with mismatched shoes.)
As for the tiny house movement, I understand wanting to be green and have a small footprint and all that. I do recycle and buy local whenever possible. But darned if I’m going to sleep in a hammock over a kitchen sink that doubles as a washing machine.
My point is: I need space. And privacy, i.e., a door to close and a window to jump out of, if it comes to that.
This attitude may stem from growing up with five other people in a three-bedroom, one bath house. I slept in a bed with my sister until I was 11 and she went away to college. She was a kicker, too.
I had roommates from age 17 to 26, after which I married my first husband. A few days after the ceremony it dawned on me—hit me like a brick, actually--that my new roommate was… permanent.   Guess I didn’t think that through very well.
Divorce is sad, no matter how amicable, but I lived alone very happily from age 37 to 45. In the meantime I built a townhouse, and the girl who slept with her sister opted for three big bedrooms and two and one-half baths. Thirteen-hundred square feet is more than one person needs, but I was giddy with joy.
There was room for books and art and tables and chairs and beds and a makeshift office, and ample space for guests. I used to eat dinner sitting on the stair landing, gazing down at my off-white paradise with the gas-log fireplace and gauze curtains.
“I’ll never move,” I vowed.
Naturally--because man plans and God laughs--a year later I wed Widdle and moved to his little village. I’m not crazy about our location; it’s in the proverbial middle of nowhere. But the house is amazing. It’s old and creaky, with burnished floors and loads of character.
It’s also just big enough for us to spread out and not annoy each other. I read my newspapers in the living room and Widdle reads his iPad in the den and everyone’s happy except the dog, who waddles back and forth all night grunting in exasperation.
We do have a little house in our lives, however. The river cabin is a former fishing shack that Widdle rehabbed and renovated into a 470 square-foot charmer with exposed beams, plank walls and a screened porch. There’s a Hobbit-sized bedroom, living room, bath and kitchen. There are no closets or cupboards, but it’s fine for weekend living: We hang our clothes on wall hooks and don’t cook anything that won’t fit in the microwave.
And if I ever feel claustrophobic, there are plenty of windows to jump out of.
Julie R. Smith, who probably shouldn’t live with anybody in any size space, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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