Tiny Homes, Big Ideas
Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, says living small is a luxury—and when he says living small, he means it. Jay's entire house is only 96 square feet! "It's the smallest house we've ever seen," Oprah says.
The first stop in Jay's house tour is the main living area—which he calls the "great room." According to Jay, there's plenty of space for all his belongings. "This place has more storage per square foot than most houses would," he says.
Jay's main living area is packed full of amenities that make him more comfortable—including a tiny fireplace! Another bonus—his commute from home to office is just inches away. Jay has a desk where he can sit and get his work done. And, if Jay wants to entertain, he says his "great room" fits four people comfortably.
Although his lifestyle might seem primitive to some people, Jay says it suits him. "I feel like as long as I know what makes me happy and know what doesn't, I can get rid of all that other stuff, and it makes room for a really comfortable life," he says.
For Jay, living small is really about personal happiness. "Aside from not needing anything more than this, I really like the idea of putting what I do have into quality over quantity," he says. "Living small is really a luxury in the sense that I have a lot of time now that I didn't have before. I can focus now on other things I want to do in my life rather than just paying a mortgage and taking care of a house."
Jack says a former owner of the neighboring house decided to stop the alley traffic by building a house there instead!
In the bedroom—the only one in the house—Jack was able to squeeze in a queen-sized bed. But, getting it upstairs was quite a challenge! To pull off this seemingly impossible feat, Jack bought a split box spring and was able to maneuver it into the room—"with difficulty," he says.
Jack says living in a cozy home can promote communication between family members. He's also a fan of small spaces for another reason—he met his fiancé in an elevator! "Good things happen in small spaces," Jack says.
Take a look at how Jane and her boyfriend turned their inner-city abode into a home Mother Nature would be proud of.
"It's definitely possible to express yourself and live very comfortably in a small space," Jane says.
To make the space seem bigger, Maxwell had all the walls painted white. He also replaced the closet doors with curtains. "It allows us to light the closet from within, and when [the curtains are] pulled, you get this beautiful ambient light shining back into the room. You can't do that with doors," he says. Maxwell also ditched the doors to the bathroom and bedroom and replaced them with white felt sliding doors.
Maxwell and Sara's platform bed is surrounded by custom-made compartments lit from within. Sara's folding clothes fit in the cabinets on her side, and Maxwell's are on his. Baby Ursula even has space reserved for her changing table and bassinet in different corners of the room.
Since space is sparse, Maxwell has a rule he lives by. "You want to organize your space so you fit in 90 percent of everything and have 10 percent open," he says. "If you have openness, the world will bring more to you."
While living in such a small home wasn't their original plan, Maxwell and Sara have grown to like it. "Honestly, we've never found a place that we loved as much as our little home," Maxwell says. "And, you know, the community makes a huge difference. We could live all the way out in deepest Brooklyn, have a lot of space, but we wouldn't have the vibrant community and the friends we have on the block."