A year ago, my husband and I set out on a less conventional journey to transform what used to be an old animal stable into a rustic welcoming tiny house. It wasn’t intended to serve as our permanent residence but more like a temporary shelter while we focused on building our forever home.
Even though it didn’t fit our life goals at the time, it was a dream come true for me. I’ve always been fascinated with the tiny house movement and binged on all videos related to tiny living.
We live in a mountain town in Transylvania, Romania. Our tiny house sits inside a larger historic wooden barn, it’s made of recycled bricks and measures just about 300 sq ft. And while its location and warm cozy interior fill us with joy and gratitude, there is a dark side to it.
Here are some aspects of living the tiny life that people rarely talk about:
It gets dirty super fast.
I’ve never been much of a tidy person, but with two people, a dog, and a tiny entryway, dirt accumulates faster than I can keep up. And not just dirt, consider dust, human skin, crumbs, and a perpetual blanket of fur. Also clutter, oh the clutter, that appears out of nowhere — just a few misplaced items make me feel like a hoarder.
It can get chaotic from one day to the next. The good news is that it gets so unbearable that I vowed to become a clean and organized person just to keep my sanity. I don’t mind if cleaning becomes a long-lasting habit of mine.
Sometimes the air gets stale.
Think about it. You sleep, cook, wash dishes, do laundry, emanate all sorts of body odors in the same 300 sq ft. Sometimes the drains get clogged. Sometimes my husband decides to eat marinated fish. Did I mention we have a dog? Her breath gets pretty bad in the morning too. So if you’re considering living in a tiny house, make sure it has excellent ventilation.
It takes extra effort to fight humidity.
Again, two humans and a dog breathing out vapors, cooking, taking showers every day — all this humidity can become a problem. It varies greatly with location and climate, but I can say that even with a dehumidifier and a wood stove, in our part of the world the air is constantly moist. You don’t want a moldy tiny house, so keep an eye out for humidity and condensation.
There’s not enough room to exercise in.
This must be obvious, since, after all, it’s a tiny house, but I must give you a little bit of context. I didn’t want to downsize certain pieces of furniture just because we live in a small space. We have a king-size bed, no loft, and a decent-sized bathroom. I didn’t want to compromise our main office/dining area which is a full-sized Ikea table and bench where we do most of our working and eating.
That leaves little space for exercising, more like corridors wide enough to fit a yoga mat but not wide enough to accommodate any other movements outside of it. First world problems, but we make it work.
We can’t have sleepovers.
We used to host the best parties and sleepovers when we were renting this enormous two-bedroom house before buying our property. I know it’s still possible to have friends over, but it’s kind of awkward. Maybe I’m getting too old for dorm-like living conditions. But then again, there’s always the option of pitching a tent outside when I feel my privacy is threatened.
Things I thought would bother me but I’m surprisingly OK with:
Sleeping in when my partner wakes up before me.
I’m a very light sleeper and dreaded this aspect of living with my husband. He needs far less sleep than I do. So inevitably every morning I’m awakened by the clatter of dishes while he makes his perfect moka coffee. At this point, I would have found it impossible to go back to sleep, but humans are curiously adaptable creatures. It turns out you can indeed get used to noise and light and incessant bird singing at 4 in the morning, and yes, even moka coffee bubbling on the stove. Shut your eyes and go back to sleep, it gets easier with practice.
The lack of physical privacy.
See, just because my partner and I are in close proximity at all times doesn’t mean we’re in each other’s way. There are days when very few words are exchanged. And then there’s this wonderful invention called the internet, complimented with individual sets of wireless earphones. It turns out being completely oblivious to one another is so easy it scares me.
But sometimes we need to truly be alone. With solitude in mind, I designed the ideal spa-like bathroom. Whether it’s for a bubble bath and a glass of wine, or just a session of meditation or Wim Hof breathing on the heated floor, this bathroom is my sanctuary.
Not enough storage space.
This one is interesting since we’re not exactly minimalists, but this house has steered us to become more focused on the essential. We keep all our clothes in one small wardrobe, all pantry items on one shelving unit, and all dishes inside the kitchen cabinets. I crave more space for my shoes, but it is what it is.
It leaves little room for mountain gear and other fun stuff that we store outside of the tiny house. It’s inconvenient but at the same time makes purging and donating things we’re not using so much easier.
In the end, this tiny house was the product of our imagination and so it perfectly fits our needs. Living here on our way to financial freedom has been deeply satisfying, to say the least. Nothing beats the feeling I get when I curl up on the sofa, coffee in hand, and watch the fire burning in our Norwegian wood stove.
I daydream about the history of this place, the people who lived here before us, and how amused they must be watching us live merrily where they once kept their pigs and goats.