After One Year of Living Small My Five Favorite Things About My Tiny House

A year ago, I finished my tiny house. I threw a party, drank more than a few glasses of wine to celebrate, took dozens of pictures, and then moved her to where she is now. Her official proper name is “Joy” and the happiness she has brought me over the past 12 months is pretty difficult to describe. She has so many admirable attributes and has provided an endless source of inspiration for creative writing.

But, there are definitely a few things about her that truly stand out as the best of the best.

1. My Living Room

At the end of a long day at work it is soooo relaxing to fall into my comfy living room chair, put my feet up on the ottoman, bury myself under a warm fuzzy blanket, and watch Netflix. There are so many compromises that tiny house occupants make but having a “proper” living room with “regular” chairs wasn’t one that I was willing to make for myself. And, when I need to work on my computer or have guests over for dinner, my living room easily and quickly converts into a dining room with the addition of a break-down table that lives next to the refrigerator when not in use.

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2. The Large Garbage Can

I know it sounds odd but controlling clutter and waste is a HUGE issue in tiny houses. Maybe it goes without saying but having space for everything you need, and having everything in its place is a key to sanity in such a small dwelling. My kitchen garbage can is pretty big and sits conveniently under the countertop, behind a curtain, adjacent to the kitchen sink. It is very easy to access when I need it and when I’m cooking I pull the curtain back. It is also the only one in the house so the “chore” of emptying the garbage is really not that big of a deal. I use it every day, as you might imagine, and I’m so glad that I designed the space so I’m not tripping over it in the middle of the kitchen floor or having to empty it often.

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3. My Composting Toilet

I originally designed my house with the kitchen at one end of the house and the bathroom at the other end. I did NOT want the smell from the bathroom to come anywhere NEAR the kitchen. And, while I do not regret the split layout, there really is no toilet smell emanating from my bathroom. Ever. One of my favorite things to show off during a tour with guests is the toilet. No joke. I open the hatch and ask them if they smell anything. They don’t and they’re as surprised by that discovery as I was when I first used my Nature’s Head toilet. It’s amazing. It truly is.

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4. The Propane Water Heater

Early in my planning process I decided that I wanted to use as little electricity as possible, in order to draw as little as possible from my landlord/ hosts, and that meant I would need to have all propane heating appliances. I love my propane stove, oven, and furnace but above and beyond them all is my super reliable, externally mounted / vented, Rheem, on demand, hot water heater. I had it professionally installed, have moved the house twice since then and every time I turn on the shower or need to wash dishes I have hot water. I haven’t touched the unit in a year. It works like it’s supposed to every time. I come from a huge family and have always been pretty frugal with my time in the shower to save money. I have never had the luxury of taking long, hot, showers. But I do now. And, it’s a luxury I don’t take for granted.

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5. My Landlords

I rent the space for my tiny house from some neighbors who have a large plot of land that used to operate as a Christmas Tree Farm. What I pay for rent includes water, electricity, wifi, and the space itself. So far, I have been living in my tiny house part time for the majority of the past year. Starting next month, however, I’ll be moving in and living there full time. So this week the landlords and I negotiated a new rent amount of $75.00 per month. Yes. $75. That is not a typo.

 

By far the BEST part of living in my tiny house is how amazingly affordable it is!

21MJ Boyle is a proud and outgoing single mom of two college aged children, published author, accomplished speaker, patented inventor, creative blogger, craigslist stalker, and enthusiastic Glamper; as well a passionate tiny house enthusiast, designer, and builder.

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Annette - November 8, 2016 Reply

I got so happy and excited when I read this post that I had to jump up and clean my closet. Then I went back to the Swoon that shows your house and loved it all over again. Well done you!
Thanks for the update.

Tracy - November 9, 2016 Reply

I have been wanting to make that move, tiny house living is so in my near future!!! Just read your awesome sense of what is your reality, of what it’s like living in a tiny house….very helpful!!! Thanks so much, for your insight. Tracy

Kate Bohn - November 9, 2016 Reply

Lovely place! I just have to ask…where did you get that fabulous owl teapot? It’s adorable!

Nicki - November 9, 2016 Reply

So charming. The living room set up is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for the heads up on the garbage can.
Where is your sleeping space?

kate - November 10, 2016 Reply

Oh no…. it is my favorite little house…. I got so excited to see this follow up. I can’t wait for all of the new ideas from your current build.

And YES, a proper sitting area is extremely high on the list. It can be done. People need not except straight backed boxes with a little bit of padding. An awful lot of us are like MJ, we have lived and worked to this point, and are not willing to give up comfort in our best years. I just love the living “room” in MJ’s little home.

Carol - November 10, 2016 Reply

Your house is gorgeous! I especially like the cozy living room. I can see why you’d want to curl up there and watch TV. My dream is to have a tiny house someday as well and you just helped reinforce that with your story. Love it!

Carol A Smiley - November 10, 2016 Reply

Well I took the plunge my shed/tiny house will be delivered next week an the work begins. I have watched HGTV tiny house for two or three years and now I start on my own tiny house scared an excited wish me luck

scott h. - November 11, 2016 Reply

MJ, Well done! Article and build. layout of the kitchen(NOW that is a work triangle). ON DEMAND hot water…bravo! composting toilet, yowzer! I am building a cruiser boat…did/do you have a building blog or site? I would like to visit either to get a spatial concept. til then, blessings to you and yours. Scott

Wendy - November 11, 2016 Reply

Holy Crap $75, that is AWESOME! Love what you say about the trash can and the living room, two things that seem small but are also important to me. We’re still deciding on RV living or tiny house. I still have so many tiny house concerns such as codes, being kicked out, etc. but glad you found landlords that are great. How did you find them? 🙂

Thanks,

Wendy
http://www.splendidlysimple.com

Martha - November 12, 2016 Reply

I didn’t fully understand what is the difference between your toilet and ordinary, but this looks great:)

gayle - November 15, 2016 Reply

I know exactly your feeling of joy with the comfort you’ve created. You did it because you brought your life experience and self-respect forward to address the tiny house challenges. Didn’t mention what state you are in, except the state of bliss of course, but it must not be California! You can’t even rent a storage locker anywhere in California for $75! Wish we could see your sleeping area. Myself, not willing to climb up and down a ladder (twice a night) to a bed, but would go for those built-in stairs (which they never add bannisters!) Enjoy every moment, big and tiny, in your wonderful house!

Susan Nall - November 19, 2016 Reply

Looking for tiny home around 400sq. ft. In Denver, Colo.

Kelly - March 4, 2017 Reply

Would love to hear about your journey Carol Smiley!

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