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Mindful : June 2015
middle of the afternoon, then she and the kids curl up on the couch to read Little House on the Prairie. Ryan gets home in the early evening and chops wood. Story and Sully watch, mesmerized, while Ryan lights a fire in the woodstove. It’s quite cold outside, but soon the house is toasty warm. Now that all four of the Kasls are home, moving around the house is like “huma n tetris,” Kim says. “It takes a little more patience to get from point A to point B.” The fa mily works together to get every- thing done. Ryan settles on the couch to work on his master’s thesis. When he graduates, he may find a job any where in the country. “ What we love about the tiny house is that we can take the biggest, best, coolest, opportunity,” says Kim, fantasizing about a plot of land in the country, somewhere warmer. At 9 p.m ., the kids head up to bed. Kim carries up Brinkley, the family shih tzu. As everyone bustles around, they exercise caution. It’s easy to get hurt in a small space—Ryan once kicked Kim in the face while ma king the bed. All four curl up together in Story and Sully’s room to say their prayers. Soon the kids a re sleeping— Sully with his head sticking out the open window, Brinkley lying next to him, on gua rd. Ryan gets into bed. Kim climbs downstairs for some quiet time. Most people a re worried about pri- vacy in a tiny house, but Kim says she doesn’t have trouble finding a quiet space to work or rela x. She knows what people are really curious about. After receiving many prying questions, she responded with a blog post: “ You can have sex in a tiny house!” Downstairs, Kim notices the house is clea n— something that never happened at the big house. “This feels like the solution to all the problems we had in the big house,” she says. “ What’s the ha rdest part? It’s not hard. It’s just way easier.” Kim gets on her computer a nd sees several email questions from families looking to downsize to tiny houses. She responds one by one, explaining how the move changed her family—not just their daily routine, but how they think and act. “The space brings us together,” she says. “ We care for each other, and take care of each other more.” At2 a.m., she crawls up toher tinyloft to go to bed—next to her husband, a few feet from her slum- bering children—a nd falls soundly asleep. “We’re taking an idea that might be seen as radical, and attaching it to something cute.” Andrew Heben, urban planner 1 Upcycle Fixtures and appliances for smaller homes are hard to come by—but you can meet your needs in creative ways. The Kasls couldn’t find a bath to fit their washroom. Instead, they cut a wine barrel in half to make a kid-sized tub. Old bicycle baskets make cyclist- chic storage. Wooden boxes can become steps or shelves. Look around the RV and boating world for small second- hand appliances. 2 Furnish for Functionality Transforming furniture is key to a flexible space. You can find tables that fold up against the wall or down into the floor. Sinks can be covered to become counter space. Chairs can stack. There are benches, ot tomans, and even stairs that conceal storage. 3 Do You Really Need That? Say goodbye to photos, DVDs, CDs, and tex tbooks: a single laptop will usually suffice. Before you downsize, practice by emptying out rooms and sectioning them off. Give your sentimental treasures to family members you know will appreciate them. Opt for fewer, well made possessions, like one nice pen instead of that cup full of old, chewed-up ones. 4 Go Outside Living in a smaller space, it’s impor tant to have ready access to breathing room. Go outside to have fun (bonus: research shows seeing greener y helps you cope with stress and keeps your brain aler t). If you want to get together with friends, go to a restaurant. Need some quiet- time? Go for coffee. 5 Sweat the Small Stuff Shrinking your house doesn’t equate to shrinking household challenges. Many standard housing concerns—from carbon monoxide to mold to sturdiness—only become more per tinent. Work with exper ts who understand the unique challenges of tiny houses. Design the space carefully: Which way does the fridge door open? Can the dog get up the ladder? Is this bed big enough to do Kama Sutra in? 6 Celebrate! While it sometimes feels counterintuitive, downsizing is an upgrade. You’re choosing a life that places experiences and inspiration ahead of status and accumulation. In your smaller space, you’ll find a real sense of grandeur and freedom. So celebrate every step toward smallness. Live Large with Less Whether you’re moving into a phone booth or converting your townhouse into a duplex, the tiny house movement is ripe with lessons on paring down that everyone can glean some wisdom from. 54 mindful June 2015 home