My Take on The Big Tiny

I’ve been fascinated with tiny houses and the tiny house movement (yes, there’s actually a movement) for years. I’m drawn to the idea of living with just enough stuff, in just enough space. When my husband and I lived in New Zealand for a year (pre-children), we shared a studio flat. Just one room plus a bathroom. We used a suitcase for a coffee table. When he wanted to watch TV and I wanted to read, I just stuffed ear plugs into my years (oh, ear plugs, those wondrous modern inventions) and lay on our bed to enjoy my book.

Digging a "hot tub" at Hot Water Beach, on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Ten years ago.
Digging a “hot tub” at Hot Water Beach in New Zealand. Maybe we enjoyed our tiny apartment more because we spent much time outside of it.

Tiny house living sounds adventurous to me–challenging, for sure, but also adventurous. So when I discovered the book The Big Tiny:  A Built-It Myself Memoir by Dee Williams, I knew I’d devour it.

The author embarks on some serious soul-searching about how she wanted to live her life when she got a scary health diagnosis, and the result is her choice to build a house the “size of an area rug,” she writes repeatedly. She also compares it to the size of a parking spot–although smaller.

Dee Williams' book The Big Tiny. She really did build it herself.
Dee Williams’ book The Big Tiny. She really did build it herself.

Dee (I feel as though we could be friends, so I’ll call her by her first name) learns to ask for help and to attempt things she’s never done before. Ultimately, she doesn’t only down-size her life, she opens her life to more:  more time to help neighbors after down-sizing her job to part time instead of full time. More community, too. She becomes the de facto caretaker for a disabled woman whose backyard becomes the landing spot for Dee’s 84-square foot home. She shares this woman’s running water in exchange for helping with medicine and errands and even adult diapers. Dee’s tiny home helped her create margin in her life:  margin for more.

In her final chapter, Dee writes, “If more people understood how nice it is to have a sense of home that extends past our locked doors, past our neighbors’ padlocks, to the local food co-op and library, the sidewalks busted up by old trees–if we all held home with longer arms–we’d live in a very different place.”

I say–Here’s to holding home with longer arms. Thanks, Dee.


2 thoughts on “My Take on The Big Tiny

  1. Given my situation, I so want to do this, I am totally in sync with the ‘enough’ philosophy and continue to downsize, why spend my life stressed and chained to a desk 70 hours a week to pay for a fancy home and car that I never see 🙂 As your former neighbor, seeing how you live your life with integrity, I value your posts very much. You actually walk the walk, which gives you a great platform. Thanks!


    1. I can see how it would appeal to you to downsize and spend time and energy on what’s really valuable. You prioritize more than the material, which I truly respect. And THANKS for your encouragement! I appreciate your kind words. 🙂


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