Tiny Homes

Life in 700 square-feet

by Tammy Strobel on December 9, 2014

Yreka Cottage

Now in a cottage built of lilacs and laughter I know the meaning of the words ‘ever-after.
— Unknown

The night we drove away from the tiny house, with the cats in the backseat meowing about the injustice of being in our Ford Fiesta, our move into town felt real. Earlier in the evening, we had been joking with my in-laws that our move into town would only take a few seconds, and there was truth to that statement—it only took 30 minutes to pack up the belongings we needed. We fit most of our stuff in the backseat of our car, which included a few pieces of art by Rebecca Green, kitchen gear, our clothes, and some food. We moved the bikes on a different trip.

We moved into the cottage in late October. It was one of the least stressful moves of my life because we didn’t have many belongings to pack, and we didn’t have to worry about towing our tiny house down the highway and finding a spot to park it. Also, the circumstances surrounding our move into town were serendipitous and easy.

Even our fur babies, Christie and Elaina, navigated the move with ease. They adjusted to the new house quickly, and they seem keen on sleeping through the winter. I’m not surprised, though. The cats have plenty of moving experience and truly need their own kitty passports to demarcate their moving adventures. They have lived in various Northern California cities including Davis, Sacramento, Red Bluff, Chico, Yreka, Little Shasta Valley, and in Portland, OR. For cats, they are surprisingly adaptable. As they’ve adapted to the cottage, the cats have commandeered some of our newish belongings for their daily naps.

Prior to moving into our new space, we bought two new beds from a local furniture store. We’ve acquired other stuff, too. Here’s my stuff confessional list:

  • Logan found two, used, Ikea POÄNG chairs on Craigslist for $40 and my in-laws gave us a coffee table that sits between the chairs. The cats are in love with the new chairs.
  • We were using our outdoor patio table for a dining room table at the cottage. My mother-in-law gave us the table a few years ago, and while it’s been a great table for outdoor dining in the spring and summer, it wasn’t ideal for inside use. Now, we are using a small, custom-made bamboo table that we originally had made for the tiny house and stored in a closet at my in-laws’ house. Thankfully, we remembered we had the table because we almost bought a new one! The backstory behind this table merits a full blog post about why the long-term storage of stuff, even for a small table, isn’t a good idea.
  • We were looking for extra chairs to host dinners, and my mom gave us a set of folding chairs that she had in her garage. We dusted them off, and they are perfect for our needs.
  • Since we are hosting brunches and dinners, I bought some extra plates, bowls, and mugs at Goodwill. I even found a beautiful 5-piece set at The Hospice Shop and Heartisan Boutique for $6!
  • Logan’s grandma Pat gave us 6 everyday glasses. Logan was happy with the gift because he has fond memories associated with the glasses, and they match our plates. As kids, Logan and his brother Tyler called them the “Flintstone glasses” because of their bright colors and hefty nature. Pat slowly acquired these glasses throughout 1970. At the time, she couldn’t afford to buy a full set, so she had to slowly build her collection.
  • I purchased a scratching post for cats from Scott Valley Feed & Nursery because I don’t want the cats scratching inappropriate surfaces in the cottage. The cats have used the post for their scratching needs—with the exception of one incident. I don’t know which cat made the offending chew marks, but we will be purchasing a new set of blinds for the cottage.
  • And last but not least, my mom gave us a set of sheets and a bedspread for our guest room.

It’s amazing how my perspective has changed over the years. In my early 20s, I would have been eager to fill this space with new stuff from a trendy store (that I couldn’t afford). Now, I only buy items that I truly love and prefer purchasing belongings at secondhand stores. Acquiring extra belongings feels a little strange, especially after downsizing so dramatically. However, the items above—other than our new beds—didn’t cost a lot of money, and they add value to our lives.

Recently, one of my students asked if we were outgrowing the tiny house. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the question. In some ways yes, and in other ways no. I don’t want more stuff, but having extra room in the cottage has been so lovely. I adore hosting my mom on the weekends and having friends and family over for dinner.

We have entertained in the tiny house, however, it’s much easier to host dinners at the tiny house in the fall or spring when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold because we can take advantage of the outdoor space. Plus, there were other unexpected challenges when we hosted guests, like having awkward conversations about how to use our compositing potty.

Also, tiny house living in a rural area is challenging. When we lived in Portland, OR, it was easier to use third spaces like coffee shops or the library. Living in the country requires extra driving to and from town. I prefer biking and walking as primary modes of transit, and living in town gives us the option to walk and bike frequently. Plus, Logan doesn’t have a long commute. When we lived in the tiny house, he biked 5 miles to Montague, then caught the local bus for a 7-mile bus ride into work. Now, his bike ride to the office is less than 2 miles and takes 15 minutes.

There are many benefits to living in a super small dwelling on wheels, however, I love our new small cottage rental. Yreka is walkable, bikeable, and I love hiking in Greenhorn Park. Our neighbors are quiet, although, the neighborhood is loud compared to the ranch. We are close to the freeway, and I haven’t adapted to hearing freeway noise—at least not yet.

In the spring, we will reevaluate our housing needs. And honestly, I don’t know if we will return to full-time tiny house living. We lived in the little house for three years, and the experience has changed my life for the better. However, after my dad’s illness and death in 2012, I realized living small and simply isn’t about the size of my house or whether I can tow it down the highway. It’s about making mindful choices that give me freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.

Be well,
Tammy

P. S. You can read about why we moved into town for the winter here.

Take a photo tour of the cottage:

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