Tiny House Talk

An interview with Jordan Plummer ’09


Classic: Downsizing your possessions must have been a major undertaking. Can you tell us more about that process and about your storage solutions?

We downsized from an approximately 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment to a 160-square-foot tiny house. We have always leaned more toward being minimalists than pack rats, so that helped from the beginning. We began by selling anything we knew for sure wouldn't fit in the house, mostly furniture and mostly through Craigslist.

We sorted through our stuff with a couple quotes in mind. The first is by William Morris: "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." The second is more of a mindset—something we heard along the way. Paraphrased it goes something like, "Do not keep things that no longer identify you." This means that if you once played an instrument that you haven't touched in 10 years, you should not keep it. So if we hadn't used it (whatever object, book, clothing, etc.) in a year or longer, it was safe for us to get rid of.

We do have a small storage shed on the front part of the tiny house that is used to hold folding chairs and tools. We also are lucky enough that my parents are willing to hold onto some items for us that we do not use year-round, like Christmas decorations, winter outerwear, and an old steamer trunk that holds our more sentimental items. Otherwise, everything fits inside the tiny house. We have tried to be creative with storage within the tiny house itself, such as the clock that has shelves inside, a storage bench/couch we will soon build, and the kitchen table that has six drawers.

Classic: What about clothing? Are you down to a set number of socks, jeans, etc., and are you doing laundry more often?

We did try to put a limit on items such as socks and underwear: 10 to 14 days' worth. We tried to pare down to only the items we truly loved and wore regularly, and keep the items that could be versatile and functional in various seasons, settings, and in making multiple outfits. Now we consider each new purchase based on the same criteria. We are also trying to adhere to a one-new-item-in, one-old-item-out rule, so we don't accumulate more than we can store or need. Our laundry routine has changed a bit with the tiny house, but primarily because we don't have as much space to store dirty laundry.

Classic: Speaking of, where does laundry get done? Tell us about those big appliances that usually fill a house, and your solutions.

We are doing laundry at my parents' place or at a couple of different friends' houses. Part of the tiny house lifestyle is believing that our houses do not need to be autonomous. We can share things like big appliances, tools, lawn mowers, our time and services, and even books! People can barter and trade with each other too. For example, we help babysit Sarah's cousin's son and can use their laundry machines.

Classic: Do you entertain guests for dinner or overnight stays? How do you make that work?

We knew we wanted to have a home that was comfortable to entertain and host at least two other people besides us, and we might actually be able to fit four others comfortably for dinner or a game night. We are currently creating an outdoor space so we can host a larger group of people in the warmer months.

As far as overnight stays, this will be a challenge as we don't have an additional sleeping space. The couch or floor will be options for those who are willing, and pitching a tent outside is always possible as well. We have friends who are so excited about the tiny house that they have asked to do a house swap for a weekend vacation!

Classic: How does a married couple manage all this togetherness?

This was something we discussed shortly after deciding to pursue a tiny house. Even before getting interested in the tiny house movement, we spent a lot of time together and it had become a natural part of our relationship. However, we knew we would need or want some time to ourselves to engage in our own interests. One solution has been investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. I can be listening to music downstairs while Sarah is reading a book in the loft. We also want to use this as an opportunity to get out and find new interests and hobbies outside the house and with others.

Classic: Do you find yourselves going out more than staying in?

As we wait for our water and gas to be hooked up, we are going out regularly to eat; make dinner or shower at a friend's or family member's house; or to go to the YMCA to work out and shower. Once all the projects are complete in the house, we will have a better idea of our routine for going out or staying in.

Classic: Do you stay in the home when there's a severe weather warning? How sturdy does it seem when it's windy?

So far, we have stayed in the house even during severe weather. This has been a bit of an adjustment as we have felt a bit more vulnerable in the tiny house during strong storms. We did take some precautions when we parked the house on the farm, including stabilizing the frame of the trailer and anchoring it into the ground. This has prevented the house from moving, for the most part, in strong winds. We have also familiarized ourselves with the farm and will take advantage of the farmer's basement in the case of a tornado or other dangerous weather.

Classic: What reactions do you get when you tell people how small your home is?

Most often when we tell people about the tiny house, they either can't believe it or don't understand why we have chosen to live this way. We get a lot of questions about how we are going to live without certain "necessities" that we consider luxuries, such as a television, flushing toilet, microwave and more than one room. Most people are interested enough to allow us to explain our motivations and desires behind our choice to live a simpler and freer life. Many people seem to have mixed feelings, thinking it's weird, hipster or just plain cool.

Tiny House, Big Ideas

Classic Comments

All comments are moderated and need approval from the moderator before they are posted. Comments that include profanity, or personal attacks, or antisocial behavior such as "spamming" or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our terms of use. You are fully responsible for the content that you post. Comments posted do not reflect the views or values of Northwestern College.