Birds Have Nests, Foxes Have Holes…

I know that this post might seem a little odd given my own personal circumstances. See, I’m in the process of buying a house in a generic neighbourhood, and that isn’t what we are talking about today.  We are talking about minimalised living situations.

As you know, I was a writer in a previous life, and have been both housed and un-housed a few times in my existence. I can tell you from personal experience that it is absolutely no fun to live without a place to call home. At least it isn’t for me. Back then, it was just me, and being the soldier that I am, I found a way to get by, and some situations that others might find less than palatable were completely workable for me. Back then, I didn’t require that much for a suitable existence, and in some ways, lived rather well on the meagre means I had.

Being on the Appalachian Trail in 1997 only helped with that.

But now, I have a wife and three children, two of which are preschool age, and things are different in that capacity. Eventually, they will grow up, move out of the house and have families of their own, G-d willing, and I will be back to just my bride and I. This house will then be too big and a complete waste of resources. It will be time to pass it on to a family that needs what I currently have.

It will be time for us to explore and see what else the world has to offer. I can assure you that this will not involve 4000 square feet of space, and even more likely, less than 700. So let’s examine a few of the quite innovative living spaces that are now being designed for single person and couple occupancy.

Let’s begin with the yurt. Yes, you read that right. Sounds like a weird food item for someone who can’t pronounce the letter “g”. It is in actuality a tent-like structure that if thought out can be a very elegant place to live. One good place to get a look at these is Pacific Yurts in Cottage Grove, Oregon. One thing that impresses me about these structures is the low cost to create them, the fact that they can, as I said, provide all of the usual comforts of the standard housing we normally think of.

In case you don’t know the history of these buildings, they originated in Mongolia and have spread eastward, finding popularity among the more nomadic cultures before finally making it to the United States , the result of a dignitary seeing them in their natural place of origin.

From what I have found short term, they appear to be quite sturdy, at least the American version, as the original ones are generally made of felt, and as you can see, the modified yurt is much sturdier and created from more solid materials. As a matter of fact, on the Pacific Yurts site you will see a picture of a yurt that actually withstood a falling tree from a recent storm. I’d call that a tent certainly worth having!

You may have thought that Oscar the Grouch was just some green dude living in a trash can, but have you ever considered a dumpster as a sophisticated living space? No? Then you must  check this out. Gregory Kloehn has designed a single occupant living space comprised in a metal dumpster, replete with stainless steel fixtures and space for a television.

In the words of  Zak Stone:

For Kloehn, self-expression includes decorating with items you’d only expect to find in a dumpster outside a Real Housewives cast member’s home on moving day: granite counter-tops, stainless-steel kitchen appliances, hardwood floors, and a gas-grill. On a more basic level, there’s a toilet, a six-gallon water storage tank, and a couple of power strips. At night, Kloehn can roll down the dumpster’s lid, so that nobody knows he’s living there.

This design is a quite similar and Americanised to the Japanese-Dutch collaboration style of the Paco by Japanese firm Sschemata, who led off with a 3 meter squared cube. You will see the similarities once you peruse the sites.

In the UK, a housing design company, Dwelle, has brought forth their own line of housing that is sure to make your head spin. Their pricing however, leaves their good work to those who can afford it.

Years of chasing the white picket fence, which was a perfectly suitable thing to do has led to a younger, newer generation that has no need to shun the “trailer” living. You can have the trailer without the stereotypical trailer park. Ecopod in Canada has quite a few displays that make me quite excited, and then I remember I have children. This is good for those who have college age children that still live at home, or high school students that should rightfully learn the nuances of living on their own while not being too far away to mentor. It’s just healthier that way, in my opinion, but that is the daddy in me talking.

No discussion on this topic is even remotely complete without taking the time to go visit the Tiny House Blog by Kent Griswold and his team, including graphic designer Christina Nellemann and New Jersey copy editor Kasey March.

Don’t stop there, another wonderful showcase of tiny and minimalist housing vendors is to be found at this unattached listing.

But the main event in this post is not about the cool things that can benefit us. Check this out, it’s a wonderful idea that needs to be expanded upon. You know about Habitat For Humanity, which, for the record, was not started by Jimmy Carter, but by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. They build houses for lower and no-er income families.

This is better.

I mentioned at the beginning that I was housed and un-housed previously. To make it clear to those who aren’t getting it, I have been homeless. Twice. On the street. It sucks. It’s why I have supported homeless shelters, especially those for mothers with kids, and those that are soldiers, fellow brethren and homeless.

You don’t want much… just a little will do.This is where the Mad Housers come in. They build minimalist housing that is primarily for transients, but provides a realistic living environment that isn’t just the keep out of the rain shanty. I will be in a neighbourhood. I am grateful for that, but between now and the days when the kids are gone and we sell the house to move into a smaller place on a tiny piece of beautiful land (or ocean), I will be volunteering ideas, time and resources to the Mad Housers. Check them out!

Hope you enjoyed our little venture into housing, and see you next time!

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