Okay, so $130,000 isn’t exactly a small amount of money. But, in the game of life, price can be somewhat relative when it comes to targeting the exact way you’d like to live.
In the case of video producer Nils Root, his 442-square-foot Short North condo literally fit the bill. Recently shown on HGTV’s Tiny House Hunters, Root’s new quarters (nickels, maybe?) are a representation of his carefree, simple attitude toward life—a place where lack of bike storage is more of a deal-breaker than a tiny stove, especially for man who cooks exclusively by microwave and toys with the idea of steam-cleaning his shirts in the dishwasher. One day after his TV debut, Root breaks down the joys and pains (mostly joys) of living un-large.
When you moved from your conventionally sized apartment into your tiny condo, what item(s) were you secretly glad to jettison? What did you wail and gnash over when you had to let it go? Sharing burdensome secrets with a close social circle can be liberating, I have heard. Since college I’ve had a pretty strict policy when I move: if I haven’t used/worn/cooked with/eaten this item since my last move, it’s gotta go (or eat it before I move). Rarely have I missed what I’ve gotten rid of. And it’s nice owning less stuff. On the downside, last year I made a big-boy purchase of a sectional couch. It was the kind of couch I’ve always wanted to own and I planned to have it for a long time. When I moved into my “tiny” place, I had to sell it at a quarter of the price I paid for it. Womp wommmmmp….
Cultural anthropologists have determined that the European ability to live small is largely due to early exposure to Ikea. What percentage of your furniture is Ikean? Is Nils a European name? Yaahh youbetchaaaah, my name is Scandinavian. Mom’s side is Norwegian. All the stuff that came with my place (cabinets, sinks) is IKEA. The futon I added is from CB2 and the chair is from Flower Child. My bed (mattress on the floor) used to be Joe Deloss’s. I think he sold it to start a chicken restaurant or something. Not sure how that worked out for him. Just hope he’s not sleeping on a floor somewhere.
In my extensive research for this article, I read that a couple who alleged that they were happily abiding in a 240-square-foot apartment would play a romantic song to “create emotional space” when their apartment couldn’t afford them privacy or physical space. Please recommend five jams to this effect. The 2 Live Crew station on Pandora always seems to do the trick.
Does cooking in a small apartment present any unique challenges? I’ve never used my oven. Several times I’ve used my stove to light a paper towel which I used to light a candle. All my cooking is done in the microwave. When I got my place I made the decision I wouldn’t get a table for eating because I’ve always eaten on my couch. Now that I don’t even have a kitchen table, I don’t have to feel guilty when I lounge eat.
“Going ‘tiny’ forces you to, in my
opinion, de-stress your life. you can’t
own a bunch of stuff that collects dust and takes up brain space.”
Many critics of small apartments and tiny homes assert that inhabiting smaller spaces leads to greater stress levels and can actually negatively impact health. Do you feel that this assertion has any merit? Do you feel that inhabitants of smaller spaces run more risk of bumped heads or stubbed toes? Because I could easily be swayed into believing that. I completely disagree. Going “tiny” forces you to, in my opinion, de-stress your life. A small condo or house is less expensive than larger places, so you save money, you can’t own a bunch of stuff that collects dust and takes up brain space, and I chose not to have a TV, which makes for a quieter environment (until it’s 2 Live Crew time). There’s a huge “but” though… I don’t think this place would work well for two full-time people. I definitely think there’s value in being able to “get away” into a separate room if you want. You can’t really do that in my place.
I imagine you don’t do much entertaining at home, because you live in the vibrant Short North. What are the best places to “host” get togethers, such as dinners, etc., that you have found? Would you say that part of the appeal of living in a small house is that you actually are off the hook for hosting such events? It’s true I can’t host dinners or large get-togethers. Fortunately, Columbus happy hour prices are pretty incredible, so it doesn’t break the bank to meet at a place like Forno when their pizza and drafts are half-off. When I do have a few friends over, the lack of TV and square footage make for a more personal hangout than sitting around a TV. I realize that can come off a bit douche-y thing to say, but it’s true—we should turn off the TV more.
Do you feel that you’re giving hope to a generation crippled by appalling student loan debt and the specter of living as adults with their aging parents? If not hope, then an intelligent alternative? Where you choose to live is all about tradeoffs. Parking and square feet aren’t important to me, but location and affordability are. That’s why this place works so well for me. I’m not sure I’d necessarily recommend it to people, in general. It’s all about what you want. As with all things in life, be intentional about it.
Many designers recommend multifunctional furniture as the answer for small spaces. What piece of multifunctional furniture is missing from your life? Still waiting on the Lay-Z-Boy built around a toilet. Then I could turn my bathroom into a study. Finally. •