TINY: A Story About Living Small


Main Cast: Christopher Smith, Merete Mueller

Directors: Christopher Smith, Merete Mueller

I’m fascinated by the Small Spaces movement.  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the move toward smaller dwellings.  A lot smaller.  Forget 5,000 square feet McMansions and imagine a 150 square foot apartment.  Or even better, a 150 sq. ft. house.  Yes, a teeny, tiny house.  TINY: A Story About Living Small showcases one man building his own tiny house as well as others discussing the movement and their own experiences.

This documentary, written and directed by Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller, chronicles the couple’s attempt to build a tiny house to place on a piece of Colorado wilderness on which Christopher dreams of living.  Conveniently, he owns it.  But he doesn’t want to plunk a conventional house on this pristine land, so he chooses a tiny house instead.

TINY: A Story About Living Small isn’t just Chris and Merete’s journey; it’s also an exploration of the phenomenon of people living in tiny houses, some as small as 57 square feet.  That’s probably the size of your bathroom.  Most of the structures are built on trailers to avoid breaking zoning laws requiring permanent structures to be of a certain size.  But the people living in them do not consider them temporary homes or campers.  The documentary looks not only at the logistics of living in such a small amount of space, but also the reasons that people choose to drastically downsize.

Tiny House in Portland by Tammy
A tiny house in Portland, OR. Photo by Tammy (CC2.0)

In case you’re worried that everyone involved is a radical environmentalist, let me assure you otherwise.  Though reducing waste is one of the reasons people site, they also talk about finances, relationships and feelings of accomplishment and independence.  One of the original innovators of tiny houses discusses his move to a 500 sq. ft. “mansion” when his family outgrew their much smaller dwelling.  These aren’t nutcases, they’re true innovators, looking for ways to spend less, use less and still have functional living spaces that serve the needs of their families without overtaxing the land or their wallets.

One caveat – you’ll probably feel like a pretty gross over-consumer after you watch people living by choice and very happily in a space most of us wouldn’t consider adequate for a single room.  But it’s also very enlightening and inspiring to see people embracing the notion of having all that you need without continuing to acquire, build or expand into our ever-dwindling land area.  It’s both a great wake-up call and a really fascinating look at what goes into the planning, construction and habitation of a really, really tiny house.  5 stars out of 5 (though the film itself can get a little draggy in spots, the concept and content more than makes up for any amateur film making technique) for TINY: A Story About Living Small and a hearty recommendation for anyone who has ever wondered if they really must have (or actually want) all the space they have and how much people really need to be comfortable and happy.

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