My tiny life story begins with my first bedroom as a kid and my first apartment in my late teens.
Although my first bedroom only had enough room to accommodate a twin bed and a tiny desk or table, I loved it because it was my own private space. It was a rarity that each child would have their own bedroom in those days. I estimate its size to be 7’x9’ or 63 square feet, not including the closet.
According to my mother, it was marketed by the builder as a bonus room for a baby or an office, which was a luxury back then. Its best feature was a cleverly designed closet. One side of it had an attached wooden pole running across it for hanging clothes and a large shelf on top. The other side had about five built-in shelves from floor to ceiling. I used these shelves like a dresser.
Being a track house there were several other homes on our street that had the same or reversed floor plan as we did. It became somewhat of a decorating competition among the other kids for who could create the coolest bedroom from this tiny space. A couple of the kids, who were given much more freedom than my stepfather would allow, came up with some amazing designs. Mine was simple and ridiculously efficient in making the best “practical” use of the space.
I became very skilled at managing my possessions and living comfortably in a small space. The main benefit I gained was learning how to appreciate and enjoy it. When I ended up in a boy’s home at 15 and was living in a dorm with nine other guys, I really started to appreciate my tiny private space. After graduating from the boy’s home just before my senior year in high school, which was customary, I soon got my own tiny apartment.
Several months after I started public high school I was told by a counselor, who was evaluating my eligibility to graduate, that I only needed one more class. This happened because attending summer school was mandatory in the boy’s home. The counselor explained that by law I had to take a full schedule at that school or I could transfer to the adult night school and only have to take one class to graduate. There’s no way that I could pass up that deal. And since I already had a car, getting there would be no problem.
I had taken whatever jobs I could get while I was in the boy’s home. And being frugal, which I believe is part of the attraction to the tiny lifestyle, I saved the money. I was one of the few students in that public high school that had a car.
I enrolled in a psychology class at the evening adult high school, got a full-time job as a delivery driver, and rented a tiny apartment. At 17-18, I became the first person among my boys’ home and public high school friends to have a full-time job, an apartment, and a car.
Describing this apartment as tiny is an overstatement. A more accurate description would be a micro apartment. I estimate its size to be 7’x15’ or 105 square feet, including the bathroom, shower, and closets. When most people hear square footage like that it is often assumed that it was a makeshift apartment that didn’t meet city building codes. That was not the case with this apartment. Actually, there were a total of four in two identical buildings about half of a block apart. There were two in each building.
I would call them micro studios. Here’s their layout. They had a single medium-sized window and entry door at one end. And a tiny bathroom with a toilet, a small sink, and a small shower at the other end. There was a small built-in floor-to-ceiling closet on either side of the bathroom door that created a two-foot hallway. Next to the window near the entrance was an amazing multipurpose kitchenette. It was an all-in-one unit that had two electric cooking burners and a small sink on top and a small refrigerator and storage area on the bottom. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. The rest of the floor space only had enough room for a tiny table and one or two small chairs.
You’re probably thinking, “Where’s the bed?” That part involved a rather ingenious design. The first thing you notice when you walk in is a large cubical recessed space about 4′ off the floor that can accommodate a double or queen size bed. The space was about 7’ wide, 3’10” high, and 5’ deep. Here’s the ingenious part if you can imagine it. There are garages on the other side of the wall. The nose of a car fits underneath this box-like structure that protrudes into the garage. I don’t recall ever hearing a car’s engine. I figure it was either used for storage or I was too young to care.
Both of these twin micro studio apartments were built side by side at the rear of the buildings just in front of the garages. They were both adjoined by their bathroom walls. Two one-bedroom apartments sat on top of these micro studios and the garages behind them.
For a while, I had a friend in the micro studio next to me and a friend in one in the sister building down the street. We all got pretty creative in making the most of our tiny spaces. My friend in the twin building down the street did an incredible job making his micro apartment look much, much bigger by installing an absurd number of 12×12” mirror squares on the walls and inside the cubical bed space.
I’ve rented many small studio apartments over the years. But none has been as tiny as my first. The condo and house that I purchased when I was a corporate soldier were relatively small in terms of total square footage. My house was the second smallest single-family home in the entire master-planned community. It had three bedrooms and two bathrooms within only 1,083 square feet. I rarely used two of the bedrooms and only occasionally spent time in the living room.
Currently, I’m living in a 524 square-foot one-bedroom apartment. Had there been studio apartments in this complex, I would have rented one instead. I only use about three-quarters of the square footage in the apartment I’ve got. My goal is to build and move into the small house that I’ve been designing for years.
It seems that I’ve always been fascinated by and drawn to small spaces and things. In my early 20s, I had a one-man (me) landscaping business that specialized in small yards and patios. I also liked small cars. I wanted one of the first cars Honda imported to the US because it was so tiny. I was too young to get a driver’s license at the time, but I dreamed about having one someday. As I recall, the Honda N600 was about the size of the Toyota Scion IQ and it was powered by a motorcycle engine. I’m planning to make a tiny car my next vehicle purchase.
My love of tiny also extends to my choice of women. I’ve always been attracted to short, petite, tiny women, especially those with dark hair. I’ve had many girlfriends over the years in the 4’9” to 5’4” range. I’m 5′ 11″.
I don’t know why, but tiny is my preference all around. 🙂