INHABITAT: Were any recycled or salvaged materials used to build the home?
Hari: Yes. We first found the trailer, an old mobile home trailer. The kitchen sink came out of a remodel—our neighbor donated it. The shower stall has been sitting in another neighbor’s garage for years. We salvaged the oak for the interior from a local home being demolished. The lights, refrigerator, fabric, are recycled from our former restaurant. We found the framing material, insulation, stove, windows, flooring, on craigslist. I wrote this blog post about the stories behind our salvaging/recycling adventures.
INHABITAT: Leonardo Da Vinci said “Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.” Do you believe that to be true?
Hari: I know that small rooms/dwellings discipline the mind, and in my case, a larger dwelling did weaken my discipline. Through the creative confines of a small space, the mind has to work out a puzzle, which is certainly a discipline— especially when living tiny with a family. Everything has its space, and it has to be put away. It forces me to stay present with each moment. I wrote about how the tiny house has disciplined me in Digging Rocks and Tiny House Reforms a Messy Housekeeper.
There is also the discipline of communicating effectively, which goes far beyond stuff. When our family is in harmony, there seems to be much more space. Our relationships have been discipline by the space. We breathe deeply (try to) before reacting, and remember that our moods can clutter the space just like stuff.
INHABITAT: What is your favorite part of the house?
Hari: I love our kitchen with its simple tile/wood back splash, wood counters and shelves. I also enjoy having two small windows next to the sink. Having the items we use everyday on display makes me happy. We put most of our herbs and spices in canning jars and the flour and other grains are in clear containers—the apartment sized range fits the scale and performs the job perfectly. I love the floor to ceiling 4” shelving in the kitchen. It holds all of our glasses, mugs, small dishes and wine bottles. It also makes it easy to purge. Sometimes, I sit on the couch and notice something we haven’t used in a while. It ends up at our local thrift store. We put a restaurant ticket rail up to display the kids’ artwork. The pantry cabinet hides the unattractive pantry stuff; we also use the inside of the door to hang our family calendar. The glass-front bottle cooler from our restaurant works well as our only refrigerator. We don’t have a freezer.
INHABITAT: Do you ever feel cramped living in your small home?
Hari: On cold or rainy days, our house shrinks. With the option of going outside for space removed, I do feel cramped. I feel cramped when I am trying to write and the kids are playing with the dog and asking me questions. But, we’ve gotten used to it after living here for a year. When I feel cramped, I am fighting against what is happening in the moment. If I am edgy and needing space, I need to bundle up and go outside or climb up into my loft with a book. Sometimes, it means I just have to stop writing, put away the laundry, the dining room, pick up the dishes, put away the toys and 15 minutes later, I have my space back. The key to not feeling crammed is staying present – and putting things away!