It’s almost surprising that it took over six years of living in a recession for many American families to reject cookie-cutter homes in expansive housing developments; nevertheless, the “tiny home” movement seems to be picking up and gaining popularity among many middle-class American individuals and families. An avid TV watcher may already be aware of A&E’s new series Tiny House Nation, and a Netflix subscriber may have already noticed the documentary Tiny: A Story About Living Small being listed on recommended viewing lists. But is this trend likely to reach the everyday American household and begin to dictate how we live, or is it just another ephemeral reality show fad?
Aesthetically, these tiny houses may look like a mobile trailer that drove through a craft store having a DIY sale, while the finances behind them seem a lot like living in an apartment: there’s no mortgage, it’s easy to move around, and residents are forced to focus less on material items (since there’s no room for them, anyway). Homeowners who chose to invest in smaller homes have noted that, ironically, smaller homes have allowed for more liberated living styles. Residents also note that the recent economic stress on the housing market made owning a home even more difficult and stressful than usual.
But living small really isn’t a “revolution” in housing. Finance & Commerce notes that historically, homes under and around 500 square feet were never considered to be tiny, and it is only the explosion of a “bigger is better” mentality in the U.S. which encouraged the growth of huge, mansion-like homes. Whether it is an effect of the recent recession or just a natural trend in interior and exterior designs, it appears that homeowners are becoming more attracted to simpler styles and smaller living.
A similar style trend occurred in the 1920s and 1930s when traditional Amish furniture became popular — coincidentally, exactly when the country was suffering from the Great Depression.
Could a weaker economy encourage more frugal lifestyles — not just during a recession, but afterward as well? It certainly is possible. Even though the popularity of Amish furniture died down by the 1940s, the tradition never actually disappeared from American culture.