- The tiny-house movement is hot among millennials right now.
- To see what it’s really like inside a tiny house, I visited Think Big: A Tiny House Resort in upstate New York’s Catskills region for three days in October.
- My 269-foot tiny house felt more spacious than I expected, thanks to some clever design that amplified storage and windows.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The tiny-house movement is gaining popularity among millennials.
I recently visited Think Big: A Tiny House Resort in the Catskills in upstate New York, about a two-hour drive north of Manhattan, to try out a tiny house myself.
I stayed in a 269-foot tiny house for three days, and it was more spacious than I thought it would be. There was plenty of storage, and I didn’t once bump into furniture or a tight corner. It also made excellent use of windows – the open views and streaming light gave the illusion of more space than there actually was.
But I should note that I’m used to New York City apartments, which are also notoriously small. I wasn’t exactly out of my league here.
Staying a tiny house was an enjoyable experience. Here’s what it looked like inside.
Think Big: A Tiny House Resort consists of eight houses. The resort’s owners, Margie and Melissa, work with Escape Homes to design the tiny houses themselves.
They find a way to use “every nook and cranny,” Melissa told me, adding that “everything serves a purpose; everything’s utilised.”
My tiny house, called the Little Bear, covers a total of 269 square feet. Nestled below a hill, it looks out toward Catskill Creek, which runs along the back edge of the property.
Tiny houses are typically 100 to 400 square feet.
When I booked, there were three tiny houses left for the dates of my visit, ranging from 175 to 360 square feet. I chose the Little Bear since its square footage was in the middle of the range.
I was immediately taken with the home’s exterior.
This tiny house had not only a charming log-cabin appeal, but a tiny patio that was big enough to fit multiple chairs and a grill.
It was the perfect spot for reading in the evenings and watching wildlife. I can only imagine how great it would be during the summer for a small barbecue with friends.
The Little Bear also has a fire pit outside.
Tiny houses require downsizing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lower quality of life.
The added elements of a deck and a fire pit showed that life in a tiny house doesn’t just happen inside its tiny space.
To get into the tiny home, you type a four-digit code in a keypad on the door.
I’ve been known to lock myself out of apartments a time or two, so I found this convenient. You just need to remember the key code (provided on an instruction sheet), which I took a photo of on my phone.
Everything inside the Little Bear fit neatly into its rectangular shape. The door opened directly into the kitchen area, which stretched across the middle of the tiny house.
The Little Bear consists of three areas: the “bedroom,” the kitchen and dining area, and the bathroom.
The kitchen had a full-size stove, microwave, and fridge. There was also plenty of cabinetry and shelving, as well as a window overlooking the sink.
Before my stay, I had imagined myself bumping elbows on tight corners in a cramped kitchen. In reality, I managed to make eggs and heat up a flatbread bruise-free.
The kitchen was missing one appliance: a dishwasher. But I consider a dishwasher to be a luxury of sorts. They’re hard to come by in New York City apartments, and I haven’t had a dishwasher in my apartment since college.
The kitchen may not be big enough for a family of four or more, but for an individual or a couple, I really don’t think you need more in it.
Admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of counter space (especially if dishes were laid out to dry), but that could be remedied by using the dining table across from the kitchen to prep your meal.
This was enough for me, but I don’t get fancy with my cooking and don’t usually need a lot of space. I can see how this setup might not appeal to those who love to cook.
To the right of the kitchen area was the bathroom. Again, I was impressed with all the storage space thanks to a lot of shelving and cabinets.
There were two cabinets above the sink and a row of cabinets underneath it. There was plenty of room to store all bathroom necessities – toilet paper, towels, and my skincare items, of course.
That’s more storage space than in any apartment I’ve ever lived in. My apartment has one under-sink cabinet and a medicine cabinet. There were none in my last apartment, a studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
There was also a window above the toilet for air and light.
Many tiny houses have a compost toilet, but this one was a regular toilet — considered a luxury amenity in a tiny house.
There was also a full-size tub.
On the other side of the Little Bear was the main sleeping area, which had a queen bed and a full-size lofted bed. There was also a second lofted bed above the bathroom.
The Little Bear sleeps six people total.
The big bed was cosy. There was a heated electric furnace and a smart TV — two amenities I wasn’t anticipating.
I took full advantage of both at night, curling up to watch some guilty-pleasure Bravo reality TV.
Melissa told me that when it came to technology, she made sure to get the works in, including WiFi and a Roku stick.
I loved how there were shelves built into the walls around the bed – more storage! If this were my own tiny house, they definitely would be serving as bookshelves.
This was the view I woke up to in the morning.
In addition to this window, there was a panoramic window overlooking the deck in front of the kitchen table, as well as overhead windows in the loft areas. Because of this, the Little Bear was always full of light.
Melissa told me that windows were a big priority when she and Margie designed the tiny houses.
“Windows allow it to feel not like a cramped space, so you don’t get tunnel vision,” she said.
I also tried one of the lofted beds. It, too, was comfortable, but a tight squeeze with the sloped roof.
To get to the lofted beds, I had to climb the built-in ladder.
The ladder wasn’t unsafe, but I was worried I would slip in my socks on the way up (it was cold), and the rails were a bit thin.
There was a nightstand next to the main bed, which was a perfect fit for my millennial necessities: phone and laptop.
While there was no space left for a lamp, I didn’t really need one: The tiny house featured recessed lighting, which offered plenty of light at night.
There was also a handy outlet. Clearly, this tiny house was designed with convenience in mind.
The “bedroom” was the true test of storage space, in my opinion — and I have to say, it was the first part of the experience where my expectations were not totally met.
Under the bed was one drawer. I could probably store some jeans here.
There was a wardrobe next to the foot of the bed. Between the shelves and the hanging space, it probably could have fit about 10% of the clothes in my wardrobe.
That said, it was impressive that this tiny house even had closet space – I’ve been writing about tiny houses for a year, and I’ve seen photos of some that don’t have any built-in wardrobes. I was grateful there was even a place to hang my coat.
If you’re up for downsizing your wardrobe or prefer to rent your clothes, this could be sufficient storage space. I, however, like shopping too much for this to suffice.
There was also some storage space along the loft.
If you put your mind to it, I’m sure you could find something to store here. Storage baskets? Blankets? Luggage?
I’d probably use it to store my shoes.
Either way, it’s likely you’d need to install another ladder or two along each side for access.
If there was one thing that annoyed me about my brief experiment with tiny-house living, it was the hassle of pulling the window shades in the lofted area up and down every morning and night.
I know it’s trivial, but balancing on the ladder while finding the right angle to pull the shade string just felt like a chore. I’m aware that I’m lazy – and it was, after all, worth the privacy at night and the views during the day.
Thanks to the windows, the thoughtfully placed storage space, and the efficient design, the tiny house didn’t feel like the tight squeeze that I anticipated.
Noticeably, the house was missing a seating area and a washing machine – but not all tiny houses have either of those things, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. Again, my opinion might be biased: I don’t have a washing machine in my apartment, and my first NYC sublease also didn’t have a couch or a living room.
I would definitely recommend at least trying out a tiny house, just to see what it’s all about. The amount of storage in this house was definitely sufficient for a short trip, and the whole experience was a lot of fun.
But frankly, I don’t see myself downsizing my belongings – namely, my clothes and my books – to the point where I’d be able to fit my life into a tiny home right now. I think I’ll stay in my not-much-bigger-but-slightly-more-storage-optimised Manhattan apartment for the time being.
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