It feels strange to be living in a whopping 600 square feet this summer after spending last summer downsizing to live in a tiny house on wheels. It's not as though I'm bouncing around in an empty box with my voice echoing off the walls because My Summer Garden Cottage was already fully furnished (down to the garlic press!) In fact, I thought about not unpacking at all, since I'm planning to move again at the end of the summer. But I decided that this summer is a good time to make my inventory and prep myself for the 100 Things Challenge. People have asked what it's been like transitioning to a "normal" house again. After all, my downsizing process required a lot of intention.
Upsizing hasn't required much thought. I didn't have any reverse culture shock. But it does feel luxurious to have all the creature comforts of a house that's rooted to the ground instead of hooked up in a parking spot. It's pretty nice having hot water instantly available instead of having to wait for a four gallon tank to heat up so I can do my dishes or take a shower. I've had the option to shower in the tiny house but usually showered at the gym at school since I'm a bike commuter (and the four gallon tank makes for a pretty short shower!) I've continued mostly using the showers at the school gym this summer, too. When I do shower at home now I don't need to do anything with my graywater, but I can't help thinking that sending it straight to Portland's combined storm and sewer system isn't the best! Speaking of which, transitioning from a composting toilet to a regular flush toilet didn't require any special consideration since I've been using flush toilets everywhere else. (It does feel a little wasteful though. Read Potty Talk to see why.) It's easier to live this way because I don't need to deal with my systems. But I adjusted to the simple living aspects of a tiny house just fine. In fact, I kinda liked the interaction with water, compost, and propane because it made me more conscientious about my consumption and waste.
Transitioning from a small space to a larger space has also gotten me thinking about space-efficient design again. On the one hand, I love the open, spacious feel of the cottage. I think the garden setting and the big windows play a big role in that, as does the open floor plan. But it seems bizarre to have so much open space inside when functionally the cottage is a studio just like the tiny house on wheels. I think it was actually easier to cook in my tiny house kitchen because it made such good use of vertical space. Everything was always within reach and most of it was visible, too. I miss that efficiency. (I'm also trying out living without a microwave this summer. That's been a bigger adjustment than I'd expected! Instead of thinking ahead about hot water, I'm having to think ahead for hot food! I like cooking and I don't eat many prepared foods, but it is much quicker to heat up leftovers in the microwave than on the stove.) It was nice to have a full size oven when I had a friend over for pizza the other day, but I'm pretty sure we would have been happy with personal pan pizzas cooked in my toaster oven, too.
I also feel like the layout of this space is a little strange because a guest encounters the bed before the living room. The front door opens onto the bathroom and the sleeping space which are more "private" spaces and then onto the "public" spaces of the kitchen and living room. There's no divider between the sleeping space and the great room (probably to preserve long diagonal views and create a more barrier-free design). I'll have to ask Bruce and Carolyn about the design decisions on the layout. I imagine they must have had a good reason for the layout they chose, but I think I'd probably do it differently if it were my place.
Another thing I've noticed is that I've switched my transportation habits - again! Since moving to Portland I’ve lived in three different places, each just three blocks from the last. I have stuck to the Alberta-Going bike route at each location. Yet, I’ve found these small shifts have changed which bus route I’m closest to. From my first tiny house parking place I would take the #72 through the Alberta Arts District and then switch to the #8 or #9 to go downtown for school. At the second place I parked the tiny house I would walk over to the #71 and then transfer to the MAX to go downtown. Now I'm closest to the #75 which goes through Hollywood so I've been using that as my transfer point to the train to downtown. Of the three I like this combination best because Hollywood is a great place to stop and pick up groceries on the way home!