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My house is so tiny, the spiders are hunchbacked

June 26, 2016 by Diane

Tiny red house in green grass

I live in a playhouse.

It has amenities…a bathroom, a hallway that doubles as a closet, and large windows offering a view of a fig tree, a lawn with a dip where the pool once sat, and a sandbox. I’m not sure what’s more remarkable, that the playhouse is big enough to house me, or that I can afford to live in an upscale, conservative neighborhood on my pauper’s salary.

I found this treasure through a posting on Craigslist. It was described as a cottage. The owner refers to it as the guest house. At one time it was a playhouse…evidently built to code, because I now refer to it as my home.

Before I became a resident of this teensy abode, during my evening strolls through other neighborhoods I often glimpsed a small cottage here and there sheltered behind a main house. I wondered what could possibly fit in such a small space. Now I know. A double bed, night stand, mini refrigerator, dresser, a two-shelf bookcase, child’s desk, swivel chair, tv tray, and ironing board. From the bed I can turn on the wall heater with my toes, and reach over and grab a cold one from the fridge.


I recognize fellow playhouse-dwellers. It’s the man breathing deeply from his front porch, trying to dispel a feeling of claustrophobia. It’s the woman with an inward gaze hanging out at Starbucks for companionship.

The danger of living in a space the size of, well, a playhouse, is that one spends far too much time in one’s head. If one’s inner self is bright and cheerful, then turning inward can be a pleasant pastime. But if the interior is anything like mine–filled with dark corners and an occasional worm, then who in their right mind would want to visit, let alone linger there?

When the smallness feels confining, I head to a nearby park with my picnic blanket and a book. The dog-walkers pull up short when they find someone reclining on the grass. These people have backyards that could double as parks, so they see no need to go public with their lounging.

My playhouse is so minuscule it could fit in their foyers.

But it only takes five minutes to vacuum.

And I don’t need to hire a maid.

I wonder how people who live in cardboard boxes fare. In comparison, my playhouse is a palace.


  1. mydangblog says:

    Sounds like the Tiny House movement is alive and well where you are. And I thought my condo was small at 600 square feet!

    • Diane says:

      600 square feet! Wow, luxury!

      If it wasn’t for all the windows, I’d feel seriously claustrophobic. I’m tempted to paint the walls adobe white so the room will appear to be larger.

  2. I started to look at my home as a “place to go to sleep” – one needs no more space than to move around, cook dinner, sit by the TV and then go to bed – like a cozy hotel (suite)room. And that’s one reason we are moving to a cute bungalow in the middle of nowhere (not quite literally). It will force us to use the space outside! turn off the gadgets and be out in nature…do things we cared for but couldn’t do much of; then come back inside and go to sleep! 🙂

  3. Nancy Clark says:

    Wow! It helps to be reminded that not everyone lives the same way we do. Minimalism has its merits. Moving as much as we have in our married life, I keep trying to pare down our possessions as much as possible. But we’ve been in the same small two-bedroom house now for almost nine years, and the corners and crevices are slowly filling up with stuff. I think it mysteriously multiplies in the dark. It’s a losing battle, but I keep valiantly fighting — not only for my sanity, but now that I’m older, for the sanity of my children who will have to dispose of what’s left when we’re gone!

    • Diane says:

      You know, sometimes I think about a family member going through my stuff at some point and I’m tempted to leave notes: don’t peek, just toss, better bypass this, okay to take, please treasure. When my grandmother died, my mother, sister and I cleaned out her house and found cases of Luden’s cherry-flavored cough drops under the sink. She died of lung cancer. There was something so sad about that, as if Luden’s could stave it off.

  4. Dave says:

    Tiny houses are the latest thing – how often do you get to say you’re on the leading edge of a fad?

    • Diane says:

      I’ve read some articles about tiny houses. Somehow, the photos make it look so appealing!

      It has it’s up-sides, for sure. Clutter has no room. It’s either me, or clutter.

  5. Sarah says:

    I don’t live in a dollhouse. Or a guest house. Or a playhouse. Or a penthouse. Or the doghouse. Never mind, point is I think a lot of us spend too much time in our heads. I think it’s a writer thing. Or…a human thing. Or an introvert thing. But I do like that you can vacuum in 5 minutes. I mean, that’s wicked cool. (Who wants to count how many times I wrote “or” in one comment? Anyone? No? Hmm…)

    • Diane says:

      Okay, I’ll take the challenge. Seven times. Seven times you used the word “or.” You get the gold star!

      You’re right: it’s a writer thing and an introvert thing. So I probably spend twice as much time in my head than the average human.

  6. Joan says:

    That’s right! Very good perspective on things. You have managed to live in an area where others just dream about, you do have a home, you can go elsewhere, be with others when you choose. Why is it we think we need to live in a huge palace…home is where you hang your hat, right? Also, you can be just as lonely and in your head in a big space as small…it just takes longer to clean!

  7. Sue says:

    Clutter-free (or greatly reduced clutter) is all very well, but where can you put books? I would consider it a horrible existence without books…

  8. Riley says:

    Sounds like a cute and interesting place! A good way to turn down unwanted overnight guests too. LOL

    • Diane says:

      I have had visitors, but they tend to head outside rather quickly and park themselves at the wrought iron table on the patio.

  9. Eliza Waters says:

    I expect your cost of living is much tinier than most folks’ too!

  10. Pearl Allard says:

    I spent a couple years living in a tiny cottage. It met my needs, I’m thankful, but your message resonates. What a great reminder to intentionally make the most of encouraging human interaction. Each of us can get caught in our thoughts and what a relief when someone reaches out. Good reminder to me to be aware how I can be the reacher. Thank you!

  11. Daal says:

    found this thru Bun’s blog – love it!!!

  12. Jenny says:

    I enjoyed learning about your humble abode. When I first got married we shared a 400 sq ft studio apartment. I look back on those days fondly.

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