The concept of “simple living” means a range of things to different people. To me, it encompasses removing excessive and uninspiring ‘stuff’, people, habits, work and attitudes from my life, so that I have energy, time and income to focus on what’s really important and inspiring to me. While this is an ever-evolving, ongoing process in my life, one version that sticks with me is escaping the 9-5 routine to live in a cabin in a rugged, wild setting, with a lack of mod-cons and connectivity to the “real” world. A place where you need to do things yourself the long way- gather wood and light a fire, make meals from scratch, brew endless cups of tea and be immersed in nature, with space and time to focus on creative pursuits.
Various literary, musical and DIY inspirations have helped shape this ideal for me. From Tolstoy’s semi-autobiographical character of Levin in Anna Karenina, to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (possibly the original tiny house how-to guide!) and Justin Vernon’s (genius behind Bon Iver) winter seclusion in a Wisconsin cabin to write his incredible debut album, there are plenty of inspiring classical references to tiny, simple living.
More recently, people around the world have been turning to Tiny Houses not only to live more simply but also as a means of escaping debt, becoming more ecologically responsible and to enable more frequent and affordable travel. My favourite inspiration for this is Bryce Langston’s YouTube channel- Living Big in a Tiny House. Absolutely amazing.
Recently I was crazy excited to hear that as part of Helsinki’s annual Design Week, the Finnish non-for profit environmental organisation Dodo was putting on a Tiny House Fair and Workshop. Yesterday I eagerly headed along to the first day of event to get more of a feel for tiny houses and ideas about this way of life. Below I share some photos from the four very different tiny houses we visited.
House 1: The Studio in the Garden by Yksiö Puutarhassa
This 50sqm house was the first designed and built by Olli Enne, who has gone on to build and sell several more houses of a similar design. The house is split over two levels, with the bathroom and an open-plan kitchen and living area downstairs and then a large bedroom with French balcony upstairs. The mezzanine floor created with slatted wood not only allows heat and airflow through the house but also provides an interesting aesthetic and different sensation under foot. Find out more here.
House 2: Kotonen prototype in Espoo
I think this was my favourite home, mainly as it was more along the lines of the modern tiny house on wheels design. While not designed to be moved frequently, I love the fact that the home can be transported to a remote location, with the wilderness right on your doorstep. This was the first traditional ‘tiny house’ that I’d been inside and I was amazed as how spacious it felt and the beautiful style of the interior. Definitely solidified the feeling that living in this type of house is for me! For more info check out this Facebook page.
House 3: SATO StudioKoti (Studio Houses)
This newly build apartment is a “new generation of housing in response to the changed demand for housing in the Helsinki metropolitan area”. The complex includes small 15sqm studio apartments and communal living spaces. It was built in Vantaa late last year after the other capital regions of Espoo and Helsinki declined to approve the plans. The demographic of residents of the apartments range from 18-69 years with half the residents in their twenties. While rent is quite cheap at 500€ a month, the residents were selected based on their desire for community living. Find out more here.
House 4: Luomukoti trailer-home by Tony Goldt
This amazing almond-shaped mobile home, designed and built by Tony Goldt is a ‘breathable’ organic home made predominantly of natural materials. While the exterior is comprised of several layers of heat-treated pine and ensheathed in spruce, the inside is insulated with hemp fiber. The interior is yet to be completed, but will be sparsely furnished, encompassing the Japanese minimalist concept of space. Tony plans to travel around Finland in his new home during the warmer months and then down to Spain when it gets colder. This is such a unique project – I was so excited to have the opportunity to see the home and look inside!
Some final thoughts…
Of course tiny living isn’t for everyone, I’m not even sure if it’s for me yet. But I love exploring these ideas and learning about new ways to live and options available to me. I particularly love the idea of building a tiny house myself, from predominantly recycled, natural material and running it off grid.
Now I’m off to the second day of the Tiny House Fair workshop, where one of the sessions involves virtually designing your own place! I hope this post has inspired some new thoughts and ideas for you about tiny living- I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.