Tiny Houses Are All the Rage — but What Is It Really Like to Stay in One?
"In a tiny house, there's no room for distractions, and that's my idea of a perfect getaway."
When my boyfriend and I booked a weekend at Leavenworth Tiny House Village, I didn't know what to expect. Leavenworth is a small Bavarian-themed town snuggled into the foothills of Washington's Cascade Mountains. It's one of the most picturesque places in the Pacific Northwest, so I had no doubt the setting would be beautiful, but I was nervous about what it would be like to actually stay in a tiny home, especially with another adult.
The tiny house we booked was named Belle. At approximately 300 square feet, it was basically the size of our master bedroom. That was fine for sleeping, but this was where we'd be spending an entire weekend. I wondered, would there be enough room to prepare a meal in the tiny kitchen? What was the bathroom like? And perhaps most importantly, would we get on each other's nerves in such a small space? I wasn't sure, but I was excited to hit the road and find out.
At the beginning of last year, I'd scheduled eight trips to different areas of the country. Then, the pandemic hit. In the era of coronavirus, everyone has to make their own decisions about travel, and for me, that meant following CDC guidelines, eliminating as much risk as possible and making the difficult choice to cancel my trips.
That doesn't mean I've been home the whole time, though. I found plenty of ways to safely satisfy my wanderlust right in my own backyard, focusing on destinations within driving distance, choosing outdoor, socially distant activities, and staying in cottages and cabins where I could order takeout or make my own food. This trip to Leavenworth met all my criteria for safe travel — the only unknown was whether my boyfriend and I could comfortably spend an entire weekend in a tiny home.
What is the floor plan like inside a tiny home?
When we arrived, I was immediately impressed with the layout of the Belle. It was so well-thought-out that the house actually seemed larger than it really was. The entry featured two stools and a small surface that could be used as a table or desktop and cleverly folded back into the wall to create extra space.
Next, came the kitchen. This, too, was set up efficiently. I was expecting a college dormitory-style fridge and was delighted to find a three-quarter-size refrigerator with a freezer on top. We hadn't brought anything to freeze, but it gave me joy just knowing that the option existed. Across from the fridge was a sink, coffeemaker, two burners, and a few cupboards full of basic kitchen supplies.
There wasn't an oven or microwave, which was fine. Though we could have easily prepared a variety of wonderful dishes on the burners or barbecue outside, we kept it deliberately easy and packed bagels, local meats, cheeses, and fruit. Simple was appealing — we were on vacation, after all.
Beyond the kitchen was a living area with a couch, end table, and flat-screen TV mounted to the wall. And at the far side of that was the bathroom. I'd been interested in the tiny home phenomenon for a while now, due to the efficient use of materials and lower overall price point, but this was one area I was most trepidatious about. I'd seen pictures online of tiny homes where the toilet swings in and out of the shower when not in use, and I hoped to avoid this kind of arrangement. (It all seemed a bit too technical for my personality.)
I was relieved to find that the bathroom here was just like mine at home, only smaller. There was a full-size toilet, small sink, and stand-up shower. It was tight, but there was still enough room to perform dedicated tasks in their own space. The wall went all the way up to the ceiling, and there was even a pocket door for privacy.
What is it like to sleep in a tiny home?
The Belle was advertised to sleep five, and I'll admit I was skeptical about this claim. As soon we climbed up the steep staircase to the loft, however, I saw that not only was this possible, but it would even be comfortable for a family of that size. The loft had a low ceiling, which meant we had to crawl into bed, but there was still a queen-size mattress on one side of the stairs and a twin-size mattress on the other. The downstairs sofa pulled out into a queen bed, too.
The queen-size mattress was soft and pleasant. I was concerned that I wouldn't like sleeping beneath the low ceiling, but I found it to be so cozy that I enjoyed the best sleep I'd had in a long time. The only thing I didn't like was crawling around on the hard, wooden floor to make the bed the next morning, as it hurt my knees. I almost didn't bother making the bed, but my desire to keep the loft looking cute and kempt was too strong to ignore. If I were to live in a tiny home full-time, however, I'd definitely invest in a plush rug or knee pads.
What is there to do in a tiny home?
It was dark when we arrived the first night, so I let out a little oooh when looking out the window the next morning. Our tiny house was situated on the shore of a small lake, and beyond that was a snowy field and an unobstructed view of the mountains. Within a few minutes, a couple passed the house on cross-country skis, making the scene even more picture-perfect.
The Belle came equipped with cable television and Wi-Fi, and my boyfriend was able to turn on the news and reply to emails, just like his morning routine at home. One of the best parts of a small space, however, is that it beckons you to spend time outdoors. We bundled up and drove into Leavenworth to walk along the river and peer into the windows of the charming shops and boutiques in town.
After an outdoor lunch, I found myself longing to return to the tiny home, so we could snuggle up on the couch. Sure, we could do this at home, but there was always something to distract us. There was the cat, chores, and the never-ending temptation to flip open our laptops. At the Belle tiny house, we had no responsibilities to anything other than ourselves. It was just the two of us, luxuriating in time spent together. We opened a bottle of wine, talked, laughed, and watched a movie. In a tiny house, there's no room for distractions, and that's my idea of a perfect getaway.