Living in a travel trailer changes your perspective on a lot of things.
Granted, not all travel trailers are created equally, just as houses aren’t created equally. Some are big, some are small, some are well designed, and some are…well, just cheap.
Ours is just cheap, I’m afraid.
But…it has been a learning experience anyhow, and as we learn, we drool over better designs even when they are in small packages. Just the other day, we ran across this design with its small footprint, and it has some amazing features for such a small house.
It was so cool, I had to share. It’s called the Cube, which I suppose is better than some of the names we have for our travel trailer like…oh, tin box, sardine can, etc.
You can take a look at it here.
Essentially, it is 10x10x10′, although the roof isn’t flat, so its not really a cube. That’s a pretty small piece of space to live in, and I don’t think it would work for a couple in practice…but amazingly, this house even has a washer! It also sports a composting toilet and a flat screen television, along with high-efficiency LED lighting.
Now while I may question how efficient a composting toilet really is in practice in a very small home or travel trailer, there is a lot of logic behind LED lighting, and space wise, if you are going to have a television, it better be a flat screen one! The washer has me mystified, wondering where it is tucked, and additionally, where the clothing is intended to be dried. Here in the South, along the Gulf Coast, air drying indoors is a very slow process, and who wants to look at their drawers draped everywhere while they dry? An energy efficient clothes dryer is really a contradiction of terms, yet its a necessary evil in our modern lives. Gone are the days when the lady of the house, a full time homemaker, would do laundry every Monday, hanging it out on clotheslines where the fresh air and sunshine soon had them sweet smelling and dry. (I don’t know how they did it when it was wintertime in a cold climate though! Freeze dried clothes are just…stiff!)
I did like some features in the Cube though…like a change of levels between kitchen and “living” space, and the compact stairs to move between them. The level changing creates a division, both of line-of-sight and mentally, between the spaces, yet doesn’t require a wall separating the two small spaces, and therefore creates a sense of more space than it really is.
At the same time, as someone on the far side of youth, this tiny house has some other issues. Unprotected drops that could lead to falls with nothing more than a misstep or momentary loss of balance. For the elderly, such falls are often the beginning of the end, and are certainly not a desirable occurrence. Since the elderly status is something that lays in the not-so-distant-anymore future for me…I would have to nix the house for navigation by an older adult or one with impaired mobility in any way. As a lifelong klutz, I could see potential issues even when I was 20something for falls. I’d just heal faster then than now.
I’m not alone in my status as an “older adult” even if it does still sound weird to hear that in reference to myself. More adults are over 50 now than ever before, as I bring up the rear for the baby boomer generation. Seniors nor nearly seniors need to make sure they consider some issues before they go teensy, tiny, ultra small, or into postage box sized homes.
Reduced ability to climb. That means ladder accessed lofts are fine, but not as the intended sleeping space. In the drop of a hat, a senior can become either temporarily or permanently incapable of climbing that ladder to go to bed. What then?
Reduced mobility. Small houses are less likely to cause issues than any other type, as more seniors remain able to navigate through a small house long after they are no longer comfortable walking down the street. At the same time, narrow doorways are a very bad choice to save space. To keep your home emergency friendly, imagine trying to get a 7 foot gurney from your bedroom or bathroom out through the front door. That’s exactly what EMTs would have to do in the event of a medical emergency requiring their services. Plan ahead.
Reduced strength. Murphy beds may be cool space savers, but are they really practical for nightly use by seniors who live alone? The murphy bed might be a great guest bed choice, but it also may be a terrible choice as THE bed. The same is true for storage that is accessed by lifting a large piece of furniture. Keep mandatory lifting minimal in your plans.
Reduced flexibility. Stooping over to access a below-the-cupboard refrigerator might be fine for 20something or even 40something, but sometime after 50something, it won’t be. You won’t be able to see in it, get stuff out of it, etc. and getting down on your hands and knees to find butter for your toast…when it takes 30 minutes to get yourself back up again…is just not a smart idea. Don’t put yourself in a situation where storage is all at inconvenient heights that require bending, stooping, stretching, etc.
Our needs may change as we change phases of life, but many needs remain the same. Bathing, toilet, cooking, cleaning, clothing storage, sleeping space, etc. all remain pretty basic (although you may want one of the higher toilets for the sake of those mobility issues as you age too.) Beds in alcoves that require the one who makes the bed to be a gymnast are also poor choices–leave walk around space, because I’ll guarantee you won’t want to crawl around to get that bed sheet on when you are 80 years old. Edges should be protected with railings, stairs should have hand rails. It’s a good idea to have grab bars in the bathroom too, as well as slip resistant surfaces both on the floor and in the tub/shower.
Planning ahead when downsizing into your dream micro-home can make it a real dream instead of a real nightmare, no matter how old we are. Seniors may not be concerned about having children anymore, but they may want space for grandchildren to use and feel welcome in too. (A far better use for that ladder accessed loft is for the grandchildren rather than the grandparents anyhow!)