Interview with Pat Foreman: Author of A Tiny Home to Call Your Own

by: Sara on 04/08/2019

Today's author interview is with Pat Foreman, author of A Tiny Home to Call Your Own: Living Well in Just-Right Houses. Pat examines the hows and whys of tiny-home living, to help you assess whether it’s the right solution for you. Pat went above and beyond and answered the majority of the questions that were submitted, but there could only be one winning question and that was : What do you think is driving all the interest in the tiny house movement? Find out the answer below.  Don't miss out on your chance to win, check- out our spring giveaway schedule here.

Do you live in a tiny home ? If so, what made you take that step?

 The definition of a tiny home varies, but generally house sizes are in the range of:

  •         Mini-Mansions: 4,000sq & above                  
  •         Typical house: 1,200 to 2,000 sf.                  
  •         Tiny home: 150 to 800 square feet.

I live in about 750 square feet and it’s enough, even with all my interests, activities and books.

Every room has multiple purposes and just about everything is on wheels which makes cleaning and rearranging furniture and even bookcases much easier.

Are there key principles to adhere to when designing a tiny home?

Key features I like are to have floor plans that are flexible with as much open space as possible. For example the kitchen, living room & dining room can be one area.

Storage is another key feature. Make every inch count for example shelves over doorways, storage in stairs. Selecting appropriate furniture is another key, even for pets. This is covered in chapter 8 of a tiny home to call your own.

Another key feature in tiny homes is universal design. UNIVERSAL DESIGN  is defined as: “The design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

“Universal design is the design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors”. Wikipedia

Author Pat Foreman

The 7 PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN: 1. Equitable Use.  2. Flexibility in Use.  3. Simple and Intuitive, 4. Perceptible Information. 5, Tolerance for Error.  6. Low Physical Effort. 7. Size & Space for Approach and Use

How do you marry efficiency with comfort? IE you want to utilize space well but also be comfortable.

The key to efficiency is in dealing with your stuff. Living in small and tiny places just about anything that is not in its proper place makes the house look cluttered. There's no way around it. If you don't deal with stuff that serves you, instead of you just having a lot of stuff, then a tiny house will not suit your lifestyle. Living small rings into clear focus the need to overcome being a consumer society.

The other aspect of being comfortable is selecting furniture that is suitable for smaller spaces.  In Chapter 8 of A Tiny Home to Call Your Own gives examples of suitable furniture that can serve multiple can multiple use. For example, Murphy beds Can be a better night and a desk during the day. There are doors that have shelves built-in for extra pantry storage.

Questions from our contest entrants!

What do you think of tiny-home living versus vertical development (condos, etc) for increasing urban density to prevent sprawl?

Irregardless if one’s home is in a  high-rise condo, or in a standalone tiny home  the same principles to the home design and use of space. To prevent urban sprawl, high-rise condos are more foot print efficient. But with a tiny home, the footprint is also smaller than the standard American dream house of three bedrooms two baths and a two car garage. I think what we are seeing with the air BnB movement is that homes have more space than is needed and people are putting that extra space into an income stream.

And, what percentage of your tiny home is dedicate to your writing materials.

 It is hard to estimate what percentage of my 750 sf living space is dedicated to my writing materials. I have a very large library on many subjects. My bedroom also serves as my office. I have a small round table in the kitchen/living room that overlooks the backyard. This is where I often do my journaling or anything hand written. The dining room serves family eating area, fulfillment center and exercise space.

And our winning question: What do you think is driving all the interest in the tiny house movement?

I think  what is driving the tiny house movement is a complicated set of reasons. Some of those reason are because tiny homes are so adaptable with multiple uses such as for:

  • Starter homes
  • Home Office
  • Student housing
  • Guest room
  • Semi-assisted living
  • Rental income
  • B&B extension
  • Nanny or day nurse
  • Home gym or hobby space
  • Extended Home Care
  • Pout house
  • Men’s Caves
  • She Sheds
  • Recreational getaways
  • Retreat centers
  • Couples who make better neighbors…..than housemates
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A tiny home on wheels

Other reasons have financial advantages.

Smaller mortgage • Lower property taxes • Lower utility bills  • Less building materials
 • Less construction time • Less expensive repairs

And then there are the Living Advantages: Fewer visitors • Smaller worries, • Easy & quick to clean, • Smaller carbon footprint , • Smaller land foot print • Less physical energy to  maintain

 Would love to know where there are retirement communities of small houses with social gathering centers.

This is a popular question. The problem is with zoning getting tiny houses, yet tiny house community's are sprouting up. This is a topic to search on the internet.

 What do most people find is their biggest obstacle in adapting to Tiny homes and "Just Right Houses"? I am guessing it would be the termination of a consumptive lifestyle.

Yes, most of it is in dealing with your stuff and having a place to stuff it.

How best can the stigma exhibited by municipalities and zoning regarding tiny homes be overcome? Smaller home living is appealing to many of us but finding an amenable property and community can be tough. 

Getting financing for tiny houses and zoning is what put our Tiny House Construction company out of business. There is a growing demand for tiny home and communities but there is a stigma with small homes that brings the “not in my back yard”. Contractors don’t like to build tiny homes because there mark up is not as large as with conventional houses. Realtors don’t like them because tiny houses tend to be less expensive and have less commissions.   

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Tiny home living goes way back


How do people manage pets in tiny houses? Are there fencing options?

Pets do fine in tiny homes. I have 2 cats,  mix-terrier dog and about 18 chickens and we all have our space. See chapter 8 for pet areas, page 131.

Fencing options depends on what land you have. For dogs, daily walking is great.

We find many people jumping in too quick on this trend. We built our 2.5 years ago and it has given us the freedom to live more free!! Are you on or off grid? 

I am not off the grid yet, but hope to be.

If off grid, how do you keep air moving to prevent mold?

Ceiling fans with lights in every room.

What would you say is the hardest thing for people when they minimize?

Dealing with their stuff and downsizing.

What do you recommend for a family of 3 living small with different interests and hobbies and all the tools/supplies that come with - music creation, visual arts, textile arts? Separate workshop?

How about multiple tiny houses. Outbuidings, like sheds, if not on a foundation do not have to get a building permit. If the building is on skids it can be moved around with a tractor, such as my sauna and chicken coops in Virginia. Small buildings can be insulated and used for multiple purposes. Whatever you build, call it anything but a house to stay in code!


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