Alice Lives Smaller

Alice ate an enlarging cookie in my blogpost last month and grew to be a giant, along with her house. This month I ask you to imagine that she gnaws on a diet cookie and, shrinking, craves a smaller, much smaller, abode. I am referring, of course, to the “tiny house” movement. The notion that a person, a pair of people, or even a couple with kid(s) can exist within the same 150-300 square feet of indoor space without committing homicide seems, at face value, laughable. But what sinks one person’s boat may float another’s. Even MIT’s Media Lab is one of multiple innovation centers studying the application of origami-like efficient furniture-folding that enables the smart repurposing of very small spaces from kitchens to bedrooms to studies, to lounges, to showers and toilets. The small houses showcased on HGTV extol the cheap price, the high environmental efficiency, and the portability of the structures. (Although studies on the mental health of the occupants have yet to be carried out.)

What do you think the possibilities could be for Newton?

If land is so expensive here, should we start thinking inside a very small box?

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Julia MalakieLynne LeBlancJerry ReillySusan Huffman Recent comment authors
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Susan Huffman

The only way that would work if the schools ate the same diet cookie and we suddenly require less space for each child in the schools. And the teachers were also suddenly able to teach more children and the classroom sizes were enlarged up to maybe 30 students each.

As I don’t see this happening, I don’t see how anyone can in good conscience suggest that we need more people in Newton. Of course that is not that that is what Sallee is doing, she is only suggesting that we think about it.

Jerry Reilly
Jerry Reilly

We’ll be ready.
We live in a 6×20 pop-up tent for a couple of months every summer for the last 25+ years.
I must admit though that I might not like doing that in Februrary.

Lynne LeBlanc

It is ironic that along with massive houses being built, smaller and smaller units will soon be all that is affordable for the rest of us. I say that with irony because the price of micro-units is still very expensive.

I was in the North End recently and saw a reno being done that boasted exactly this kind of apartment with 450 sf costing $2300/mo (

In mega-cities (FYI – the MFA has an interesting art exhibit on this subject) micro-units are common. But for Boston and beyond? A land speculator’s dream: lots of people paying lots of rent for tiny spaces. No wonder it’s getting a lot of press!

Julia Malakie

Thanks, Sallee. I noticed this article in the Globecomment image with this illustration:comment image

I think living like this would be like living out of a suitcase — okay for a limited time while traveling, but not sustainable indefinitely. It would be very ironic if our city’s administration which is allowing teardowns of smaller and moderately sized houses, to be replaced by houses three times as big, thinks micro units are the prescription for everyone else. We are losing so many Capes, bungalows and ranches in the 900-1,800 or so square foot rangel that are perfectly livable and don’t require packing up one’s paperwork to eat dinner, or folding up one’s bed to have company over.