Review: Video about Tiny Homes

“The studio changed my life. It made me realize that I didn’t want to waste money on stuff — I had no place to put it — and that I didn’t want to spend my life putting stuff away, cleaning and working to pay off stuff.” – Felice Cohen, author of 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (. . . or More)

Here is the 5-minute story of Cohen’s micro-apartment that went viral. It’s a small part of Kirsten Dirksen’s documentary We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters.

I recommend this documentary for anyone interested in how simple living and the small-home movement continues to take shape through the United States. I appreciate that producer Dirksen didn’t focus on one region, but ventured to different areas – even offering a look at a French “cave home” and Spanish construction.

The reasons for living small varied, but most related to involuntary simplicity. Out-of-reach prices drive the movement and building restrictions threaten it. However, it struck me that New Yorkers had the clearest philosophy of tiny homes: living in micro-space is the trade-off for other lifestyle aspects. I laughed to hear that Manhattanites normally store their laundry in the oven

“It wasn’t like people haven’t always been doing this. It’s just that now people are actually paying attention to it. And I think it’s because people have no choice. – Johnny Sanphillipo, whose story begins 57 minutes into the documentary

Of the various voices featured in the documentary, Sanphillipo’s story resonated the most with me. He clearly loves architecture, not just its function but the beauty of it. He identified part of the American Dream as ownership of one’s home, which is truly important. He was also completely honest about the challenges of being a small-income builder – even how he tricked the county building department. Athough he works and rents an apartment in San Francisco, he built a 480-ft. house near the ocean in Hawaii!


  • 30:00 into the film: The French “cave home” in an old quarry in the Saumur region. Very nice – and larger than La Casa de Tontería!’
  • 1:15:00 into the film: Dirksen’s meditation on the American history of and continuation of small-home living.

My European husband asks (the rancher), “What do you get from growing up in one small structure?” His answer: “You get America.”