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Tiny House Blog founder: cabins, mortgages, downsizing trend

Kent Griswold doesn’t live in a tiny house, but he’s become a very well known tiny house geek. Five years ago (May 2007) he launched the Tiny House Blog and it’s now the most popular of its kind, but it all began with a lifelong love of cabins.

“I’ve always wanted a cabin in the mountains from the time I was young, I think we experienced it a few times growing up. Just a basic, simple cabin, nothing luxurious or fancy like people build these days and once the Internet came out I started bookmarking different builders that I liked… and during that time I kept finding more and more about tiny houses and I was bookmarking them too and about that same time I started learning about blogging.”

Post WWII: growing American homes

At first he had a few hundred people visiting his site every day, so he decided to take it seriously and in the past five years it’s grown to about 10,000 to 15,000 unique visitors a day. Kent admits his timing was fortuitous.

“I think it’s more of a trend of people realizing they don’t need as much as we’ve been taught. Ever since WWII we’ve been on this, at least here in the US, bigger is better, we started the credit society, the mortgage thing and we kind of grew our economy off of that.

Well as we’ve seen in the past couple years, things change and I think the economy going bad now people are realizing, hey, I lost my home, I’d still like to have my home, but maybe I can get something I can pay for in a short period of time or even up front and get rid of all of those things I don’t really need. I see it more as a downsizing trend, getting down to what you really need instead of all the extra stuff you really don’t need.”

Tiny homes explode online

Now there are other similar blogs to his like the Tiny House DesignTiny House TalkTiny House ListingsThe Tiny LifeThis Tiny House and Shedworking. There are popular builders like Jay Shafer of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and Brad Kittel of Tiny Texas Houses. There’s even a Small House Society which helps promote the small house movement.

Kent’s home county of Sonoma (California) is one hub for the movement (as seen in the first act of our documentary “We the Tiny House People”). And every so often some of them- Jay Shafer, Stephen Marshall (Little House on the Trailer), Michael Janzen (Tiny House Design) and Kent- gather for a “Meeting of the Tiny Minds”. While there may be something new in the way tiny house information is being spread online, Kent is clear that small shelters have always been a viable option.

From Plymouth to the hippies: freedom in wee shelters

“This was going before I discovered it. And actually it’s been going many more years than that. That’s how we lived when people first came to America, very small, I’ve been to Plymouth. They were thatched roofed homes and small, one room.

I know back in the hippy era when I was a teenager, people were building these homes on wheels. It was a tiny house movement there too that people were owning their homes, they were able to move them where they wanted to and it created a freer society.”

The tiny house fantasy

When Kent first started blogging he had trouble finding enough content for his site. Now he has a couple years worth of great stories (mostly flagged in his gmail account) and he sees more and more people actually building, or hiring someone to build, their own tiny homes. Though he makes it clear that the majority of his readers are “dreamers”.

“The people who are regulars to my blog are people who are it’s a dream, it’s a lifestyle they want to attain, but whether they actually step forward and do it. It will at least help us realize we don’t need as much as we thought we did to be happy.”

There’s a huge percentage of people who read the blog just dreaming this lifestyle whether it will actually happen in their lives, but they’d like to see it or at least build something in their backyard that kind of replicates it. I know personally I still don’t live that. It’s my goal to downsize to the small home, it won’t be the tiny. My wife will not climb up into a loft to go to bed.