In June 2011, faircompanies ran a video about the Jordan clan, an Arkansas family living a happy, mortgage-free existence in a 320-square-foot shotgun-style tiny house. The video, shot by family matriarch Debra, quickly went viral.
While there was enough inspirational and insightful content in that video to fill, well, a 320-square-foot house, there was one somewhat controversial aspect surrounding the Jordan's decision to drastically downsize from a 2,500-square-foot abode (a decision prompted by Debra’s husband, Gary, losing his job and the family’s subsequent struggle to keep up with mortgage payments) to a tiny house: the fact that the Jordan’s home-schooled, then-13-year-old son Max lived in a cramped, window-less loft space in the pint-sized abode.
It was all a bit eyebrow-raising for sure but in a comment left on my original post on the home, Debra was kind enough to fill me in with their plans to eventually raise the roof of Max’s loft to give him more space to move around (and stand upright).
Debra, a textile fanatic who runs an Etsy-based baby blanket business out of a tiny studio located next to the home, wrote: "We had to leave it this way to tow the home into place, and will raise it soon. He will be able to stand, and the house will look like a caboose on the outside. He will have two windows on each side, I cannot wait to do it, but I must. We are fighting the ‘I want it NOW’ attitude so pervasive in our society.” Debra also explained that, in addition to wanting to focus on the important things in life instead of continuing to toil away as slaves to a mortgage, the family’s decision to go super-small was spurred by the fact that they travel frequently with upcoming trips including the Dominican Republic and to Joplin, Mo., to pitch in with reconstruction efforts.
With the crawl space expansion complete and the home now measuring 400 square feet, Debra has filmed a follow-up video to share the little up-sizing remodeling project that incorporated primarily salvaged materials and cost $700 in total. The family has also done a bit of bathroom rearranging since the first video to the tune of $100. They've also tweaked the kitchen, including installing a mini-dishwasher and granite countertops. Max also now has his own walk-in closet on the first floor and a few changes, mostly storage-centric, have been made in the main bedroom as well.
As with the first video, Debra’s insight into living big with less is a major draw. She’s articulate, honest and makes it abundantly clear that while living in such confined quarters isn’t for everyone, it works for them. This time around, I was also struck by how charming the interior of the home is. I’ve seen inside a fair share of tiny houses and most of them err on the minimalist side of things. In other words, they are often a bit barren, frequently haphazard, raw. The Jordan home, however, strikes me as being comfortable as a 320-square-foot home can get with smart storage solutions, homey décor, and many trappings of a “real” home. They've done some serious purging of possessions, yet it feels complete. And as for Max’s new bedroom, I can’t imagine that he’s complaining.
As it turns out, the Jordan family recently mulled over the chance to upsize to a 900-square-foot home. “It sounded like a lot of fun, but at the last minute we just couldn't pull the trigger. When you get into a larger home then you have to think about purchasing furnishings. Then you have to insure it, clean it, care for it, mow all the lawn and I don't want to do that. I'm really happy where we are now, and so is the rest of my family,” explains Debra.
For more on this remarkable right-sized home, the expansion, and other tiny home tips and tidbits, be sure to check out Debra’s blog.
Related tiny house stories on MNN:
- 10 of the smallest homes in the world [Photo gallery]
- The art of tiny house living
- Smaller is better for builder of tiny homes
Video screenshot: faircompanies/Youtube