Hobbies in a Tiny House

Can you have hobbies in a small or tiny home? It's a question we've seen come up time and time again from people who wonder what it's like to live in a small space, and it's something that we've talked about briefly in the past as well.

So can you have hobbies in a home like ours? The answer, emphatically, is yes!


There are a few things to keep in mind, of course, when planning for special interests and activities in a tiny house, and I'd like to touch on a few of these ideas first:
  • Space requirements of specific hobbies
  • Alternate storage locations
  • Prioritizing what you choose to include
  • Creative storage ideas
  • Hobbies that don't require much (if any) space at all

Space Requirements of Specific Hobbies

First of all, some hobbies do take up more space than others. Keeping a stamp collection shouldn't be a problem; housing a whole room full of vintage Les Paul and Fender guitars might be a little more of a challenge. That doesn't mean it isn't possible. You might just need to get creative in how you store them or find an off-site location to rotate them in and out of use in your small space.

Alternate Storage Locations

Indeed, storing items at another location may be a good solution if you can find an arrangement that works for everyone involved. Perhaps you have family or friends with extra space they are happy to loan out, or even a storage rental space would be an option. If you don't travel with your home, a sturdy outbuilding could be a good place to keep certain hobby items. Perhaps your mini brewing equipment could find a quiet home in such a space. Bonus: if you like to make wine, and you accidentally end up with a fruity mess exploding all over your walls not once but twice, an outbuilding might be a much better location for you to experiment than the interior of your house. (Credit to Chris's brother for that story.) Even a solution as simple as the trunk of your car might be a good place to store a few items. Our sedan has a very large trunk, and right now it is home to our daughters' small bikes and scooters, and there's still room for groceries.

Priorities

Something else you need to keep in mind is that you might be surprised at what you have room to keep if you are willing to live without other items. Some of our more luxury items do take up a fair bit of space, but we compromise in other areas to make it work. If you don't mind sleeping on a couch or making use of a Murphy bed, the space you would otherwise use store a bed or mattress could make a decent hobby room instead. Forgoing an official dining table might leave room for a cabinet in your dining nook, if you have one.

Creative Storage Ideas

Other creative storage locations might be under your house if your hobby is an outdoor activity such as cycling or kayaking. Making use of vertical space is key, as well. Can you rig a pulley system to store gear near the ceiling or overhead? If your house can accommodate it, creating storage in the floor or between studs in the wall is a possibility to think about.

Hobbies that Don't Require Much (if Any) Space

Some of the best hobbies, though, don't require much of any equipment at all. Do you love to read or listen to music? E-books and digital files will be your friend if you can accept the trade-off of giving up physical books and records or CDs. Even better if you can let go of the need to own these items is making use of your local library for both print and digital media. Did you know that many libraries offer eBook collections to their patrons? Our local library uses Overdrive and Hoopla, and we use both apps to access the large eBook libraries available to us for the simple cost of a library card. Audiobooks more your thing? They have those, too.

Do you love video games? A small console like the Nintendo Switch that has a large digital game library or even a gaming laptop with a burgeoning Steam collection won't take up much room at all.

Other more active hobbies can be done with little space investment as well. Love to work out? Join a gym. Interested in birds? The mother of one of my oldest friends has recently taken up bird watching, and her hobby is easily supported with information from the Internet and a pair of binoculars.

Not every hobby needs a large storage area to accommodate it.

Hobbies that We Have Let Go (for Now)

That said, there are a few common interests we have chosen not to pursue, at least for now, due largely to space concerns.

Sunshine is desperate to practice her rock climbing skills in her bedroom, but until we can figure out a way to do that safely in such a tiny space, she will have to be content with the occasional visit to the local climbing wall.

Chris was once a music major in college (many, many moons ago) before pivoting a few times and eventually landing in the psychology program. I have many fond memories of sitting and listening to him play his guitar while we were dating. We still store his two guitars in our loft, but he rarely pulls them out since it is quite a chore in the tight space, and there isn't a great place to sit and play them in our home. (Plus the noise scares the cat and used to make Sunshine cry when she was a baby, which kind of put a damper on the whole thing. An acoustic guitar can sound really, really loud in a tiny house!)

We also don't do much in the way of seasonal decorations. We have a few items, mostly Christmas themed, and that's about it. There just isn't a great place to store (or display) unnecessary seasonal things, so we definitely won't be collecting Christmas Village pieces any time soon. I swoon a little over the beautiful photos I see of other homes gussied up with real tree boughs and wreaths that wouldn't need to be stored year round, but severe allergies keep us from bringing any real foliage into our home.

Hobbies We Have Embraced

So what are some of our favorite hobbies, and how do we make them work?

The most obvious one is Chris's gaming collection, which he's actually written about here and here. He recently culled a console or two to make room for other things, but he has been collecting vintage video games for most of his life. In addition to the Atari 2600 I brought with me to our marriage and the Super Nintendo my brother and I saved up for when I was a child, Chris has managed to collect every Nintendo console mass released in the United States as well as numerous handhelds and a few other modern gaming systems. You would never know that there is actually a Guitar Hero/Rock Band collection hiding under the side table in the corner of our living room and numerous cables and controllers stored in the top drawer of our file cabinet. The rest of his collection is stored up in the loft on small IKEA TV stands that I wrote about here.

I have several hobbies, but the only one that really takes up much space is my sewing supplies. We even brought my sewing machine with us when we evacuated for a wildfire in March. Right now my machine sits on the back corner of our IKEA NORDEN gateleg table in the dining area, and I have two tubs of fabric stored under the table as well as one drawer of fabric in an IKEA RAST chest of drawers along the back wall of the dining room. I keep my other sewing supplies in a drawer in a cupboard near our front door. When I want to sew something, I either set my sewing machine up at the table, or I use an old, sturdy cupboard door as a solid surface to set the machine on top of on our IKEA couch. The hardest part of this set up is having to put everything away at the end of the day and get it back out again the next time I want to use it, but it is what it is.

The adults are not the only ones with hobbies! Our five-year-old has a growing rock collection that she keeps in a small plastic bin in a cupboard in the kitchen where she stores her special things. Even the three-year-old likes to collect little toy figurines, like the kind that come in kids' meals. We keep them in a plastic basket in our living room with the other toys.

Sunshine is a budding ballerina, and we can turn the girls' bedroom into a mini dance studio by laying out her pink IKEA floor mat in front of the closet mirrored doors. She keeps the mat folded at the foot of her bed when she's not using it. There isn't a whole lot of room for jumping and spinning, but it's a good little place to make up dance routines in front of the mirror.

We also love tabletop games, and we keep a few of our current favorites on a shelf in the dining room. The rest of them are stored upstairs in blue IKEA bags in the loft. When we want to play a game, we pull out the same board I use when I'm sewing and set everything up on the couch. Some of our favorites are Pandemic (multiple iterations!), Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, and Hanabi, to name a few. We specialize in cooperative games, and we also have quite a few party games that we like to take with us when we go visiting at other people's houses. We've started buying games for our girls, as well, with an eye toward gameschooling as part of our homeschool endeavor. We love Sleeping Queens, Eye Found It, Outfoxed, and Hoot Owl Hoot these days.

Last but not least, we all love books. We made the hard decision to cull a good number of them during our KonMari effort last year, but we still have books stored on shelves scattered throughout our home. Most of our hard copies that we chose to keep are children's books in addition to a few books that hold special meaning to us, like Chris's Lord of the Rings boxed set that he inherited from his grandfather and my copies of The Little House series as well as the entire Narnia and Harry Potter collections. Beyond that, we try to make use of our local library. Chris prefers "book" books, as IKEA so memorably dubbed them in an ad a few years ago, while I prefer to consume my reading in digital format. I look forward to the day when our girls are ready for chapter book read alouds so we can share some of the classics from our own childhoods.


I hope you come away from this post with a better idea of how it's possible to have hobbies when you live in a small space. You may need to make certain sacrifices or look into creative storage possibilities, but at the end of the day, if you really love something, there is probably a way to make it work. Even in a tiny house. After all, one of the best things about a small space is the ability to truly make it your own special oasis, a unique reflection of you, and that definitely includes finding room for some of your favorite things.

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