Living Small: A Winter Update | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Living Small: A Winter Update


Published January 31, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 4, 2022 at 8:05 p.m.

Matt Cutts and daughter, Robyn. - COURTESY OF ERIN MORRISON
  • Courtesy of Erin Morrison
  • Matt Cutts and daughter, Robyn.

Last summer, we wrote about Erin Morrison and Matt Cutts, parents to 2-year-old Robyn (“Living Small,” August 2016). The couple had just spent the past year building a 200-square-foot house, and in June they moved the structure to land outside of Middlebury and began their tiny-house adventure.

The family moved in just as summer was starting, so they were able to spend a lot of time outdoors — sipping coffee from camp chairs while Robyn played in the sandbox or on the swing set. Now that it’s nearly mid-winter, we were wondering how the colder months affected tiny-house living. We contacted Morrison for an update.

Erin Morrison and Matt Cutts' Middlebury tiny-house - COURTESY OF ERIN MORRISON
  • Courtesy of Erin Morrison
  • Erin Morrison and Matt Cutts' Middlebury tiny-house

Kids VT: Is tiny-house living all you’ve hoped it would be?

Erin Morrison: We would say yes. I think we are still surprised by how much downsizing is necessary. You start to question the value of all your possessions. Another surprise is how comfortable you become with a limited wardrobe. Being in the tiny house with no full-length mirror or space to have extra clothes, you really become efficient at finding your style and sticking to it.

KVT: How is Robyn adjusting?

EM: Robyn loves the tiny house. It has been so cute to watch her excitement for our home and how she shares that with others. For the first few months it was all she talked about with friends and strangers. People would say, “Hi Robyn!” and she would reply, “I have a tiny house.” I think she appreciates how close all of us are to each other when we are home. Hopefully she continues having those feelings for a little while longer!

Robyn playing in the living room - COURTESY OF ERIN MORRISON
  • Courtesy of Erin Morrison
  • Robyn playing in the living room

KVT: What changes have you made since summer?

EM: When we first built and moved the house, we were unsure how we would operate in the space, so we left many walls and spaces bare to assess our needs as we went along. We have since added an awning to our front porch, shelves and hooks to help keep things off the floor, and we broke down and bought a new couch and television. Our previous couch was great, but with that being the only comfortable place to sit indoors and not big enough for all us, we decided to splurge before winter to help keep our sanity. We still don’t have internet and have spotty cell service, but with an antenna we can pick up local stations. Binge watching “The Office” DVDs and stuffing our face with Chinese food or homemade nachos are quickly becoming cozy tiny-house favorites!

  • Courtesy of Erin Morrison
  • Robyn's room

KVT: How has the winter changed your tiny-house lifestyle?

EM: Our house is a tiny beacon of light in our sun-deprived winters. When we get home it’s already dark, so we make the most out of Play-Doh, dress-up and dollhouse shenanigans before winding down with Wild Kratts and stories before bed. We still try to get outside, weather permitting, and create adventures around the yard. Robyn is most disappointed that her sandbox is frozen, although her battery-operated toys, frozen amidst the icy sand, still somehow operate.

KVT: What’s been the best and most challenging parts of living in a tiny house?

EM: We all still get excited to walk through the door, and love that this is our home. On the weekends we find that we are quick to escape the house, especially when our yard is brown and frozen. We’d rather go find a playground, do a quick hike or let Robyn run wild at one of Middlebury College’s weekend games. One of the most challenging things has been something kind of unexpected: our mess. You can’t bring in your work bag, gym bag or daycare bags, or get behind on laundry or dishes. We have yet to really conquer this, but are getting better. We tend to leave work bags at work or in the car and try to stay on top of groceries and laundry. The cool thing about getting behind on housework is that is doesn’t take that long to clean up. We could have our entire house vacuumed, laundry started, dishes done, beds made, toys picked up, in about 15 minutes. However with a tiny toddler, it’s never that simple — no matter how big or small your house is.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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