The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Those who are thinking of downsizing – really downsizing – may want to attend a presentation by Jay Shafer, founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and a recognized leader in the small living movement at the Toledo Museum of Art March 8.

Steven Litt, art and architecture writer for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, will lead a discussion with Shafer about the tiny house movement, art, architecture and urban design at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8 in the museum’s Peristyle. Sponsored by the Museum’s Ambassadors, the program is free and open to the public.

A house constructed from Schafer’s design for the “XS” Tumbleweed Tiny House model is currently part of the Small Worlds exhibition at the Museum. Built with support from The Andersons and the Lathrop Company, the house will be auctioned online. Bidding opens on March 8 at . Proceeds from the sale will benefit the Museum’s community outreach programs.

Tiny House at The Peristyle.

Amy Gilman, associate director of the museum and curator of Small Worlds, said she wanted the house in the exhibition to show the different possibilities of “smallness” and to bring the concept of smallness out of the galleries.

“We’ve invited Jay Shafer here to talk about the idea of sustainability and living small to create a dialogue between the art world and the world outside it,” Gilman explained. “The museum is committed in a number of ways to shrinking its footprint and to generating more discussion in our community about the involvement of designers in efforts such as reducing energy consumption.”

Shafer, a designer who specializes in sustainable architecture and urban planning, conceived of “little buildings” in 1997 for economic reasons, both practical and personal. In a 2008 interview with CNN, Shafer said he saw many people who seemed to be slaves to their homes. “I didn’t want to pay rent or a mortgage forever. So my plan was to escape the rat race,” the founder of Tumbleweed Tiny House told the news agency.

Living in a small house works for him personally, he said, adding that he likes teaching others how to downsize and eliminate worry over having a big mortgage, taking on more debt for maintenance and paying higher taxes for a larger home.

A Tumbleweed Tiny House typically cost less than $20,000 to build. And, while the value of large homes has plummeted in recent years, the value of small homes appreciated about $37 per square foot, some reports say.

Smaller homes also make a smaller environmental impact. According to Shafer’s website, the average American house consumes three-quarters of an acre of forest and produces seven tons of waste, along with 18 tons of greenhouse gases annually after construction.

Shafer’s designs and essays have appeared in a number of periodicals, books and television shows, including “ The Wall Street Journal and “This Old House.” His awards include selection, with Dee Williams, for the American Institute of Architect’s 2005 Sustainable Design Symposium and Natural Home’s Home of the Year Award for Innovative Design in 2000.

Concern about the impact of ever-larger houses also has brought its own reward for the California resident, who has declared, “The simple, slower lifestyle my homes have afforded is a luxury for which I am continually grateful.”

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