Thursday, October 20, 2016

Living Large in a Small House

Unplugged and Loving

Colleen Gaffney is living the unplugged life in Hamilton and loving it.  No toaster, no TV, no worries. The 55- year old shed a lot of stuff and a lot of square feet when she moved from Barrie to Hamilton four years ago.

  "I didn't want to buy right away, so I looked at a lot of apartments, then I found this perfect house.”
  The house in the Strathcona Neighbourhood is 600 square-feet, the one she left behind was 2000. She was particularly pleased at the adequate but not lavish number of electrical outlets.  “I got rid of tons of things that plugged in. I got rid of things with one purpose, so I don't have a kettle anymore, a toaster, a hairdryer or a coffeemaker."
  When she told friends in Barrie she was taking a job at Hamilton Health Sciences they told her she would love Hamilton. She didn't know much it but it didn't take much time to fell welcome. 
“I love the art scene, the music, the food, and proximity to Niagara. Colleen found her tiny house, on a search on the hospital intranet. As soon as she walked in she could picture a life with paired down possessions. She liked the light, the wide open space, the door opening to patio and proximity to work. Though she has a car, it's rarely in use, she walks, takes transit or Sobies around town. Soon her office will move from a mountain location closer to home. She’ll be parking her pencils at an office at Jackson Square.
  "I work in integrated decision support."  
  What a title!  
 "Just say I do software training."

  In her little house much of the action takes place in one room. That's where the kitchen, living room, dining room and sort-of-spare bedroom reside. " I've had dinner parties for eight and five people sleeping over.
  The kitchen with a big el shaped counter faces the living room. Though it has less storage space than she was used to, careful planning keeps it running smoothly for an avid cook.
  In one corner is the flexible dining area. A wooden table, belonging to her late husbands family, seats eight when expanded. Colleen painted the antique chairs red and reupholstered in a bold botanic print. Over the table a rug from Mexico carries on the red theme.
 On the opposite wall a day bed from Ikea adds more seating and serves as the guest room. "It's a nice place to sleep, sometimes you can see the moon cross the skylight.” A selection of hats hang nearby-Gaffney has a fondness for the, but they might be streamlined out soon since they are getting the squeeze from her art collection
  A wooden cabinet stores books, dishes and glasses and anchors an art assemblage including pottery, textiles, sculpture and interesting metal piece that evokes a book cover, or according to Gaffney’s dad something that looks like it was run over by a car.

  In the living room, red turns up in carpets from Iran, a wooden chest belonging to her dad, and a chair and ottoman Gaffney bargained for and had reupholstered in Hamilton. A wee rocking chair from her childhood holds throws and scarves.  She was the first girl born in a family of six, so got her name painted on her chair.
  It took just two days to put her house in order after she moved in. She measured all her furniture in Barrie, had the measurements of her tiny house, so she made a floor plan of what would fit. “I just kept the things I loved,” she says.

  In warm weather the door is always open to the back patio, where the cocooning space has a place to stretch out and read a book. “It’s a perfect place to have a rest after walking home from work.”
  Since moving to Hamilton, Gaffney has been ticking off some bucket list items. She joined Steel City Stories and told her first story in front of an audience.  It was unscripted and about her house. “I loved it, it’s a young passionate group and it was a buzz, to make people laugh.”
  So the streamlined life in Strathcona is a success for a woman who believes less is more.
  “I’ve always been fascinated with small house architecture. I want to live lighter on the planet.”
  It’s possession deficit disorder in the best possible way.