My House Isn’t a Tool Shed

Tiny house ad ii

Most people know that happiness in one’s home looks different to everyone, at least most people in the Tiny/Small House Movement recognize this.
We have found contentment in the freedom from cleaning and maintenance, consumerism, huge mortgages and utility bills and the freedom to do more of what we love with those we love.
Most tiny and small house dwellers are also very careful not to disparage those who haven’t downsized or don’t think they could ever live tiny or even small.
No harm, no foul. To each their own and all of that right?
The other morning, while watching the morning news on television while Dale got ready for work, my drooping morning eyes grew wide watching an ad for Haverty’s, Furniture, a 130-year old retailer based in Atlanta. Its website describes the company as one of the “top furniture stores in the south.”
The ad shows a couple talking to another couple in a large home. They begin talking about their furniture, which one of them explains was designed by Haverty’s.
The rest of the commercial goes something like this:

Man: We were just so excited to get out of that 100 square foot space.
Woman: How big is your house now?
Man: 3,000 square feet. We still have the original structure in the backyard, she uses it as a yoga studio.
The camera pans to a tiny house outside the window.
Woman: More like a tool shed.
I admit that I’ve called very large homes McMansions. There are several definitions of “McMansion.” In my mind, it’s not a derogatory term, but one that just describes upsizing, as in a regular McHamburger to a Big Mac. Everyone makes their own choices and I’m good with other people’s, as long as they don’t judge or interfere with mine.
As a small home dweller, I do take exception to my home being called a “tool shed.” First of all, as the Tiny/Small House community collectively enters the new frontier of selling the benefits of having tiny and small home communities to codes officials, the attitude that they are unsightly shanties or “sheds” is not helping the effort. Second, what if a tiny house is all of the home one can afford? Should it be compared to a tool shed?
As a business school graduate, it really kind of blows my mind that a company, one that describes itself as “one of the leading furniture stores in the south” doesn’t see the potential new marketing demographic and create a line of furniture for our “tool sheds.”
I know it’s become chic to run others down in our society, our politicians do it, celebrities do it and it’s done in advertising. But I couldn’t help sharing my thoughts with Haverty’s on its Facebook page: “I know the Tiny/Small House Movement isn’t in your sales demographic, but your latest television commercial comparing tiny homes to “more like a toolshed” are insulting to a growing demographic of people who are finding that living a more simple lifestyle is right for them. You would think your marketing gurus would understand the growing trend and recommend that your company try to embrace the movement by designing furniture that would fit in a tiny home. We have been living in our 480-square foot cabin for 8 years now and love it. We also love the furniture we’ve found that complements our home. Personally, I’d rather live in a “tool shed” then find the need to judge or degrade anyone else’s lifestyle choices. I would NEVER shop or recommend your store to anyone.”
If you agree, you can tell Haverty’s on their Facebook page or Tweet @Havertys, using the hashtag #myhomeisntatoolshed.
What do you think? (The comment button is upper right next to title)

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21 Responses

  1. Kathleen-Fla says:

    I saw the commercial differently. The woman who said it was acting. I know the script was written FOR her, but she is portraying a person who wants to buy a lot of furniture (which is what they would like to sell people . . . a LOT of furniture ). In her portrayal, that tiny house in the back yard is NOT NEARLY big enough for all the ‘great’ furniture she is drooling over in the commercial . . so the snide remark about how small the house is, is written. I didn’t see the remark as about tiny houses, as much as it was about she wants multiple pieces of furniture, and that square footage just ‘ain’t gonna hold it’, and they wrote a joke. –And no, I don’t work for Haverty’s :o)

    I was trying to find a good analogy – and I can’t, so here’s a bad one. If there were a commercial about laundry detergent and not getting stains on your clothes and they hired someone to play a snooty woman who didn’t want stains on her clothes, and they wrote a snide (joke) remark about not having children around her, or not hugging a grimy kid, would that commercial be about YOUR kid? Just sayin’. That’s how I saw it.

    And for what it is worth, it won’t be until tiny house dwellers become a MUCH more hefty demographic, that major retailers will find it profitable to cater to them. Currently there just isn’t enough money in it. Until then, great, compact, multipurpose furniture and appliances, etc., will have to be created by the small craftsmen that are doing their best right now, RV and boat outfitters, and by DIYer’s like yourself with a great imagination. :o)

  2. hannah says:

    When I read the title, “My House Isn’t a Tool Shed” I sort of snorted, as I thought, “Well mine is!” We’ve gutted, and are now remodelling, a 600 sq. ft. trailer. We have no garage or proper tool shed, so for now, this is it. We’ve lived in this ol’ tin can for 19 years, and we love it. I remember how roomy it felt when we moved in, compared to the big Blue Bird school bus we lived in for a year before buying this ‘huge’ trailer. Let me take this opportunity to give a shout out to Habitat For Humanity, where we got a lot of our stuff for the remodel. We stored sinks, showers, and other stuff in the bus till we were ready for the renos, in the bus, and now it’s becoming part of the house, when we’re done the renos, the bus will become a tool/shed, guest house. Movin’ on up, eh? 😉

  3. Richard Mooney says:

    I too thought that the commercial was insulting.It is like no one can rise above the rest without putting someone down.I think the common courtesy that many of us grew up with is no longer common.

    • Kathleen-Fla says:

      The common courtesy many of us grew up with has NEVER been common on television. . . . You are confusing commercials with real life. Remember the infamous “Where’s the beef!” commercial? I don’t think that anyone watched it and said, “Well that was impolite.” . . . It’s a commercial. — just my 2 cents.

  4. Jessica says:

    I love the tiny house “movement” and am going in that direction myself in a few years. But c’mon, the commercial was meant to be a joke, to be funny. I laughed, as someone who will be living in one of these “tool sheds”. You can have whatever opinion you want and feel however you want about the commercial, I’m just saying, maybe you don’t have to take something as silly as this as some kind of “attack” on tiny home dwellers/lovers. Hell, to me, the funnier part was that this couple was suckered into buying 3,000 sq ft of empty house that they just need to fill with furniture in which half or more will probably never be used/sat in/seen. And “McMansions” is definitely a term used by people who “look down on” these super-large, cookie-cutter like suburban homes, so please don’t say you’ve never made that joke/connection (even silently, in your own head!) and then go on to berate someone else for making a joke in the opposing direction from your own opinion/belief.

  5. Roxanne says:

    I think insults are the new currency in our society. Snide sells or something like that. Don’t even get me started on the sexist / sexual harassment Jetta commercials.

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      Yes. While there was a lot wrong in the “good old days,” I think there was a lot to be said for having a polite society.

  6. Alexandra says:

    I’ve noticed that the furniture sold at Costco is way too big. We have a normal sized house and could not fit any of it in if we wanted to.

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      I guess it’s big furniture from a big box store that sells big packages of stuff! 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      I actually saw some great small multipurpose furniture there (Costco) last fall. I was very excited

  7. Jane Boursaw says:

    What a ridiculous commercial. So glad you left a comment on their FB page. And you’re exactly right – they should be capitalizing on the tiny house movement and designing furniture for those homes.

    BTW, a Traverse City man who’s going to school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor built his own tiny home to help with the high cost of living in the dorms. I think it’s brilliant.

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      I think I posted about him on our Facebook page, Jane! I love those types of initiatives, especially for students, who have so much debt now and veterans.

  8. merr says:

    Earlier this year I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book transcends the big/small, too much/too little debate. It’s wonderful!

  9. Brette says:

    I don’t even understand what this has to do with furniture sales – why would you make a commercial like this? There definitely are furniture brands that embrace this movement – my daughter’s friend has a small coffee table that converts to a desk for example.

  10. Sheryl says:

    I’m all for the downsizing movement; just wish I could manage to figure out how to do it for myself. I have come across furniture manufacturers who do embrace it, too, and their stuff is so cool…they have coffee tables that turn into dining tables, and stools that hide away more stools that you can use as needed. As far as this manufacturer you write about, I think they’re missing the mark in a big way, and the “tool shed” comment is definitely in BAD taste.

    • Living Large in our Little House says:

      I’m not a big fan, but I think Ikea has the right idea. I was in one of their stores for the first time this summer and they had some great furniture for small homes.

      • Sue Moak says:

        I like how IKEA has rooms set up and they have the square footage posted for a lot of them, especially the small rooms/houses. It gives you a lot of ideas for storage and arrangement to get the most out of the spaces.

        • Living Large in our Little House says:

          Exactly, Sue! Even if I don’t like some of their furniture, their stores are excellent idea generators.