TODAY

TODAY   |  March 17, 2014

Does a smaller home equal a happier one?

Hari and Karl Berzins and their two children decided to scale back on size and move into a 336-square-foot house. The couple talk about living with less and how it has brought their family closer.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is no secret that americans like to live large, but it seems more and more families are learning to live within their means, realizing big things like happiness do come in smaller packages.

>> ladies home journal covers this topic, who has taken scaling down to an extreme.

>> the bergens and their kids moved into a 336 square foot house, okay. they're here with julie bane, the ladies home journal health editor. hi, everybody. we'll talk to you in a second. i cannot believe -- how many kids do you have?

>> two.

>> two under 10, right?

>> yes.

>> okay. let's talk about the trend. is this something you're seeing more and more of?

>> yes, we were fascinated when we heard about this downsizing trend, and you may have heard about the 100 things challenge, where people are just trying to get rid of their things. so often it is motivated by financial need. but we were amazed that people found incredible joy out of letting go of their stuff.

>> who is the demographic of people doing this?

>> we found a lot of young families, people in their 30s and 40s, who maybe lost their job, lost a business, during the recession, 2008 , around in there, a lot of people lost their work.

>> why did you decide it was a good idea to live in such a tiny spot?

>> well, for us, it was a matter of what we can afford, we lost our business in 2008 , and lost our home as well. so we started off from square one and decided we're never going to use debt again, no credit. so we saved and bought our land and then we needed to buy a house. and we built it small, that's what we could afford.

>> you actually built this home we're seeing now. is that empowering in many ways?

>> it was empowering and it was a bit scary at times because i figured how am i going to take all my things and put it in this little space and my family as well. but we --

>> we made the most of it and, you know, we're very thankful.

>> i read an article one time about angelina and brad when they were together and how they couldn't find each other in their home, they actually had walkie-talkies and i read a quote i always loved, it said love grows best in small places. do you find your family unit got tighter, more cohesive since you live in your house here?

>> literally, yes.

>> definitely. you're in space with each other. we work through the issues.

>> you have two kids under 10. how has it brought your family closer to focus on each other and not material things?

>> well, you can't bring a whole lot into the house, first of all, and so what we do have in the house is some stuff we love. we just cut away the excess and it helped us focus on what brings us joy s.l

>> what about privacy? that's something every grown-up needs and every kid needs.

>> teenagers pretty soon. what are you going to do then?

>> we're building a bigger house.

>> we're building a 1400 square foot two-story home, i am, and we're doing it board by board, dollar by dollar. we're not using any bank loans or anything like that. and they'll have their own bedrooms and their own bathroom.

>> are they excited?

>> they are. they go up in the space now and look out the windows at the trees and they have the paint colors picked out and they know what they want.

>> overall, though, do you feel like you're happier?

>> absolutely. when you get rid of the extra stuff, you're spending time on, then you can focus on what matters and what brings joy and that's what we have done.

>> congrats to you guys. thanks for shining a light on