-- A lot of people fantasize about simplifying their lives, jettisoning piles of possessions and moving to smaller, less complicated quarters.

And then there are Steve and Judy Glickman, who might be an example for extreme downsizing.

In the fall, they traded their 2,300-square-foot, five-bedroom house on a Los Gatos, Calif., cul-de-sac for a teeny cottage steps away from their town's charming main street. How tiny is this dollhouse? At 544 square feet, it's said to be the smallest house on the smallest lot in the county.

The Glickmans' place was originally built as a chicken coop for the house next door.

"We traded space for place," said Steve Glickman as he leads a quick tour of the one-bedroom, one-bath mini-house, which has a surprisingly spacious kitchen and eating nook.

The living room, which is about 9-by-9 feet, looks much larger than it is, thanks to nine-foot cathedral ceilings and large windows that have simple valance treatments. The open feeling in the minuscule mansion is thanks to creative thinking by architect Gary Schloh, who rebuilt the place after a 1996 fire had pretty much gutted it.

Schloh also raised the ceilings in the rear part of the house and added pull-down stairs that provide access to a bit of storage above the bedroom. That space also accommodates the furnace and water heater (an air-conditioning unit sits outside).

A pedestal sink and corner toilet make the most of the tiny bathroom. There's one walk-in closet and another small space that holds a stackable washer and dryer.

Steve Glickman's home office -- he is president of Glickman Technology Inc., a software company -- is in a corner of the bedroom.

The postage-stamp patio has a tiny table, two chairs and a barbecue, and is close enough to the picket-fence-edged sidewalk to encourage neighborly chats over morning coffee and the newspaper. A colorful ceramic rooster named Pierre -- a treasure Judy Glickman found at a garage sale even before they took up residence in a house with a history of roosters and chickens -- greets visitors at the front door.

It was love at first sight when the Glickmans heard that the little place downtown was about to go on the market.

"We made an offer the day we saw it," said Steve Glickman, former Los Gatos mayor who still sits on the town council. "We didn't want it to get on the multiple listing service."

The sales price: $545,000, almost exactly $1,000 per precious square foot. They sold their larger house for $980,000.

"Anything else here in the Almond Grove neighborhood would be something around $2 million," he said.

The Glickmans didn't know about the house's fowl past when they went to look at it.

"But then I saw the rooster weather vane and I thought 'That's a sign,' " Judy Glickman said. Now, Pierre has been joined with other feathered friends in the form of rooster-theme curtains, a needlepoint pillow and salt-and-pepper shakers.

The two started thinking about downsizing their lives after Steve Glickman's two sons from a previous marriage had moved out on their own.

"We realized that we never went upstairs," Steve Glickman said of their previous residence. "That house was perfect when the kids were around, because it was close to school, and the cul-de-sac was nice. But once it was just the two of us, we were using maybe 30 percent of the house."

Getting ready to trade down was "extraordinarily easy, once we got started," he said.

"When you have space you tend to accumulate stuff because you can," he said. "Everything went into the garage or one of the spare bedrooms."

Start by asking the tough question "how much do we seriously want to keep" this or that.

He ticks off a list. "College textbooks? That ramp thing that you drive the car on to work on it? All the clothing that I will in fact never wear again? It was very, very liberating," he said.

Stuff was donated to Goodwill, the children came to claim their share (one son's five surfboards are now at his home) and then the Glickmans participated in Los Gatos's annual citywide garage sale.

"We had wedding presents that had never come out of their boxes," said Steve Glickman, who married Judy in 2000. Fortunately, he adds, "we didn't run into anyone at the garage sale who had been at the wedding."

The short list of what was moved into their new home includes a television, a chair and a cedar chest that belonged to his mother. Cats Fluffy, a big Maine Coon, and Butterscotch, an orange tabby, came along, too.

"People always say, 'You two must really get along well to live in such a small space,' " he said. "But we coexist rather well. See those headphones? If one of us wants to watch TV and the other wants to read, they come in handy."

Judy Glickman said they are planning no major renovations to their cozy cottage.

"There are little cosmetic things, like paint, that I'd like to do. This is so beige," she said. "But the house is maxed out on the lot, so there won't be any adding on." The back wall of the bedroom is, in fact, right on the lot line, and there are just three feet running along either side.

No, instead they're planning to take the windfall from their real estate downsizing and invest in another tiny space -- an apartment in Europe they'll use part of the year and rent out the rest. Judy Glickman left in early July to find and buy their little piece of Paris.