Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: Tiny Homes Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn

There's a grassroots movement in tiny homes these days. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, burning out on 12-hour workdays – many people are rethinking their ideas about shelter – seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home.

In this book are some 150 builders who have taken things into their own hands, creating tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). Homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses.

There are 1,300 photos, showing a rich variety of small homemade shelters, and there are stories (and thoughts and inspirations) of the owner-builders who are on the forefront of this new trend in downsizing and self-sufficiency.

At the heart of our 1973 book Shelter were drawings of 5 small buildings, which we recommended as a starting point in providing one's own home. Now, almost 40 years later, there's a growing tiny house movement all over the world – which we've been tracking over the past two years.

Many people have decided to scale back, to get by with less stuff, to live in smaller homes. You can buy a ready-made tiny home, build your own, get a kit or pre-fab, or live in a bus, houseboat, or other movable shelter. Some cities have special ordinances for building "inlaw" or "granny flats" in the back yard. There are innovative solutions in cities, such as the "capsules" in Tokyo. There are numerous blogs and websites with news, photos, and/or plans for tiny homes, documented here.

If you're thinking of scaling back, you'll find plenty of inspiration here. Here's a different approach, a 180ยบ turn from increasing consumption. Here are builders, designers, architects (no less), dreamers, artists, road gypsies, and water dwellers who've achieved a measure of freedom and independence by taking shelter into their own hands.

If you look at my Tumblr blog, you'll see that I reblog a lot of pretty houses and rooms. Most of these are big houses, but a lot of small homes are pretty too. Pretty things come in small packages and this book catalogues some interesting houses.

Tiny Homes Simple Shelter doesn't just contain pictures of beautiful houses, however, it also contains stories about the house's owner and how the house was constructed. A lot of the houses featured are DIY projects and make use of solar panels and recycled materials. What's amazing is how some of them were able to build these houses even though they really didn't have any background in construction and they only had a limited budget.

It's unbelievable how people can do so much with so little space. The houses have amazing features, like lofts and gardens. My favorite story was about a Tokyo capsule hotel, which I have read about before and which I find quite fascinating.

All in all, this is a very inspiring book that just may encourage you to lead a simpler, fuller life in a beautiful house of your own.

Thanks to NetGalley and Shelter Publications for the e-copy.

  1. You get to see how the houses were built.
  2. There are a lot of interesting ideas and concepts you can learn from.
  3. There are plenty of beautiful pictures.
  1. May seem too technical for those who aren't familiar with architectural terms.
  2. Some of the houses have similar looks.
"Above all, pursue happiness and not more stuff."
  1. You're thinking of downsizing your life.
  2. You've always wondered how easy or difficult it is to live off the grid.
  3. You're thinking of building a small room or house of your own.



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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