Dennis Fry's Full-Circle Shelter

While not included in the print edition of Small Homes, this spread will be included in the ebook edition, and links to a very readable PDF.

Simplicity is what a small home is all about — simple to build, low cost, easy to clean and maintain, no excess or wasted space, and built to fit into its environment. Our vacation house in the mountains of Southwest Puerto Rico was designed specifically for its location. Large double doors all around open fully to take advantage of the mountain breezes. A covered outdoor living and dining space provides shade and allows use even when it rains.

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Cob House Wrapped in a Geodesic Dome in the Arctic Circle

Life inside the Arctic Circle is by no means easy, unless you’re a Hjertefølger. We first heard about Benjamin and Ingrid Hjertefølger four years ago when they began building Nature House, a three-story cob house wrapped in a solar geodesic dome. Located on the island of Sandhornøyna in northern Norway, the ultra-green home was designed to enable the family of six to eek out a sustainable existence despite challenging climatic conditions — they even grow most of their own food. Inhabitat recently caught up with the Hjertefølgers, who have now lived in their home for three years, to learn about their challenges and victories.

The Hjertefølgers, which translates to Heartfollowers, live in Nature House with their four children — they’ve added one to their number since Inhabitat last wrote about them. After constructing their cob home topped with one of Solardome’s single-glazed geodesic domes with the help of friends and neighbors, the family moved in on December 8, 2013.

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Beautifully Built Cargo Van Conversion

New technologies like smart devices, compact computers and the ubiquity of Wi-Fi are allowing more and more people to work when and wherever they want. When combined with an array of solar photovoltaics — which are getting smaller and cheaper by the day — one can create a setup that can allow one to work and to travel almost anywhere in the world.

So it makes sense that we’re seeing a slew of young people going the digital nomad route, whether it’s in a co-working space abroad, or in a vehicle that’s been converted into a full-time live-and-work space. Moreover, the recent explosion of knowledge-sharing and DIY culture in online blogs and videos makes these conversions all the more accessible to complete novices. Designboom introduces us to Hungarian freelance photographer Norbert Juhász, who fits in the latter category, having adapted an old, nondescript white cargo van into a minimalist home for himself and his fiancée, Dora, a writer.

Juhász, who has also studied architecture, wanted something different from the hustle and bustle of downtown Budapest. Having met six years ago, the couple recently decided to go the route of full-time “#vanlife”, as travelling affords new, stimulating experiences, but also plenty of photographic opportunities. Juhász specifically bought this 16-year-old van (now called Debella) last spring as it doesn’t draw too much attention, meaning less hassle if one has to park somewhere for the night.

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Beautiful Japanese Tiny House on Wheels



It’s possible that this is one of the smallest homes that we have visited on the show so far and yet without doubt it is one of the most spectacular in its design. Japan is a country already world-famous for its small space designs, and so it should come as no surprise that when Japanese master craftsman Tagami Haruhiko turned his attention towards the tiny house movement, amazing things would happen.

The home is crafted wherever possible from locally sourced and natural materials, predominantly cedar. There is an architectural edge to this tiny house on wheels which seems to draw inspiration from the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, yet which has been given a unique and bewildering touch of Japanese-design…

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Homestead of Recycled Materials in Quebec

…In the fall of 2008 we came across an opportunity to pick up pine trees that were locally cut. We adapted our plans to the amount of wood available.

We hired a local sawmill owner to cut the timbers for us. That winter we rented a shop and prebuilt a 24′×30′ timber frame of 9′×9′ pine. The joinery is mortise-and-tenon, sculpted with mallet and chisels…

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Roundhouse Living in Wales

While not included in the print edition of Small Homes, this spread will be included in the ebook edition, and links to a very readable PDF.

Hi folks. I live in West Wales, UK, with my partner Faith in a roundhouse I designed and we built in 1997. It is about 85m2, (850 sq. ft.) in size. It cost £3,000 ($4,500) to make initially, and we have spent another £1000 or so on it in the 18 years we have been living here.

It is based on the type of roundwood frame and turf-roofed houses used by Celtic, Mandan, Miwok, and Pomo peoples, plus some modern things thrown in, like windscreen and double-glazed windows, wood stove, running water (hot and cold), solar PVs on the roof, and a wooden plank floor. We are off grid.

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Nomadic Photographer Lives, Works & Travels in Teardrop Trailer

So many of us perform the duties and live the lives that’s expected of us: kids that conform to the rules at home and school, or the responsible parent that works hard at a boring day job to provide for their kids. But there’s probably also many of us that harbour fantastical inklings of dropping everything to travel and to pursue our true passions. Yet, it’s likely that many of us won’t make the plunge, probably because we fear change and the prospect of the unknown.

But change — and uncertainty — can be good. For American freelance photographer Mandy Lea, change came in the guise of a teardrop trailer that she calls her home — a mobile place of belonging that she feels connected to as she travels the country, snapping incredible images of nature. For the last two years, she’s been a full-time solo “teardropper”, visiting some of the most majestic spots one could imagine.

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Ferry Boat for Sale in Brooklyn, NY

Yankee Ferry is definitely a home with a history. Built in 1907, it’s the oldest existing Ellis Island Ferry.

It started as a passenger steamer ferrying people between Portland, Maine and the Casco Bay Islands and went on to serve in both world wars.

It was restored in the 1990s and bought by Richard and Victoria Mackenzie-Childs in 2003. Since then the designer duo have made it their home. And now it could be yours…

Key details:

  • 147 feet in length, a 29-foot beam, eight-foot draft with a steel hull
  • First deck workroom/creative space
  • Second deck with a ballroom with a stage and banquet table
  • Docked at the Henry Street Pier in Red Hook, Brooklyn
  • $1.25 million
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Tiny House Features $500 DIY Elevator Bed Built with Free Plans



The ethos of doing-it-yourself in a resourceful, space-saving way is at the root of the tiny house movement. That said, one of the most amazing things about the tiny house world is observing the immense creative variety within the constraints of these small spaces, all attempting to answer the perennial question, “How can one make the most of a couple hundred square feet?”

These space-maximizing strategies are relevant to many of us, so it’s always enjoyable to come across new ideas, such as the ones implemented in this elegant small dwelling by Alaskan self-taught carpenter, blogger, mom and free-DIY-plans extraordinaire Ana White. Together with her husband Jacob, Ana created a surprisingly spacious 24-foot-long tiny house for a client that is jam-packed with clever, transforming furniture ideas and an affordable DIY “elevator bed”.

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