Off the Grid (118)

Eat Dog's Driftwood Beach Shack

Photo by Lloyd Kahn

…Eat Dog built a tiny house in a semi-hidden ravine leading down to the same beach. (I walked on this beach many times in those years and never spotted his shack.) He lived there for about two years, until getting to work as a gardener miles away in the “civilized world” got to be a strain, and he abandoned the place. Soon others moved in, notoriety followed, and it too was confined to a fiery ending…

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Snowboarder Austin Smith's Firetruck Turned Home on Wheels



At the beginning of the winter Austin Smith made a bit of a departure from his standard season. After somewhat unexpectedly coming to own a retired fire truck turned mobile home, Austin decided to squat in the Mt. Bachelor parking lot for a month-and-a-half. Rather than chase storms all over the planet, he chose to hang at his home resort. And ride every day.

“I knew I’d enjoy it, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much,” says Austin. “I’m really digging it.”

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Couple Converts Airport Shuttle Bus into Home on Wheels

After graduating from college, Pete Thuli and Taylor Bucher spent 10 months traveling through Southeast Asia, and when they returned home to the U.S., they realized how much of their own country they had never seen.

“We knew that committing ourselves to an office job straight out of college wouldn’t make us happy, so we started brainstorming ways we could travel and work for an extended amount of time,” the couple told TODAY Home. Their winning idea: an 80-square-foot van that needed some TLC.

Originally a San Diego airport shuttle bus, the van had also been most recently used as a construction vehicle. When they bought it for $4,500, there were a lot of random accessories and additions that each owner had added to it and modified…

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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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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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Couple Travels with Off-Grid School Bus



The growth of the tiny house movement in recent years has reignited interest in the idea of living a simpler lifestyle. It has also revived enthusiasm for small spaces of all kinds — a soothing antidote to the wretched excess of the McMansion era. Beyond building lovely tiny houses, some are also renovating school buses into stylish homes on wheels. It’s hardly a new thing, but one major advantage that school bus-based tiny homes have over “conventional” tiny homes is that they are much more mobile — and also much cheaper than a high-end tiny house.

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Living Off the Grid in Paradise



Warrick Mitchell lives deep in one of the world’s most remote locations: Fiordland, New Zealand. His home in the country’s oldest national park is nestled in a vast wildness accessible only by boat or airplane, a four day’s walk from the nearest road. Life in isolation can be hard, but surrounded by breathtaking, pristine natural beauty, plentiful wildlife and a small but tight-knit community that is always willing to lend a hand, Mitchell would have it no other way.

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