You’ve probably heard the expression, “If you can’t go big, go home.” Well Jay Shafer took it to heart. For Shafer, the big picture is a tiny little living space that provides for just the essentials and not much more. Tumblewee DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses is his latest offering.
According to the cover, he “is internationally recognized as an expert in small living”. He has been building and living in tiny little homes for 15 years and when he says little, he means it.
In the land of McMansions, Shafer is an ardent supporter of a tiny revolution to create living spaces that are less taxing on ecosystems and economies. The bonus for him has been a mortgage-free existence and more time to pursue other interests, like designing little places for the rest of us.
Shafer is also a realist. While many people may not embrace the extreme, small-space lifestyle, there are lots of other purposes for these wee structures, whether guest house, studio, workshop or retreat.
The book includes plans for tiny houses and box bungalows. You see elevations and floor plans. Amateur builders can order a complete set of drawings from his website.
The portfolio section provides pictures of finished interiors that are carefully crafted to maximize every inch. In fact, one of the most attractive fittings is the Dickinson Marine stainless steel heater which is manufactured for boats.
Part Four shows the building process and covers clearing the building site (including how to fell a tree), establishing a foundation and construction of the exterior shell.
If you want further inspiration for small-scale living, check out Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger. It explores “the microgreen side of sustainable architecture” with projects like the House in a Suitcase on page 121. Located on a roof in Barcelona, trunk-like compartments unpack for use.
The April issue of Dwell features a funky and wonderful house built from three 10-by-12-foot modules. You can also see it online. It’s a DIY project that was supervised by architects and is set on 20 lush acres on Kauai.
Now, I want to live small like that.