Small Homes Book (104)

Linda and Rob Sperry's 480 sq. ft. Small Home in Southern Vermont


Our house consists of a living room/kitchen, bedroom, and a bathroom. My husband Rob and I have lived here since July 2013…

Our cottage sits on just over six acres of land, partly forested, and rocky throughout. A 75′ × 55′ man-made pond is an “off-shoot” of the stream that borders the property…

Certainly we’ve made lifestyle adjustments, but we love “living small” and have found that almost everyone that visits says they would love to “live small” too!

Floor Area: 480 sq. ft. / 45 m2

This is Sneak Preview #9 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in spring, 2017.

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The Steen Family's Latest Straw Bale Building Project

Bill and Athena Steen, the straw bale/earthen plaster maestro/maestra team from Arizona are helping build this home, which will be featured in our new book, Small Homes.

Bill writes: “Interior adobe wall in a clay-plastered straw bale house we are helping our boys build in Sonoita, AZ.”

(Bill shoots pretty much all his photos with an iPhone — has been doing it for a few years. I’ve finally come around to doing this. Both of us still use the big cameras (him a Nikon, me an Olympus OM-D) for serious shoots, but the iPhone for everyday shots. The new iPhone 6s Plus has a super new camera.)

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Houseboat in Southwest England


My name is Erin, and I live on this boat, Jenny, outside Bristol in Southwest England. I am a printmaker and relocated here about a year ago. The boat is about 6 feet wide by 42 feet long, around 300 square feet of interior space. There is a real sense of community in houseboat living; we all look out for each other.Š

–Erin MacAirt

This is Sneak Preview #6 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in October, 2016.

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Family Rebuilds Adirondack Lodge


The Whole Earth Catalog was a revelation to us in the ’70s. Then we (my wife, her brother and sister and I) were twenty-somethings sharing a family camp on a remote lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.Š

With our kids and their families, we’ve torn the place apart and rebuilt it. We talked, Keith Huff, a retired carpenter friend into doing the framing and roofing, and we’ve paid for some other services that were beyond us. But a lot of what’s happened has been our sweat equity.Š

–Jim Leach

This is Sneak Preview #4 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in October, 2016.

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85-Year-Old Remodeled Cabin in Hawaii


Interior of Wayne Jacintho and Nancy Dawson’s small cabin on one of the Hawaiian Islands. Wayne, a native Hawaiian, outdoorsman, hunter, hiker, carpenter, and musician, did an extensive remodeling of this 85-year-old cabin.

Kitchen on left, living room/bedroom on right. The rustic log post and beam at right (actually a kind of truss) of Ohia Lehua wood were in the original cabin. Over the kitchen counter at left is a 4×6 cypress beam on top of a cypress post, with a loft above.

This is Sneak Preview #3 from our forthcoming book, Small Homes, to be published in October, 2016.

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Small Earthbag House Saves Woman from the Grind


Hi Lloyd,

My name is Atulya K. Bingham and I run The Mud earthbag building website ( I hope my story inspires a few others to go for their dreams too.

I always wanted to write, and like many writers it was a passion I had to crowbar in between slabs of paid work. Then one day I had enough of compromising. Fortunately, I owned a small square of land in Turkey. I moved up there with a tent and not much else. It was the beginning of an adventure that changed every preconceived idea about what actually made me happy. Six months later, with only $6000 left and winter a month away, I gathered a team and embarked on the construction of a small earthbag house. I had zero building experience at the time.

Building my house was probably the most transformative thing I’ve ever taken on (and I’m no stranger to adventure). I ran out of money, made a heap of mistakes and was continually hounded by naysayers. But today I’m sitting inside that beautiful handcrafted home. Not one drop of cement was used and it is 100% solar-powered. My earthbag house has enabled me to leave behind the drudge of a job my heart wasn’t in and spend my days creating and writing instead. I love it.

There’s a free earthbag building PDF to download from my site if anyone wants it.

I’ve written the full story of the earthbag adventure in my popular book, Mud Ball.

–Atulya K. Bingham
Author of the OBBL winner Ayse’s Trail, and The Mud website.

… [More in full article] …



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Sneak Preview #1 from our next book, Small Homes: Aunt Lillie's House – Old Farmhouse in Georgia


We are in production of our next book, Small Homes, and we will be posting sneak previews as we continue doing layout — over the next several months.

My name is Suzy, and I’d like to tell you about my small house. It’s a little 1943 ranch-style farmhouse, 1082 sq. ft., and sits on 10 lovely acres just outside historic Madison, GA.

When we began to search for our first home, we considered lots of options. We had to choose between either a “desirable” neighborhood, or acreage in a more rural setting.

We’d been in Atlanta for a year and it was way too busy for us, so we began looking around outside the city. All the houses we looked at just didn’t work for us. Either they were small lots with large odd-shaped homes (’80s weirdness), or trailers on large plots of land.
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A Living Living Room – The Farmhouse at Hickory Highlands

the living living room

My wood-artist friend Duncan, tells of the temple builders in Japan. They go to the forest to find the temple. When found, ceremonies are performed amidst the trees. Then the builders relocate the temple from the forest to the population center. I consider myself (and likely delude myself) creating on that level — finding the house in the forest, asking permission, seeking willingness, then moving the house from the forest to the brow of the hill.

30 years ago, I was gifted a scroll from Japan by a friend who studied there. It depicted dozens of people moving a huge log with rollers, ropes and oxen. In turn, because of his interest in Japanese woodworking, tools and culture, I gave the scroll to Duncan who kept in on a low table in his temple office with other treasures of wood and art and spirit.

A room with a wooden ceiling, curved in a soft barrel vault, emerged from a deep place in my heart. With this internal picture, I went for a walk in the snowy, hickory woods, searching for this room. Because hickory trees grow straight and tall, the likelihood of finding a curved one for the ceiling was slim, and two beams with the same curve pushed the dream into the realm of unrealistic. But dreams are to pursue, explore, manifest.

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Small Homes Book Sneak Preview #2 — Homesteading in Montana


Just came in for our new book Small Homes:

Hey Lloyd,

Like many others, your books inspired us to build our own home. Four years ago I left a career as a helicopter pilot in the Army with my wife and two kids and moved to the Mission Valley of Montana (north of Missoula). We bought 40 acres of bare hay fields and built an 800 sq. ft. house. It was quite an experience since neither one of us had experience with construction. We broke ground in late September, and six weeks later I remember the first snow of the season blasting me in the face as I dried in the last wall. We finished it more or less over the winter, then went on to build a barn a few years later … still working on that one!

We grow organic produce and pastured hogs and like to farm as much as possible with our draft horses. I’d like to say 800 sq. ft. is working for us, but after four years, we currently are in the midst of adding on, increasing our square footage to about 1800*. With our remodel, we are trying to replicate the classic American Foursquare style of architecture that is widely seen across the country with a few timber-framed details here and there. I think we could have lasted longer with a house sized somewhere in between, but this was initially going to be just a small cottage for family to stay in and down the road we would build another house, therefore we built it without storage in mind. Well, we ran out of money and didn’t see the need to do that, so here we are! Nevertheless, its been a wild ride!

Thanks for the inspiration!
–Micah & Katie Helser

Yes, it’ll exceed our size limit of 1200 sq. ft., but it was smaller to start, so it’s going in the book. (We have been known to stretch parameters.)


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Mark & Meg's Half-Acre California Coastal Farm

On which they grow 60-70% of all their own food.

I’m going to post sneak previews of our next book, Small Homes, once in a while, as I proceed with layout. There will be 6 pages with photos of Mark and Meg’s home, built out of recycled wood, and garden.

I’m experimenting with Twitter to post references to other websites; it’s quicker than blogging.

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Small Homes Book Under Production


I’m rolling with layout of Small Homes. It’s like magic: I start with a bunch of photos and columns of text and start assembling. I’ll pick a lead photo and blow it up on my little (inexpensive) 6-year-old Brother DCP-9040CN color printer/copier and start laying things down, getting pics to size on the copy machine, shifting stuff around, adding text, taping it down with Scotch removable tape and voila, it’s lookin pretty good.

Note: We want to hear what people are doing about shelter in cities (other than paying $3500/month for a studio apartment in San Francisco). Email us at
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Our Next Book — Small Homes — Now in Production

I started 3 days ago. My M.O. is to open the file drawer and start picking out folders (there are 50–60 now) to work on.

I pick them out randomly and start doing layout — with scissors and removable scotch tape. No stinkin’ computers at this stage.

I print out the text in 3 and 4 columns, adjust photos to desired size on copy machine, and do rough layouts.

This is turning out to be really fun. We’ve accumulated material for maybe a year and now, the book is starting to assemble itself, in random manner. Organizing will come later.

Note: Contact us if you know of small homes (400–1200 sq. ft.) that would work in this book:

We are especially interested in any kind of homes in cities and towns.

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