Sustainable Architecture

Think Small

Heat with the Sun

Keep your Cool

Use Renewable Energy

Conserve Water

Use Local Materials

Use Natural Materials

Save our Forests

Recycle Materials

Build to Last

Grow your Food

Store your Food

Share Facilities
Think Small

Small can be beautiful and cozy. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. My wife and I (and our two dogs) happily lived in a forty foot bus for four years. The key to this is efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level.




Small is Beautiful



with Jim Tolpin



Lloyd Kahn has done it again! He has published another seminal work on the general topic of shelter. This one is devoted to the art of living in small spaces…in style. Tiny Homes, Simple shelter: Scaling Back in the 21st Century is another amazing book with over a thousand photos detailing more than you could ever imagine about the beauty and construction of tiny houses. By “tiny” Lloyd means no larger than 500 sq. ft., but many of them are much smaller than this.

Having built and lived in many odd small structures, I can certainly appreciate the craft and utility of this approach to shelter. What I didn’t realize was the extent to which this movement has captured the imagination of common folk. Clearly the economic climate is part of the reason for this, as is the ecological realization that scaling back is often the right thing to do. Small design goes hand in hand with using recycled materials, and the result is cheap, ecological homes. There are builders across the country who are now finding a market for little buildings that can easily be hauled to any site after they have been built.

Dwellers of these little homes are finding that life can be simpler when space is at a premium, partly because the temptation to buy more stuff is thwarted by the impracticality of storing it. Also, one has to become neater and more orderly about keeping things in their place; otherwise life becomes unbearable. And folks find that they actually spend more time outside, another pleasurable and healthful benefit.

Lloyd has organized this colorful book into several chapters, each of which deals with the topic in a different way. There are homes that are fixed on foundations, on wheels, designed by architects or not, prefabs and kits, those made of earthy materials, treehouses, motorhomes, and even boats. The aesthetics can suit any impulse, from the funkiest of hippie hovel to high end architectural achievement. Some of these abodes are true artistic masterpieces of woodworker’s craft, and some are strictly utilitarian in style and function. Nearly all of the homes shown are described in some detail, either by the builder or the dweller, so there is personal narrative that is woven throughout the book. This makes the work inspiring on many levels; often these little homes were built by folks who have never built anything before, and become empowered by the experience of making something they can actually live in.

Because these little homes can be hauled to a location or built on site with fewer materials, they are often located in spectacular places, with views and a relationship with the nature around them that is breathtaking. I applaud this movement toward living more simply and ecologically, and I applaud Lloyd Kahn for providing a totally pleasurable glimpse into this little world! --reviewed by Kelly Hart


Compact Living:
How to Design
Small Interior Space

by Michael Guerra, 2013




Small Houses in Nature
Carles Broto, 2012


Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts:
And Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here

by Derek Diedricksen, 2012


The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space
by Azby Brown, 2012


Tiny House Design
& Construction Guide

Dan Louche, 2012


Tiny House Floor Plans:
Over 200 Interior Designs
for Tiny Houses

Michael Janzen, 2012


Micro Green:
Tiny Houses in Nature

by Mimi Zeiger, 2011


In-laws, Outlaws,
and Granny Flats:
Your Guide to Turning
One House into Two Homes
by Michael Litchfield, 2011


Compact Cabins: Simple Living
in 1000 Square Feet or Less;
62 Plans for Camps, Cottages, Lake Houses, and Other Getaways by Gerald Rowan, 2010


Small Eco Houses:
Living Green in Style

by Cristina Paredes Benitez and Alex Sanchez Vidiella, 2010


Small Spaces:
Maximizing Limited Spaces for Living

by Elizabeth Wilhide, 2009


The Not So Big House:
A Blueprint
for the Way We Really Live

by Sarah Susanka, 2008


Small Structures,
Green Architecture

by Phyllis Richardson, 2007


How to Live in Small Spaces: Design, Furnishing, Decoration and Detail for the Smaller Home
by Terence Conran, 2007


Very Small Buildings

by Ruth Slavid, 2007


Small Houses of the Forties: With Illustrations
and Floor Plans

by Harold E. Group, 2007


Bungalows, Camps,
and Mountain Houses:
80 Classic American Designs

by William Phillips Comstock, Clarence Eaton Schermerhorn, 2007


Little House on a Small Planet: Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities
by Shay Salomon, 2006


Jay Shafer
and The Small House Book

by Jay Shafer, 2006


Small Houses:
Petites Maisons
Kleine Hauser, 2006


Flagg's Small Houses:
Their Economic Design
and Construction, 1922

by Ernest Flagg, 2006


Small Strawbale:
Natural Homes,
Projects & Designs

by Athena Steen , Bill Steen , Wayne Bingham, 2005


Living SMALL:
The Life of Small Houses

by Dennis Fukai, 2005


Compact Houses:
for the Environment

by Cristina Del Valle, 2005


The New American Dream: Living Well in Small Homes
by James Gauer, 2004


Compact Houses
by Carles Broto, 2004


A Tiny Home to Call Your Own: Living Well
in Just Right Houses

by Patricia Foreman, Andy Lee, 2004


Blueprint Small:
Creative Ways
to Live with Less

by Michelle Kodis, 2003


Wright-Sized Houses:
Frank Lloyd Wright's Solutions for Making Small Houses
Feel Big

by Diane Maddex, 2003


Small Houses:
Contemporary Residential Architecture

by Nicolas Pople, 2003


Little Retreats:
More Than Thirty
Cozy Getaway Spaces
for the Seaside

by Jane Tidbury, 2001


Terence Conran Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas
and Creative Solutions

by Terence Conran, 2001


A Guide to Building
Your Own Nature Retreat

by David R. Stiles , Jeanie Stiles, 2001


New Small Homes
by Aurora Cuito, 2001


The Small Adobe House
by Agnesa Reeve, 2001


Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home
by Sarah Susanka, 2000


The Treehouse Book
by Peter Nelson, et al, 2000


The New Cottage Home
by Jim Tolpin, 1998
Jim Tolpin's website


Home Magazine
Best Little Houses



Small Houses
(Fine Homebuilding)



500 Small Houses
of the Twenties

by Henry Atterbury Smith, 1990



Strawbale Retreat 900
Touson Saryon, Designer

Here is an 896 sf plan made for a couple's weekend retreat...or even full time residence. It won't take much to heat this place in winter or keep cool in summer. It will be easy to go off grid with this one!




For more information about this plan, and many others, visit our sister site www.dreamgreenhomes.com, where you will find a wide range of plans for sustainable homes, greenhouses, small buildings, garages, and food storage space for sale. Dream Green Homes is a consortium of outstanding architects and designers, who have pooled their talent and expertise for your benefit.


notsobighouse.com Sarah Susanka's informative site devoted to small house concepts and related topics.

tumbleweedhouses.com a set of beautifully designed and crafted tiny houses are depicted for viewing and for sale.

resourcesforlife.com is an organization dedicated to the promotion of smaller housing alternatives.

countryplans.com inexpensive plans for small cottages and cabins are described here, with lots of nice photos.

fabprefab.com A collection of small pre-fabricarted srtructures for sale.

smallhousestyle.com This blog style website features lots of information about small homes.

tinyhouseblog.com Another blog style site with some great information about living small.

tinyhousedesign.com features lots of information about small and inexpensive house designs.

nytimes.com an article about making and living in tiny houses.

nytimes.com an article about thinking small for habitats.

smallhouseliving.org a short article published in 1941 about a small cordwood cottage with a unique fireplace/stair combination.

lifestatement.com an article about living in a 70 sf round cob house.

yesmagazine.org an article about Dee Williams' adventure with living small.

youtube.com a very informative video about the tiny house movement.

clotheslinetinyhomes.com designs and builds wome wonderful tiny homes on wheels.

theshelterblog.com the Shelter Publications blog frequently features tiny houses, both stationary and mobile.

themindunleashed.org a nice article about the benefits of living small.

custommade.com features an extensive infographic about the benefits of tiny houses.

singcore.com has a page about building tiny homes using their SIPs.

Disclaimer Of Liability And Warranty
I specifically disclaim any warranty, either expressed or implied, concerning the information on these pages. Neither I nor any of the advisor/consultants associated with this site will have liability for loss, damage, or injury, resulting from the use of any information found on this, or any other page at this site. Kelly Hart, Hartworks, Inc.


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