Small Homes: The Right Size

If you like the idea of living small, of creating your own living space, of keeping down costs or even coming out of a build or renovation debt-free, Small Homes is the book for you.

It’s full of stories about people who used their hopes, dreams and ingenuity to create modest-sized homes (about 300-1200 s/f) for themselves and their families. Some of the homes sit on incredibly beautiful pieces of land, others do not, but all of the homeowners featured in this book worked hard to make affordable, sustainable homes for themselves.

The book makes ample use of photos, which are so valuable in a book like this. Many of the homes appear quite cluttered, which is not my thing, as I live in a small ranch that I try to keep uncluttered by having only what I need and using storage wherever possible (I’ve written a few books on that topic myself). But these homes are so winsome that I can appreciate them despite wishing they had more closed cupboards, or furniture with storage.

Most websites, books and magazines that feature small houses show impossibly expensive fixtures and furniture, completely impractical ideas for the average person. But this book is just the opposite: you’ll find lots of useful ideas that require ingenuity more than dollars. Several of the homeowners in the book outfitted their homes with sturdy furniture they found at garage sales or thrift stores. Some incorporated only things that were given to them. Their homes may not look like something out of Better Homes and Gardens, but they have charm and personality. Most importantly, their low cost lets their owners live the kind of lives they want to live instead of spending their days chained to a cubicle doing work they hate so they can afford to keep up with the Joneses. What encouragement for those of us who prefer freedom over having a big income!

I’ve enjoyed many of Lloyd Kahn’s previous books and highly recommend them, but I think I like Small Homes best because there are just so many clever yet modestly sized homes in this one.