Don't expect a tiny book to be more than its cover suggests. Lester Walker is the author of the large and comprehensive book "American Shelter". He has also penned several small books that speak to his own heart including "The Tiny Book of Tiny Houses" (reviewed here) and "Tiny, Tiny Houses." Don't confuse the two, they are each QUITE unique, though both focus on Walker's true love: small dwellings. His architecture business specializes in the design of wee homes. He is a winner of House Beautiful's annual award for design for "Best Small House." I share Walker's bias for little dwellings units, having studied the subject in some detail for my "Minicabin Website" ([...]
The Tiny Book of Tiny Houses is 6 1/2" by 5 1/2", and has just ninety-five pages with big print. There are many photographs (a lot of these by the author), and many of the line drawings that Walker does so well. This book is NOT a plan book or a "how to "book. It is intended to inspire readers to build their own tiny dwellings, and to show (by example) how other people have gone about this rewarding task. Mr. Walker makes the point, and rightly so, that building a tiny house is easy enough that most people can do it.
Many of Walker's ddrawings show the furniture arrangements of the little houses. I found this feature of special interest. With tiny houses (or "Minicabins") thrifty use of space, through arrangement of what is IN that space, can make a large difference in comfort.
Walker presents seventeen mini marvels, ranging in size from 124 square feet (the "Frontier Cabin") to 26 square feet ("Poetry House", a converted privey!). Each tiny house is illustrated with photograph(s) and line drawings along with text and arrows pointing to unique features of construction. Although there is not enough detail given to exactly duplicate any of the houses, most anyone with a little knowledge of basic building techniques could build a tiny house pretty close to any illustrated.
Of special interest to many readers will be Walker's presentation of Henry Thoreau's famous cabin. Unlike most modern carpenters who start by a trip to the lumberyard, Thoreau started by borrowing tools and heading for the woods! The framing studs and rafters were hewn from young pine trees cut in the woods. In his "simple living" fashion Thoreau flattened or squared ONLY as much of a tree as was necessary, even leaving the bark on the tree for the unworked part! Thoreau made his own shingles for covering the outside walls and roof. At a cost of $28.12 1/2 the cabin was a bargain even in 1845. Using the same building/recycling techniques as Thoreau used, the same house could be built in our present day for just about the same cost! Brief framing details as well as furniture placement are illustrated by Mr. Walker.
A number of the houses featured are two-story, or have sleeping lofts. It is interesting to see how various builders have dealt with the problem of access to, and use of, this "high space". Some of the little monoliths were obviously designed and built with great planning and care to be both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing, such as the adorable studio built by architect and amateur shipwright David Minch. Othere are strictly utilitarian, like the "ice fishing shanty."
If you have an interest in building a small house, guesthouse, or even a children't playhouse, you will find this book helpful. It also makes a nice "coffee table book". Rather than the usual oversized encyclopedia-wanna-be, that takes away space you need for the cinnamon rolls, try this tiny treat on your guests. They will be fascinated, and won't have to put "Tiny" down as they sip their latte' and munch their Danish!