Tiny Homes book is taking shape…

I post stuff here on daily observations, but the most important thing going on in my life right now is working on our tiny homes book. By the time we get it out, it will have been 3 years in between major building books, the last having been Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008).

For a year I gathered info, filing it away in 5th-cut files folders (one thing I learned in my 5 years as an insurance broker was the importance [and technique] of filing). For the past few months, I’ve been doing layouts, 2 pages at a time, in no particular order. I grab a folder, print out pics, write or get text from contributors, and do a rough layout by taping down pics (which I size on a Brother DCP-9040CN color copy machine) and text with removable scotch tape.

This is old school, to say the least. These days, designers lay out picture books on Macintoshes, for Christ’s sake. My method is way slower, but I’m not locked into a digital process in the creative stages. I think you get a different product this way (kind of like rice tastes best when cooked slowly on a wood stove).

Next, our art director David Wills refines the pages, doing a new layout. This then goes to Macmeister Rick, who builds files for the printers (in inDesign). Rick has just done 4 rough 2-page spreads to get us started, so we can see what the book is going to look like.  (In pic above, top right spread is of Lloyd House’s van conversion on an island in British Columbia.)

I watched a program on our local PBS station last week, an interview with 3 prominent mystery writers, including Elmore Leonard (master of tight prose). All talked about the process of writing a novel. None has a fixed idea, a worked-out plot, an outline beforehand. They start writing, and as they work on it, their characters take over, and the book gets created in the process — not plotted out and/or outlined in advance.

Hey, I thought, my books are like that. I gather materials, start assembling pages randomly, working on whatever catches my eye, and then gradually, the whole emerges. Surprise!

This is a wild book. People living in all manner of little cabins, yurts, boats, trailers, road vehicles, urban “capsules,” Vectors are coming in from different parts of the world, wildly disparate, but with the unifying theme of living in a small space. Simplifying.

This is FUN! Watching this book unfold. Yesterday afternoon I interviewed Dan Phillips, a builder in east Texas who helps single moms, low-income families, and artists (“…all under-represented in these times”) build their own homes for under $30,000… Jeez, don’t get me started…

I’ve resisted posting pics from book all along, I want to save them so people discover all these wonderful, creative, tuned-in ways of living in one kaleidoscope of a book. But it just occurs to me I can post rough layouts from time to time, so you can see a work in progress.

Back to the layout table…

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

9 Responses to Tiny Homes book is taking shape…

  1. Lloyd,

    The way you put together your book is perhaps representive of the manner in which the builders you showcase put together their homes.

    What works for the individual under "local" conditions is often the best pathway (vector).

    Please continue to share your efforts, they mean a great deal to so many of us!!!

  2. Your layout technique is a huge part of what draws me into your books. It's so much more human and approachable than most mass produced stuff. Keep it up – and thanks!


  3. I'm waiting to build my shop so I can see what's in this (I know it's going to be marvelous) book. and I also love your books….inside and out….huge influence on our round log house in Nauvoo, Illinois. I want to say to you………."HURRY UP"….but to hurry an artist is not good…so we all wait with anticipated excitement. and rice cooked on a rack on an open fire is also marvelous. thanks for that memory. aloha, irene

  4. Thank you for sharing Lloyd!! It’s great to see glimpses of what’s to come. Looks like it’ll be another amazing book.

    Dan Phillips is a wonder. The creative ideas he has and the work he does for others… inspiring!!

  5. One of the aspects I enjoy about the LK books I have is the ease of reading them. I find my eye travels quite naturally around the page and there is a flow to the whole book. It doesn't surprise me that they are laid out on paper during the assembly/construction after all, if the intention is to produce a physical book I would have thought it is best to design the book as close to the finished piece as you can. In the same way if I was putting together an e-book I would want to design it on something that is going to give the feel of the reader most likely to be used.
    While a computer is a powerful and useful tool I feel they can only simulate a physical medium and hint at the tactile qualities.

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