Inspiration To Build in California From Shelter Books

“Hi Lloyd,

I’m writing for a couple of reasons.  First is to say thanks for all the inspiration and information.

   In 2007 a friend gave us a copy of Homework. Thus began our quest to find our own little piece of the earth to create our idealized “artist playground.”  Sometimes we would lose faith and moan “Why can’t it still be the 1970s so we could just go out and find an old farm that no one wants anymore. If only we had a time machine!” Along the way we picked up a copy of Shelter and then things really kicked in. Our senses of belief, freedom and possibility where bolstered and we plowed on through the seemingly endless array of realty jargon, money questions and what-the-hell-are-we-doing moments.

   Eventually we ended up finding five acres in Lake county. Then the real adventure began. We put all of our “stuff” in a storage unit, set up a tent and moved in. At the time we felt like we where in our own little world. We simultaneously knew exactly what we where doing while not really having a clue.  We where scavenging materials and scribbling drawings of structures on notepads, napkins and wood scraps. Sometimes we would realize that we where making things more complicated than they needed to be. That is when we coined the phrase “What would Lloyd Kahn do?”  WWLKD!? This referenced the bit in the back of Homework where you described going through the lifelong process of building all kinds of alternative structures  and ended up coming back to simple stick framing on a 1/2 acre. It was also a riff on the whole WWJD “What would Jesus do?” bracelets that where inescapable at the time.  We also had WWLD which was, “What would Lebowski do” for those moments when “All this thinking bullshit is just like too much, man!”

   We are still dreaming, building and bumbling our way down life’s road. Along the way we have added two young boys to the mix and created an amazing community of friends and neighbors.…

   The attached pictures are of our house and the power shack. I also built a music studio that looks like a bigger version of the power shack. The roofline was inspired by some of the pictures from the Builders of the Pacific Coast book.

   So thanks for the mental steam power!


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:

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