home (14)

Man, 89, built his own ‘Hobbit House’ in Highlands where he lives almost entirely off-grid

Great-grandfather Stuart Grant, 89, moved into the cottage he bought as a wreck with no roof and no doors in 1984, while he was renovating a house.

But he found it so satisfying doing DIY on the quirky outbuilding which dated back 200 years, that he decided to make it his home.…

From comment on blog by Anon, Feb 13, 2023

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Shelter for Humans

Lloyd Kahn (born 1935) is arguably the most influential pioneer of the DIY building movement that emerged in the counterculture of the 1960s. Besides being trained as a carpenter and having built many homes by hand, he also has a special talent for presenting information in an easy-to-understand form, a skill he puts to use as editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications, where he releases books on building and fitness.

His first contact with the craft of publishing was in 1968 when he became a key contributor to the creation of the Whole Earth Catalog, which led him to publish two books on dome building and then, in 1973, the book Shelter (which went on to sell over 300.000 copies).

The name Shelter is significant here, as it describes the essence of why we build. When we speak of architecture we think of monumental structures or at least buildings for an elite, and not of the homes built to meet our most human needs. This is what I find so empowering about Kahn’s emphasis on building traditions outside the architectural canon: The message that you can still create your own home, without being rich or a professional. Much of what is presented to us today under the label #cabinporn has little to do with this utopian spirit that encourages a forgotten self-efficacy beyond what money can buy.


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Shelter’s First Five Books

Last week, Kyle Theirmann, surfer, skater, journalist, and pal of Chris Ryan’s came here to do a podcast of me talking about the ’60s, about which he is doing a book based on the fact that a lot of millennials (he’s 32) are aware that something happened then, but don’t know exactly what.

To start out, I gave him a thumbnail description of our first books, and I got him to shoot this video on my camera.

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Vanessa Renwick Discovers Secrets in Her 115-Year-Old Portland House

breathe love, breathe light.

I’ve lived in this house for thirty years now. I sit within it and study it, inside and out. I love transforming it, as I love transforming spaces for installations. To create a vision of beauty. Sometimes I hear the house telling me things … that wainscoting is needed where the wallboard is that someone put up in the kitchen. I take off the wallboard and the wainscoting is already there, has been all along, waiting to breathe in the sunlight.

That a door needs to be between the two small bedrooms, I take off the fake wood paneling and there is a doorway already there.

For years I debated taking down two walls to make the house more open, but then I would lose my guest room. I finally decided to just widen the doorway in between the kitchen and the living room. I had taken the door off the hinges years ago anyway. When the doorway trim came off, there was a wadded-up piece of material jammed under it. I was afraid I would break it if I tried to unfold it, as it was stiff like newspaper. It was covered in dust and dried blood. I soaked it in oxygen bleach three times over and hung it outside on the clothesline.

It dried as you see it in the photo, holding that beautiful form. I knew that Volga Germans built this house in 1908, and I contacted Steven Schreiber, who has a site dedicated to their history. The story continues here.


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An Unheralded Sicilian Artisan


One of the moments that makes all the stress of travel worthwhile.

Waiting for the ferry to Sicily, this guy in a kind of beat up car in front of me was repacking his stuff, and pulled this out.

I went over and we were able to converse in Spanish. I told him how great they were and gave him one of our mini books.

He had driven to Barcelona with a bunch of these little constructions to sell, but hadn’t sold any. Price, about 50 Euros (cheap!).

Native Siciliano, Marco Paderni, from Catania.

Then he took out a 2nd smaller one (second pic), pointed to it and said “Regalo” — gift. I thanked him, but demurred, referring to air travel.

What generosity! Isn’t it strange how people with the least resources are the most generous?

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Wynken, Blynken and Nod


Three side-by-side houses in SFO’s Sunset district last week.

One person commented that he had lived in one of these and that it had a 5′ by 5′ outdoor patio in the center of the house. Come to think if it, I remember such an inner patio in my friend Rod Lundquist’s mother’s house out in the avenues, it was like a light well with windows looking into it on all 4 sides. A pretty nice feature for houses that are built wall-to-wall.

The title popped into my mind and I just looked it up, nothing to do with houses, but a pretty nice opening stanza in this poem by Eugene Field, 1850-1895:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
    Sailed off in a wooden shoe,
Sailed into a river of crystal light
    Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
    The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
    That live in this beautiful sea;
    Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

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66-Year-Old UK Woman Told to Tear Down Self-Built House

This just came in from Anon:

Woman, 66, is ordered to demolish her £59k log cabin eco-home where she has lived for seven years after council ruled it was too big and breached planning permission.

The mother-of-three spent £59,000 of her life savings constructing the cabin from natural materials and applied for planning permission at the time in order to do so.

She was told she did not require permission as there was already a mobile home on the site in the quaint hamlet.

‘I was given this formal legal document dated January 23, 2014 that said ‘application not required’. ‘I built it exactly the same as it looks in the plans I submitted in 2013. It is absolutely identical.’

“But Herefordshire County Council has since performed a U-turn and told her the wooden structure is unauthorized and in breach of planning regulations.


If you run up against a firewall here, use Chrome Incognito Window (under “File” pull down window).

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