Unless you’ve been living deep undercover, you’ve likely heard about the tiny home movement that’s been sweeping the country over the past 4-5 years.
There’s even a show about it on HGTV these days, so you know it’s gotten popular enough that the mainstream media is trying to cash in.
That said, it’s a wonderful counter-culture movement in housing. It says “No!” to over-sized homes packed with junk you don’t need or use. It rejects ballooning mortgage payments and a consumerist lifestyle, trading it out for a simpler, greener, and more minimal life.
Whether you’re intrigued by tiny homes, want to build one, or currently live in one, these books are wonderful additions to your bookshelf.
Lloyd’s book is less an instruction manual on how to build a tiny house and more a chronicle of people who are actually out there doing it.
It tells the story of people who have built tiny homes — even ones that are in water. This book is a bit more expansive than what you might normally think of as a tiny home, including things like houseboats and trailers.
But if you want to be inspired by stories, pictures, and tales of real-life people that are actually part of the tiny house movement, this is a good pick.
The Very Small Home: Japanese Ideas for Living Well in Limited Space
Having been to Japan before, I can say that they have a unique approach to architecture and use of space. This book looks at 18 different small homes built in Japan in a range of different build styles.
The interesting angle to Azby’s book is the fact that she breaks down the “big idea” of each home — that is, the feature that makes the home “feel” bigger despite being quite compact.
It’s broken down into two main sections: profiles of the 18 different houses, and then a deeper look at the features that make each home unique.
The homes featured in The Very Small Home are awe-inspiring reminders of the pinnacles you can reach when building a tiny home.
The Small House Book
A huge factor contributing to the rise in tiny home popularity is the cost of homes in America. Author Jay Shafer wrote this book in order to change the paradigm around what “affordable” housing really means.
This is half a philosophical book about the factors leading to the housing issues in America, and half an instructional manual on how to build a tiny home of your own.
What makes this book special is Jay’s look into the different loopholes and regulations that go into building a tiny home (there are more than you think).
The Composting Toilet System Book A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems
David Del Porto
While this book isn’t about tiny homes per se, there’s no question you’ll want a composting toilet in your tiny house if you do decide to build one.
There are 40+ composting toilet systems featured in this book, mixing purchased and DIY options together.
There’s a special focus on the regulations that go into owning and operating a composting toilet, which unfortunately are the main reason that people don’t install them, even in homes that they live in year-round.
The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir
This book is a wild ride. It’s the story of author Dee Williams and how she almost died in a grocery store. Spurred by that death-defying moment, she re-evaluated her live and decided to size it down considerably.
She built a 84 sq ft. home all by herself and tells the story of both the construction and what living in a home that small has done to her life, her finances, and her health.
It’s a mix of a practical how-to book and a deeply personal memoir, so no matter where you are in your tiny home journey there’s something for you.
Simply Imperfect Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House
Robyn Griggs Lawrence
Why am I not surprised that there’s another tiny home-related book that has to do with Japan on this list!
Author Robyn Griggs Lawrence gives a primer on wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy that espouses living in the moment, minimalism, and finding joy in the ordinary things of life. These are all traits that aspiring tiny home owners subscribe to, making it a great book for you.
It’s less about how to build a tiny home, but rather how to live and act once you have one. With sections on decluttering, reusing materials, and growing food, it’s best for those who want to live more of a “tiny house” philosophy, regardless of if you live in a tiny home or not.
Shipping Container Homes
If you’ve ever seen pictures online of a shipping container home and thought, “I want that!” then this book is for you.
It is a purely practical guide on how to plan, build, and live in a shipping container home. Plain and simple.
It shows you ALL of the different types of layouts and designs, along with tips on cost, insulation, container selection, and more.
If you are serious about building a container home, this is essential reading.
Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills (DIY)
I included this book by Raleigh Briggs in the list because it aligns with the mentality of many tiny home owners or aspiring owners.
It’s all about how to make your own cleaning products, grow your own food, and be more self-reliant. If you want to live a more simple and sustainable life, pick this one up.
Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever The Heck Else We Could Squeeze In Here
This book easily wins the wackiest name award. It’s chock-full of sketches of homes, forts, cottages, and more. Author Derek Diedricksen annotates the sketches with a mix of punchy commentary and practical advice.
This is not a how-to book — rather, it’s a book for inspiration on your own projects. You can use his sketches as a starting point to design the tiny home of your dreams, instead of copying a project line-for-line.
Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet
If you are still on the fence about building and living in a tiny home, this book is for you. It looks at the trends behind the tiny home movement, and has sections on evaluating if living in one is really for you, or if it’s just a nice fantasy that you like to entertain once in a while.
Author Ryan Mitchell profiles different tiny home owners and does share some practical advice on design, decluttering, and deciding if you really want to take the plunge.
Tiny House Floor Plans Over 200 Interior Designs for Tiny Houses
If you are dead set on building a tiny home, this is the book for you. It is the pinnacle of practicality, with 200+ designs for tiny homes filling its pages.
The chapters are organized by footprint, starting at 8×12 and moving all the way up to 12×24 (+ a loft).
Don’t expect a lot of words in this book. It is almost exclusively a book of plans, made for those who know how to use them. If you are ready to build a tiny home and need inspiration as far as plans go, buy this book.
TINY HOUSES looks more at the philosophy behind tiny homes and is aimed at those who currently do not live in one. The goal is to compare and contrast the reader’s living situation with the presented tiny homes.
If you’ve been bitten by the tiny home bug but don’t currently live in one, this is a thought-provoking and inspiring book (there’s even a tree house in here!).
Tiny Homes Simple Shelter
We close out the list with another book from Lloyd Kahn, a profiler of people who live in tiny homes. Like his first book, this book features 150+ people who built and live in tiny homes of all shapes and sizes.
They come from all walks of life — architects, engineers, farmers, city-dwellers, and more — but all have tiny homes in common.
This book is fantastic to dispel you of the notion that only certain types of people live in tiny homes.
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