Book Review: Compact Cabins

Compact Cabins:  62 Plans For Camps, Cottages, Lake Houses & Other Getaways, by Gerald Rowan

Although this book is aimed at endorsing and advocating for small vacation properties for people as a second home, there is a great deal of overlap between this book’s material and the goals of those who advocate for tiny houses in the Portland area as a solution for the high prices of local property and the barriers to entry for those seeking to own their first homes in the area in the aftermath of the ratcheting effect of foreclosures and high rental and property value increases over the past decade and more.  Obviously, this is not only a problem for the Portland area but is a problem in many cases, and the author here advocates a solution to tiny houses that are extremely space efficient and in many ways extremely cost efficient as well, with a considerable amount of flexibility based on the site conditions at hand.  If you are looking for a small and cozy but comfortable vacation home or “tiny house,” there will likely be designs in here that you will be very interested in seeing and that will spark one’s thinking and planning accordingly.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages and organized quite straightforwardly.  The author begins by preaching how one can find good living in small spaces, which is something I have a fair amount of experience in, although not necessarily by my own design.  After that, the author provides 50 designs for compact cabins, which range from log cabins to Quonset cabins to yurts to designs based on shipping containers and many others, quite a few of which would strike me as appealing places to spend some time, if a bit too cozy for living on a regular basis for the most part.  The author discusses various design principles, promotes a sensible modular approach to cabin design that allows considerable flexibility for buyers, and points out ways that people an take advantage of manufactured structural components and make the most out of building materials.  There is also discussion of how to utilize compact and efficient utilities and appliances, achieve various levels of energy independence ranging from a limited dependence on the grid to total off the grid living or even active energy generation through wind and solar power.  Even if most of these housing options are more than a little bit rustic, they won’t break the bank and will allow for a great deal of comfortable living.

There are at least a few ways in which this particular book serves the interest of those who want to endorse tiny homes or very efficient vacation building designs.  For one, the small sizes to be dealt with do not require the high energy usage of larger spaces.  For another, transoms, sleeping lofts over bookshelves and desks, and fold-up tables allow for efficient use of space if one is willing and able to handle the staging demands of such flexible space or one likes climbing ladders.  As someone who enjoys vacationing and camping from time to time, there is a lot here that strikes me as interesting and enjoyable and a productive and cost-effective use of space to provide comfortable short-term living.  And if someone wanted to live full-time in a tiny house, this book provides at least a few plans that should make that experience as comfortable as possible, making a virtue out of what may be a necessity.  It is easy to imagine having a large amount of space for one’s own, but it is also worthwhile to research how one can make do with a little space and make life as enjoyable as possible in even confined circumstances.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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