82 pens were harmed in the making of this book ——>Really!
~D. Diedricksen

Vermont Cabin Exterior (at the lower trail leading to the outhouse). Photo: Bruce Bettis

Whether you are a subscriber or reader of Tiny r(E)volution, a fan on our Facebook page, or just a casual “I wonder what the heck they are doing now?” sort of reader, you are probably somewhat familiar with the fact that we love coffee. In fact, it is evidenced here, here, and even over here. So when my advance copy of Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here by Derek Diedricksen came in my PO Box touting the title The New Triple-Caffeinated EXPANDED EDITION, I could hardly wait to open it up and gulp it down.

If you have never heard of Deek, er, I mean, Derek, before you have probably stumbled across his blog relaxshacks. Deek was born, raised, and became an Eagle Scout (you can’t make this stuff up, my friends) in Madison, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Northeastern University. After college he went on to deejay at CBS radio station 104.1 WBCN in Boston. He is now the host and director of the online hit TV program Tiny Yellow House based on his designs and sketches. To his credit his work has also been featured in or has appeared on PBS, CBS, ABC, NPR, Treehugger.com, The Seattle Times, New York Times, Boston Globe, and a number of international pubs.

But enough about Deek. Let’s talk about the book. From the colorful, dizzying, chain-mail ‘esque’ front cover to the back cover (proudly showing ‘made in the USA,’ might I add), the book is a hybrid of graphic novella meets personal Moleskin meets comedic brilliance. And somewhere along the line the three gave birth to a bevvy of beautiful photographs and helpful information. (Yes, I know it only takes two to tango. Please suspend disbelief for a moment.)

To make this review a bit different I decided to interview…well, the book itself. That’s right! I decided to ask questions and then (hope to) find the answers in the book. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that the book really did know itself quite well and was just as others have been saying; a no-holds-barred look into the mind of one of the great thinkers of our tiny house community!

Tiny r(E)volution: So why did you decide to make a newer version of your older self? Why the triple-caffeinated remix?

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: Well, I first came out in 2009 published by Tiny Yellow House Press. It was hardly a press. Rather it was more of a one-man-show armed with a comb binder and some spare room in the basement. I sold mostly by word-of-mouth. I have to admit that I quickly became an underground hit gaining attention from the likes of Make Magazine, NPR, and CBS radio. Pretty soon I had three offers from three publishing houses offering to give me a new, more polished look. I accepted the offer from Lyons Press. In order to really meet the expectation by Deek as well as by Lyon I had to come up with a more thoughtful layout, more color, more ideas, and….well, let’s just say to do this it took A LOT of coffee!

TR: Upon first look you look to be little more than a hopped up doodle book; a permanent Etch-A-Sketch, at best.

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: I’ve heard that before. Truth be told, it is sort of right. I am not a book with exact building diagrams and materials lists. I don’t have architecturally approved designs and prints. I fancy myself as more of an idea book; an imagination station. That is what the tiny house community was built on anyway; imagination. I felt like I needed to stay true to that and, to be honest, trying to tame the mind of Deek would have been much hard than to let him dream.

TR: Why tiny houses? You could have been anything. You could have been a book on Elizabethan Sonnets or Depression-Era Glass Urns!

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: I was written by a dreamer, a builder, and a tinkerer. Deek grew up in a modest ranch house where he shared a 12-by-12 room with his brother until the 9th grade. Small spaces run in his blood. He breathes tiny houses and micro-homes. He brought me to life to spark something within us all that allows us to ponder the question, “How much space to you really, truly, need to live well?”

TR: A lot of your pages feature recycled objects, found materials, and repurposed items. Do you promote recycling and repurposing as much as straight-forward building?

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: Absolutely! Part of the charm of my pages is that I show structures that are as inexpensive as they are creative. In order to keep the cost down I include those recycled items. Not to mention those items are usually out there already and pretty easy to locate. Why pay when you can just ‘recruit?’

TR: What is your favorite page? Your favorite design, if you will.

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: That’s an easy one. Page 52. The Bullet!

(cont’d) It reminds me of a silo with its domed top. It also appeals to me having both an office type space downstairs and sleeping space with veranda. Fun AND sophisticated! And at just 8′ by 8′ I think it is one of the smaller footprints for a truly livable space!

TR: Well thank you for allowing us to peak inside your pages today. It has truly been revealing and we look forward to scouring each and every page within.

HHSSCCRRFF:AWHEWCSIH: You’re welcome. But wait, is that all you’re going to say about me? I am a bit more complex than just a few sketches and a short bio.

And he’s right. Nestled among all the fun micro cabin sketches and tiny house ideas is 15-full color pages of tiny house photos including some Interweb favorites like The Hickshaw, Sandy Foster’s shabby chic getaway in the Catskills, and Bill Young’s Gypsy Coach. Perfect eye candy for the even budding tiny house enthusiasts.

Beyond that is yet another sketch portion which covers some of the unorthodox solutions Deek has found for things like skylights, showers, and hammocks. Even if the illustrations don’t interest you the captions are sure to make you laugh, think, and imagine!

And while I am nowhere to be found in the book (not a sketch, not a quote, and not even a footnote) I still think this is a fine publication to rest on your coffee table (think: conversation piece) or add to your library of other tiny house and small living reads. I know I am delighted to add it to ours and it has served as a reminder of why our community is more than just a group of people living in shrunken houses. We are a r(E)volution!

If you’re interested in getting your copy of Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here by Derek Diedricksen signed or you are just interested in learning from the man behind the mayhem, you can find him hosting a Miami Tiny House Workshop April 14 and 15, 2012 in Miami, FL. Once there you can learn such skills as:

  • How to build your home in the most cost effective manner, save money during construction, which jobs you are best fitted to do and when is a good time to call in some help;
  • The 14 basic tools you need to build your home;
  • How you can build a house on a trailer or standard foundation;
  • How to select the best materials for your home and which materials to avoid;