Feng Shui & Tiny Buildings

My home library’s selection of tiny-home titles. (I unfortunately returned the beautiful Nomadic Homes book before I remembered ask Steve to take this photo!)

I’ve been writing a series of articles on large buildings, and it seems appropriate to interject an article on small buildings—as yin/yang balance. It’s easier for a small building to have good feng shui than it is for a large building—especially homes.

Tiny homes are quite trendy now. There’s something very practical about them, and they certainly force you to deal with your clutter (which regular blog readers know I am firmly against). I used to live in a very tiny home. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s I lived in an old smokehouse in Hotrock, Tennessee. (It was called Hotrock because years ago, a certain big flat rock on the nearby Elk River was used for gambling.) Hotrock is about 30 miles from Huntsville, Alabama, where I had founded my second bookstore, Books as Seeds. The building I was living in was about was about nine feet by eleven feet. The thing that made it very livable was the bed I built, which folded into a wall, with a built-in bookcase. The room never felt like a bedroom until just before I crawled into bed.

We have three books on tiny buildings in our own home library, and I checked out another from the library system. The book from the library is fairly new and it’s called Nomadic Homes—and it’s from Taschen. (Need I say more?) I had looked at the Taschen Publishing catalog (which does not look like a regular catalog at all) hoping that a certain three-volume set on Art Nouveau architecture in Europe was in the library system, but alas—no. So I settled for Nomadic Homes which was in the same catalog. Truthfully, there’s no such thing as “settling for” when it comes to a book published by Taschen. The book is huge and packed full of innovative ideas and stunning pictures. (Interlibrary loan is totally free in Hawaii, within the state—so rush on down to your local library to pick it up. You can easily request it online on the state website).

A Hut of One’s Own: Life Outside the Circle of Architecture by Ann Cline could not be a more different kind of book. The Taschen book is yang and this little book with black and white photos is quite yin. It’s from MIT and those folks really know how to make interesting architecture books. This one feels very meditative.

Small Buildings by Mike Cadwell is another small size book with B&W photos, and it’s mostly photos, whereas the previous book was mostly words. The buildings are simple, chunky, arty buildings, and it’s in the “pamphlet” series from Princeton Architectural Press.

Micro: Very Small Buildings by Ruth Slavid is from Lawrence King Publishing, and even though I didn’t know of that publisher before, I immediately respect them. The book has a nicely innovative binding of two very hard and thick cardboard boards that are the natural wood pulp color of unbleached paper. That’s the first thing everyone says about this book—how nice it feels. And it turns out to be a major study of small buildings worldwide, with lots of color photos.

As far as feng shui is concerned, a tiny home is like a multivitamin pill—a lot of umpf in a very small space. If you get your feng shui right (especially emphasizing the bagua areas that you want to work on) you will know about it in your life. And the caution is: that if you get the feng shui wrong—like putting the bathroom in the Wealth Corner—you’ll also know about it.

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