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Compact Cabins: Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less Paperback – February 5, 2010

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Compact Cabins: Simple Living in 1000 Square Feet or Less + Compact Houses: 50 Creative Floor Plans for Well-Designed Small Homes + Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (February 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603424628
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603424622
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Some of the designs in the book verge on the vacation-home look, but many are appealing in the way they play with the traditional presentation of a cabin. I was intrigued by the Micro Cabin at mere 162 square feet.”

About the Author

Gerald Rowan is the author of Compact Cabins. Retired from full-time teaching, he now teaches architectural history part-time at various schools in Pennsylvania, including Lehigh University and Haverford College. He has owned and renovated more than 60 small houses and cabins.

Customer Reviews

Good diagrams and floor plans.
Leonard Croll
I seen this book at Lowes and though WOW, this is just what I have been looking for.
I'm looking to build a small guest house and this book had a lot of great ideas.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 161 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on May 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the title says, I own over twenty cabin books. This is by far my favorite design/floorplan book. It has 50+ different designs. The review about it simply being a series of identical designs with "expensive bump outs" and "no use of lofts" apparently didn't look at more than a few designs, nor read the actual text of the book. In the second half, the author addresses adding more floor-space cheaply by using lofts for sleeping areas. There are only a few designs with bump-outs, and if you don't like them, turn the page!

My favorite thing is the way the book is organized, the cabins are arranged in sq/ft. order as you look through the first half of the book, going from just over a hundred feet to almost 1,000 (but most are 600 sq/ft or fewer). Each design gets a floor plan and an elevation (exterior drawing), covering two pages per cabin.

The second half of the book gives excellent overview-level information about green building, energy efficiency, off-the-grid ideas, incorporating garages, RV-concepts, and even a few designs using shipping containers!

There is a great chapter on using modular designed 12' x 12' sections to create a mobile living space, whereby you can truck in your cabin, add to it as you can afford to, and even design your own cabin using 20 or so "modules" that the author pre-designed and included in the book (i.e. 4 bedroom modules, 4 kitchen modules, 4 bathroom modules, living rooms, dining areas, etc.). It's a really fun addition to the book.

This is not a book to go deep into any one subject, but it is an excellent overview for the new reader who wants a LOT of survey-level information on cabin concepts. And the 50 designs rank among my favorites for their creativity and individuality. How many round, half-round, quonset hut or yurt-style cabins have you seen in cabin books lately?

Like I said earlier, best design book I own. Buy this book, you will NOT be disappointed.
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101 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Sonya Hartwell on March 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I considered buying this book on Amazon in 2009, but was dismayed by the negative reviews and so I skipped it over.

Fast-forward to 2010: I was having coffee at a physical book store (one of the major chains) last week and saw this book in the architecture/houses section. This book is LOADED with plans. I have no idea what some of the pre-2010 reviewers were talking about. Of course they're not actual house-plans they are FLOOR PLANS -- and they are highly detailed. That was enough for me, so I bought it on Amazon the following night -- can't beat free shipping and no taxes!

Virtually all of the pages are loaded with high-quality illustrations. The paper material is recycled and has a nice, rustic tan/brown quality to it. The ink is soy-bean based. The binding is solid and above average. If you have a habit of flipping through home-plans books and are dismayed by loose or ripped pages, you'll be very happy with the construction of this book. It's a high-quality, environmentally friendly product.

SO.... if you're looking for some great ideas on how to design a small house, this is perhaps THE BEST book I have found to date. Add it to your shopping cart. You won't regret it. I have bought dozens of home plan books and home-ideas books revolving around the them of "small". This is my favorite. It's one of those books you'll take to bed with you and keep on your night stand.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Baja James on February 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While recently there have been many books on micro housing this is the best. It is a book on the practical applications of the concept and not some architects exercise in the extreme with no real world applications. Many of the solutions in this book are adapted form the RV camper world. Also there are practical applications of alternative energy and gray water technology. While for most this represents a great way to do a weekend retreat it may also be the future of housing through out the world.

There have been a few reviews stating that this is not a plan book and that is true. There are no true construction plans. The floor plans are small and much like an RV. As a matter of fact much 12v RV technology is listed here. But the book is not intended as a full time living house book. It is a getaway and weekend house book. Though I still think the plans livable for the micro housing movement. Now some of the shapes are yurt like, Hexes, unusual geometry and the like but still very functional.
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86 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Peck on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
My history? I've lived semi-off-grid for the last ten years. Always been interested in house design. My dad (who wasn't) told me once that the way to look at a design was to see yourself living in it. Sounds good, even if sometimes the end product ends up different.

In the "ONCE WAS ENOUGH" category I'd put waking up with the 'flu in an upstairs bedroom--no bathroom up there. And coming a lot closer than I'd like to being trapped by a fire in a house with one door.

Plenty of instances here. And, I'm sorry to say, some plans make the fire hazards more likely. Fold down tables and pull-out sofas (assuming they are as shown, seats unfolding twice in one direction to form the bed) that, when unfolded, block the door and/or come within inches of a space heater or wood stove.

There is also an assumption that all you need to do for "solar" electricity or water is to toss a couple of panels on the roof, for the electricity stick a couple of batteries somewhere. In two designs "somewhere" is under a shelf inside the house. Generating flammable hydrogen gas.

More annoying than dangerous is a half-height water heater stuck in a corner behind--pick any two--under-counter refrigerator, sink with attached plumbing, or stove which may have an oven. There are good workaround solutions, NOT shown.

But the drawings are inspirational, a good deal of the advice seems OK.
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