Steve Areen, a world traveler who has been visiting remote locations around the world, decided to put down a few roots in northeast Thailand. These roots grew into one of the most beautiful dome homes you may ever see. This work of art (that only cost $9,000 to build) sits in the middle of a mango farm that belongs to Steve’s friend Hajjar Gibran.
Hajjar had already been building dome homes at his retreat center on the farm and taught Steve how to build this cement block and clay brick home that uses local materials and lets in light and fresh air. Hajjar’s son, Lao, helped build the home with his masonry skills and the dome was completed in just over six weeks. Steve added his own details with the handmade front door, pond, upstairs hammock platform and the stonework and landscaping. Some of the most beautiful features of this home is the shower/greenhouse from local river stones and the natural bamboo sink faucet.
The home’s large, round windows are screened against insects and act as curved seating areas, and when Steve heads off to travel again, he seals up the round windows with rat proof inserts. A handmade wooden staircase ascends to the roof where a steel rod and palm frond covered hammock platform offers fresh air and views, and screened skylights on the domes let in even more light. Continue Reading »
For the new year, I’m planning on taking some time away from the computer to contemplate the next few months, practice some yoga and do some quiet meditation. While searching around for a retreat location, I kept running into meditation retreats and centers that had some sweet tiny houses, yurts and cabins for rent. Each of them are also located in some beautiful locations.
Staying at one of these meditation or yoga retreats is not only a good way to cleanse your body and soul, but you can also get some great tiny house and small space ideas.
The Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, California teaches classical yoga, ayurveda, vegetarian cooking, jyotish and vedic sciences, and permaculture. You and your family can stay in several different accommodations including a tent, a dorm and shared or individual cabins located in a beautiful valley.
The El Capitan Canyon luxury nature lodging (a little out of my range) is not a spiritual retreat, but does offer some beautiful cabins and yurts to stay in on the California Coast. The center offers massage, food and room packages and tours of the coastal area. You can stay in safari canvas tents, yurts and tiny cabins with names like “Peace Tree”, “Lone Stone” and “Shaded Creek”.
The San Francisco Zen Center at Tassajara offers an introduction to Zen meditation and has several places you can stay like wooden yurts and Japanese tatami cabins. The center is quiet, rustic, gets its power from solar energy and offers vegetarian meals. The redwood yurts like the one shown above have views of trees and mountains and can accommodate up to three guests.
Affordable retreat cabins which happen to be next to bubbling waterfalls are available at Spirit Falls in Pine, Arizona. The small cabins (Cave of the Heart, Hopi Creek and Bodhi’s Place) are located in the pine trees with views of local wildlife like elk, deer and hawks.
Bill Thomas of Hobbitat Spaces in Maryland developed a passion for small spaces after 30 years of working in the historic restoration and custom home business. With the change in the housing market came a change in his focus of building and he began to develop small, custom homes that are constructed inside and out of the harsh Northeastern winters.
The first Hobbitat (or “Hob”, as they are affectionately called) was constructed using materials from Bill’s grandfather’s barn, windows from his childhood cabin and other reclaimed doors and materials. Hobbitat Spaces then built 13 Hobs for Blue Moon Rising, an ecotourism retreat in western Maryland. Each of the cabins were built with recycled, reclaimed and local materials, giving them a distinct look and feel.
Hobbitat Spaces is now in the process of taking individual orders for their small, hand-crafted homes. Each of the homes are built in a shop and all utilities are contained within the building envelope under insulation. The Homes are built to Maryland State building and energy codes and take about six weeks to complete.
Each Hobbitat contains the following:
• A complete structural framework, built to IRC code, with a Zip system exterior wall sheathing.
• An enclosed floor system that rests on six piers, installed before the building arrives.
• A roof system of hand cut framing or engineered trusses designed to carry a 40 lb. /sq. ft. snow load.
• A 30 gallon electric hot water heater.
• A 100 amp breaker panel and wiring to conform to the current code. Many outlets and light switches as per code.
• Andersen thermal windows. Your choice of 400 or Architectural series.
• A complete thermal cocoon of 2 lb. foam. R-38 for ceilings R23 for side walls and R30 in the floor system.
• A fresh air intake system with an Airetrak 1A control for indoor air quality.
• A plumbing system that allows you to very easily drain the building and walk away for weeks or months.
• Panasonic brand exhaust fans.
Photos by Hobbitat Spaces
by Paul and Shari Roten
I covered the Rotens “Ideabox” inspired Small Home back in December of 2012 and they recently sent me an update to share with you.
We’ve had a crazy few months, but wanted to share some of our news! Mother’s Day was spent moving into a 29ft camper on our 10 acres within a hundred feet or so from our future home. We left our management position due to Shari’s injury, so once again, it was time to start anew. And what a place to start!
We spent a couple days getting things organized in the camper and in our future home as we had no other storage building. Then the raised beds were built from 4x4s and we got our gardens planted! Food is always nice to have, especially when you’re roughing it.
We’ve been blessed by Paul’s new job just 15 miles away where he can utilize his skills and gifts. And we also now have the Camas center where we can get refreshed every day. The hot tub is pretty awesome too for the injury and other aches and pains.
On to the house! We’ve dealt with building codes and inspections, have had a few corrections to address, but up to this point, its been a cash jo with no debt. That’s HUGE to us. However, when you live in extreme NE WA, you have to be prepared for winter. A trailer for two plus three Boxers, one with pups on the way, isn’t going to cut it. We endured much stress as the bank account allowed just enough to cover a few bills each month and we’ve done some creative cooking thanks to Dollars and Deals!
We’ve had an incredible angel come into our lives. We asked for guidance, and he made a proposal AND told us “I believe in you”. It was one of the most humbling and emotional moments we can think of in our lives. We are truly blessed. It is amazing how things work when you take the high road and do the right things on life.
We have a plumber, an electrician, a sheetrock installer and painter in the wings!
Just past our septic test hole inspection with FLYING colours so its on to approval of the design, then installation! That’s a huge hurdle!
We have paint colours chosen, our tile stocked, and plan to hit IKEA on Saturday to pick up all our kitchen cabinets! They are our favorite!
Our 5th anniversary is November 21st, so the plan is to be in and hosting an open house by then!