Inspiring Handmade Homes

Explore the joy, wit, and harmony of these exceptional handmade homes, each one a standing testament to the talent and creativity you'll find along the Pacific Coast of North America.

| February/March 2009

  • Northern California temple
    A design primarily associated with Mongolia, this temple in Northern California is reminiscent of a yurt — which is arguably one of the original "handmade homes."
    PHOTO: LLOYD KAHN
  • Seaside interior
    What inspired these unique buildings? One common theme is that they use wood, and lots of it. In their coastal marine environment, trees are abundant, and so is driftwood.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Handmade seaside kitchen
    The kitchen of a seaside homestead built primarily from driftwood.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Family room
    A light and airy living room, designed as the main gathering space for a family of six.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Amphitheater British Columbia
    An amphitheater in British Columbia.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Temple California
    A temple under construction in northern California.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Spherical treehouse
    An elegant spherical treehouse.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Cliffhanging homestead
    A cliff-hanging homestead on the rocky coast of Vancouver Island.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Eagle shed
    A woodshed designed to resemble an eagle.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Loft dome
    A loft built inside a geodesic dome home.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Buddha panorama
    “The Buddha House” found in Northwest Washington state.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Buddha snow
    Another view of the Buddha House.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Kahn Catwalk
    The indefatigable author, Lloyd Kahn.
    LLOYD KAHN
  • Buddha interior
    An interior look at the Buddha House dome.
    LLOYD KAHN

  • Northern California temple
  • Seaside interior
  • Handmade seaside kitchen
  • Family room
  • Amphitheater British Columbia
  • Temple California
  • Spherical treehouse
  • Cliffhanging homestead
  • Eagle shed
  • Loft dome
  • Buddha panorama
  • Buddha snow
  • Kahn Catwalk
  • Buddha interior

It’s a land of blue and green: the blue of the water — ocean, bays, estuaries, inlets, rivers, and creeks; and the green of the trees — cedar, fir, hemlock, balsam, alder, and spruce, all fed by abundant rainfall. It’s along the Pacific Coast of North America, from San Francisco up to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. And it’s in this relatively small geographical area that I discovered most of the handmade homes featured in this article and in my new book, Builders of the Pacific Coast.

The quality of design, imagination, and craftsmanship in this part of the world is astounding. Over a two-year period, I made four trips of about three weeks each, with cameras and notebooks, shooting these photos and talking to builders.

Specific locations usually aren’t given, in order to preserve the homeowners’ privacy. Suffice to say, it’s a coastal marine environment, latitudes 37 to 49 degrees, with boats everywhere. Many of these buildings can be reached only by water. You get to the islands by ferries.

Due to significant rainfall and fast-growing forests, there’s a large amount of wood available for building. Its abundance (although more so 30 years ago than today) has given many of these builders the material and inspiration to create these structures. A lot of the wood used in these buildings came off the beach, or at least from very close by.



About 80 percent of the builders featured in the book are Canadian. Some are Americans who emigrated to Canada to avoid being drafted for the war in Vietnam.

Many of these buildings were constructed in the ’70s and ’80s, some in the ’60s, a singular period in North American history. This group of builders, the types inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog, were acting out their dreams. You could live on very little money, land was cheap, and building codes few. It was a period not likely to be duplicated, a 20- to 30-year span of inspiration, freedom, and spirit manifested in a number of homes.

WWW.EasyWoodwork.org
5/28/2018 4:10:42 AM

I use the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own DIY projects – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. 🔨 They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha. Go to ⭐ WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans 🤗


VictorW
4/13/2013 5:16:37 AM

Restrictions, poet Sandra Cisneros lives in a purple house, she even wrote about it. She is fined by the city but will only pay the fines and not paint over it. Society always makes me laugh at how uptight it is over individuality. Let everyone create their own footprints and not walk in others I say.


Cathy Prescott-Hathaway
4/12/2013 4:00:34 PM

Kudos to Lloyd Kahn for his life's work of preserving the wonderful history of hand built, home made shelters in the U.S. and elsewhere. His books/articles are truly inspiring!







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