Deek Diedricksen salvages nails. He builds things out of pallets. And wine bottles. And Juicy Juice cans. He is thirty fucking four years old, and he still spends most of his time building forts and tree houses. (Hells yeah!) And luckily for you and me, he created and collected black-and-white sketches of his mad-cap ideas and put them out as the first edition of Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts, and Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here from the damp recesses of his basement.
In what Deek calls his “A-Rags-to-Fancier-Rags Story,” that book went cult. Publishers started making offers and in 2012 this, the “New Triple-Caffeinated EXPANDED EDITION,” was released unto the public. And the people rejoiced.
The 2012 edition contains 45 sketches/plans of tiny dwellings that will wake up your inner child, put a hammer in her hand, and get her building creative, tiny structures in the woods. From the “Fort-asaurus” to “The Coffin” to “The Mutt Hutt”—if you’ve never in your wildest dreams imagined building it, it’s in Humble Homes, Simple Shacks.
This Old House meets Wayne’s World Meets Mad Magazine. That’s what reviewers have to say about Humble Homes, Simple Shacks. And although it normally wouldn’t make a lot of sense to paraphrase other reviewers in your own book review (a review of a review of a review?), these folks have hit the salvaged nail on the head. It’s tiny house plans for the inexact, for dumpster divers, for bodies who are short on cash but don’t want to settle for vagabondage or permanent couch surfing. Though much more sympathetic (and dedicedly less right wing), the style is reminiscent of John Hoffman’s The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving.
I found it charming on at least three levels. 1. The humor. It had me laughing before the book had even started. IE you know that boring page with the publisher information that you normally,wouldn’t ever even read? I was already laughing there. 2. It’s full of trash-turned treasure ideas, and it sends out three hearty cheers to scavenging. Mini homes for the apocalypse, hurray! And— 3. It has a “zine-y” feel to it. That’s not “zany” folks, that’s “zine-y” as in, reminds me of the photocopied zines that fill one corner of my bookshelf. The professionally published re-issue hasn’t resulted in a loss of charm. Though I admit I do kind of like those original comb bindings. (Pictured right.)
The sketches are chaotic, full of building notes, scavenging tips, and jokes. The text is hilarious, and full of ideas for creative scavenging and recycling. There are ideas for cheap-o chimneys, windows, showers, toilets, and cabins. There are buildings shaped like dinosaurs and trees. There are houses made entirely out of doors and ideas for repurposing old refridgerators, and, oo la la, there’s even a spread of color photos of tiny homes around the world—including one from yours truly.
I first heard of Deek’s work through his blog, RelaxShacks, where he regularly posts photos of tiny houses and tree houses and house boats. If it’s small or built out of junk, he’s probably documented it. Last summer I filmed for a segment of his online film series Tiny Yellow House, though it has yet to air. And from what I can tell he’s not only put together a great book, he’s the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with. Better yet, he’s the kind of guy you want to have around if you need an unorthodox solution to a building problem, help taking apart the stack of pallets you just scavenged, or you’ve just run out of nails. Three cheers for Deek!
Below is a glance at one of the designs in the book. If you like what you see, scroll down to the end of this post and click on my link to buy the shit out of it. That way Deek’ll get money, I’ll get money, and you’ll have another frickin’ awesome book on your shelf.