Books to Help You Build a Smaller Home

Top 12 House Plans and House Design Ideas for Smaller Homes

Way back in 1753, a French priest suggested that the Primitive Hut should be the model for all architecture. In the Third Millennium, the authors of these tiny home books would agree. See what can be packed into limited space with these books of plans and designs.

01
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Nano House: Innovations for Small Dwellings

NANO House, Innovations for Small Dwellings by Phyllis Richardson
NANO House, Innovations for Small Dwellings by Phyllis Richardson. Image courtesy Amazon.com

Author Phyllis Richardson has given us 40 ways to be ingenious and responsible, at under 650 square feet. Buy from Amazon »

02
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Little House on a Small Planet

Little House on a Small Planet by Shay Salomon
Little House on a Small Planet by Shay Salomon. Image cropped from Amazon.com

"Simple Homes, Cozy Retreats, and Energy Efficient Possibilities." More than just a collection of photos and floor plans, Litttle House on a Small Planet offers advice and inspiration with a friendly dose of philosophy. The pictures and plans focus on practical ways to rethink your need for space, and suggests rebuilding, remodeling, and redecorating solutions to use space wisely. Buy from Amazon »

03
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Small Eco Houses: Living Green in Style

Small ECO Houses, Living Green in Style
Small ECO Houses, Living Green in Style. Image courtesy Amazon.com
What makes a living space ecologically sound? Authors Cristina Paredes Benítez and Àlex Sánchez Vidiella give their points of view on small and not-so-small modern house designs. Buy from Amazon »

04
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Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn
Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn. Image courtesy Lloyd Kahn at shelterpub.com
A book that inspires the realization that one CAN live in less than 500 square feet? Author Lloyd Kahn helps us dream. Buy from Amazon »

05
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Build Your Own Low-Cost Home

Build Your Own Low-Cost Home by Leroy Oscar Anderson
Build Your Own Low-Cost Home by Leroy Oscar Anderson. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

This 1972 Dover Publication is still relevant. Subtitled, "Complete Working Drawings and Specifications for Eleven Homes Suitable for Year-Round and Vacation Use, With Step-By-Step Construction Information." What more could you want? Buy from Amazon »

06
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Small Home Building Made Easy, Plan 53

Small Home Building Made Easy, Plan 53 by Jim Marple
Small Home Building Made Easy, Plan 53 by Jim Marple. Image courtesy Amazon.com
Do-it-yourselfer Jim Marple has created a series of designs for simple, small homes. He walks you through the building of Plan 53, with framing details and a can-do attitude that helps you construct a 385-square-foot one-bedroom cottage. Buy from Amazon »

07
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500 Small Houses of the Twenties

500 Small Houses of the Twenties compiled by Henry Atterbury Smith
500 Small Houses of the Twenties compiled by Henry Atterbury Smith. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

This Dover Publications Reprint presents 500 small-home designs of the 1920s as they appeared in a major architectural publication of 1923. Many are designed by leading domestic architects of the period. Compiled by Henry Atterbury Smith. Buy from Amazon »

08
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Creating The Not So Big House

Creating the Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka
Creating the Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka. Image courtesy Amazon.com
"Insights and Ideas for the New American Home." Sarah Susanka, a LIFE Magazine Architect of the Year, shows how homes can be designed to feature "adaptable spaces" and how to create the illusion of space. Buy from Amazon »

09
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Small Houses from the Twenties

Small Houses of the Twenties, The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog
Small Houses of the Twenties, The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com
"The Sears, Roebuck 1926 House Catalog." A vintage house plan collection showing interiors and fixtures in great detail. Sears Roebuck and Co. Buy from Amazon »

10
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Tiny House Floor Plans

Tiny House Floor Plans, front and back, by Michael Janzen
Tiny House Floor Plans, front and back, by Michael Janzen. Image courtesy Michael Janzen at tinyhousedesign.com

Michael Janzen's 2012 book has over 200 floor plans for tiny houses, and it's said to be only Volume 1. "The idea of the book is to give you an idea of what fits inside a tiny house," Janzen says in a video walk-through of the book, "and as the size increases, it shows you the additional functions and features that can be included like a washer and dryer, a larger kitchen, bathtubs, sleeping for more people...." As a non-architect, Janzen fully shows you what can be accomplished with software to draw a simple floorplan. Buy from Amazon »

11
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Small Bungalows

Small Bungalows by Christian Gladu
Small Bungalows by Christian Gladu. Image crop courtesy Amazon.com

The word "small" is relative, and author Christian Gladu of The Bungalow Company defines small as under 1,800 square feet. But if you're a fan of the Arts and Crafts Style, the extra size may be worth a look. Buy from Amazon »

12
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The New American Cottage

The New American Cottage, Innovations in Small-Scale Residential Architecture, edited by James Grayson Trulove and Il Kim
The New American Cottage, Innovations in Small-Scale Residential Architecture, edited by James Grayson Trulove and Il Kim. Image courtesy Amazon.com

This slim, attractive book doesn't have detailed building plans, but you'll find inspiration from color photos of thirty small-scale residential projects, most under 2,000 square feet. Subtitled Innovations in Small-Scale Residential Architecture, James Grayson Trulove edited the 1999 book, which seems to be regaining popularity. How can small be such a big topic? Buy from Amazon »

Wright-Sized Houses by Diane Maddex (2003)

Subtitled "Frank Lloyd Wright's Solutions for Making Small Houses Feel Big," Maddex's book reminds us that thinking small has long been a big idea.