a story about living small

Interview: Derek Diedricksen, Micro-Architect and Blogger at Relaxshacks.com

Derek “Deek” Diedreksen is a tough guy to pin down. His love of tiny architecture is first on a long list of creative pursuits—including radio DJ, comic book artist, musician (currently heading a Rage Against the Machine tribute band), blogger, author and full-time dad.

His blog, Relaxshacks.com, and his book, “Simple Shacks, Humble Homes” is devoted to micro-architecture and living in small spaces, but the structures he builds aren’t necessarily meant for living full time. Closer to forts or pods, his “Hundred-dollar-homeless huts” and greenhouse office-shelters are inspired by the salvaged materials that Deek finds in local dumps, thrift stores and second-hand building lots. A sort of D.I.Y. mad scientist, his structures have been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Readymade and Make Magazine.

Deek’s been wise to the freedoms of building his own small-scale hideouts for decades. His first building project, at the age of 10 with his younger brother Dustin, resulted in a backyard hut where the boys escaped to play Nintendo. Today, the brothers are still working together—on a tiny cabin built ad hoc in rural Vermont, an ongoing project that’s expanded as they’ve both  moved from bachelorhood into family life. While Deek’s full-time home isn’t necessarily tiny, it’s definitely on the smaller side—around 900 square feet for a family of four.

One of tiny house community’s main voices, we especially love Deek because of his unabashed creativity. His structures speak to a truth that any kid who’s built a fort will tell you: that the spaces that surround us influence the way that we think and feel, can open us up to new ways of seeing the outside world. While they’re not meant for everyday, full-time living, he hopes that his micro-cabins—half sculpture, half home—will inspire people to get crafty with salvaged materials and apply some of his innovations to larger homes.

One our final day with Deek, we visited Boston South Shore to interview his brother, Dustin, about his own small home in Scituate, Massachusetts. A stay-at-home dad most weekdays, Deek arrived to meet us with both of his small kids in tow. We had some time to kill before Dustin and his wife arrived home from work, so we strolled down to the rocky coastline just a few blocks away.

While Christopher fought the seaside wind to get a few coastal shots, Deek and his kids combed through pebbles, shells, crablegs and washed-up beach debris. Picking up a piece of driftwood, Deek excitedly explained to his son that it had come from a boat out at sea, and together they examined the grain of the wood and brainstormed ways to use it.

Close to the waves in a pile of washed-up netting and plastic bottle caps, Deek found a can of black spray paint that was somehow still full of paint and fully operational.

“Funny thing is,” he said as he gave it a shake and we all walked back towards the house, “is that I need some black paint. I’ll definitely put this to use.”

~ Written by Merete Mueller, 11/21/2011

4 Responses

  1. Monyka

    Love Deek. I could pick his brain all day!

    December 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm

  2. staceyranae

    Yah! I could pick Deek’s brain apart too! Almost wish we could build together and help homeless people all over the country! …(just a thought) I will be starting “something” of my owne soon! Good luck to everyone in this growing nation wide tiny house community and God bless!

    December 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm

  3. This is very good location to construct a house.
    Thanks for sharing.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:57 am

  4. Found your blog while looking for some new crafting ideas. I have to say, this is the best post that I’ve read all week, very creative! Thanks for putting this together for all to read and view.

    April 12, 2012 at 2:20 am

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