Small Homes

What is a Folly?

For whatever reason, tiny housers seem to like to name their homes. Perhaps because of the small size of these homes it’s impossible not to become intimately acquainted with them. After living so closely together, how could you not come to know their name?

Whatever the reason behind it, I’ve been envious of the various names of these structures: The names are all as wonderfully individualistic and creative as the homes themselves.

I want to find the name for my little place, dang it. To date, as close as I’ve come in the process is catching myself referring to it more than once as “the Folly”. And, yes, it’s a deliberate pun. At various points in the renovation process, I’ve meant folly in every sense of the word.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the architectural definition, follies are small, whimsical buildings usually constructed in gardens or family estates. They are rarely intended for actual use but, rather, to serve as a kind of ornament. Often there is an element of artifice in their construction. For example, one very common type of historical folly was a fake ruin. Dont ask me why, but at one point is was quite the thing for well-to-do English lords to have a Grecian ruin tucked away in some corner of their garden.

Which leads me to the real point of this entry I recently discovered the U.K.’s Folly Fellowship, an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of follies. This organization describes itself as: Initially a group of enthusiasts keen to record what was at first seen as a peculiarly British aspect of architecture, it has grown into a serious conservation and consultative architectural heritage charity, while not losing sight of the basic idea that these buildings are fun – they were built for pleasure before purpose. Some make us laugh, some provoke contemplative thoughts, some can frighten. Some are mere whims, others demand to be taken seriously. People take their pleasures seriously – why should buildings be any different?

I love that thought buildings that refuse to take themselves too seriously. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly the kind of home Id like to live in.

But beyond just an appreciation for architecture with a lighthearted spirit, The Folly Fellowship has created a Flickr pool with some absolutely wonderful photos of these eccentric structures. Not only do I think this a wonderful collection of images to page through for the sheer fun of it, but I suspect many aspiring small housers could find inspiration in some of the designs.