Thursday, August 19, 2010

On the edge of a continent

In the thirty-some years I’ve been renovating houses or writing about them I’ve owned six, fixing each one up and then moving on, in rural Vermont, suburban Connecticut and Northern California. Now I live on a sweet piece of land that was once a small dairy farm above Tomales Bay, which empties into the Pacific. The farmer built his house on this gentle hillside because his cows found it peaceful here. So do I.

It’s a different living arrangement than any I’ve tried before because the property has two homes on it: A main house (the original farmhouse) and an in-law unit created from a pair of outbuildings that once housed tractors and other agricultural paraphernalia. I live in the in-law part, which has 12-ft. ceilings and quarry tile floors throughout, and though it’s a bit smaller than my other homes, it’s comfortable, affordable and commodious.

And it’s nice having a neighbor close by. We don’t see each other all that often—no more often than you’d see a neighbor across a fence—but every now and then we stop and chat or maybe share a chore.

The longer I lived in this set-up the more I wondered why more people don't live this way. Well, as it turns out, they do. And my explorations into shared housing eventually led to my writing a book about it. As you might have guessed by now, it's called In-Laws, Outlaws & Granny Flats, and it will shortly be published by Taunton Press. This blog will tell how the book came to be, the people I met along the way and a lot of great stories that didn't make into the book for one reason or another. So thanks for stopping by and check back often. I'll be posting something new every few days.

Mike Litchfield

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