Finishing – A Simple House

Those of you following closely (thanking-ye) will know I spent 11 months in Kenya with my best mate Tim designing and building a house, called Ruby (my late Grandmother’s name). Photos below.

Here’s a couple of my previous musings:

Those following even more closely will have learned that it ended up being not quite as simple as intended. I think that my original design brief was along the lines of a treehouse and I now have something that is more like a palace – costing three times as much as we intended and, perhaps, being a third-as-green.

Was it a lack of realism, over-optimism or an inability to keep things minimalist that caused this over-egging of the simple pudding? Who knows?

Is it worth going back over and analyzing what went awry. Probably not.

Either way, I’ve just spent three weeks living in Ruby for the first time and, despite (or owing to?) the fact she’s fatter and grander than intended, I loved every minute. It’s wonderful to be able to ‘live’ what you’ve dreamt. Despite the fact that there is a disconnect between intention and reality, I am immensely proud of what Tim designed, what the builders managed to achieve. In fact, I think she’s perfect.

A reminder that nothing ever ends up as we intend it – and sometimes things end up even better. In Ruby’s case, it’s not very difficult to learn to love what I have.

I hope to show Ruby to my grandchildren and one day to be unable to make it up the spiral staircase on my own. Given that many of my friends are slapping up photos of their new babies, I hope you’ll excuse my doing the same…

I hope that many of you will get the chance to come visit, with or without me. If you or friend want her, check her/share her here: 

For those that I know and love, please borrow her at no cost.

I’m also interested in exploring cool ideas to make her a little different from most. If anyone’s got good thoughts for running a week-long retreat, becoming a temple of simplicity, or wants to stay for free in exchange for some permaculture or renewable energy expertise, let me know. It would be great to find new and innovative ways of making sure she is used and loved.


How to make a beautiful field look ugly...


Getting Ruby's hair in order


The 'finished' Ruby 11 months on

And a few more:

Tim's day beds in the 'snug'
Ruby's security
The 'tower'
Half-way up - the sunset view from the top bedroom
Why we decided to make Ruby so tall - worth it even for the first starlit dinner
Ruby being enjoyed
Finally found a suitable place for the hammock I picked up on my gap year
Ruby on the day she put on her red skirt
Ruby gets attacked by giant design genius

One thought on “Finishing – A Simple House

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