A recreated bookshelf: Converted into Houses

Some of my mother's books are just too special to waste away on her wicker bookshelf back on the homestead so I recently started the undertaking of recreating a "best of the best" of mom's collection back here in Brooklyn.

Some of her books captured my imagination so fully that I'm still hooked on them 20 years later. I've been trolling used book stores, eBay and the wonderful abebooks to find my favorites so I can have my very own copy, as I wouldn't want disturb the family archives.

First up is the wonderful "Converted into Houses", published in 1976. It contains a multitude of amazing (and amazingly hippie dippy) spaces and their conversion into living quarters.

I was born from wheat bread baking, chicken raising, overall wearing, tepee building, mountain hiking, skinny dipping, yoga doing parents in a depression era farmhouse; so these hippie dwellings remind me of home.

A former chicken coop.

A former butterscotch factory in SoHo. Hmm, I wonder why I love houseplants.

A tugboat. And yes, we totally had those wicker chairs when I was a kid!

A schoolhouse in Sebastopol.

It just goes on and on; sailboats, train cars, ice houses, fire stations, churches, mews, railroad stations, water towers..... My grandpa's mill house would have fit in perfectly.

Some girls are scared they'll turn into their moms but I say bring it on. She's a gentle and kind soul with a great eye for all things eclectic. While I can't run off to Woodstock like she did or hitchhike all over the world (student loans and a fear of no showers), I'm happy to live vicariously in her books.


  1. In the interest of obtaining more books. Perhaps you are already privy to this site, but in case you aren't: http://bookmooch.com

    You trade in books you no longer want (if such a thing exists) and get points that you use to get books you do want.

  2. Some of your posts are just about the sweetest things I've found on the internet. Delightful! I'm adding you to my bookmarks and looking forward to An Apple A Day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, stories and pictures!

  3. What an amazing book... I also was born to war protesting, grateful dead following, renaissance fair participating, eccentric hippies - looks very familiar... I might have to try to get a copy of this book!

  4. Equally wonderful is Rescued Buildings (1977). I'm sure you already know it!

  5. So lucky...looks like an amazing book and collection!

  6. Marisa, that's such a lovely and encouraging thing to hear. Thank you, thank you!

  7. Oh yes, my parents loved the renfest, too! We are definitely long lost sisters.

  8. Ok here's a note from that funky old farm home of yours. Thought I'd reveal it's own incarnations....
    It was Foster Home and orphanage with beds lining the attic. (Now the museum archives of your youth!)
    Also it was a esoteric Spiritualist Church.
    The pulpit was where the antique victorian sofa is now. A wall had been removed to create a long sanctuary with pictures of saints smiling on the walls.

    No wonder you had such a blessed upbringing!

    Plus it was the site of much celebration. Home is where you came to, an one hour after your birth. After popping out truimphantly and spontaneously into the world.

    What a wonder and joy you are Amy!

  9. I want to be cooped up in that chicken coop!

    Please hippy gods, I beseech you, lead me to my converted barn destiny in Topanga and save me from the wrath of Los Angeles

    And Yes we are blessed to have a mother of ultimate freespirited sweetness.

  10. And your mother feels blessed to have you free spirited sweet beauties to enrich our world.

    I hope the Hippy Gods lead you to create your destiny in spirit and in space... where ever you find your self.

    A house is our larger heart. May you find one that fits your fancy.

    OK I know it's sappy... But i wish you all many blessings to count at this time of giving Thanks.
    I am thankful for you!

  11. Ah, the Potter School, very cool! I sooo want a copy of this book.

    I love all the plants and gorgeous light in these photos. Oh how I would love to nap in that fourth one!

    Your childhood sounds so idyllic, what a lucky girl you are to have been born into such a wonderful family :)

  12. Missa...

    There is a philosophy that states, before we are born, we choose the parents we want to have for our own best development.

    We are drawn to their energy. Our family has very specific things to teach us.

    If we aim for becoming the people we want to be, then your future kids will reflect this.

    Perhaps it goes both ways. We have an equal amount to teach our parents. My kids teach me in ways my parents couldn't. I look up to my kids in more ways than one. (They are so much taller than me and even wiser!)

    I'm fortunate to witness their journey.

    This only sounds easy.

    I've worked hard to overcome the insanity in my own family. To make wise choices for my own kids.

    Learn from where you are. That's where your gift is.

  13. Anonymous…

    Funny thing is, I knew when I wrote the comment, that “luck” has nothing to do with it and I couldn’t agree with you more! I should have known you would call me on it though ;)

  14. (Exasperated Sigh) Mom's will be mom's; dispensing new-agey wisdom where ever they go...

  15. These days I feel more like I'm turning into my grandma. She died when I was 11 so very little of the influence is first hand, but the obsession with crocheting and fresh loaves of banana nut bread (made with her recipe) is distinctly Lydia-esque of me.

  16. That's so crazy. I think I know where that schoolhouse turned house is in Sebastopol. I think I drive by it all the time.

  17. This is great, thanks for posting these pics. I commandeered my mom's copy years ago for the same reasons...

  18. I lived in/care took one of these houses in the late 80's . . . the former German Beer hall in San Francisco, and this book was in the library. I may have to order a copy of this just for old times sake. Thanks for sharing. . .