Leisure living is twice the fun in a second home
November 24, 2013 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The Douglas Fir Plywood Association presents Second Homes for Leisure Living . . . here are 18 new leisure-time homes, built with fir plywood for comfort and economy. [via]
posted by Think_Long (31 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Lame, no geodesic domes.
posted by sammyo at 10:26 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: douglas fir is named after David Douglas, a British naturalist and explorer who came to the Pacific Northwest to assay the native plants and animals only about 20 years after Lewis and Clark came to the area. He sailed to the area more than once around the tip of South America and sent back a large number of pressed plants and animal skins to the UK, samples which are still part of the Royal Horticultural Society collection.

I'd never heard of Douglas before, but I saw an extensive exhibit about him at the Spokane Museum Of Arts And Culture, and he has become one of my heroes since then. What he did, at the time he did it, was truly remarkable.

It's a traveling exhibit, currently at the Washington State History Museum. If you get the chance to see it, when it might be near you (or maybe you will travel to see it), I highly recommend it. I have had very few museum exhibits affect me as much as this one single exhibit.
posted by hippybear at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


This thread seems like an appropriate place to leave this movie: Love Letter to Plywood. By Tom Sachs
posted by Drab_Parts at 10:47 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


At about the same time, the Douglas Fir Plywood Association commissioned the design of the wildly successful plywood Thunderbird sailboat, drawn by Ben Seaborn. Still a popular one-design racing class in Puget Sound.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:53 AM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Interesting. They are showing $100,000 homes on $200,000 PLUS lots.
posted by notreally at 10:55 AM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The flimsiness really comes across in those illustrations. Hope your lauan beach cabin never sees a 45 mph wind!
posted by Rock Steady at 11:14 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those are some gorgeous illustrations, I mean I'm sure there are drawbacks to living in a plywood shack but look at those fireplaces!
posted by angerbot at 11:24 AM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


The flimsiness really comes across in those illustrations

No kidding. You don't even really need a wind for some of those - just lean against one of the outer A-frames of the "Ranger" cabin and it'll go down like a row of dominoes; and I have waterproofing concerns with many of them, and of course all the interiors have exposed framing and absolutely no insulation.

Of course, this is just a sales brochure trying to convince builders and designers that plywood is a versatile material, even suitable for finish work, and it generally is. Especially so for structural uses compared to the planking that was standard before plywood came along.
posted by LionIndex at 11:33 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was definitely made before TV and/or insulation became a household necessity. Check out the wood stove right smack dab in the middle of the room.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:46 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, those fireplaces were a huge fad when this was made. I think they're in there more to evoke a modern, yet rugged cabin feel to the designs rather than answer the "where does heat come from" question. But I'm from SoCal, so that question might not occur to me as readily as it does to people from other areas.
posted by LionIndex at 11:56 AM on November 24, 2013


Hm. I worked on a remodel of a house with exterior plywood (was a John Yeon home up in the Portland West Hills). However, it had traditional stud framing with interior sheetrock and insulation. Very deep eaves protect the plywood which was also painted. A couple of these plans look like they are somewhat fantastical about a single sheet of plywood being "all you need" but most of the walls are showing a thickness to them.

I have a 1952 cottage-type house. The kitchen cabinets are original fir plywood with honey-colored veneer. Quite pretty! Sadly, if we stay here much longer the kitchen will have to go as it's really inefficient and was designed for differently sized appliances.

I love how tiny the bedrooms are in these houses. 10x10 is just about the minimum for today's residential design which is a pretty ample space.
posted by amanda at 12:05 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was a place down the road from my Grandma's lake cabin that looked exactly like design #10, the "Beach-Head Cabin." It even looked sort of plywood-y. (And sammyo, you'll be happy to hear there was a geodesic dome half a mile down the other way.)

The illustrations are just charming. They remind me of the Fisher-Price A-Frame. And the whole brochure has that whole cheerful postwar, better-living-through-technology optimism that makes me forget all the Cold War paranoia and social upheaval my parents had to live through.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:26 PM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thread made me look at geodesic dome living... and I don't think I would hate living in a geodesic dome.
posted by angerbot at 12:33 PM on November 24, 2013


You would after your first rainstorm.
posted by Think_Long at 1:11 PM on November 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


In spring and autumn, these cabins would be perfectly great places to stay. In summer they'd be sweltering and in winter you'd turn into a popsicle.
posted by zardoz at 1:49 PM on November 24, 2013


domes versus rectangles
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:36 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heretic, well I could probably refute 3-4 of the 11 dome issues... but no one can refute the dome advantages list:

1) Totally cool and amazing inside and out!
posted by sammyo at 3:56 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most furniture is rectilinear making for wasted floor space in a curvilinear dome.
posted by shnarg at 4:25 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to come right out and say it: construction materials, furniture, appliances, &c coming generally in rectilinear, non-dome-friendly formats is simple ugly bigotry.

DOMES FOREVER
posted by angerbot at 4:36 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean I'm sure there are drawbacks to living in a plywood shack but look at those fireplaces!

I'm trying to mentally figure how fast that ranch home with the flues-through-the-roof gimmick will catch fire.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:52 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fun fact #2: Not actually a fir.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:47 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I quite like #5, it looks like it could be quite readily brought up to a more contemporary design standard.

The idea that ply is flimsy really doesn't stand up to much scrutiny - as long as you use the correct grade, and screw it to the timber frame beneath, it's a very strong material. And the insulation problem is trivial, just because the illustrations show the interiors unlined doesn't mean you wouldn't put batts into the cavities and gib the walls.

Aesthetically, all that raw ply is a bit nasty to me, it makes me think of something cheap that was knocked up as a temporary structure, say as a scout hall, which then for whatever reason was never replaced with anything more substantial.
posted by The Monkey at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plywood's on a comeback right, along with minimization.

At the rate the economy is going, eventually most of us will be living in 4x8 plywood homes. Those of us that have homes, that is.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:03 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the site, the booklet where you actually turn the pages! How adorable is THAT?!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:09 PM on November 24, 2013


This catalog looks like a Venture Brothers storyboard.
posted by kickback at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whoa, for 1960 there are more black and brown faces on those advertising pages than I would have expected. I wonder if, whatever the attitudes of the men in charge, the creatives in the art department were making a point in a subtle but effective way.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:37 PM on November 24, 2013


Had this book and a number of their other publications as a kid and my adult aesthetic was shaped by this. Whenever I hear how ugly plywood is, I have to say yes, it's just terrible.

DOMES FOREVER

I believed this, too, when I was a wee lad. In fact, the guy who single-handedly pushed the dome agenda for a decade believed it, too, until he recovered. When the hippie dome-fanatic who published the bibles of the dome movement (and the rest of the DIY housing movement) gives up on something with such finality, there's usually a pretty good reason for it.

There's also a pretty good reason why there are so few domes around despite their "advantages," and it's not "the man," the evil dominant paradigm, or conservatism. It's that living in a dome is picturesque for about twenty minutes, then loud, wet, alienating, smelly, and expensive. Domes belong at the World's Fair, which is about the only place they work, with people shuffling through in gee whiz awe, but not lingering long enough to wonder where your heat goes in a giant hangar of a space where the leaky roof is so far above your head.
posted by sonascope at 4:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing I found most interesting about these is how they tend to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces. I have a friend who spent time in the last 3 years or so looking at builders of "green" housing looking for the right house for her and her husband to build on their land, and I see much of the same aesthetic in the stuff she was showing me as was in these houses.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2013


For the longest time, I thought "plywood" was some kind of variation on "play wood," because so much of our playhouse was built with it.

(Of course, I also thought a two-by-four was something called a "tubifer," and had no idea what its dimensions were. Or why it wasn't tubular at all. But one didn't ask questions like that.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:16 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


One inch and a half by three inches and a half, same as in town.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


And the insulation problem is trivial, just because the illustrations show the interiors unlined doesn't mean you wouldn't put batts into the cavities and gib the walls.

I know it's no big deal to fix, it's just odd that they're doing a big deal of pushing plywood as a finish material, but they don't bother to actually show it used that way.

Aesthetically, all that raw ply is a bit nasty to me

Totally depends on the surface veneer. I can deal with some raw structural grade, but I wouldn't want a whole house of it. I could do a whole room in birch without a problem though. I've worked with an interior designer who basically had a couple exotic logs in his storeroom that he'd have veeners taken from for cabinetry - ziricote and stuff like that that normally gets used for guitars.
posted by LionIndex at 9:53 PM on November 25, 2013


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