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Frodo’s simple living: Hobbit Holes, tiny homes, shedworking

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

Rocy Pillsbury spent 17 years working as a carpenter in conventional construction until he started having children and wanted to work from home. Both he and his wife, Melissa, are fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so he began designing a real-world version of the mini-abodes inhabited in the novels, and films, by Frodo, Bilbo Baggins and their kin.

He built his first Hobbit Hole prototype as a children’s playhouse, but when he and Melissa took it to a Maine state fair, it was the adults who were most eager to buy one. So he began to create versions for big people.

Today, the couple- via their Wooden Wonders family business- are the only ones in the world to sell Hobbit Holes officially licensed with Middle-earth Enterprises. They build these wee shelters as small as chicken coops ($999) and as large as 16-foot diameter, 8-foot 2-inch-high cottages ($15,000 to $20,000 for an insulated version with finished floors, windows and screens).

Customers are using their hand-crafted structures as chicken coops (complete with distinctive rounded doors and windows), playhouses, garden sheds, backyard offices, yoga studios, meditation suites and guest cottages. As of yet, none of their customers are living in their whimsical shelters year-round, but Melissa sees them as an ideal way to transition to tiny house living.

“I think the lifestyle of a hobbit is very iconic. Hobbits live simple lives in beautiful surroundings, a very kind of idyllic rural existence… I think the Hobbit Hole embodies that idyllic lifestyle that we would at least like to try on.”