Architect Terri Chiao knew she couldn't afford the rent on a 750-square-foot Brooklyn loft without a roommate, but she didn't want to divide it up with walls. Instead, she built a cabin and a treehouse inside the space to be used as private living quarters, leaving the remainder of the space free for dinners, parties and art salons.
The 88-square-foot cabin -- complete with under-the-floor storage space and a driftwood rod as a closet -- was Chiao's first home. Now three years later, she shares the 100-square-foot treehouse -- lofted 6 feet off the ground to house her office below -- with her partner and fellow artist Adam Frezza.
The two indoor shelters were built over the summer of 2009 with the help of friends and neighbors with just $2,000 (mostly spent on wood, tools, and hardware). Frezza and Chiao, who work together on art projects, now use the "cabin in a loft" to host "traveling artists."
These tiny spaces help save on climate control as the couple try to avoid heating and cooling the larger space and only turn on AC or heater inside the loft or cabin.
Both spaces have windows that let in sunlight and fresh air and are divided by an area with potted plants and an indoor clothesline that the couple liken to a garden or urban lawn. "As a result, living in the space can feel like living outdoors, in a small community of two houses."
Watch Kirsten's feature-length documentary on tiny homes, "We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters in the Old and New World."