04/10/2012 10:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

WATCH: Architect & Carpenter Craft Tiny Passive Solar Backyard Hideaway

When architect Sarah Deeds wanted to set up a home office, there wasn't an extra room in the 500-square-foot one-bedroom home she shares with her carpenter partner John McBride, so she looked to the backyard for space. There -- tucked into a back corner -- she, and McBride built the largest structure allowed by the city of Berkeley without a permit (though they did get an electrical permit).

At 120 square feet their backyard hideaway was carefully designed to maximize space. Deeds shaped the building as an irregular pentagon to take full advantage of every corner. For the wider end McBride custom-built a wall-to-wall sofa (large enough for sleeping), using just a steel support bar (no legs) to give more space for the wooden storage drawers underneath. The narrower end houses a desk that curves like the office to allow space for Deeds, two clients and a desktop shaped to hold a full set of architecture plans (plus thin storage drawers custom-designed for plans).

The space is condensed, but Deeds sees that as an advantage: it puts you closer to your views and nature. And since the footprint of the office is minimal, there's still plenty of vegetation in the 3,100-square-foot backyard. The office was intentionally tucked beneath an existing California buckeye tree to aid in passive solar heating.

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