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Living in a Mini House

When San Francisco–based architect Christi Azevedo and her partner bought an investment property in Oakland, what was billed in real estate listings as a 'detached garage' turned out to be a carriage house that dated from 1908. After purchasing the house, Azevedo did some basic weatherproofing in the unit, planning to one day convert it into a rental. That day arrived a year later, when her good friend, the metal fabricator Henry Defauw, found himself single and offered to help renovate the 360-square-foot carriage house in exchange for six months of free rent. Says Azevedo, "With the added help of my electrician brother, Craig—and many beers and Saturdays—we tricked this former pigeon roost into a modern loft."

In 2008, when Azevedo arrived on the scene, the carriage house "was a shell with a holy roof, no gutters, and a partly rotted floor. The house was pretty leaky but because there was no insulation or plaster all the water just kind of ran through." Beneath all the peeling paint, the 7/8-inch redwood shiplap siding was actually in pretty good shape.

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