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7 Tiny Backyard Retreats

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From a nature writer’s off-the-grid Puget Sound getaway to a Texan’s shipping container guesthouse, these retreats may inspire you to make that backyard retreat you’ve been dreaming of a reality.
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  Architects Kirsten Murray and Tom Kundig built a 500-square-foot, Thoreau-like getaway for an Atlanta-based writer who owned ten acres on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. “The idea was not to clutter anybody’s thinking, especially a writer’s,” says Kundig.Photo by Tim Bies

    Architects Kirsten Murray and Tom Kundig built a 500-square-foot, Thoreau-like getaway for an Atlanta-based writer who owned ten acres on San Juan Island in Puget Sound. “The idea was not to clutter anybody’s thinking, especially a writer’s,” says Kundig.

    Photo by Tim Bies

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  On a quaint, tree-lined street in Berkeley, California, architect Sarah Deeds and carpenter John McBride placed a 120-square-foot office/art studio near their main house, a renovated 1906 Victorian, on a 3,100-square-foot lot. “Since it was a design/build project, I had the luxury of changing the project as needed during construction,” says Deeds.  Courtesy of: © Lenny Gonzalez 2010

    On a quaint, tree-lined street in Berkeley, California, architect Sarah Deeds and carpenter John McBride placed a 120-square-foot office/art studio near their main house, a renovated 1906 Victorian, on a 3,100-square-foot lot. “Since it was a design/build project, I had the luxury of changing the project as needed during construction,” says Deeds.

    Courtesy of: © Lenny Gonzalez 2010

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  Erin Moore of Tucson, Arizona–based FLOAT Architectural Research and Design built the Watershed, a 70-square-foot writer’s retreat in Wren, Oregon, for her mother, Kathleen Dean Moore, a professor of philosophy at nearby Oregon State University and a noted nature writer.Photo by Gary Tarleton  Photo by: Gary Tarleton

    Erin Moore of Tucson, Arizona–based FLOAT Architectural Research and Design built the Watershed, a 70-square-foot writer’s retreat in Wren, Oregon, for her mother, Kathleen Dean Moore, a professor of philosophy at nearby Oregon State University and a noted nature writer.

    Photo by Gary Tarleton

    Photo by: Gary Tarleton

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  Years ago, Mike and Becky Johnson purchased property in Tennessee with the goal of preserving as much of the land as possible and building little retreats to rent to visitors from around the country. Though the duo are largely retired today, their daughter, Laura Lockwood, and her husband, Ryan Lockwood, run the Butterfly Gap Retreat.

    Years ago, Mike and Becky Johnson purchased property in Tennessee with the goal of preserving as much of the land as possible and building little retreats to rent to visitors from around the country. Though the duo are largely retired today, their daughter, Laura Lockwood, and her husband, Ryan Lockwood, run the Butterfly Gap Retreat.

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  When sustainable building advisor Megan Lea set out to build a backyard retreat, she knew that reclaimed materials would figure prominently into the design. What resulted is a polychrome of salvaged 100-year-old barnwood by West Salem-based Barnwood Naturals that makes the facade of this Photo by Bernard Maybeck–inspired design as unique as it is environmentally friendly.Photo by Uwe Schneider  Photo by: Uwe Schneider

    When sustainable building advisor Megan Lea set out to build a backyard retreat, she knew that reclaimed materials would figure prominently into the design. What resulted is a polychrome of salvaged 100-year-old barnwood by West Salem-based Barnwood Naturals that makes the facade of this Photo by Bernard Maybeck–inspired design as unique as it is environmentally friendly.

    Photo by Uwe Schneider

    Photo by: Uwe Schneider

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  An illustrator of children's books who lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia needed a quiet workspace that was nearby, but separate from, her family's bustling household. She contacted local designer, artist, and builder Riley McFerrin of Hinterland Design to replace an existing shed on her property. The new retreat is perched on top of a steep hill, and maintains the old outbuilding's 200-square-foot footprint.

    An illustrator of children's books who lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia needed a quiet workspace that was nearby, but separate from, her family's bustling household. She contacted local designer, artist, and builder Riley McFerrin of Hinterland Design to replace an existing shed on her property. The new retreat is perched on top of a steep hill, and maintains the old outbuilding's 200-square-foot footprint.

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  Texas architect Jim Poteet helped Stacey Hill, who lives in a San Antonio artists’ community, wrangle an empty steel shipping container into a playhouse, a garden retreat and a guesthouse for visiting artists. The container measures a narrow and long 8 by 40 feet. “My two young daughters love it because it’s practically an empty box ready to play, create, and pretend in,” says Hill.Photo by Chris Cooper  Photo by: Chris Cooper

    Texas architect Jim Poteet helped Stacey Hill, who lives in a San Antonio artists’ community, wrangle an empty steel shipping container into a playhouse, a garden retreat and a guesthouse for visiting artists. The container measures a narrow and long 8 by 40 feet. “My two young daughters love it because it’s practically an empty box ready to play, create, and pretend in,” says Hill.

    Photo by Chris Cooper

    Photo by: Chris Cooper

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