Collection by Jaime Gillin

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...
Inside they discovered an abandoned pigeon coop and a trapdoor to the downstairs workshop and garage.
After a coat of 'ruskin bronze' Kelly Moore paint and the addition of a copper downspout, the house was completely...
Defauw stands at the front door to his humble abode, accessible via a flight of galvanized steel stairs that Azevedo...
Here's Defauw in his living room. He and the rest of the renovation team patched and refinished the original fir floors.
A wider view reveals the saving grace in the tiny unit: the "dynamic roofline and a few large openings make the floor...
The dining area anchors the center of the house, bridging the kitchen and living room.
Azevedo shoehorned a small bathroom next to the kitchen, under the dormer.
The bathroom was a "total scavenger project," says Azevedo.
With two sides made of etched glass, the shower enclosure is "a cool green lantern when lit from within," says Azevedo.
Here's the pint-size kitchen on a clean day.
And here's the kitchen on a typical day. Clutter is practically unavoidable when your kitchen is a Lilliputian nook.