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The Big Little Backyard House

High ceilings and long views give this 540-sq.-ft. infill cottage an expansive personality

Berkeley architect John Hopkins' client wanted to build a house for her mother in her own backyard. No, this isn't the premise for a network-TV sitcom; it was a real-life proposal to allow a grandmother to live close to her grandchildren but still have her own personal space. Although zoning requirements restricted the cottage to 540 sq. ft. and the site included a California live oak tree that had to be protected, Hopkins was able to create a home that's both compact and comfortable. The floor plan eliminates wasted space and consolidates many functions into as few rooms as possible. Maximizing the ceiling height takes the onus off a small space, and the use of ceiling-height windows and doors adds to the expansive feeling. Outside, meanwhile, a large deck nearly doubles the living space.

The Big Little Backyard House

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