Tired of seeing their inner city crumble while suburban sprawl invaded the natural beauty surrounding their hometown, two Reno, Nevada, landlords decided to focus on urban infill, converting small abandoned structures throughout downtown Reno into smartly renovated urban nests perfect for the city’s large population of young students and professionals. In 2007, Pam Haberman and Kally Rae of HabeRae Investments bought four 100-year-old brick structures, formerly engineers’ sleeping quarters for the V&T Railroad, and focused on updating the dilapidated structures into modern 275-square-foot apartments. Focused on affordability for their young clientele, Haberman and Rae cut costs by using many salvaged materials in the renovation.
Small-space living lessons from SoDo 4:
Use what’s there: In the antique SoDo 4 structures, Haberman and Rae chipped away at the walls’ plaster to reveal sections of the walls’ original 100-year-old brick. They also dug through layers of linoleum and carpet to uncover beautiful Douglas fir floors.
Build in outdoor living: Every HabeRae home comes with gardening built in. In the SoDo 4 homes, landscaping materials were transplanted from a nearby soon-to-be construction site, and raised garden beds were built in. In many sites, the garden beds are constructed from waste materials found onsite or in the area, and HabeRae includes convenient resource-saving add-ons such as drip irrigation systems.
Simple space-saving: HabeRae makes use of compact sleeping lofts to help expand the tiny interiors’ livable space, and sliding pocket doors eliminate the space normally required for doors to swing open.
HabeRae is one of several home organizations using salvaged materials featured in my book, Housing Reclaimed.