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Living Little: Take Inspiration from Tiny Homes

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SoDo 4 exterior

2. SoDo 4

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.

SoDo 4 interior

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.

Read more about SoDo 4 here; read about additional HabeRae houses here.

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Jessica Kellner

Jessica Kellner is the editor of Natural Home & Garden magazine, a national sustainable home and lifestyle magazine. She is dedicated to helping readers create more sustainable, delightful homes that are in tune with the natural world. She is also the author of Housing Reclaimed: Sustainable Homes for Next to Nothing, published by New Society Publishers in autumn of 2011. Email her at


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8:53PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

Great ideas. Don't think I'd have a problem living in one.

4:20AM PST on Feb 18, 2012

These are cute houses, but I would feel like I was being suffocated in them.

11:30PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Thank you.

12:19PM PST on Feb 2, 2012

Love it!

8:47AM PST on Feb 2, 2012


8:42AM PST on Feb 2, 2012

I love the house! Easy to clean too!!!!

7:10PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

Thanks for the interesting article....all things are relative.

12:39PM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I am all for downsizing and getting rid of what we don't need - but tiny to me is just tiny without comfort and 'room to grow and move'.
Thanks - I admire the ideas and efficiencies.

Please sign my petition:

9:32AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

I love this!! Thank you for getting this info out.

4:12AM PST on Feb 1, 2012

Thank you

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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