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House within house? $2K treehouse, tiny hut in Brooklyn loft

Architect Terri Chiao knew she couldn’t afford the rent on a 750-square-foot Brooklyn loft without a roommate, but she didn’t want to divide it up with walls. Instead, she built a cabin and a treehouse inside the space to be used as private living quarters, leaving the remainder of the space free for dinners, parties and art salons.

The 88-square-foot cabin — complete with under-the-floor storage space and a driftwood rod as a closet — was Chiao’s first home. Now three years later, she shares the 100-square-foot treehouse– lofted 6 feet off the ground to house her office below– with her partner and fellow artist Adam Frezza.

The two indoor shelters were built over the summer of 2009 with the help of friends and neighbors with just $2,000 (mostly spent on wood, tools, and hardware). Frezza and Chiao, who work together on art projects, now use the “cabin in a loft” to host “traveling artists”.

Both spaces have windows that let in sunlight and fresh air and are divided by an area with potted plants that the couple liken to a garden or urban lawn. “As a result, living in the space can feel like living outdoors, in a small community of two houses.”