Up Shack

A new trend in scaled-down living reimagines the gear closet

Design Within Reach’s Kithaus; right, Modern Cabana    

A More Pleasantville

Kauai's new 2,000-acre Kealanani development is like every other planned community, except the owners are all compelled to farm their $500,000 lots. Hawaiian zoning laws require that agricultural lands remain in the business of making money off the soil. For years, so-called gentlemen's estates have bypassed these rules with a few well-kept coconut trees lining the driveway. But Kealanani uses stiff covenants to guarantee that each of its 190 plots be cultivated with fruit trees and cacao. "We want people to think agriculture first," says project manager Andy Friend. "Whether buyers do the work, hire a manager to oversee it, or work out a sharecropping agreement is up to them." Overseers and sharecroppers? Who says the plantation era is over? kealanani.com
—JASON KERKMANS

FIRST OFF, DON'T call them "sheds." It offends the inhabitants. They're "mini-shelters," and they're everywhere because enterprising design firms are capitalizing on a zoning loophole: In many cities, you're allowed to build structures smaller than 120 square feet without a permit. The result is a wide selection of prefab abodes perfect for everything from a yoga studio to a weekend getaway on that little plot of land you've been eyeballing. Check out these must-have pads.

Modern Cabana
This one's designed for easy assembly by any guy with a handy friend, some basic tools, and a weekend to spare. Modern Cabana's sleek exterior alternates strips of cedar with floor-to-ceiling windows. A sliding glass door and a translucent polycarbonate roof round out this most un-shed-like of sheds, and its $9,500 price tag makes the most of the 120 square feet. moderncabana.com

Modern-Shed Studio Shed
Geared toward artists, the studio shed is made to order and delivered whole. Features include French doors, decks, and custom paint jobs. The basic 10-by-12 model uses maple walls instead of floor-to-ceiling glass and offers more privacy—but also more claustrophobia. $15,100; modern-shed.com

Modular Dwellings MD 100
For diehard do-it-yourselfers, Modular Dwellings' $35 blueprint leads to many hours of cursing and, finally, the payoff of a lovely and well-lit Plexiglas-and-plywood studio. The instructions warn that the MD 100 should not be undertaken by unskilled hacks. modulardwellings.com

DWR Kithaus K3
Famous for mass-producing iconic midcentury furniture, Design Within Reach has taken to overhauling miniature interiors (see last summer's drool-worthy DWR Airstream trailer). This year's Kithaus pairs rot-resistant Brazilian ipe wood and glass with corrugated aluminum, for a claim-jumper-chic look. But at $30,000, it's not necessarily within reach. By May, they'd sold just four. dwr.com

MetroShed
This bare-bones, 117-square-foot cedar box looks like … a 117-square-foot cedar box. An all-glass front wall/sliding door adds an airy feel, and a coat of paint would lend some charm. Requiring only a ladder, screwdriver, and a couple of hours to assemble, a MetroShed is a bargain in any soft housing market. $7,500; metroshed.com

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