A Portland Start-Up's Cute, Customized Backyard Pods Could Be Your Fortress of Solitude

SQFT aims to combine flexible designs and ADU-like value with speed and sustainability.

By Alex Madison December 8, 2015

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Can you hear it? No? That’s because it’s the sound of dead silence in your own 200-square-foot backyard studio. No kids, no noise, no interruptions. Or as Eli Green, Square Foot Studios (SQFT) director of design says: “These are dedicated, functional spaces where you go to leave all distractions behind.” 

SQFT Studios designs, fabricates, and installs custom home studios—and these are no plain, cold TuffSheds with a chair and a desk. These backyard studios are fully insulated, fully permitable, have electricity and plumbing, and are 100-percent customizable from the paneling to the flooring and everything in between.

“I like to solve people’s problems,” says Schuyler Silva, SQFT’s chief operations officer. “This is really a space tailored for you and the work you're doing.”

The tailoring starts with a very basic studio footprint and a consultation with Green. Although Green offers many design styles—from traditional and modern to craftsman and Portland contemporary—the studios are entirely designed with a client’s specific needs in mind. Each studio assumes a similar rectangular form, but everything from size, the addition of doors and windows, and sliding materials and finishes are entirely customizable.

“Our design goal is to offer something that matches our clients' needs and constraints,” says Green.

The company made its first sale in May of this year, launched by these two self-described design and construction “nerds” to offer Portlanders an alternative to the taxes and expense associated with other accessory dwelling unit designs.

Because the studios are fully permitable units, they add square footage to a home and potentially increase its value, just as an addition would. Speed and sustainability are also selling points: the units take just one month to build, and use VOC-free paint and locally sourced materials, including lumber. Construction and planning cost about $150 per square foot, depending upon customization.

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