Tiny Space Has Charm Aplenty

Architect Erik Lerner works in one of the few offices that can truly be called unique, as in one of a kind.

Lerner's work space is a 7-by-9-foot office that occupies half a parking space in the garage of his West Los Angeles home.

This description, however, doesn't nearly do justice to Lerner's homemade creation.

Built of old plywood shelving, corrugated plastic, used file drawers, other leftover materials and spare parts in keeping with his commitment to conservation, Lerner's lair is shaped like your basic box, but with a barrel-shaped section that bubbles up in the center of the ceiling. He refers to the office variously as a work pod and a compact office capsule. His 7-year-old son calls it the spaceship.

Lerner's design is the ultimate in functional. The compact and efficient layout puts everything within reach of his office chair, from which he can touch overhead compartments, file cabinets, computer, printer, scanner and other office equipment, some of it hanging conveniently from suspended platforms. The office is cheap to heat and cool; there's a small space heater for warmth and a fan or open door for cooling.

Lerner's work space also is full of charm. The painted floor is decorated with colorful tile- and stone-suppliers' samples, and the office doorway faces a pair of double doors that open from the garage onto a bougainvillea-covered patio and garden. The patio doubles as a conference area when weather permits, and when weather prohibits, there is the nearby Urth Cafe. Lerner can even keep the doors open if he wants to watch the rain, thanks to an overhang that shelters the doorway.

Lerner, who spends about half of his time in the office and half visiting clients, said his space is no smaller than the square footage most folks are allotted in their work places. But most, he added, don't have a patio view like his.

Best of all, he said, "I have the satisfaction of spending a lot of time in a place which I made, and which suits my ideas about design, work and fun."


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