The ultimate backyard pod

The ultimate backyard pod

It’s a compact 108 square feet, and can be upgraded to include a two-way fireplace and accordion glass doors

Over the past two years, Danny Tseng has fielded the same request from clients over and over again: Help me draw a line between work and home. “Covid has created a situation where the stresses of those realities have melded together,” says the co-founder of architecture and interior design firm Syllable Inc. “Our challenge was to create a separation.” The firm had built laneway houses for people with work-from-home needs in the past, but those structures require permits, which can be costly and time-consuming—plus, not everyone wants, or can accommodate, that much extra square footage. So Tseng and his partners came up with the YardPod, a customizable, prefab backyard workspace.

Syllable’s insulated, all-season structures are a compact 108 square feet—roomy enough for an office, workshop or studio, but small enough that they can be built without a permit. “Having a use-specific space that you need to exit your house to access helps to re-establish some of the work-life balance people have been seeking,” says Tseng. It also brings the backyard—a space often under-exploited by homeowners—into play.

Comfort was top of mind when it came to the pod’s design, which features heated flooring and cross-ventilation. For a tricked-out option, upgrades include a two-way fireplace and an accordion glass door that essentially opens an entire wall to the backyard. Made with thermal treated pine for a natural wood finish or fibre-cement siding, a pod’s exterior can be customized to match the client’s house. “We wanted them to tie into what is happening on-site,” says Tseng.

So far, converts include entrepreneurs, health professionals who need privacy to engage with patients, and people who just really want a dedicated space for work or play. The pods aren’t cheap (prices start at $38,000) but they’re a tantalizing concept for anyone who’s had to blur out messy backgrounds on a Zoom call or contend with an excitable pet/toddler/spouse during an important meeting—which, at this point, is all of us.

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