February 27, 2019

10 Examples of Unique Accessory Dwellings

While they were previously thought of as exotic additions or quirky living spaces, many San Diego homeowners are capitalizing on the ADU movement. As popularity rises, so does creativity.

When you hear the term Accessory Dwelling Unit for the first time, it may not ring an immediate bell. However, once you see the pictures and note the examples, you will immediately recognize the extra living spaces that are becoming so popular. Some of the many types you have likely come across include tiny homes in the backyard, studio apartments inside garages and converted barns with loft sleeping spaces.

While they were previously thought of as exotic additions, and even frowned upon as living spaces, with the popularity of Airbnb, many homeowners are capitalizing on this new movement. And, as competition rises, so does creativity. Here are 10 examples of unique ADUs.

1. Detached Garage Studio Apartment

studio apartment above detached garage

As this studio apartment shows, there’s no need to build a whole new space to create an ADU. Instead, the homeowners of this unit transformed their detached garage from the inside out. The studio-apartment building is now hardly recognizable as a garage. In fact, the exterior of the garage was renovated so that it mirrored the Craftsman design of the main house. Inside, neutral colors are paired with bolder choices to create a look that is contemporary but not monochromatic. The sloping ceilings further help to add height and depth to the home, making the 600-square-foot space look and feel much bigger than it is. The truly impressive part? There’s still a two-car garage beneath this studio apartment.

2. Sellwood Landlord Suite

landlord suite accessory dwelling unit

This 460-square-foot ADU cost the family a small garage and an extra bedroom. However, in its stead they gained a “landlord suite.” The 460-square-foot living quarters now feature a kitchenette, spacious living and bedroom area, bathroom and a small porch. Large windows and French doors let natural light into the space, and an overhang provides some protection from sun and rain on the porch. The family was also able to make changes to the driveway so that all the cars could fit there instead.

3. Contemporary Communal Living

ADU in communal residential development

Built as part of a communal residential development, this ADU features 800 square feet of space and shares its lot with three other houses. Despite their close proximity to each other, all four houses manage to maintain their own degree of privacy. During the design and building process, the architects were forced to find creative workarounds for steep slopes and the many clusters of trees on the property. Even so, despite its stark white color and modern design, this ADU blends very well into the natural environment in which it was placed. Together, the four homes on the property total 5,000 square feet.

4. High-End Minimalist Retirement

minimalist accessory dwelling unit for retirement

As the American population begins to age, children and grandchildren are finding creative alternatives to retirement homes. In this particular case, the owner commissioned the building of a high-end minimalist dwelling that was wheelchair accessible for both parents. The ADU is not short of natural light, thanks to high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that brighten the space and open it up to the outdoors. The yard is also well-landscaped with a picnic table and a small garden, creating a shared space for entertaining.

5. The Carved-Out ADU

carved-out accessory dwelling unit

Sometimes unused space is the best way to create an ADU. If you have a large enough bedroom or living space with a neighboring bathroom at one corner of your house, all you really need to do is add an entrance and a small kitchenette. This was the general plan followed by a couple who carved their 220-square-foot studio apartment out of their existing home. They now use the apartment for short-term rentals.

6. Backyard Guest Home

backyard guest home adu

This backyard guest suite was built from the ground up in the backyard of a Portland, Oregon, home. It mirrors the architecture of the main house and looks more like an original extension of the home than a later addition. It boasts its own entrances, including a front door to the suite and an entrance to the backyard. Inside, the designers paired clean contemporary lines, large windows, wooden accents and white walls to create a cozy look.

7. The Cully ADU

converted garage adu

When this family realized they weren’t making regular use of their detached garage, they decided to spruce things up a bit. They hired a construction company to convert the garage into a 480-square-foot guest area for entertaining and relaxation. The guest suite features white walls, with plenty of windows to let in natural light. The sloping ceilings also help to open up the space and make it feel roomy.

8. Craftsman Mother-In-Law Suite

craftsman style mother-in-law suite

This Craftsman-styled mother-in-law suite was created by converting the home’s attached garage. The suite shares a mudroom with the main house but maintains privacy via a second door, which closes off the space. Inside, this ADU boasts large windows, hardwood floors and kitchen amenities. These include the following:

  • Toaster oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Coffee pot
  • Dishwasher

9. Super-Efficient Unit

efficient two-floor accessory dwelling unit

Designers built this two-floor unit to be high on function and low on cost, while utilizing as small a footprint as possible. The unit features a traditional exterior that hides a more modern interior composed of clean lines, hardwood floors, black kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances and a beautiful curved staircase. Upstairs, there is a bathroom, laundry area and bedroom.

10. Guest Room Above Garage

guest studio above garage

This post has come full circle, beginning and ending with a studio apartment above a garage. However, in this instance, the garage seems to be attached to the home, and the owners also made use of some of the garage space. While they still have use of the garage, they also added an outdoor bar. Upstairs, the open floor plan includes a kitchen, living room and sleeping area. The bathroom is spacious, and the owners even managed to work attic storage into their plans.

As more Americans look for new ways to supplement their income and create a multi-generation living situation, more Accessory Dwelling Units will continue to spring up on residential properties. The more unique ADUs are sure to fetch a great price for short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb.

Considering building an ADU in San Diego? Contact Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel to see how we can help bring your plans to life.

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