Small & Tiny

Small & Tiny

5 Dull Garages Reincarnated As Beautiful Backyard Cottages


If you have a garage that doesn’t get much use, sometimes it makes sense to convert it into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), which can serve as an extra place to host guests or even a secondary income generator.

The Piedmont

This 300sf cottage sits in the backyard behind the owners primary North Portland residence and serves as a vacation rental unit that earns some extra income.

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Coastal Retreat

Arguably one of the more stylish conversions we’ve seen, this sunny California cottage was designed by Beth Dana Design.


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Michelle De La Vega’s Conversion

This artist wanted to earn a bit of extra income and decided to convert her garage into this industrial-chic dwelling. An artist and metalworker by trade, you can tell she stamped her own style into the construction, which she did herself.

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Photographs by Ira Lippke for New York Times

Maison Garage

Located in Bordeaux, France, this garage underwent the most dramatic transformation on the list. While searching for properties in Bordeaux, the only place within his budget was a dusty garage that his friends thought was a terrible idea – but he purchased it anyway and enlisted help from an architect friend to transform it into a modern bachelor pad that’s oozing with style.


interior2-600x314Bright & Spacious Cottage

When the owner of this backyard cottage contacted ART Design Build, they devised a plan to convert the seldom used one car garage into a bright and airy little cottage. Judging by the results, that was a great decision, and the execution was flawless, resulting in a stylish space with a folding murphy bed, loft, full kitchen and bathroom.

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Photos by Tsantes Photography

While these designs might get your creative juices flowing, unfortunately it’s not always that easy to get permission to convert your garage into a space like this because of local ordinances. However, assuming you live in an area where you can legally modify your garage in such a way, it seems like a great idea.

Small House Compromise Yields High Return On Freedom

Maybe the idea of a tiny house appeals to you, but the practicality not so much. For small families and empty-nesters who need a bit more space for their things, a small house might fit their needs perfectly. That’s what Lily Copenagle and Jamie Kennel found out as they crafted their “just right” sized home that comes in at 704 sq. feet.


The couple had a simple mission – to build a small, sustainable home that’s easy to clean, with an open and spacious feel to it. They began with a $190k property, which was quickly razed to allow a clean slate. They proceeded to work with a contractor to get the new home started, and did much of the work themselves.



By working on the project themselves, the couple saved a decent chunk of money, and kept the overall costs to around $135k, resulting in a total of just over $300k spent. They finished the project in 2012, paid off the mortgage in full, and currently pay just $370/month in utilities and bills.


Their neighbor remarked, “On weekends, they actually go places and do things. They’re not tied to the projects most of us are tied to. I’m so charmed by the simplicity of it.” The same neighbor also said they probably couldn’t share a closet with their spouse, but we have to imagine that it’s a fair trade off to have the financial security of owning the home, and the flexibility to travel freely.shedsTwo green-roofed sheds in the backyard provide extra storage for the couple’s miscellaneous items and a workspace. The city also awarded them a $9k reimbursement for the green roofs. Below you can see the small shared office space they allocated in the floor plan.



The laundry setup isn’t exactly normal, but then again, it makes putting laundry away after washing/drying quite easy.


Photos by Aaron Leitz for The New York Times


Despite their ability to afford a much larger home, this couple made a concious decision to live modestly, below their means, and it seems they are reaping the benefits. While some friends, family, and architects questioned their decision, Lily and Jamie have no regrets.

Picture Perfect Glass Cottage With A Wall Of Moving Shutters


Almost as if Walt Disney himself placed this perfectly gabled little cottage in the middle of a tree specked grassy meadow, this house by architecture studio Zecc and Roel van Norel evokes warm feelings of fairy tale nostalgia. The house was built in the rural countryside of Utrecht, The Netherlands, and contains a modest floor plan with an open layout, lofted sleeping area, and functional kitchen with full bath.


The forest-facing facade features a wall of motorized shutters that have the ability to open up completely to the landscape beyond. The shutters modulate light and create varying degrees of privacy depending on the desired use.zecc-and-roel-van-norel-recreation-house-interior4


The interiors are built out with natural materials. The finished concrete slab gives mass and weight to the floor, while the wood on the wall finishes and ceiling give the vertical elements a feeling of weightlessness.




The roof line is asymmetric, overhanging further on the end that protects the wall of moving shutters.



When the sun goes down the shutters close, providing the visual protection desired during the night.



Luxurious Minimalist Beach House On The Hamptons


Over 40 years ago a couple purchased a small, 1/4 acre lot of land just 500 feet away from the Atlantic shore. At the time, they didn’t have the means to develop a house there, and as the years went by the local zoning ordinances changed. When the time finally came for them to build a home, they had to work within the confines of those limitations, which meant building very small.


As a result of the regulations, they had to work with a 15′ x 20′ footprint and two stories; the home could only be 600 square feet at most. Those regulations also forced them to consider the geometry of the house, as FEMA required the first floor to be elevated 6′ above natural grade and the town restricted the height to 25′ above natural grade.

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Photos by Bates Masi + Architects

This Tiny Country Guest House Is An Absolute Dream


There’s a lot to love in this tiny cabin, from the abundance of reclaimed and salvaged wood to the repurposed wagon wheel chandelier and the splash of color in the country kitchen. At just 336 square feet it packs a lot of cozy, rustic charm into a tiny space thanks to a terrific remodel by Heritage Restoration.


The cottage serves as a guest house, and is located outside Waco, Texas. Upon entering, one of the first things you’ll notice are the high ceilings and the large exposed beams and broad planks salvaged from a barn.


An array of “naked” tree trunks support the ceiling above the loft.

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What do you think? Is there anything you’d change about this country cottage? Let us know in the comments.

How Do You Throw A Party In A Tiny House? Get Down To The Tiny Basics.


Josh and Shelley like to keep a fully stocked bar and enjoy hosting friends and family, but they faced a challenge when making the decision to downsize into a tiny house. As cute as tiny houses are, they don’t work so well for hosting parties and entertaining unless you literally want to rub shoulders with people. But thanks to an extraordinary design and some help from the crew of FYI’s “Tiny House Nation” they seem to have it all figured out.

The 224-square-foot home includes two lofts, with one used for sleeping and the other for Shelley to get ready. The bedroom loft has all sorts of clever built-in storage hidden in the floor, which keeps clutter to a minimum. Downstairs you’ll find a living/kitchen area with an open floorplan, and perhaps best of all a large pass-through window that connects to the outdoor bar, where up to 8 people can hang out comfortably!

It’s safe to say that when you add up the extra deck space, seating at the bar, and the surrounding yard, this couple has truly figured out how to live big in a tiny house!

Follow their journey at

Students Turned This Old Mobile Home Into A Stylish Zen Masterpiece


In the world of architecture, mobile homes don’t often get much attention for their innovative design approaches. Quite the opposite really. If you came across this home shown below, you might think it was a custom prefab.



And you’d be wrong. Sort of, at least. You see, the home above was built on the shell of this 1960s mobile home:


The drastic facelift came about thanks to the University of Colorado and architecture professor Michael Hughes. They were given a dilapidated mobile home with a leaky roof, rotting wood, and a host of other issues, and told to rebuild it as they saw fit. They tore down the existing shell, and used the 489-square-foot chassis to recreate their version of a mobile home.



Professor Hughes works with students to create memorable designs from the unremarkable. Through projects like TrailerWrap he hopes to address issues of sustainable design in the context of small-scale living.




“TrailerWrap is a collaborative, design + build project that addresses issues of sustainable and affordable design in the context of the ubiquitous American trailer park.”




trailerwrap_2To learn more about the project, visit


Home Owner Converts Her Garage Into A Beautiful Income-Generating ADU


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are becoming more and more popular in cities that are trying to increase density in single family zones, without incentivising the demolition of historic architecture. As most of these strucutres are being build in backyards and limited to modest footprints, designers must get creative in terms of getting the most out of their small stature. This bright and spacious ADU shows just how much functionality one can get out of a small footprint, which also happened to be a conversion of an existing detached garage.


Susan Moray had large aspirations when she began her journey to create new space on her small lot in Portland, Oregon. She had 550 square feet to work with and was looking to build-out the garage into a guest house, even with potential to rent out to long-term or short term tenants.

susan-morays-adu-living-roomVaulted ceilings add space vertically, which makes the interiors feel larger and more bright.

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Historic neighborhood standards kept Susan from going design-crazy on the exterior. The form of the existing garage provided a solid framework to build on, adding contemporary touches like fully glazed sliding doors, a patio, and garden features.

susan-morays-adu-courtyard The kitchen occupies a nicely lit corner in the ADU, with functional open shelving and a funky orange refrigerator.

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EcoCottage Plan

Organic Inspired Nautilus Seashell Home Is Something To Behold

Ever wonder what would happen if Arial of The Little Mermaid became an architect? Neither have I, but I imagine she might design a house that looks something like that. In reality, this wasn’t designed by a mermaid but rather by Javier Senosiain from Arquitectura Organica, a Mexican firm that specializes in unique creations like the one you see below.

While it looks quite extraordinary from the outside, when you step inside the home you instantly notice the barrage of bright colors spilling through the custom stained glass window. It’s simply gorgeous. The whimsical layout was designed to bridge the gap between architecture and nature, hence the shell shape. Inside the home you’ll find lots of curved edges and plants sprouting between organically shaped seating areas. Every room in this home brings some magical aura with it. Overall, it represents one of the most unique homes we’ve ever seen. What do you think?

Moving Walls Bring A Radical Change To This Small Home


As the downsizing trend expands and more people take to living in tiny or small homes, the need for smart organization and versatility in these spaces becomes more evident. Figuring out ways to make an object work two shifts becomes an important part of the design. PKMN Architecture’s “All I Own House” demonstrates an interesting solution that involves walls that move in order to increase the usability of a small space.

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Yolanda R. Pila inherited her grandmother’s rather small single story home, and reached out to PKMN for some help. The result was a project that “materializes the interior of a house through its inhabitant personal belongings.” – or in layman’s terms, a house that moves as needed.


The design isn’t very complicated, and involves a single main space with a kitchen and bathroom on either side. The walls now move, and contain certain helpful integrations like a folding murphy bed and a prep table that pops out. There’s also a blackboard Pila can use during meetings when working at home.