Small is the new green

Increasing environmental awareness along with economic and demographic trends favor smaller house sizes. Many cities are doing their part by updating zoning codes to allow cottage housing and small backyard cottages (detached ADU's) on residentially zoned lots. Seattle and Portland are two cities which allow backyard cottages up to 800 sq. ft. in size. These small houses provide opportunities for families, while increasing housing stock density and diversity. Continue reading for more information about small house design and Seattle's backyard cottage ordinance or contact us to find out if your lot is eligible for a backyard cottage.

Tuesday, July 26

backyard cottage recording studio


Jon and Rita wanted to build a recording studio that would also serve as a guest cottage for friends and family.  We worked with them and an acoustical engineer to create a simple yet elegant backyard cottage. The cottage contains the recording studio, a kitchen, bath and a loft like bedroom.






For the most part windows were kept high in difference to acoustical considerations but the cottage opens up towards the house with a cafe style table facing the windows.  During recording, acoustical panels cover these windows and movable panels are positioned on the floor and fixed panels are positioned on the ceiling.  




The kitchen window faces the house and an outdoor patio (still under construction). Exposed car decking opens up the kitchen ceiling and serves as the floor to the bedroom above.









A narrow stair serves the kids bedroom. A murphy bed on the ground floor accommodates their adults.






Thursday, July 21

tangletown backyard cottage embraces natural light

Natural light was a driving factor in the design of this small cottage in Seattle's tangletown neighborhood. 





Now that their children are grown, the cottage owners wanted to downsize from their beautiful but too large house but they didn't want to leave their neighborhood and friends. So they contacted Bruce Parker of microhouse to assist in the design of their new small dream home behind their current house.  The lot is small, less than 4,000 sq ft and the cottage had to take advantage of every available square inch, of the allowable 800 sq. ft., and work with limited opportunities for light and views. 





The stair is located on the south wall adjacent to the neighbors garage. High windows were used to let in natural light from up high above the garage. The kitchen is on the east wall facing the primary residence so no windows were placed on that wall the outside of which is now much needed storage for bikes, and garden tools. 




The kitchen is dead simple and takes advantage of an adjacent pantry.




A combination of wood soffit and exposed floor joists add richness and a feeling of openness to the living and dining rooms.  These areas open directly onto the alley and parking pad so frosted glazing was used to provide privacy while allowing in the maximum amount of light.  The primary heat source is radiant heat in the concrete floor. 






The limited allowable height meant that we had to use vaulted ceilings with low perimeter walls which was done to dramatic effect.



The stairwell while not counting towards the allowable square footage provides natural light to the fist floor.

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The light filled study with its tree top views and large skylight is their favorite room in the house. A fold out sofa provides a place for guests to sleep.



Now that the cottage is complete the owner's are moving in and will rent out their lager primary residence.



Bike and garden storage is located to the back of the cottage facing the garden.

Monday, July 18

backyard cottage workshop postponed

Due to the delay in the Seattle City Council timing to debate the proposed land use code changes affecting backyard cottages we are going to postpone the workshop scheduled for September 22nd until October 6th. 

In the mean time, to find out how these changes might impact your specific plans feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing how you plan to use our cottage.