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.

Wednesday, October 5

madison valley backyard cottage

a dream home in their own backyard



For outdoor adventurers and cooking enthusiasts Patti and Austin, designing their dream home with Microhouse led them to the essence of what they value most. Located in the backyard of Austin's longtime Madison Valley residence, the couple’s backyard cottage offers a connection with nature as well as the space to indulge in relaxing downtime and gourmet meals. Living in their new space means the couple can rent out the house on their property and live rent and mortgage free in Seattle. 

The home's open floor plan, with a second-floor master suite and office, allows for a well-appointed kitchen on the first floor. A rooftop deck overlooking the treetops creates a connection to the outdoors--where Patti and Austin can often be found biking, skiing or kayaking when they’re not enjoying their backyard cottage. 



A formal entry is difficult to squeeze into an 800 sq. ft. backyard cottage but here the entry vestibule also serves the powder/mechanical/mud room. The mud room has an additional exterior entrance.



Car decking serves as both a ceiling and a 2nd floor and provides the perception of additional height in the living room.




The generous kitchen features an adjacent daybed and opens out onto the yard. A wall of cabinets in the living room provide extra storage.




The open stair provides space underneath for a writing desk. A beautiful stained concrete floor provides a sense of warmth while the white walls and abundant windows make the space feel larger than it is.




Fir treads are used for an open stair that feels both solid and open.





The 2nd floor bedroom opens out onto a private roof top deck with territorial views.  A dormer to the north provides space for a home office. His and hers closets are located at either end of the study.





The roof top deck provides ample natural light but also privacy.




The fir car decking used for the ceiling in the living room is the finished floor material for the master bedroom adding warmth and texture.



The bathroom is simple yet well appointed. Natural wood finishes pair well with the clean lines and white walls.





The bathroom tile complements the natural wood accents. The shower stall looks out over the treetops.





Bike storage is located towards the back of the cottage off of the alley.  The covered area has a removable screen floor and serves as a mud room suitable for bike commuters. The bike storage opens into the laundry/mechanical room.











Varied stone creates discrete spaces for entertaining. A low stone wall creates outside seating just off of the kitchen . The fence separating the backyard cottage from the primary residence is a scale rendition of the profile of the Stuart Range.




An exterior view of the backyard cottage shows the roof top deck with the kitchen below.

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