Accessory Dwelling Units (often called ADU) are growing rapidly in popularity. These detached dwellings that share property with a larger, primary residence, are the perfect solution to many different life scenarios. They often offer full kitchen and bath accommodations and include both living space and one or more bedrooms.
ADUs have the potential to accommodate all stages of life, too. These dwellings can house college students who are studying remote or moving back home from school. They can lend a hand to newlyweds looking to get on their feet before purchasing their first home or accommodate aging parents as they downsize from their forever homes. They can also create additional income as a short-term rental property.
Whatever the case may be, adding an ADU to your property could be a great financial decision for potential landlords or it could keep close family members even closer!
For this blog post, we found the perfect ADU that tells a multi-generational story! I had the privilege of interviewing Jill, a homeowner who just completed the renovation of her existing detached garage in hopes of using it for a lifetime!
Tell us the backstory of this space!
“My husband and I were looking for a new home in 2015 and fell in love with this property. Built in 1985, the detached 2-car garage had been cost-consciously transformed such that half remained unfinished garage space and the other half served as guest house living space – studio apartment style. There was one large room with a small kitchen and bathroom. Everything was brown and had a suspended ceiling. The previous owners had used it as a design studio and office space and we saw potential!
Our mothers were living in our hometown, about 50 minutes away, and we thought the space could be made into a lovely cottage for one of them. We thought it could be a place of independence in tandem with the close proximity to family that would provide security.
We also have adult daughters that don’t live in town and knew this space could have the potential to be the perfect weekend retreat for when they visit with the grandkids!”
Since this is a remodel to an existing detached garage, were there any unexpected hurdles along the way?
“The project expanded beyond initial scope, but I wouldn’t call that expansion a “hurdle.” We removed two windows at the back of the space in order to make a more functional kitchen and bath design, so we decided to re-side the entire exterior rather than patch it.
We knew we wanted to remove the suspended ceiling and maximize the height opportunity of 9′ consistently throughout the space. What we didn’t expect was for the bathroom to be framed for an 8′ ceiling height. That “bump” turned out to be a benefit, justifying the opportunity to reframe the pocket door wall, and extending the bath space just enough to frame a floor-to-ceiling wall separating the washer/dryer area and the commode.
In all, the renovation took approximately five months, with gaps here and there due to trade schedule availability.”
Did you design the space?
“My husband and I designed the space in partnership. I focused on the cabinets and he focused on utilities and structure.”
Admittedly, Jill says she was thrown into the design world when her husband started selling high-end custom cabinetry years ago. He taught her how to design and draft due to the high demand of projects coming through. She worked as a Kitchen Designer for 10+ years and felt confident designing her own kitchen and bathroom.
If you weren’t already a Kitchen Designer, would you have hired a professional?
“I absolutely would have hired a design professional. My focus was fashion with function…affordably. I wanted the best use of space possible, and ours is a bit unusual. Designers know the product capabilities best and can provide necessary details to installers to ensure successful end results.”
Why was Aristokraft Cabinetry the right brand of choice?
“Aristokraft Cabinetry is a powerhouse brand with the right breadth of products to effectively fulfill my design requirements of fashion and affordability. I found that the Ellis PureStyle door style and Stone Gray finish for the kitchen were durable and fashion-forward. My goal was to choose an opaque finish that leans into today’s interior design trends. The neutral palette is perfect for adding unique accessories and pops of color into the space and as my design style evolves, this space allows for that evolution.”
What is PureStyle?
“PureStyle laminate finishes mimic the fresh, clean look of paint while offering additional benefits making them ideal for the hub of the busiest homes. It is strong and durable because the door and drawer fronts are individually wrapped. This helps to reduce the ability for moisture to enter and prevents them from warping, expanding, and contracting like painted cabinetry.”
Learn more about the benefits of PureStyle and available door styles to choose from in the Aristokraft PureStyle Handbook.
Storage is one of the most important items to include in a kitchen design. What features did you choose?
“Since the space is small, I chose a tall utility cabinet that is only 12” in depth. I knew it would be large enough to store the essentials, but I’m amazed how much this cabinet truly fits for being so shallow!
I also took advantage of the wall base cabinets that Aristokraft offers in 12″ depths. These are very practical when you don’t have a lot of room to add regular depth cabinets in the space. They still allow for ample countertop space for prep work.
The 3-drawer cabinet next to the sink offers flexible storage solutions as well. I added a wood cutlery divider in the top drawer. The middle and bottom drawers house my plates, bowls, and larger pots and accompanying lids.
Lastly, a must-have of mine was a hidden trash base. It fits perfectly next to the sink and cooking surface. It’s always within hand’s reach. I love the added wooden storage feature behind the waste bin that holds my trash bags.”
Let’s not forget about that beautiful bathroom! Tell us more!
“A pocket door entrance eliminates blocking access to functional areas such as laundry, vanity, and tall storage. It was important that I was able to fit a full bath in the space. The addition of the washer & dryer fit perfectly, too. We were also able to accommodate the walk-in shower to serve multiple generations as well.”
Since the space is small with no windows, I chose to keep the cabinets, materials and finishes white to make the space brighter and neutral. The utility was a great addition next to the vanity to store towels, tissue paper, and larger bathroom essentials. Plenty of storage options for everyone!”
Overall, the functionality of the ADU is spot on. What features were important for an aging-in-place design?
“I had a checklist before I started designing the space. It needed wide enough doorways to fit a wheelchair. The color palette needed to be neutral for design evolution. The cabinets needed storage features that were easily accessible. And I wanted ample built-in closet storage in the bedroom and kitchen. I’m thrilled with how it all came to life!”
How do you see using the ADU in the future?
“We’ll enjoy keeping the space available for our family and friends, and utilizing the additional kitchen when hosting gatherings. As we age in place, our desire would be to move into the ADU, making our house available to one of our daughters and sons-in-law. We’ve learned the importance of multi-generation families staying close and living life to the fullest!”