Custom Homes

Designing an Auxiliary Living Space

By June 30, 2021 July 6th, 2021 No Comments

Commonly known as granny flats, in-law suites, she-sheds, and backyard cottages, auxiliary dwelling units (ADU) have become a popular choice for homeowners looking to add livable square footage to their property. They can be used to generate rental income, house aging parents, or welcome grown-children back to the nest. AUDs also afford great flexibility—for example, a space being used to house a family member today can be turned into a home gym or pool house in the future. Here are some things to consider when designing an ADU.

Understanding the Site Conditions

Is the backyard hilly or flat? Does rainwater pool in certain areas? These are important things to consider before you begin planning for the addition of an ADU. When working with Artisan Builders, we will take into consideration the terrain on which we are building and corresponding structural needs as well.


How will the inhabitants access the unit? If older adults will be living there, make sure they can get to the front door without having to navigate a steep incline or stairs. As always, safety is always the most important concern—make sure that dwellers have a clear path to the street in case of fire. Simple pavers or a brick walkway can be used to create an attractive walkway away from the unit.


What is the purpose of the unit? Who will be living there? These are important questions to ask when thinking about building an ADU. The integration of privacy into the layout depends on the purpose of the unit. For example, if adults will be living there, design features could include a front porch facing the shared backyard to create a sense of connected living. Interior features of the home—such as window size, placement, and treatments—can be used for privacy. On the other hand, if the unit is being used as a home office or studio, consider a back or side entrance to the unit for a sense of seclusion. Shrubbery and landscaping features can be used to create a natural blind between home and ADU.


Want to create a space that is open and airy? As in any space, natural lighting plays an essential role in any home design—and perhaps more so in an ADU. Focusing on natural light helps to create a space which feels much bigger and more comfortable than if it were artificially lit. At Artisan Builders, we focus on the little details, such as window usage and placement, to make any space feel like home.

Space Saving Considerations

How to create more living space? With all the convenience of daily living—living and sleeping space, kitchen, and bathroom—located within on small space, things can get very cramped, very quickly. Built-in and wall-mounted solutions will go a long way in making use of lost space and adding comfort to these tiny homes. For example, wall-mounted shelves in the bathroom can serve as the linen closet and upper cabinets in the kitchen can increase storage. The more wall-mounted storage options incorporated into the design of the ADU, the more floor space will be afforded to the overall layout.

Are you considering adding an ADU to your current property or incorporating one into a future build? Please contact us today to discuss your project.