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This 610 sq. ft. small house in Oakland, California is a guest post by John Olmsted of New Avenue Homes

Mona teamed up with her daughter Lisa, son in law Aaron and two grandkids to create this backyard casita near the famous Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto. Nicknamed Chez Mona due to it’s proximity to Chez Panisse, it is walking distance to an abundance of coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants and all the best that Berkeley has to offer.

The biggest surprise of the entire project came when both Mona moved out of her big home at the top of Euclid in Berkeley and Lisa and her family moved from their home in the Kensington hills and they all realized that while they loved their Golden Gate Bridge views, they had been missing out on the luxury of walking to Philz Coffee and sitting at a cafe together on their way to work. The lack of shuttling kids to every activity was another big plus of being “downtown”.


This 610 square foot backyard home with completely level surfaces throughout. This includes a flush mounted shower. The home has radiant floor heat, a whole house fan, spray foam insulation in the roof, tile throughout. The design was tucked in behind a fairly large apartment building to the south but fortunately, both morning and afternoon sun shines in the bedroom and living room windows.

610 Sq. Ft. Small House in California

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Images © New Avenue Homes

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This 480 sq. ft. backyard cottage Berkeley, California is a guest post by John Olmsted of New Avenue Homes

Bruce and Nancy have an active and engaging world. They have a growing daughter, family and guests coming by regularly, and many hobbies and interests. When grandma and grandpa were visiting for the holidays and found themselves staying in a hotel on the other side of town, they knew it was time to upgrade their home. With help from New Avenue, they converted an old milk barn in their backyard into the perfect guest house.

At 480 square feet, it has a bedroom, bath, big closet, and living room perfect for accommodating visiting family and friends. There is an additional 160 square feet for storing gear and tools. The surrounding yard is beautifully landscaped with a stone path leading to the main house.

Related: 250 Sq. Ft. Backyard Tiny Guest House by New Avenue Homes

480 Sq. Ft. Milk Barn Converted into Backyard Cottage

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Images © New Avenue Homes

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This 250 sq. ft. tiny guest house in Oakland, California is a guest post by John Olmsted of New Avenue Homes


Travis and Kelly approached New Avenue back in February 2013 to discuss adding an accessory dwelling to the backyard of their Oakland, CA home. This 250 square foot casita is intended as a guesthouse and office.

Construction took about 5 to 6 months and began at the end of 2013. Some challenges to this project included poor access to the backyard, a very sloped lot, and older utilities which lead to a replaced water line. Just as the the work came to completion in June 2014, Travis and Kelly adopted a baby. Now they take turns working from home two days a week in their backyard office so they can spend quality time with the newest member of their family.

When family and friends are in town to see the new baby or if Travis and Kelly are entertaining and hosting a get-together, they offer their casita as a small home away from home for overnight guests. It has a fully functioning bathroom and working washer dryer. When the family is away, it serves as a residence for their dog-sitter.

250 Sq. Ft. Tiny Guest House in Oakland, CA Backyard

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Images © New Avenue Homes

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Right now I’d like to show you this 610 sq. ft. cottage by New Avenue Homes and tell you the story behind it.

When the homeowner’s daughter and her family were in need of a change she invited them to move in to her larger main house since they’re a growing family with two children.

This way, grandma can see her grandkids every day without having to drive anywhere, and she can live simply in a 610 sq. ft. cottage with less maintenance.

I see it as a total win-win because her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren get to be nearby. And they can share the costs associated with the entire property since they’re on a shared lot. It simplifies all of their lives.

As for the 610 sq. ft. cottage, it has a two bedroom design (one room is used as an office), kitchen, living area, and bathroom. To me this story is important because we don’t always have to go the extreme of a ‘tiny’ house to enjoy the benefits of a simple life. Please enjoy, talk about it in the comments, and re-share below.

Grandmother Moves to Small Cottage to Simplify Family Life

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Images © New Avenue Homes

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I thought you’d like to tour Karen’s 265 sq. ft. backyard cottage in Berkeley, CA.

Karen originally intended to use her backyard tiny house for her own personal use but she soon realized renting it out would be a great way to earn extra income.

As you walk onto the front porch and through the french doors to go inside you are greeted by the living area, kitchen and bathroom. And when you go upstairs you have the sleeping loft with storage cabinets.

Karen had New Avenue Homes build this tiny cottage for her right in her backyard. Below you can take a full video tour of the backyard cottage filmed by our friends at Fair Companies.

Tiny Backyard Cottage for Extra Income and Asset-Building

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Images © New Avenue Homes

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I thought you’d like to tour Susan’s 423 sq. ft. tiny cottage studio with an upstairs loft.

It’s in the East Bay area of California. When you walk inside there’s a ground floor area with a living room, bathroom, and plenty of open space for a kitchenette if you wanted to add one.

When you go upstairs there’s a spacious loft bedroom area. In total, there’s one bedroom and one bathroom. Susan, the owner, uses the space in many ways. She’s quite flexible with it, in fact, as you’ll learn below.

469 Sq. Ft. Tiny Cottage in California

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Images: New Avenue Homes

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