≡ Menu

They built a beautiful 800-square-foot cottage for grandpa!

This is the story of an 800-square-foot cottage in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. It was built thanks to a new ordinance which allowed small backyard cottages. It was built by a family who wanted grandpa to get to be closer to his grandchildren. Pretty cool, right? It’s the Magnolia Backyard Cottage by Microhouse.

Ben and January live in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood and were excited when a new Seattle ordinance allowed them to build a backyard cottage behind their home. “We wanted to build a place for my father to live when he retired, so he could be closer to his grandchildren Leo and Francis.” Said January. In the near term they planned to rent the cottage and ultimately decided to use it as a vacation rental through VRBO. This has proven to be quite successful helping fund the construction of the cottage.

Want more kind of like this? Join our FREE Small House Newsletter!

800-square-foot Magnolia Backyard Cottage😊

800-square-foot Magnolia Backyard Cottage - Images © MicrohouseNW via Seattle Backyard Cottage 800-square-foot Magnolia Backyard Cottage - Images © MicrohouseNW via Seattle Backyard Cottage 800-square-foot Magnolia Backyard Cottage - Images © MicrohouseNW via Seattle Backyard Cottage 800-square-foot Magnolia Backyard Cottage - Images © MicrohouseNW via Seattle Backyard Cottage


You can share this small house with your friends and family for free using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Thanks.

If you enjoyed this ADU cottage you’ll LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you!

More Like This: Explore our Small Houses Section

See The Latest: Go Back Home to See Our Latest Tiny Houses

The following two tabs change content below.


Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 43 comments… add one }
  • Marcy
    November 19, 2016, 9:06 am

    They can design my tiny house any day! Attractive and well laid out.

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:00 am

      That it is! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Robin
    November 19, 2016, 9:43 am

    Is the bedroom upstairs or lower level?

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:01 am

      It looks lower level to me because you can see rocks out the window? Not 100% positive. — Tiny House Talk Team

      • Doug
        November 28, 2016, 8:24 am

        Being that it’s two story the bedroom is upstairs.

        • Eric
          July 21, 2019, 5:23 pm

          While it “is” upstairs in this house I know of plenty of 2 storey houses that have the bedroom downstairs.

      • Tim Cresswell
        December 2, 2016, 11:13 am

        Sorry i reported your comment by mistake. The ceiling is the give away to where the bedroom is, upstairs.

    • Sheila
      March 12, 2020, 2:20 pm

      I would say upstairs- by the pitch of the ceiling. And you can see the rocks out the window because the cottage is built into a hillside

      • Eric
        February 12, 2021, 2:25 am

        Actually, rocks on a hillside mean nothing, except… rocks on a hillside.

  • Jan
    November 19, 2016, 11:48 am


    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:01 am

      Yes 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • jm
    November 19, 2016, 2:48 pm

    Although there are some strange things going on in Seattle’s residential neighborhoods–this house is wonderful. I always wanted a six-foot-sqare skylight above my bed to watch the stars. Good job!

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:01 am

      Ah! That sounds amazing, JM — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Jane
    November 19, 2016, 2:48 pm

    But, that is a whole house. A perfectly normal sized real house. Nothing tiny or even small about it.

    • e.a.f.
      September 26, 2022, 12:43 am

      don’t know where you live Jane, here in British Columbia, that is a small house. A small house is about 1800 sq. ft. these days and very large homes run about 16K to 20K sq. ft. In some areas houses run 5K to 9K sq. ft.
      At one time back in the 1950/early 60s new houses were about a thousand to 1200 sq. ft.
      In some cities you will see 800 sq. ft. homes, but they are usually about 80 to a 100 yrs old.

      This house is amazing! Really like it and I’d move in, in a heart beat.
      In Vancouver the new condos, one bedrooms are under 600 sq. ft.
      What is nice about this home is its not “expensive”. The land was already there. Great thing for the family to do.

  • Susanne
    November 19, 2016, 3:05 pm

    Yeah with that size they could rent it to a couple, or maybe even with a child!

  • Janet
    November 19, 2016, 4:09 pm

    I believe everyone should click on the links to read the FULL STORY! This couple wanted an affordable home in Seattle. Seattle doesn’t allow tiny homes, so they built an 800 sq ft home in a very expensive city. Everything they did was for their budget. The skylight for their bedroom was because the north side of their house has a big tree next to it – it’s the only way they could get sunlight. All floors, woodwork was for affordability and durability – not show. This family did a great job, showing you can live affordably in an expensive city with much thought and planning.

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:02 am

      Thank you Janet 🙂 So glad you shared this here. — Tiny House Talk Team

    • jm
      November 21, 2016, 12:27 pm

      Skylight was for bathroom light. Bedroom has nice big windows. Agreed–everyone should read the full story.

  • Mr. Lonnie
    November 19, 2016, 10:35 pm

    nicely done. the only flaw i see is that with all that space – why not separate the toilet from the tub/shower. my bathroom is only that, a spacious and deep bath and an adjacent shower all in its own enclosed room w/ a floor drain and a tub drain. a large sink and bath cabinets just outside the door. our toilet and small sink are in a separate cubby hole across the room … this is so common in space starved japan and considerate when not living alone!

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:03 am

      I think because it was designed just for the grandfather 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

      • Randy Moyers
        December 18, 2023, 7:46 pm

        If either of my grandfathers were still alive I would not be building them a two-story house.

        • James D.
          December 19, 2023, 4:48 pm

          It’s something to keep in mind that it isn’t always an option to exclude such designs.

          Since, building a house can be under a number of restrictions and limitations. Such as, minimum sq ft requirements, limited size lots or clearances, etc. that may force a two story design.

          However, issues like concerns about ease of access can be addressed in a number of ways. Like stairs can be equipped with a stair lift or an personal elevator can be installed. Something often done for homes for people with special needs, for example.

          While it can also be a consideration to make room for a live in care giver, among other reasons to consider a two level design.

          So, just about any layout can be adapted and made to work. It just may not be the first choice but ultimately, people do what’s needed to make it work…

  • Carol Perry
    November 19, 2016, 11:05 pm

    What a beautiful house! Just love the layout! Awesome kitchen,
    love all the white cabinets! It’s nice they have a sky light in their bathroom. The living room looks very comfortable, and it looks like a nice size! Love the shape and paint color of the bedroom! If you can’t tell I just love the house! They did a wonderful job designing it! Thanks for sharing!?

    • Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:03 am

      I really loved it too 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

    November 21, 2016, 10:38 pm

    Very nice, but wouldn’t building another structure on a permanent foundation bring the taxes up on a parcel of land making the house more valuable but also rising the taxes on that lot so you are really not saving anything or cutting the costs of living….?

    • Natalie
      November 22, 2016, 8:21 am

      It depends. I think more than anything it was about having the grandfather closer by. — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Maria
    December 2, 2016, 8:42 am

    I really enjoy these posts, thank you. They are very helpful in my quest to find MY small home. I am hoping to downsize to a 600 to 900 Sq ft home. The only additions to these articles I would recommend is to give some speck info like square footage, and builder name/website.

  • Sandy
    December 3, 2016, 11:02 am

    This is my idea of a small house! My condo I live in currently is 980 square feet but it’s split between an upper and lower level and it feels tiny. This little house seems much more spacious. It is becoming more and more difficult in a number of cities in Canada and the US to afford a house, so if you can build smaller and afford it, that’s awesome. Such a nice home! Sometimes, tiny is just not practical or even legal. Had a neighbour whose son built a tiny house and was living in it in his parents backyard. Not long after, they were asked to remove it. So sad.

  • Eric
    June 10, 2019, 9:47 pm

    @ Judy Roesbery: They have these wonderful things called, I think, chair stair lifts. And yes they can go around corners. So that would take care of the mobility issues that you raised.

    I actually quite like this house. Almost (I stress almost) as good as Nils Pearson’s small house. Oh Lotto, please, pleeeeease, come my way. LOL

    Yes, yes, I know, tax for the mathematically challenged.

    • Judy Roesbery
      September 3, 2019, 9:37 pm

      You’re right, Eric, those do exist. However, having seen one in operation, I would consider it only as a last resort. They take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Maybe even f—o—r—e—v—e—r. You don’t want to have my brain (what did I go upstairs for?) and have one of those!! But I see that they needed to build up rather than out. Grandpa is a lucky man, and I hope his legs stay strong until he draws his last breath!!

      • Eric
        September 4, 2019, 7:58 pm

        Hey Judy… I’ve seen these in action, in New Zealand. They aren’t slow by any stretch of the imagination.

        And for the record my brain takes f—-o—-r—-e—-v—-e—-r to do anything as well.

        • Judith Roesbery
          September 5, 2019, 6:31 am

          Haha Eric. Maybe the one I saw was stuck in Granny gear! Are you in New Zealand?

  • MaryEllen Stesney
    July 21, 2019, 3:28 pm

    The one thing that concerns me is that steep hillside and no retaining wall. There’s the issue of a slide as well as runoff during heavy downpour. The runoff issue happened in my old neighborhood with water coming in through the back door. The house itself is very attractive and welcoming.

  • Jan Woodward
    July 21, 2019, 4:23 pm

    THIS is perfect for me! I am a 77 yr old woman with 3 grown children, 5 grands and 3 greats. However my grown kids all have homes large enough to entertain visiting kids at one time. All I need is a ‘cottage’ such as this one that does have enough room for additional sleepovers or a visiting friend. I live the design…it has all the items I need…a spacious kitchen, lots of natural light and outdoor space and NO lofts! *wink* My only stumbling block would be a lot to place it as there ordinances here that disallow such a backyard structure. [e.g. ‘planned community-type homes..large yes, but ‘STRUCTURED…WITH RULES’. I have seen similar to this home actually already in place..much older homes in states like those in LowCountry islands. KUDOS though to the designers here!!

  • laurie langley
    July 26, 2019, 9:09 pm

    How much did it cost to build this grandpa house?

  • evelyn
    July 27, 2019, 8:38 pm

    beautiful. lots of windows. well laid out.

  • Dana L Turner
    August 6, 2019, 1:09 am

    The only thing I would change is to make the windows in the dining area larger.

  • Jamila
    September 4, 2019, 10:43 am

    I love it and I would love to live in it as well. Grandpa you have an awesome home waiting for you!! Mary Ellen Stepney has a good point and I would like to know how it can be remedied.

  • jordi
    February 8, 2021, 1:01 pm

    Grandpa is a lucky man! It’s beautiful.

  • Don Macon
    September 25, 2022, 10:40 am

    It’s a shame most town don’t allow it.

  • Holly Olsen-Pierce
    September 30, 2022, 5:10 pm

    Not sure how many grandpas can negotiate stairs in their old age. Not really made for us oldsters.

  • Donna Rae
    November 27, 2023, 3:59 pm

    It’s definitely a very nice residence, and because I’ve been viewing a lot of truly tiny houses, this seems really huge even though it is half the size of my current house. If I was by myself, this would be too big but if regulations dictate the size you can build, what are you going to do, right? Many mentioned that ADU’s are not allowed in their area but I would suggest going to your City’s Building Department and ask if there is a chance to get a variance. You can look for organizations who are lobbying to change the square footage minimums many cities have and add your voice to the cause. California has loosened their laws because of the housing shortages and if California can do it, so can other states. It’s worth a try, anyway. This is a nice little house but I could definitely live in something a lot smaller. Eliminate that upstairs and have a bedroom on the single floor. I would more than likely use the bedroom as my art studio and set up either a Murphy bed that has an attached sofa or have a daybed that is a sofa by day and bed by night. As long as it feels homey and provides the things necessary to be comfortable, even a tiny can be fabulous. We all have our personal things…pieces of furniture, artwork, plants, etc. that can be brought into a small place and it will feel like home. Too many McMansions are being built that unnecessarily use resources and gobble up land. We are all going to have to adjust our expectations and ideas of what homes look like at the rate the population of the world is expanding. I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where it is housing and no open spaces and no wilderness. The tiny house movement is a very good thing in that regard.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.