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Granny Flat Modern Small Home: Garden Pavilion

I think you’ll love this ‘granny flat’ modern small home which is used by a family in Seattle who enjoy using the structure as:

  • a playroom for the kids,
  • an office to work in,
  • and a guesthouse for visitors.

But I think I’d love to live in it full time and figured I’d ask you, too. That being said, it packs a lot of functionality into a space with a footprint of 20′ x 12′. And since it’s on a foundation there are high ceilings and an ultra spacious upstairs sleeping loft that you can easily stand up and walk around in.

With the help of an architect uncle and Ninebark Design Build LLC they were able to make it happen. Take a look below and let us know how you like it in the comments.

Family Builds Modern Small Home in Backyard


Photos by Aaron Leitz Photography






Photos by Aaron Leitz Photography

What are your thoughts on ‘living tiny’ in a ‘small house’ instead of a tiny one? I don’t have the exact number but I would guess this home to be only around 300 square feet so for many this can still be considered ‘tiny’. Just depends. This particular design saves lots of space because it’s inspired by common tiny house design concepts (loft space upstairs with common areas on main level to use smaller footprint)? Just curious if you want to talk about that in the comments. What kind of small home do you want? Tiny, small, on wheels, or on foundation? Let us know below.

Must See: Creatively Modern and Curved Small Home in Poland


Related: 914 Sq. Ft. Modern Small Home For Family

If you enjoyed this ‘granny flat’ modern small home in Seattle you’ll LOVE joining our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter because there’s much more like this inside!

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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!

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{ 81 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Otessa Regina Compton July 16, 2014, 8:04 pm


  • Avatar Brian July 16, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Could be called a superior house but I am guessing it is also quite expensive. Nice to see and thankyou for sharing.
    Cheers from Australia

  • Avatar Connie July 16, 2014, 8:22 pm

    I loved the open feel but so much wasted usable space for full time living! I live in Nova Scotia Canada and just bought a huge house but did so to built equity to build my tiny house on wheels! I have friends that will build theirs in my drive way in the next few years and we will learn from each other. I provide a place in the city to build in exchange for help building mine when the time comes. Here property tax does not go up if the building is on wheels! I love this site and videos! Great job

    • Avatar Georgina Moore July 23, 2014, 4:47 pm

      Hi Connie, I too live in Nova Scotia with dreams of one day living in an under 1000 sq ft home. I would love any info or insight you have
      Thanks Georgina

    • Avatar Georgina Moore July 23, 2014, 4:49 pm

      Hi Connie, I too live in Nova Scotia with dreams of one day living in an under 1000 sq ft home or smaller. I would love any info or insight you have.
      Thanks Georgina

      • Avatar Shi Lopes November 1, 2015, 10:54 am

        Hi Connie, I too live in Nova Scotia and would appreciate any info on purchasing a little home here. Thanks and Blessings!

      • Avatar magg October 26, 2016, 4:10 pm

        we are looking at building a granny suit onto my son’s home, any ideas? Area around Sydney Cape Breton

        • Natalie C. McKee Natalie October 27, 2016, 10:00 am

          You could check out NextDoor Housing 🙂

  • Avatar Eldaka July 16, 2014, 8:52 pm

    Very nice house, However I agree with some of the other comments. The wasted space with high ceiling could be utilized better. I really like the overall design and decor.

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan July 16, 2014, 9:07 pm

    Really nice! Grandma might want to sleep on the sofa, though. Those steps seem high. Lol!

    • Avatar Dyane November 30, 2017, 2:50 pm

      I agree Marsha. None of the grandmas I know would want to scale that ladder! 😀

      • Avatar Angela December 1, 2017, 3:50 am

        Yeah, you can’t call it a granny flat if there is a ladder to the only sleeping area. I suppose it might be finagled some way, but I’d need a washer/dryer, too, even the combo kind would be OK. And this does look like it is very expensive

    • Avatar Mary McGuirk November 30, 2017, 2:56 pm

      yes, i agree that the idea of STAIRS at all for a senior is not desirable…even though I can make it up the stairs now, I can imagine years when I would not want to do that even just to sleep…the going up isn’t the hard part; it is getting back down safely, especially in a hurry to go to the restroom.

  • Avatar Martha July 16, 2014, 9:15 pm

    This granny wouldn’t climb that ladder, and I don’t even understand why they include “granny flat” in the description. Guesthouse for visitors, or home office, okay.

    Even so I prefer the more cozy cabin style of tiny home, or even a cottage.

    • Avatar Chris July 17, 2014, 8:16 am

      They titled it that because that what they would call Granny after she fell off the ladder. Sorry, I thought it was funny. LOL

      • Avatar hunter July 17, 2014, 1:18 pm

        i thought it was funny,your remark until i remembered i could be that granny. i stopped laughing. BUT i don’t like the house any way, so i can at least smile at your joke.

    • Avatar Dyane October 16, 2017, 9:16 pm

      I thought this was called a granny Flat. I had the understanding with that name everything would be on one level. There’s no way most Grannies would be climbing that ladder! Lots of wasted space too!

  • Avatar Rebecca July 16, 2014, 9:27 pm

    I think I would have created a full second story, too high for such a small home…. and a stairway. Def not a granny place with that ladder. It is pretty in a McMansion sorta way.

  • Avatar emily July 16, 2014, 9:27 pm

    I prefer houses on foundations so that they can be wider than 8 feet. My husband and I are musicians and our music desk would not comfortably fit in a tiny home on wheels. Most interested in square spaces rather than long n skinny. It gives more options for projects (musical or otherwise).

    • Avatar Alex July 17, 2014, 9:49 am

      I prefer on foundations, too, just to be able to create that little bit but all important (to me) extra space that I’d need for my work, hobbies, etc.

  • Avatar jeanne ellsworth July 16, 2014, 9:29 pm

    Yes, gorgeous….but … a playroom/guest house?!?!? This structure may be tiny, but the lifestyle is not — this is just another version of overconsumption.

    • Avatar Alex July 17, 2014, 9:48 am

      I know Jeanne but I’m just asking everyone to zone in and focus on the studio and think about how it could be a full time simple living space, ya know? That way we have more options to look at and explore.

      • Avatar Paul August 16, 2014, 4:33 am

        But… this was designed for specific purposes… i.e.

        which is used by a family in Seattle who enjoy using the structure as:
        a playroom for the kids,
        an office to work in,
        and a guesthouse for visitors.

        As they say, form follows function. This place is suitable for what they envisioned it to be used for.

  • Avatar Gwen Rosewater July 16, 2014, 9:40 pm

    I really, really like this one. To me, having very large windows is really important when going small.

  • Avatar TomLeeM July 16, 2014, 10:02 pm

    I think that is really nice. I would love to live in something like that. It would make an excellent pad for this bachelor.

  • Avatar Brook July 16, 2014, 11:01 pm

    Great space on a small footprint. If Granny lived there then she would sleep in the great room. I’m guessing that they followed universal design principles with accessible kitchen and bath. It looks well thought out.

  • Avatar Lisa E. July 17, 2014, 12:13 am

    This says “bachelor pad” to me; nothing “granny” about it. It is too sterile, too minimalist, too male. I would put in a full second story with an enclosed staircase and long curtains on the windows if my gran were going to live here.

  • Avatar Robin W. July 17, 2014, 1:05 am

    My husband is tall and vetoes the idea of a tiny house on wheels; however, this is small ant yet it has spacious head room. We already have land, so being mobile on a trailer isn’t a need. I like how it has a modern exterior and cozy interior.

    • Avatar Alex July 17, 2014, 9:45 am

      Something like this sounds like a better option for you guys 🙂

  • Avatar Paul July 17, 2014, 3:13 am

    So much wasted space… if the sleeping loft zone was extended to the whole building layout then that could mean the ability to do so much more… especially with a proper staircase.

    Oh, and I know several 40 year old grannies who would argue the toss on the negative comments about it being a granny flat. ; )

    • Avatar Angela October 14, 2017, 11:14 pm

      If you’re a 40 year old granny then you of course would not need a granny pad. Most people when speaking of grannies mean 60 or older.

  • Avatar Chris Hutcheson July 17, 2014, 10:21 am

    I’d move into this in a minute. Bright and airy, and it would be great for setting up a backdrop, etc for my studio photo work.

  • Avatar DFallis July 17, 2014, 10:29 am

    I like the layout, but there is a sterility to the furnishings that always speaks of office building instead of cozy home. Although many see wasted space (and it is) high ceilings and light wall colors are used to create a feeling of more space. I, on the other hand, am not a fan of the single angled roofs. I love the diversity that is created when several angles are used. Just breaks up the box feeling.

  • Avatar IttiOlly July 18, 2014, 5:53 pm

    Love it but you would not be able to build it in the UK. As I understand it Building Regulations stipulate the angle, rise, tread and rails of a stair and this would not comply. Also I would be interested to know if there is a Building Regulation in the UK which defines the minimum size of a full time residential dwelling. Not so laid back over here, the ‘Nanny State’ reduces everyone to the lowest common denominator and stifles creativity and unique design, hence huge estates of identical homes.

    Keep up the good work, love the blog/website.

  • Avatar virginia stanley July 18, 2014, 7:22 pm

    That ships ladder is too steep.It looks like something from a cabin,not a home.

  • Avatar Charles Lacombe July 25, 2014, 6:11 am

    I would move into this house in 5 seconds, flat! I love the openness of the floor plan, and the light filled interior.

  • Avatar Jeannette July 26, 2014, 9:47 am

    As an older single woman I would love to build or buy a house about that size. I love love love that one but it would have to have stairs instead of a ladder. I feel I could live in about 400 square feet after looking at a lot of tiny house photos. I think less than 400 would be hard if you have any hobbies etc. I would like to “live tiny” in a small house instead of a tiny one. I just don’t know where to start…

  • Avatar Roxanne July 29, 2014, 10:59 pm

    the term “granny flat” is Seattlese for “in-law unit”.

    Like 90% of the examples given on the Tiny House website, this is a building designed for OCCASIONAL use. If people are serious about living in a smaller footprint full time you can’t cut corners with ladders instead of real Code-compliant stairs or under-counter fridges and a hotplate instead of the 23cf refrigerator and a 4-burner range that a real family needs.

    For instance, somebody in this post wanted a washer and dryer if they lived in this building; but since this is an appuerant structure (that’s french for ‘out-building’) the washer and dryer is probably in the main house.
    I think this bathroom is huge for a “tiny” house so maybe with a little redesign, a full-size washer/dryer could fit in the bathroom. I don’t recommend compact stackables–we had a pair of those and we were running the washer and dryer constantly because of the small load capacity; we now have standard capacity front-load appliances (in a redesigned kitchen) and do laundry for two adults and one kid only once a week, if that often. and it gets the clothes cleaner too.

    • Avatar Gigi May 13, 2016, 8:49 pm

      “appuerant”? Where on earth did that word come from?
      I live in the greater Seattle area. These dwellings are ADUs, accessory dwelling units, aka mother-in-law units, granny flats, grammy pods, etc. This one is stylish but certainly not compatible with those of us who have more traditional leanings.

  • Avatar Cindy Eagan July 30, 2014, 7:08 pm

    I love this! Just wish local zoning would let me build one, (& local land prices!!!) where can these be built as one’s primary residence?

  • Avatar Craig July 31, 2014, 11:39 am

    Brilliant. Aesthetic triumph. Would love to live in this little modernist music box and downsize /declutter my existence.

  • Avatar Pat August 7, 2014, 5:17 pm

    I am a 73 yr old woman, and I’d live in this house in a heartbeat! I think it’s just beautiful, & feels so spacious! The only drawback is, as everyone else agrees, the ladder to the loft! While I wouldn’t mind going up the ladder, I would be very hesitant coming down as it seems rather steep…. too straight down. Other than that tho’, I’d say “Gimme it!” I love it! I’d try out the stairs and if not to my comfort, I’d work around that problem with something more comfortable to me at my age! Maybe the sofa could be a bed & that would work out the problem. However, I like the loft & feel this whole design up is one of the nicest I’ve ever seen!

    • Avatar dana November 30, 2017, 10:02 pm

      the bedroom can go downstairs, with the simple expedient of taking out the kitchen (appears to be about 5ft deep), push the tv/shelves further into the main room, place an 8ft kitchen/counter on this or the sidewall, and you have an alcove style bedroom big enough for a small storage armoire, bed and side table. the open floor area of the bathroom approach can do double duty as the bedroom open area

  • Avatar Dawn August 29, 2014, 4:56 pm

    This is a beautiful guest house but, IMHO not designed for a fulltime occupant. There appears to be no storage for clothing, bedding or towels.
    And while it’s just my opinion, it seems to scream “money”. It looks like it cost more than many of my friends full size homes. The vibe I’ve gotten from other tiny homes, as well as other tiny home enthusiasts is one of eco conscious, down to earth happy living. The vibe I get from this guest house is “valet parking is available”.

  • Avatar Comet September 2, 2014, 10:46 pm

    As this handicapped Granny would def NOT be able to do that ladder—I will pass along an old seamans trick of doing them so you DON’T fall down! Instead of facing the ROOM when you go down—you go down BACKWARDS instead—facing the TREADS of the ladder.

    This works for a number of reasons::: You can SEE your feet; You don’t have that whole gravity thing working to “Pull” you forwards; You have better control of speed with the hand positions you have on the rails; and the placement of your feet on the treads is in the middle of the foot vs on your heels.

    A few thousand years worth of ships hands can’t be ALL wrong!

  • Avatar Kelly Libert September 22, 2014, 2:05 am

    I’m with Gwen. The smaller the space, the larger the windows need to be. Bring in natural light, increase the visual boundaries beyond the walls. I couldn’t live in a small, dark space. While I am still in good physical shape, I wouldn’t want to navigate that ladder on a regular basis. I am just too clumsy. It is beautiful, though, and chances are 100% that I would change any pre-made plans.

  • Avatar Meg September 22, 2014, 5:40 am

    I like it but with a few tweaks. I’d add stairs with storage underneath and make storage and a second bedroom upstairs using a bit more of that open, useable space. I love the huge window and would let that continue into the added bedroom. Imagine that window looking out over a lake and mountain view! Just lay in bed and enjoy Mother Nature’s art! I love that bathroom too!

    • Avatar Alex September 22, 2014, 1:30 pm

      Nice suggestions! Thanks Meg!

  • Avatar joni d September 22, 2014, 3:59 pm

    Really beautiful but doesnt seem practical and I see lots of wasted space. I’m a Granny….lol….love the earlier comment with regard to granny flat….funny.

  • Avatar Carla M May 13, 2015, 11:46 am

    Because of land use law where I live, I would need a trailer. Otherwise the tiny house would not be allowable in my zone. Because the zoning protects my farm I am not complaining. I have seen designs that use two trailers and wouldn’t mind seeing plans for those.

  • Avatar gale May 13, 2015, 12:58 pm

    This is a beautiful home and would work well for those of us who need more openness but want to stay small. A real tiny house would be a little much for me even tho I think they are really cool. Thanks for showing houses for all wants and needs.

  • Avatar Madeleine May 13, 2015, 1:34 pm

    I love the high two story ceilings! While it is wasted space, it makes the area feel way larger than it is and will make guests feel welcome anytime 🙂

  • Avatar Sandra Honeycutt May 13, 2015, 1:45 pm

    I think the small house is great except for the stairs (ladder). I don’t know if there’s a way to get something safer more like stairs. It would be wonderful except I couldn’t manager the ladder. Any ideas? Thanks Sandra

  • Avatar SteveDenver May 13, 2015, 4:17 pm

    Beautiful and stylish. Sometimes modern designs leave me cold, this has personality and a great sense of air and light. Not a fan of ladders, but I bet I could get by if I had a tiny home this nice.

  • Avatar Don May 13, 2015, 5:04 pm

    First off I would like to put in three cheers for Alex and his team (?) I have only been a subscriber to this newsletter for a few months, and I have received literally hundreds of fascinating ideas. Second thank-you to all you folks who share your ideas with Alex, what an amazing conglomeration of imagination. I am not going to critique your ideas, that would be like telling Leonardo da Vinci to add a little more blush to Mona Lisa’s face. You are all out of the box creators, thank-you. As for this home do me favor, take WOW and put it on steroids.

    • Avatar Alex May 13, 2015, 7:04 pm

      Thanks Don, glad to have you here and happy to hear you’re getting lots of value from all the ideas and designs here. 🙂

  • Avatar jan May 14, 2015, 8:02 am

    Comment on contents, would like more affordable small places on wheels.thanks for asking.affordable meaning under 15k.

  • Avatar Ganga May 14, 2015, 12:15 pm

    Would love to have this in a 400 square foot size. Love the full
    windows. Really a great place.

  • Avatar carla May 15, 2015, 9:30 am

    I like that this blog also showcases small homes on foundation. I want to build some day but tiny and not necessarily on wheels. Each project inspires space usage and design functionality.

  • Avatar Louise May 14, 2016, 2:21 am

    I like the house but the ladder would not work for me or my dogs. I love the windows and high ceilings. I would want some kind of window covering for night. I would like a small house better then a ting house. I want my house on a foundation with some land to have my own garden and a nice yard for my dogs. I also would have solar or wind.
    Thanks Alex, I look forward to your emails.

  • Avatar David December 30, 2016, 10:19 pm

    I really like this Garden Pavilion!

    In my opinion, for many people (most?) interested in ‘tiny living’, monetary stability and sustainability are major factors. Building a tiny home or small flat that is as inexpensive as possible is key. Ignoring the “Where” for now, the correlation between size of home, build time and paying of dept sooner (for me!) are very dependent on cost.

    That being said, two 40′ shipping containers can equal in cost to one (bare) 40′ trailer, have double the footage and are transportable. Is 640 sq. ft. too big to be considered ‘tiny’ or ‘small’? If you can live happily in whatever you can afford, go for it. No lofts with “wasted” space in a 20′ x 8′ trailer? If it pleases you, right on!

    There’s an option for just about everyone… location willing. Too bad Southern California is where I want to be. It’s expensive here and for now, impossible to find a plot to legally live in a 40′ tiny home I want to build. For now.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie January 2, 2017, 9:59 am

      I agree, everyone has different budgets and different needs! And I say anything under 1000 sq. ft. is small and under 400 is tiny 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Avatar Sgmaps October 14, 2017, 9:54 pm

    I can see it used for the other functions mentioned, but not as a granny flat, not with the ladder (side rails or not) that is totally out. Imho there are too many huge windows in the front. You can put in standard house windows & still have enough light coming in, gaining privacy and less loss of insulation. You also gain usable wall space that way. If you really want an excessive amount of light put in sky lights, give you an amazing view, natural light and privacy.

    • Avatar Bill Burgess November 30, 2017, 3:34 pm

      As this unit was Architect designed it will not really have any relationship to either practicality or anybody’s Granny. And as far as cost effective again there is that Architect thingy getting in the way. A real shame none of our Architects have ever been to Europe.
      As a Senior in good standing, I can see what I design in the 400 sq. ft max footage with W/D, D/W, L.E.D. lighting, On-demand H/W, 1/2 bath, and master bedroom suite is probably a better Idea for Granny….No stairs. I should have my Country Mansard book out soon that is a sweetheart for Seniors.

  • Avatar Angela October 14, 2017, 11:07 pm

    If you call someplace a ‘granny house’ that’s almost code for n climbing, bed and bath on ground floor.

  • Avatar Suzanne Meub November 30, 2017, 2:25 pm

    I don’t know a lot of granny’s who would enjoy going up and down that ladder .. call it what you like but it’s no granny flat to me

  • Avatar Dawn jackson November 30, 2017, 3:07 pm

    Maybe an elevator or a stair lift for granny!? That ladder is a bit much!

  • Avatar Kay November 30, 2017, 4:39 pm

    They are calling this a “granny flat” and they put in a steep ladder? These people are idiots.

  • Avatar Karen November 30, 2017, 5:55 pm

    I would think something called a granny flat would be just that….flat. Most Granny’s, me included would be unable to navigate that ladder.

  • Avatar Lisa November 30, 2017, 6:00 pm

    ha! in addition to the granny-falling-off-the ladder comments, i’d say this is a perfect example of the term “conspicuous consumption”, which of course is the opposite of simple, tiny living.

  • Avatar Donna November 30, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Granny?? I cannot imagine a “Granny” climbing a ladder….

  • Avatar Susan November 30, 2017, 8:51 pm

    Really quite nice, except I doubt a “granny” would climb up that ladder.

  • Avatar Valerie Daigle December 1, 2017, 12:40 pm

    I love it! I would live in that full time in a heart beat!

  • Avatar Gabriella December 1, 2017, 1:47 pm

    The “Terapeutic” ability that these homes do on our person is palpable! When you come back they seem to welcome you quiet and discrete, as if saying: ” Welcome back, everything is fine, get confortable in relaxed”. You put yourself free from the clothes of the “world”,to lay down on sofà and from the large windows contemplate that landscape that seems to confirm the words of before: “Everything it’s okay”, the birds chase each other, a yellow and purple butterfly has settled on your geranium, while you listen to ” The Four Seasons” of Antonio Vivaldi. Your soul is not dispersed, is collected together with the heat of all that is needed aroud you, who live with you.

  • Avatar Kbee December 1, 2017, 10:35 pm

    It is not a “granny” flat when it has a ladder.

  • Avatar KC Masterpiece December 2, 2017, 7:37 am

    Poor Granny has to climb a ladder? I also feel bad for anyone in that structure if a tornado comes through.

  • Avatar Kathy Marshall December 2, 2017, 2:37 pm

    I really love this modern tiny house , BUT it ain’t no Granny house! Granny and stairs don’t belong in the same sentence. I challenge: build this same idea WITHOUT STAIRS. MERRY CHRISTMAS. Love to see the outcome. Email me! 👏

  • Avatar LC December 2, 2017, 8:35 pm

    Love it! We currently live in a THOW (converted camper), but want to buy land and build a tiny house on foundation similar to this one. Thanks for sharing!

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