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Karen’s 265 Sq. Ft. Backyard Cottage (Video Tour)

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


Images © New Avenue Homes

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Images © New Avenue Homes

 Video: Tour Karen’s Backyard Cottage

Video By: Fair Companies

Would you live in or rent out a tiny backyard cottage like this one on your property?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Debbi Cobern
    August 7, 2014, 1:16 pm

    This is it! Best design ive seen except for the stairs. Senior citizen with RA. For young healthy folks I bet this will be a winner!

  • Brian
    August 7, 2014, 2:24 pm

    Nice home beautifully finished. Thankyou for sharing. Cheers from Aus.

  • Linda
    August 7, 2014, 4:19 pm

    Great idea! Except that I’d live in the tiny house and rent out the big house… much more income and pay off the mortgage faster!

    • Sondra
      February 21, 2017, 5:07 pm

      While it’s a good concept, and being a renter (until I can purchase my own property) I’d never rent a home where the landlord was on site or next door. I’d prefer privacy. No different than I wouldn’t want to live by my renter either.

  • Dominick Bundy
    August 7, 2014, 5:58 pm

    Totally adorable little house. California must have more lenient zoning laws. In upstate New york no way would we be able to build such a adorable dwelling under 400 sq. ft. kudos to California..

  • Joe
    August 7, 2014, 9:23 pm

    Saw this house a couple of years ago on HGTV – think it was on ‘This New House’.

  • Eroca Brawne
    August 8, 2014, 3:33 am

    Beautiful home, great layout.

  • gino schafer
    August 8, 2014, 7:48 am

    You cannot build a second home on a lot where I live, especially in the city. The reasons for this are that the more buildings you have on a lot, especially in close proximity, the higher the fire danger.

    I found it funny that she said she had “no idea what to do with such a large backyard” so she built a house in it. I would consider her yard small. Before she built a house in it.

    I would have put in a garden.

  • Pat O'Connor
    August 8, 2014, 1:24 pm

    I would definitely live in such a house and would like to build one. What has me confused is that she built this for $17K. Prices I’ve seen for the same size range from about 10K to 99K for the same size. What’s the real cost for building a tiny house?

    • Alex
      August 10, 2014, 10:19 am

      The real cost is relative. Depends on what you want! 🙂

  • Rue
    August 8, 2014, 4:40 pm

    This one has all the things a truly tiny home usually skimps on…full bath with tub, space for a real couch and not just those storage-bench seats, full fridge….the only thing I’d still like to have would be stairs, but the ship’s ladder is a workable alternative.

    The desk tucked next to the kitchen is a nice addition; could be used for workstation or dining. And I bet that closet hides a washer/dryer.

    I also like that there are railings on the loft. The lofts that just open into space make me a bit nervous (I’m not fond of heights).

    Plus the fit and finish are very nice. All around, very inviting and livable looking.

  • Dawn
    August 29, 2014, 5:28 pm

    I adore this house! This is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of for my retirement. I would make some very minor changes based on taste and personal needs but still, I love house. Now I have 8 years to figure out how and where. I hope by then more tiny communities have sprouted up.

  • Yvonne
    November 23, 2014, 11:33 am

    I skimmed over this one yesterday, and am glad I took a closer look today. Is there room for a w/d? If not, I would do a walk-in shower only, and a stackable w/d set rather than the tub. I may never get to build and live in a tiny house, but I’m having fun dreaming.

    • Terry
      February 8, 2015, 2:30 pm

      I love this design a lot and would work perfectly for where I live. Was there a lot of difficulty in getting a permit? I haven’t checked out my county in Washington but I know that we have some special permit issues so was just wondering.

      But lovely little home. Congrats

  • SteveDenver
    February 8, 2015, 5:55 pm

    A lot of cities have difficult building laws, but a lot of close-in suburbs have much more liberal requirements and there is also a chance to gain a seat on the city council, make friends and pass through new regulations. The movement in Denver is for “granny flats,” the common name for conversion of attic space or walk-out basements/garages into suits or income property. Parking is permitted and limited per block.

    I really like this cottage and the only changes I would make would be to bump up the walls around the sleeping loft or add shed dormers, and put in actual stairs. I have seen such great storage solutions using stairs, and believe they can be incorporated into small spaces smartly.

  • February 8, 2015, 6:36 pm

    That’s so cool! It looks so cozy too. But I have to ask, How on earth did you get that sleeping loft past the code inspectors?! Nice job.

    • Beth
      April 24, 2016, 2:32 pm

      Lots of in law units in Berkeley have sleeping lofts. Having stair style ladders vs a ladder set up is also a major plus.

      • April 24, 2016, 2:48 pm

        That’s good to know as I draft for clients in California, including the Bay Area. The IRC actually doesn’t allow stairs to loft spaces so it’s nice when local departments modify code to suit the needs of people in their jurisdictions. Some departments are flexible, some are not, and urban areas are the most challenging! Nice work all around.

  • Comet
    February 8, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Adorable—I would have made the bathroom and the closet and the hall all ONE room with room for a stacker washer dryer AND storage–the hall just seems a waste of SF to me.

    And if you did the bench table–the one hanging on the wall–with a piano hinge and maybe one leg you would have even mopre surface area when not eating.

    BTW—I saw the cute metal stools that we often see in these Tiny Homes—the industrial kind–that generaly sell for well over $200 EACH—yeah Walmart has them for $37.00. Going to take a closer look this week to see how well made they are but at a glance they looked sturdy and could be painted or altered if too tall—they seemed to be a regular seat height already. Not “bar stool” height.

  • barb
    February 8, 2015, 10:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, Alex! Just one of the reasons I miss California…

    I appreciated the mention of how difficult it was to find the appliances that create a ‘real’ kitchen. And if you have to have a ladder instead of stairs, these look manageable.

  • soni
    February 9, 2015, 4:02 pm

    …and there you have it! Tiny houses are the solution…government regulations are the problem! As some of the comments state…in upstate NY…no way! Seniors with a ladder…oh dear!! Seen many with stairs coming about tho’ and very nice they are too. I still say…these tiny houses are the future for many!!!

  • Rick Sanders
    February 9, 2015, 9:36 pm

    Great design, would love to have one like that for my self.

  • Dan
    February 12, 2015, 8:35 am

    Love the kitchen and bath. Also like how the closet was added to floor plan

  • Beth
    April 24, 2016, 2:29 pm

    She was really, really smart to put the kitchen and bathroom, back to back because this saves a LOT of money when it comes to installing plumbing pipes etc and by having the set up on an inside vs outside wall if someone lives in a colder climate and the wall is well insulated on has less risk of frozen pipes.

    Also appreciate the stair design vs a basic ladder set up. Consistency in design is important to me and she did well with the colour palette, cabinet design, appliances.

    The only minor change I would make would be to include a stackable washer dryer or all in one washer dryer, since I so dislike using a Laundromat.

  • Gigi
    April 24, 2016, 11:22 pm

    This is just so Berkeley! In the very best way. Nice job.

  • Ginny Ivanoff
    April 25, 2016, 12:06 am

    I am currently renting a 300 sq ft studio. I am on a 6 month assignment. This place allows me to keep place back home. However, if I really end up liking living small, I will get rid of my rental back home and stay put here.

    • Sandi B
      April 26, 2016, 4:51 pm

      Love your cat — how adorable. Just had to say.

      • Ginny Ivanoff
        April 26, 2016, 5:25 pm

        Yes, that’s my Jasmine (Jazzie) – a dilute calico (grey, white and fawn) with bright green eyes…she knows she’s pretty and boy, does she have cattitude!

  • John
    February 21, 2017, 4:03 pm

    I love the fact that there is one only one wall for waterlines and that it is interior. Beautiful design and decorating. My change – everybody has to chance something ; ) would be to find a way to have standard appliances except for a two burner stove and have stairs. Thanks for sharing your home Karen.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 22, 2017, 9:13 am

      Good ideas, John. 🙂

    February 22, 2017, 8:38 am

    What an adorable TH! All the comforts of a home. But I have to say those steps to the loft don’t look durable enough to climb. I would have put a rung or some kind of metal rung, or something durable!
    All in all, this TH would make a great Granny suite. Two thumbs up!

    • Natalie C. McKee
      February 22, 2017, 9:00 am

      I really want to try out those kind that are offset like that and see how I like them.

    February 22, 2017, 10:47 am

    That is a very nice slab built tiny house, it really has some nice features… And it just looks just so cozy all trimmed out like it is….

  • Karen Blackburn
    June 21, 2018, 6:36 am

    Very nice but for me a loft needs shallow stairs. Interior wall plumbing is a great idea, not least because if you have a leak there is only one place to start looking which simplifies things. One thing about all these tiny places is that I never see a washing line outside for drying clothes. We live in a tiny house, 480sqft,as do many others here – usually in someone’s back yard – and even in rainy Ireland we all have and use washing lines to dry clothing. I admit to using the local laundry service for all the heavy washing, mainly because of work clothing and possible contamination from work sites, but all day to day clothing is washed in my tiny washing machine, designed for student accommodation or apartments, and hung out to dry on a line. For me any small house of my own would have to have some form of washing line outside to dry clothing, not just because a dryer uses electric which has to be sourced from somewhere but also because to me the very reason for going small is ecologically based. A small house is a small footprint – though space to grow veg even if in containers around the outside walls is also essential and reduces the footprint of the occupier – which inevitability means only keeping and using things that are really essential. This includes electrical items and while some sort of fridge is essential along with a freezer in the absence of a dairy/grocer within walking distance, as is a washing machine although you can, and I have, wash even bedding by hand for years. My aunt has never owned or used a washing machine in her entire life but I admit that some machines – not automatics – do make washing bedding etc much faster and easier. A dryer though, unless in somewhere like Alaska where winter means drying outside is probably not an option for a chunk of the year, is an inessential luxury. That includes surviving a baby and cloth diapers, washing with a twin tub which is quick and ecologically friendly, and line drying for several years, in England where it rains nearly as much as Ireland. I want to live small to help the environment as much as my bank account, this means no luxuries like unnecessary dryers which are a convenience, not an essential.

  • Joe
    June 22, 2018, 8:14 am

    Really nicely done. It has a dishwasher! She’s lucky to have such good tenants too.

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