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Milk Barn Converted into 480 Sq. Ft. Backyard Cottage

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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


Images © New Avenue Homes

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Images © New Avenue Homes


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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!
{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Comet
    November 20, 2014, 1:53 pm

    I agree—looks very bland. And a utility sink–in–the living room? Is this used as a studio perhaps? Is it a guest room/work space? More explanation would be nice—

    • christina
      November 20, 2014, 3:25 pm

      There is a complete explanation, Comet. (Perhaps you are reading this on a device that does not include?) It is a back yard guest house. Regular guests are the grandparents who would use the kitchen in the main house. I don’t know why it is so bare and bland, though.

      • Tia
        December 21, 2014, 2:43 pm

        I think it looks great!

    • Empress Lockness
      January 20, 2015, 3:32 pm

      It looks like there is a hook up for a Washing Machine in the livingroom near the utility sink.

  • Dominick Bundy
    November 20, 2014, 1:58 pm

    I also agree.. nice but very sterile looking..

  • Brian
    November 20, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Nicely done and beautifully fitted out. I guess this was the original laundry for the main house, now beautifully re-visioned for a super granny flat for family and friends to spend time or holiday with you. I would be very happy to have this in my back yard. I bet your daughter can see this as a future flat. Thankyou for sharing. Cheers from Australia.

    • Alex
      November 20, 2014, 10:34 pm

      Thanks Brian glad you enjoyed this one too 🙂

  • Dug
    November 20, 2014, 9:58 pm

    Again, we get critique of a rather superb cottage build, where it’s fully explained in the attached synopsis, my advice for what it’s worth is DONT comment if you obviously can’t see or read the details of any projects as its in my view rather insulting to the builders who are good enough to show us there often personal built for a specific reason builds thus who are any of us to unnecessarily and the fore unfairly level any criticisms upon it.
    I personally think it’s a stunning build myself more of a cottage possibly than a “tiny” build perhaps but other than that a stupendous build all round

    • LK
      November 20, 2014, 11:43 pm

      I love this house! The only reason I would think that a kichenette would be nice would be to fix mini meals for the grand kids. We should all be able to imagine our own personal items in a space – and I can imagine myself in this. I can’t have every small home that I love, but I love looking. So glad that people share their builds with us.

      • Alex
        November 21, 2014, 10:20 am

        Thanks LK!

    • Kristina H Nadreau
      March 2, 2016, 6:14 am

      agree with Dug.

  • rusty
    November 20, 2014, 10:07 pm

    I like it especially the mid century furniture a few colorful pictures would help it pop .bright and sunny .perfect for decorating

    • Alex
      November 20, 2014, 10:33 pm

      Thanks Rusty glad you like it!

  • Kaleb
    November 21, 2014, 11:17 am

    I just love it when things are repurposed. AND I love the sliding barn door for the bedroom!

  • virginia wyngarden
    November 22, 2014, 9:30 am

    I really like this ADU. Love the sliding barn door. For what this space will be used for — it makes good sense. I guess I like clean lines and minimal clutter and I also love the bathroom — but then I’m a huge fan of white – everything!!

  • Mike
    December 14, 2014, 10:21 am

    The floor layout is really nice and so are the vaulted ceilings and bath. But whats with the mono-tone paint job? No art or family photo’s on the wall? This place looks depressing! And why in the heck is a sink installed on the outside wall next to the dryer duct, but the washing machine hook ups are five feet away on the other wall? Just a couple small quibbles… 🙂

  • Kay
    December 31, 2014, 5:47 pm

    This is not a tiny house. It doesn’t show storage needs or have a kitchen. This is a place for the rich. I much prefer the places that are a home. I enjoy seeing places that are stationanry and tiny but this place is not a home, but an extra luxury place.

    • Gloria
      January 7, 2015, 12:32 am

      I agree, Kay, that this is an extra luxury place!! A place for someone “rich” to make for their parents when they visit. But it COULD be a tiny house, for a family, if re-worked. Alex is just trying to show us ALL of the alternatives, and others’ lifestyles, out there. 🙂

  • Gloria
    January 7, 2015, 12:23 am

    I think that I, like others, did not FULLY read this… meaning, that I thought it odd that the couple, with their daughter, were shown. Yet, this seemed like a wonderful, kind-of BIG tiny house but one that would not accommodate the family (didn’t show where the daughter slept, kitchen, etc… ) Then I saw the others’ comments and knew that I should have read that this was a “grandparents” weekend house type home. But I, too, was confused! Just wanted to give my two cents… 😉

  • Karen R
    January 20, 2015, 3:15 pm

    Perfect home for THEM, and I love it. Ours is smaller and filled with our collections, but it is perfect for US. We tiny home folks are varied and independent!

  • Gene Lueg
    January 20, 2015, 11:25 pm

    As a wanna be architect I hate not seeing a floor plan (and the time I waste trying to figure it out. It may be good brain exercise though. That said it is obvious to me that this is a repurposed plan. The area where the wash sink is was to be the kitchen, notice the higher windows. The place for the washer probably was to be a stacked W/D at the end of a counter. The thick wall into the bedroom has recessed shelving on one side, a fire place into the LR on the other. The the wall juts out some more, maybe as part of the bathroom. Don’t know exactly how that fits in. I have a sliding barn door in an addition to my house. It opens up two different things depending on it position but there is a fireplace (not real) behind this one.

    • LC
      February 20, 2015, 9:55 pm

      FYI – floor plan is supplied in the links above. I love seeing the floor plans, too!

  • Gene Lueg
    January 21, 2015, 12:15 am

    The ceiling in what I call the intended kitchen area also suggests that is was intended to be a kitchen. What is missing is a picture of the rear of that room. Maybe that is where the bathroom is. Another mystery is where the exterior wood door (matches the sliding door inside) opens in to. Perhaps a store room but surely not the full length of that side of the house. I bet the owner has a good time looking at these comments, ha, ha.

  • kid
    January 22, 2015, 12:02 am

    Very well done. I like the clean lines and layout of the place. The easel with the drawing was a nice touch. The wood door inside was really very nice and I like that. Something to add to my future home project.

  • Sybilla
    February 20, 2015, 11:35 am

    What’s up with people not reading the article and then proceeding to criticize the decor and design. Personally, I love it and since it’s secondary use is a guest house I don’t see any problem with a utility sink etc. the house is functional, bright, airy and obviously meets the home owners needs. The only problem that I can see is the lack of literacy on the part of some readers

  • Janp
    March 1, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Looks great. Wonderful GUEST HOUSE!!

  • jennifer seyler jacobs
    March 1, 2016, 3:49 pm

    Berkeley, Ca. zone/code laws basically don’t allow a full bath (note no shower or kitchen) in this “guest cottage”. This is requires a Admin. Use Permit (AUP) involving approval of most of the surrounding neighbors.
    There are also height, size, setback restrictions & more. As density in cities change with need, planning, zoning and liability issues will slowly get on board. The Tiny House movement is helping. But this “small” cottage is on a foundation therefore has to comply with current codes. Sucks.

  • jennifer seyler jacobs
    March 1, 2016, 3:52 pm

    Berkeley, Ca. zone/code laws basically don’t allow a full bath (note no shower or kitchen) in this “guest cottage”. This requires a Admin. Use Permit (AUP) involving approval of most of the surrounding neighbors.
    There are also height, size, setback restrictions & more. As density in cities change with need, planning, zoning and liability issues will slowly get on board. The Tiny House movement is helping. But this “small” cottage is on a foundation therefore has to comply with current codes. Sucks.

  • hank
    October 11, 2017, 6:37 pm

    I always wonder why almost none of these tiny houses have any art on the walls. Or sculpture?

  • TJ
    October 12, 2017, 7:43 am

    I love the space. My only offer would have been too remove the laundry sink and install a wet bar with a mini fridge and coffee maker. Coz I need my coffee!

  • Ivlia Vespasia
    October 14, 2018, 6:59 pm

    Looks like my neighbours house except for an extra bedroom. Has 3 rooms plus bathroom and while currently only 2 live there up til about 5 yrs ago housed parents, adult son and daughter plus daughter’s daughter. This, or just slightly larger, the norm in many countries. 2 doors down is this size with an extension out the back for soon, daughter-in-law and 2 grandkids while main house still has a 20yr old son living at home. Quite normal, it is really huge houses for a family of 4/5 that is unusual in many countries.

    • Alex
      October 15, 2018, 2:11 pm

      Thanks, Ivlia!

  • Linda Hodges
    November 21, 2018, 11:14 pm

    I think this is an interim plan. Perhaps when the grandparents are no longer able to live where they do now, the plan is to bring them down to this place to be close to the daughter’s family. IF SO, I am sure they will finish out the kitchen and let the grandparents put their own personal touches and things in there. This is not supposed to be a show place…..just a convenient extra sleeping space for the old folks. I think it is wonderful.

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