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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.

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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

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Alex

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!
{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Marcy
    November 19, 2016, 9:06 am

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

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:00 am

      That it is! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Avatar Robin
    November 19, 2016, 9:43 am

    Is the bedroom upstairs or lower level?

    • Natalie C. McKee 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

      • Avatar Doug
        November 28, 2016, 8:24 am

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

        • Avatar 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.

      • Avatar 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.

    • Avatar 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

  • Avatar Jan
    November 19, 2016, 11:48 am

    Beautiful

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:01 am

      Yes 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Avatar 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 C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:01 am

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

  • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar Susanne
    November 19, 2016, 3:05 pm

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

  • Avatar 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 C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:02 am

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

    • Avatar jm
      November 21, 2016, 12:27 pm

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

  • Avatar 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 C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:03 am

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

  • Avatar 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 C. McKee Natalie
      November 21, 2016, 10:03 am

      I really loved it too 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Avatar ZACHARY E. MOHRMANN
    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 C. McKee 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

  • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar 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.

    • Avatar 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!!

      • Avatar 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.

        • Avatar 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?

  • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar 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!!

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

    How much did it cost to build this grandpa house?

  • Avatar evelyn
    July 27, 2019, 8:38 pm

    beautiful. lots of windows. well laid out.

  • Avatar 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.

  • Avatar 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.

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