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Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Cottage – Developing the Plan

My client for this ADU/Cottage is a 78 year old woman (one of my favorite clients ever) who selected me to design her cottage after deciding to downsize from a house nearly 3 times as large as this project. Because of planning department regulations, this unit could be no more than 739 s.f. of living area and with a unit of this size; she was concerned that the unit would too small for her needs.
This cottage is located on her son’s property as a detached ADU and while wanting to be involved with her extended family, she wanted a home where she could have privacy while having a comfortable space to entertain family and friends.

Entertaining and cooking with friends is an important part of her life, which dictated that she have a nice kitchen to cook and entertain. Most ADU’s have smaller kitchens – this just wouldn’t do for her. We created a kitchen layout that was quite functional with features found in kitchens in much larger homes. A kitchen in a unit of this size is definitely a focal point, so it has to work well and have plenty of space for storage.

Summers in the Seattle area are beautiful and she wanted a large covered porch to entertain guests and to grill on a BBQ on the porch. Our area also has many spring and fall days with light rain – the porch helps extend her “outdoor season”. She loves outdoor light and this cottage has a number of large windows that really fill the space with light, making it seem even larger, especially on cloudy, winter days.

She wanted a cottage with traditional character yet be fully handicapped accessible – a ramp from the driveway would allow for access to the entry porch and the garage is just an inch below the floor level of the living area, allowing access with no steps.
Working with her to develop this design was a true pleasure and I was delighted in seeing her excitement when I showed her the final design. Construction will be completed in June and she’s definitely looking forward to moving into her own cottage.

ADU cottage plan

Here's a 3-D view of the interior and porches. Click on it for enlarged view


  1. Carl /Reply

    One thing you might think about when building a half-man-cave-half-craft-room is to consider a folding wall bed (i.e., “murphy bed”) which would give you a place for overnight guests. I’ve seen these type beds with a built-in table which folds down and you could use it for craft purposes and then fold down the whole bed when you have guests.

    1. Carl Colson /Reply

      The space located immediately to the front door is the entry vestibule and there is a coat closet accessed from the entry vestibule. Hope I understood your question correctly.

  2. rachelle ann /Reply

    and another thing sir, may I ask if when we say ADU, does it mean one structure divided in a number of units or for example a 4 unit ADU, is it allowed that every unit is a different structure in one site? thank you again.

    1. Carl Colson /Reply

      An Accessory Dwelling Unit is only one unit that may or may not be attached to the main residence (house) – at least that’s what it is here in the Seattle area. I would imagine that most zoning codes would not allow more than 1 unit to be considered as an ADU.

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