This small cottage in Vancouver, Canada shows what can be done in only 400 ft2 (37.2 m2) of floor space. It was built by Smallworks Studios & Laneway Housing. under Vancouver’s laneway housing initiative. “Laneway house” is the term used in Vancouver to describe an independent dwelling built off the alley in the backyard of an existing house, often called an accessory dwelling unit or a backyard cottage in other jurisdictions.
Because this particular laneway house is built on a corner property, it actually has street frontage on the side street, where a small yard and front porch create a welcoming entrance. The cottage was designed to blend into its established neighborhood of traditional Edwardian and Craftsman houses. Gray stucco and white trim were chosen to match the main house on the property. Care was taken with the details, as seen on the facade facing the alley where the two vents for the dryer and bathroom fan have been symmetrically placed to align with the windows. (Even so, we would paint them to match the stucco.)
One end of the cottage is devoted to the service functions. The front entrance is at this end, opening into the kitchen area. The compact galley kitchen with under-counter fridge is placed against one wall. Opposite the kitchen is a large storage closet, the only one in the cottage. The bathroom is on the other side of the closet. It is surprisingly spacious with a generous vanity and large glass-walled shower. The bathroom also doubles as a laundry room with a stacked clothes washer and dryer.
The other end of the cottage, approximately 60% of the space, is an open living area. The ceiling over the entire cottage floor plan is vaulted, creating space over the bathroom that could be used for a sleeping loft. If you are going to have a dramatic vaulted ceiling, make sure people notice it. Overhead beams, an eye-catching color, or as used here, the light from a dormer window can all draw the eye upward. Wide baseboard trim and window/door casings further enrich the space.
Like all of Smallworks’ projects, this small laneway house was built to be energy-efficient. The 2×4 walls are wrapped in 3 inches of foam board insulation and built tight, with fresh air supplied by a heat recovery ventilator. In addition, all the plumbing fixtures are water-conserving.
Images courtesy of Smallworks Studios & Laneway Housing.
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