Studio37, a modern prefab cottage | Small Modern Living

studio37, a modern backyard cottage by Small Modern Living

More and more cities are recognizing the advantages of allowing secondary units in the backyards of existing houses. Whether called accessory dwelling units, granny flats, garden cottages, or any one of a dozen other names, these small houses increase urban density without changing the character of established neighborhoods. Victoria, Canada, adopted a “garden suite policy” a couple of years ago, and surrounding municipalities have also passed bylaws permitting secondary dwellings. As a retirement destination and a university town, Victoria has two groups in particular that can benefit. The elderly can stay in their own homes longer with the support of a caregiver who has private living space in the backyard, and university students benefit from an increase in the stock of affordable rental housing.

While these policies were being debated, Small Modern Living designed a small prototype house, dubbed studio37, to promote the idea. Having an actual full-sized version to experience allowed politicians and citizens to see just how livable a small home can be.

Studio37 is a modern one bedroom home in just 400 ft2 (37 m2), small enough that it can be prefabbed and delivered to its site as a single module. It has a shed roof and is clad in an attractive combination of stained tongue-and-groove cedar and painted HardiePanel. The entrance is at one end, under a roof supported by a cantilevered beam.

studio37, a modern backyard cottage by Small Modern Living

Inside the front door is a combined living/dining room with vaulted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. The bedroom is at the opposite end of the house and the kitchen is in between. The kitchen does double duty as the hallway from living area to bedroom, eliminating dedicated circulation space. The bedroom comes equipped with a Murphy wall bed with a drop-down table hinged to the bottom side, converting the room into a home office during the day. The bathroom likewise doubles as the laundry room with a stacked washer and dryer. Barn-style sliding doors for the bedroom and a pocket door for the bathroom save floor space.

studio37, a modern backyard cottage by Small Modern Living

Many small house plans have the bathroom opening directly off the main living area, an arrangement that is far from ideal and could make guests very uncomfortable. In studio37, the bathroom instead opens off the bedroom. That is a compromise that may cause a bit of an invasion of the resident’s privacy when guests use it, but it seems far better than the alternative and the resident can always tidy up the bedroom when guests are expected.

As you look through the photos, you’ll notice how spacious the bathroom is. That’s because it was designed with wheelchair users in mind. In fact the whole unit is designed to be wheelchair accessible, with wide doorways and open kneespace under the kitchen sink.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Photographs courtesy of Small Modern Living.

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