A bright and spacious little backyard cottage | ART Design Build
The owner of a house in Maryland asked ART Design Build to replace an old one-car garage with a small accessory dwelling unit. She also requested that her new backyard cottage be made as energy-efficient as reasonably possible.
The tiny house has a footprint of roughly 340 ft2 (31 m2), plus a small loft. The floor plan is very efficient; despite the small size, the cottage seems quite spacious with a good-sized living room, a compact kitchen, and a bathroom with space for a large vanity. The loft could easily be used as a bedroom, for those who don’t mind climbing a ladder, but this cottage also has a wall bed in the living room.
Triple French doors offer views of the garden and open the living room to a small covered sitting area. High windows on the cottage’s other three sides and a couple of skylights bring in extra light without compromising privacy. The light and the high ceilings help make the whole cottage feel bigger than it is, as do the internal views. The arrangement of the living room and kitchen maximizes the diagonal sightlines through the tiny house, and from the living room you can also look up through the loft railing to the far gable window.
One wall of the living room is given over to storage with a built-in desk flanked by drawers and open shelves above. Open shelves were also used in the kitchen, providing storage without visually encroaching on the space.
To maximize thermal efficiency, the tiny house was built with a double roof system. The structural roof rafters end at the walls with no overhang. The entire cottage was wrapped in a continuous air barrier to eliminate air leaks followed by two inches of rigid foam to eliminate any thermal bridging through the wood studs and rafters. A second set of rafters was added on top to provide the overhangs. The exterior was then finished with durable fiber-cement siding and a metal roof. The X-braced double “doors” at one end don’t actually open; they are just for decoration as a reference to the old garage. Heating is provided by a mini-split heat pump, although the owner rarely uses it thanks to the high levels of insulation.
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