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backyard cottage Seattle - Seattle cottage addition

backyard cottage & garage


With an oversized North Seattle lot and a falling-down shack of a single car garage, our clients saw the potential for creating a truly useful and beautiful structure in their back yard. With clever design and a nod toward the main home, the new backyard cottage includes a 2-car garage with a shop and projects area, a main floor with full kitchen, 3/4 bath and laundry, and an upper multi-purpose loft, all of it built with beautiful and durable materials. Completed 2013.

Architect: Banyon Tree Designbackyard cottage Seattle

project features


  • New cottage includes separate living unit over a 2-car garage
  • Craftsman detailing closely matches the intention of the main home
  • Green features including solar help reduce the impact of the new living space

project photos


Click on the thumbnails to read the story of this cottage and garage.
With clever design and a nod toward the main home, the new backyard cottage includes a 2-car garage with a shop and projects area, a main floor with full kitchen, 3/4 bath and laundry, and an upper multi-purpose loft, all of it built with beautiful and durable materials. From the driveway, the cottage looks like a classic carriage house: two garage doors with a living space above.  The multiple windows are a sign that the space is more than standard. Inside the garage, there is ample space for two cars, plus a dedicated area for shop work and other projects, including a work sink area perfect for home brewing.  The opposite wall is home to all the mechanical equipment, including the tankless hot water heater, which provides both domestic hot water and heated water for the radiant heating in floor.  There is also an electric car charging station and an easy-to-use slot for a generator if needed. A comfortable flight of exterior stairs provides access to the main living area, with a glass-covered, trellised entry landing.   There's even enough room for a patio chair. Entering the space, it is striking how spacious 400sf feels.  This is due in large part to the high loft ceilings and open floor plan.  A small bay/gathering area is immediately on the left with the sleeping area beyond.  Bamboo flooring is used throughout the living areas. To the right, a functional kitchen takes up one corner of the floor space, with full range, sink and dishwasher.  The fridge is tucked out of sight in the corner. Countertops are Corian with Ikea cabinets. Directly adjacent to the bedroom are the laundry and bath areas.  A stacking washer/dryer fits neatly into the alcove, with a closet on the opposite side and a pocket door to close it off for noise. Through a second door, a petite vanity and sink fit along one wall, with toilet and neo-angle shower opposite.  Marmoleum flooring is used here, and a towel warmer ensures everything is cozy for guests. All of the mechanical systems are controlled via a Nest, which allows remote access and adjustments of temperature in the building. Nearly all of the main floor ceilings are made from exposed tongue and groove fir, which  serves as the flooring for the loft above.  From this level, it's clear that loft access is via the ladder, but how? The ladder was designed and custom built to lift and pull out a few feet so that it's stable and easier to climb.  A matching wood railing keeps the edges of the loft safe. Upstairs, the bonus space in the loft can be used for a variety of purposes.  The windows, carefully chosen lighting and high ceilings make it an inviting space. A rain garden to the north of the cottage helps handle runoff from the roof and provides attractive landscaping at the same time. Solar panels on the West and East dormer roofs bring in electricity that can be used when someone's staying in the cottage, and sold back to Seattle City Light when it's not needed.

The cottage functions as a comfortable space away from the house when guests visit, and provides bonus space for the family, while echoing the design details of the older home.


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