ISSUE 51  |  Snow Days

Outbuilding of the Week: The 186-Square-Foot Guest Cottage

December 26, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

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Raise your hand if you have space to sleep all your houseguests. Thought not.

Basically, no one has enough guest rooms. But as I learned from living in New York (where for two years I operated a de facto hotel to accommodate the sleep needs of anyone I’d ever met who was averse to spending $350 a night on a room), nearly every home has space you can transform into emergency guest quarters.

“Extra bedroom” is, after all, a loose term. It can be a synonym for “basement.” Or “fold-out sofa.” Or even “closet,” in the case of privacy-deprived urban parents desperate to put the baby’s crib somewhere. In my Upper West Side apartment, the extra bedroom was an inflatable mattress that traveled from room to room, as needed. In Northern California, where I live now, the gimlet eye of the beleagured host often fixes on the garage.

Even the tiniest one-car garage, it turns out, can become an instant cottage (with help from Ikea). We recently spent the night in this 186-square-foot guest grottage to prove the point:  

Photography by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

Above: Two pairs of vintage French doors, unearthed at Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley, CA, run the length of one wall to let in plenty of natural light.

In the amount of space it takes to keep a car, the guest grottage has a tiny living room, library, bathroom, and kitchenette.

Above: As a backdrop to a vintage captain’s bed, a wall of closets and cubbies is covered in Wainscot Panels ($20.47 for an 8-by-4-foot panel at Home Depot) in an homage to shiplap siding.

Above: Narrow closets with shelves and hanging space flank the bed. Above is more hidden storage, three cubbies big enough to store suitcases (and an extra inflatable mattress). The reading light is a Reed swing-arm lamp in oil-rubbed bronze ($335) from Rejuvenation.

Above: The view from the captain’s bed. On the opposite wall, behind the miniature library, lurks a bathroom offering guests full toothbrushing capabilities. The floor is cork; glue-down Black Ripple Cork Tiles are $2.49 per square foot at iCorkfloor.

Above: Kitchenette by Ikea. The backsplash is made of stainless Perfekt Plinth, cut to fit ($15 per 88-inch length). A stainless steel Fyndig sink ($26.98) and Edsvik chrome faucet ($49.99) are set in a beechwood Numerí¤r countertop ($195 for a 73-inch-long slab).

Above: The entertainment center: a full bar and the Remodelista Book ($21.68 from Amazon). Lucky guests.

Above: Yes, that’s a glimpse of the toilet, visible behind the open pocket door.

Above: Ikea’s Brí¥viken sink ($250) and Dalskí¤r faucet ($69.99) in the bathroom.

Above: Enje roller blinds from Ikea ($17.99 per 23-inch-wide panel) serendipitously fit as precisely as custom window coverings.

Above: Beyond the grottage is a small garden.

For more garage-to-cottage transformations, see Garage Turned Studio Apartment and on Remodelista, The Studio Apartment, Garage Edition.