With an aging baby-boom generation and their grown children contemplating alternatives to retirement homes, a new option is popping up — in people’s backyards. “Granny pods,” also known as “granny flats,” “mother-in-law cottages” or the decidedly more scientific term, “auxiliary dwelling units,” are small, standalone living spaces built close to a main house.
These tiny homes allow aging parents to stay close to their children and grandchildren for care and companionship during retirement, often at a lower overall cost than other options. While it allows family members to stay close at a pivotal time, this solution maintains privacy and independence for all family members, giving everyone their space.
Some granny pods are outfitted specifically for accessibility, making them a great alternative to nursing homes. However, don’t think that means you need to sacrifice on style. The gorgeous designs of these backyard dwellings are definitely wow-worthy!
1. Portland Mother-In-Law Cottage
An architect designed this rustic tiny home for his mother-in-law in his home’s backyard. The 200-square-foot space was made mostly with reclaimed building materials. While it has two porches, a kitchenette and bathroom, mom is still just steps from the main house at all times.
2. Modern Pod
A sleek pod-style building from the British firm Pod Space adds a modern touch to any backyard. These futuristic granny pods are also energy-efficient, have built-in lighting and massive picture windows for nature watchers.
3. Stylish Granny Loft
This modern take on the backyard dwelling comes from Best Practice Architecture and was completed in 2017. Located in Seattle, the build of this granny pod is wide open on the inside, allowing just 517 square feet to feel enormous.
As you can see from this shot, the pod was built with very high ceilings, removing any of the cramped feeling that could come from tiny-space living.
4. Natural-Light Paradise
Canada-based Drop Structures offers a selection of pre-fab pods that can be put up in your back yard for less than $20,000. The Arlo, which is shown here, is a bit more pricey but offers a space that can be used to house an aging parent and exist as a beautiful workspace. At 157 square feet, it’s one of the smaller pods you’ll find but also one of the more stylish.
5. Treehouse Pod
This tiny dwelling located near Portland, Oregon, stretches out over a wooded hillside area. It was designed by Propel Studio and features a floating fireplace inside, a lengthy deck and an elevated build to keep it off the forest floor below.
6. Camano Island Cottage
This beachfront cottage in Washington state has the perfect size, design and waterfront location to make it a dream spot for a retiree.
Originally built in the 1940s, this cute cottage underwent an extensive renovation to modernize its 335 square feet of interior space.
We love the French doors that open directly onto the large deck. While it’s not technically a granny pod, it offers plenty of ideas on how to use a small space as ideal living quarters.
7. The Rustic Buhaus
Malibu-based Buhaus is a firm that offers variations on a specific design that it has perfected. Each one of these spaces is 160 square feet and includes a full bathroom, a wood deck and a living space. The exterior can be colored shiny platinum, bold black or this rustic hue.
8. Breezeway Connector
Pondering a dual-dwelling situation? The Projector House, completed in 2012, on Lake Champlain in Vermont, offers a great way to link your main house with a granny pod. A second-story breezeway connects the unique home with a smaller unit.
9. Writer’s Residence
Charm oozes from every inch of this writer’s cottage, which shows the possibilities of a granny pod based on a classic, mid-century suburban aesthetic. The original owner was the author of “Sophie’s Choice.”
10. Charming Cottage
With its covered porch and intimate interior, the 1,300-square-foot Edgemoor Cottage design from Washington’s Ross Chapin Architects seems perfect for active grandparents.