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Large garage transformed into flexible backyard home

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An ADU with plenty of tricks

Compact kitchen built into plywood box. Courtesy Modern Granny Flat

It’s amazing what a garage can become with a little elbow grease (and some clever design). Over in San Diego, Modern Granny Flat, the division of Losada Garcia Architects specializing in accessory dwelling units (ADUs), worked with Prismatica Architects to convert a large unfinished garage into a slick backyard home with plenty of built-ins to maximize the space.

“Since most of the detached garages in California aren’t used for cars, making a change from a garage to a rentable space is relatively easy and quick to turn around, so it’s expected to be the first step towards a higher density city in California,” said Ramiro Losada-Amor of Losada Garcia Architects.

An animated image of an open living area with built in shelving, which contains a pull-down bed and boxes for seating. Courtesy Modern Granny Flat

The finished result, which recently won an American Institute of Architects local award last month, is a full-service home with an open kitchen and living room, bedroom, bathroom, and plenty of opportunities for reconfiguration. The bones of the garage—a wide-open interior under exposed wooden trusses—remain, but the architects had to deploy some resourceful tricks to make the place livable.

To start, the space is separated by a timber volume that houses all of the storage and mechanical plumbing for the apartment. It’s also home to a spacious skylight-filled bathroom, covered in refreshing blue-green tiles.

The rest of the space is designed to be open and convertible based on how many people are there and for what purpose. The living room can be separated from the bedroom area by a series of pull-out panels that slide across the room; a wall of cubby shelving built into one end of the living room holds a Murphy bed for a guest, while removable boxes in the cubby wall can provide extra seating.

On the kitchen side, there’s a pull-down table, as well as an island on wheels. And over in the bedroom, a wall of wooden cabinets adjoining the central volume neatly tucks in plenty of storage. Fun!

Kitchen in an open space made of plywood and featuring a pull-down table and movable island. Courtesy Modern Granny Flat
Open bedroom with concrete floors and wood cabinet. Modern Granny Flat
Room with pull-out closet. Modern Granny Flat
Bathroom covered in green tile Ramiro Losada-Amor