Best Space Saving Ideas for Your ADU Project

Best Space Saving Ideas for Your ADU Project

An ADU is a fully functional living space, but it’s still small. Our space saving ideas will help you make the best out of the little space you have!

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are fully functional small houses. They have been gaining quite a bit of popularity lately because the government of California has been passing laws that make it easier for people to build ADUs in their backyards. That was motivated by the rising housing crisis that not even the global pandemic could stop.

In its latest attempt to ensure more accessibility when it comes to affordable housing, the government passed two bills, Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10, that will eliminate single-family zoning. Thanks to those two bills, people will be able to build duplexes in residential neighborhoods.

living room and home office in the same room ADU

High-density development has always been a part of the plan to solve the housing crisis in California. So, if you’re seeing more and more tiny houses popping up in your neighbors’ backyards, it’s probably because people can now build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) without having to jump through bureaucratic hoops.

But now that people know that they can build an ADU, they are left wondering if it’s worth it. Can a space that small really be usable and functional?

The answer is, simply, yes. If you make smart design choices and optimize the space, an ADU can be as functional as a typical single-family house.

Space Saving Ideas for Your ADU: Make the Best Out of the Space You Have

An ADU is more flexible than a traditional house. It can pretty much be anything you envision it being — a guest house, extra space for visiting friends and family, a room for your Boomerang kids, a home office, etc. 

Even though many people refer to ADUs as tiny houses, ADUs are much more flexible and practical than tiny homes. Sure, they also have the modest square footage, just like tiny houses, but they offer more.

Still, much like tiny houses, they come with unique design challenges. To ensure they use their ADUs to their full potential, property owners have to think of designing every last detail in a pragmatic and space-saving manner.

Smarter Storage

When it comes to designing ADUs, nothing is more important than storage. People often forget about storage, but it’s usually one of the most vital factors and one of the best space saving ideas.

Even if you plan on using your granny flat to house family members from time to time, you still need plenty of storage space. Closets, cabinets, wall shelves, and other storage units will make the living areas less cluttered and your ADU more tidy and usable. 

hidden cabinet in your adu

If you want to optimize the space in your ADU, consider the following:

  • Wall storage — wall storage is something you have to think about while planning your ADU project. It’s not enough to just add some storage units after building your ADU. Instead, plan ahead and add built-in storage space in your walls to your designs and blueprints. That way, you’ll be able to use every last inch of space.
  • Vertical storage — a good rule of thumb with ADUs is to think vertically. Use every last nook of space at your disposal. To do that, you have to build vertical storage. It’s not that easily accessible, but it will come in handy for storing all those things that you might not need to have within arm’s reach all the time.
  • Under the stairs storage — if you’re building an ADU that has two levels or a loft, then you’ll need to have some stairs. People usually don’t think this is a good idea since stairs take up too much space. 

While that’s true, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’ll lose that space. You can build storage space under the stairs and kill two birds with one stone. 

Extra Storage Solutions 

If you think that building floor-to-ceiling closets will make your ADU functional, you’re mistaken. Sure, it’s one of the best space saving ideas, but it’s not enough. Aside from that, you’ll also need to:

  • Utilize the ceilings — if you put hooks into your ceiling, you’ll be able to hang stuff, so it’s not in the way. That will leave the precious space on the floor free, which, in turn, will make the room seem bigger.
  • Add built-in shower storage — bathroom storage is tricky to navigate. You have to have enough of it because it doesn’t amke any sense to store bathroom things outside of the actual bathroom. 

However, you also need to keep the room as clutter-free as possible. That’s why ideas like built-in shower storage are excellent. You’ll have everything you need handy without taking away from the usable space in the bathroom.

  • Add built-in bookshelves — you know all those little knick-knacks that you have? Well, all of them take up space. Instead of throwing them away, create space for them. 
best space saving tips for your adu

Built-in bookshelves don’t take away a lot of your square footage, and they create a homely feel in your living room (or bedroom). They are also perfect for storing tiny mementos you’ve spent the better part of a couple of decades collecting. 

  • Build more cabinets (there can never be too many) — ADUs have fully functional kitchens. Some of them even have full island kitchens. However, the space is still quite limited. 

To avoid cluttering your kitchen and making it look like a natural disaster went through it, build as many cabinets as you can. That way, you’ll have plenty of space to store rarely used appliances, as well as all those you use daily but don’t necessarily want to display.

Pocket Doors

pocket doors will maximize space in your adu

Have you ever given doors much thought? Probably not. They are something we take for granted. They look and function the way they do, and that’s just a fact of life, right?

Wrong. Regular doors actually take up a lot of room. You need to leave enough space for them to freely open and close. 

Rather than wasting precious square feet on that, consider installing pocket doors. These doors don’t swing out. Instead, they slide straight into the wall.

That means you can, in theory, use all or most of the space in front of the door.

Multifunctional Furniture

No matter what type of theme or design you’re going for in your ADU, you need to get multifunctional furniture. Getting your furniture pieces to serve double duty will help you save space. But how does one do that?

multifunctional furniture will help your space breathe
  • Murphy beds — beds that fold up and disappear during the day can save you a lot of space. If you have a two-bedroom ADU, consider adding a Murphy bed to one (especially if it has two single beds). That will create more room for activities during the day. 
  • Ottomans as coffee tables — just because there’s a traditional way to set up a living room doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Sure, you need a coffee table, but does it really have to be a table? Instead, you can opt for a multipurpose ottoman. You can sit on it, use it as a table, and store stuff inside it.
  • Mount TVs — media tables and TV stands look lovely, but they also take up valuable space. Instead, mount your TVs to the wall and use the space for something else.
  • Nesting tables and stowable tables— sometimes we need extra table space in our living areas. However, that’s not always the case. 

Nesting tables are a great way to have the best of both worlds since you can fold them out when entertaining and put them away when you don’t need them. The same goes for stowable dining tables. When you need extra legroom in your dining room, you can store them away.

Hanging Racks (for Kitchen Appliances and Dishes)

If your kitchen is so small that you’ve simply run out of cabinet space, consider hanging your dishes and utensils. Even if you have enough room, it might be better to hang everything you can and save valuable cabinet space for something else (that’s bulkier, for example).

Extra Space Saving Tips

While the previous couple were the most important tips we have when it comes to saving space, here are a couple more that will help you make your ADU as functional as possible:

  • Get creative with mirrors — if you position them well, mirrors can make even the tiniest spaces look bigger.
  • Room dividers instead of walls — if you need to split your living and dining area into two separate spaces, consider doing it with a room divider instead of a solid partition. That will still give you two separate spaces without visually shortening the room. What’s more, you can also hang shelves on the dividers and utilize them as you would a wall.
  • Good indoor-outdoor flow — creating outdoor space will make the entire ADU seem bigger. But you have to make sure there’s a good flow between the two areas. 

Cedar Dwellings: Best Space Saving Ideas for Your ADU

No matter what type of an ADU you need, an attached or a detached one, the Cedar team will be here to help you design them to the utmost perfection. Our turn-key solutions are the easiest and stress-free way to get your own little oasis of peace (and extra space) in your backyard. 

Our vision is a Scandinavian design that’s inspired by Californian living. That means we’re great champions of utilizing space and making the entire ADU as pragmatic and practical as possible. If you need help envisioning how you’ll function in a small space, we’re here to lend a helping hand (and a few design ideas). So give us a call today, and let’s start building your dream ADU together!