A Detached Garage Becomes a Winning “Granny Pad”

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By Melissa Dalton
In Seattle, Best Practice Architecture converts a detached garage into a chic, standalone apartment for an aging family member.

The clients approached Best Practice Architecture with a need to make space for an aging family member, but the home on site was already filled to the brim. The firm's answer was to expand the existing detached garage into a gracious and airy living suite.

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Before: the 250-square-foot garage on the existing lot.

Before: the 250-square-foot garage on the existing lot.

The architects expanded the building to a total of 571 square feet. The rear entry, shown here, accesses a loft space that is currently used for storage. In the future, the loft might become an office or additional sleeping quarters, depending on the homeowners' needs.

The architects expanded the building to a total of 571 square feet. The rear entry, shown here, accesses a loft space that is currently used for storage. In the future, the loft might become an office or additional sleeping quarters, depending on the homeowners' needs.

The architects worked with the natural, six-foot slope of the site and built the Granny Pad into the hill to gain the needed interior height. The volume on the right is the original garage footprint, which now houses a kitchen and sitting room. The added volume on the left hosts the bedroom, as well as a bathroom beneath the loft space.

The architects worked with the natural, six-foot slope of the site and built the Granny Pad into the hill to gain the needed interior height. The volume on the right is the original garage footprint, which now houses a kitchen and sitting room. The added volume on the left hosts the bedroom, as well as a bathroom beneath the loft space.

Before: a view of the street-facing garage door.

Before: a view of the street-facing garage door.

The garage door was replaced with a new entry to the building, featuring a custom steel canopy over the front door. The door is painted Benjamin Moore Flamingo's Dream to better contrast with the black-stained, tight-knot vertical cedar siding.

The garage door was replaced with a new entry to the building, featuring a custom steel canopy over the front door. The door is painted Benjamin Moore Flamingo's Dream to better contrast with the black-stained, tight-knot vertical cedar siding.

High ceilings with exposed rafters let the Granny Pad live larger than its small footprint, while strategically placed windows and skylights bring in lots of natural light. The couch is from West Elm and the coffee table is a Room and Board find.

High ceilings with exposed rafters let the Granny Pad live larger than its small footprint, while strategically placed windows and skylights bring in lots of natural light. The couch is from West Elm and the coffee table is a Room and Board find.

The bedroom area is tucked behind a vintage dresser with a new hot pink back, which makes an eye-catching space divider. A custom plywood panel wall provides discreet storage and hides the laundry machines.

The bedroom area is tucked behind a vintage dresser with a new hot pink back, which makes an eye-catching space divider. A custom plywood panel wall provides discreet storage and hides the laundry machines.

A custom steel railing on the ladder leads to the loft.

A custom steel railing on the ladder leads to the loft.

Slim, full-height Milgard windows bring in light, yet allow for privacy between the main house and the Granny Pad.

Slim, full-height Milgard windows bring in light, yet allow for privacy between the main house and the Granny Pad.

An exterior door across from the bed provides access to a private side yard. It's a modified Simpson 7081 series standard door and painted Benjamin Moore Ozark Shadows.

An exterior door across from the bed provides access to a private side yard. It's a modified Simpson 7081 series standard door and painted Benjamin Moore Ozark Shadows.

The bathroom is sheathed in Dal Tile, with a Silestone countertop placed over an IKEA cabinet. The curb-less shower supports aging in place.

The bathroom is sheathed in Dal Tile, with a Silestone countertop placed over an IKEA cabinet. The curb-less shower supports aging in place.

The kitchen echoes the bathroom in its finishes, including the Silestone countertop, IKEA cabinets, and Dal Tile backsplash. The space-saving fridge and range are from Blomberg.

The kitchen echoes the bathroom in its finishes, including the Silestone countertop, IKEA cabinets, and Dal Tile backsplash. The space-saving fridge and range are from Blomberg.

The old driveway is now a cheery, landscaped entry.

The old driveway is now a cheery, landscaped entry.

Project Credits:

Architect: Best Practice Architecture / @best_practice

Builder: Kable Design Build

Structural Engineer: Harriott Valentine Engineers

Photographer: Ed Sozinho