Like many adults with aging parents, Jorge Cuevas Antillón thinks a lot about the future. But the professor and educator believes he and his partner, Ruben Martínez, have found the perfect solution. "We’re 50-something-year-old professionals, and we live in my parents’ garage," he says with a smile.
It’s not just any garage. Set off a quiet street in suburban Chula Vista, just south of San Diego, the 1,200-square-foot space has been completely overhauled by architect Ramiro Losada-Amor into a clean-lined accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that’s all about flexibility, with moving elements that enable the interior to be quickly configured and reconfigured.
The project came about when Jorge and his brothers urged their parents to move to something more age-friendly. They agreed on the condition that it become part of a family compound. After zeroing in on the San Diego area, where Jorge and Ruben had been living, they spent more than a year searching for properties. Finally they found a large lot that seemed to have everything: a renovated single-story home for Jorge’s parents, a four-car garage that could be revamped for Jorge and Ruben, and a large garden with room for a ceramics studio for Ruben. And it was close to shops and medical services.
Their next call was to Losada-Amor, a principal at Losada Garcia Architects who launched Modern Granny Flat in 2017 after moving to Southern California from Spain. "ADUs are a win-win for everyone," he says. "The owner can generate passive income, and the city can provide affordable housing for people that need it."
To break up the garage’s rectangular expanse, Losada-Amor set an A-framed structure at the center to hold the kitchen, a skylighted bathroom, and ample storage. Keeping clutter to a minimum was high on Jorge and Ruben’s list, so Losada-Amor—working with Prismática Architects—devised features that do double duty, like a Murphy bed in the living area, kitchen cabinets that conceal a folding table, and panels that slide closed to divide the bedroom into two rooms.
"The space can adapt for how they’ll be living over the next 20 years," says Losada-Amor. Adds Jorge, "It’s perfect. My parents have a traditional house and we have a modern space."
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Builder: Treadlight Construction
Structural Engineer: Jerry Dodd