205 Exterior Small Home Design Photos And Ideas

“We didn’t want to wedge something into the site that was out of scale—everything had to just slot in,” says architect Jason Kerwin.
Although it’s just 924 square feet, Maria and Louis Gabriel’s Los Angeles back house, designed by Jason Kerwin of OKB, packs in a lot of program, including a family room on the ground floor and an office and a guest suite upstairs. The siding is by James Hardie and the stairs are painted in Celluloid by Dunn-Edwards.
The home’s 2,340 square feet span the upper and lower levels, while the basement can serve as an independent ADU, home office, or guest quarters. The lower-level entry is now more comfortable, with a wide waiting area protected from the weather overhead.
Michael Benjamin Lerner of the band Telekinesis collaborated with local prefab builder NODE to build a 392-square-foot DADU in Lerner’s Seattle backyard. The builder took care of design, permitting, site prep, and the foundation and framing. Michael tackled the finish work.
The ADU stands ready for guests—and the owners to use as a temporary home during renovations of the main house.
Reclaimed wood graces the exterior and wraparound deck of the ADU, which is surrounded by native landscaping.
Architect Minwook Choi’s 710-square-foot Seroro House rises from a tiny urban lot in Seoul that had long been neglected because of its challenging size.
The architect placed only a few windows on the eastern and northern facades, which intersect in a pronounced curve, to maintain privacy.
The compact home, clad in white acrylic stucco, features windows on the southern and western facades, opening the home to the lush hillside.
The Bracy Cottage — Front Facade
The Bracy Cottage — Front Facade
Why Now, More Than Ever, the ADU Is the Future of Home: Whether it serves as an investment, backyard office, or intergenerational housing, the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) has never made more sense.
A view of the opposite side shows the main entrance off of the garden and the LaCantina Swing Doors in the kitchen. The couple’s 1980s sailboat is moored along a separate dock to the right.

Photo by Kevin Scott
LaCantina’s Zero Post Corner Sliding Glass Doors seamlessly open a corner of the home. “The large openings make it easier for us to live in a smaller footprint and use the deck as a functional living space,” Suzanne adds. “In that way, the outdoors feel very much part of the interior. It's wonderful.”

Photo by Kevin Scott
Now, there are two different seating areas off the back of the house, rather than facing the driveway and neighbor as they did before.
A custom concrete planter is now home to a 70-year-old olive tree. The couple reconfigured the front porch to allow for a straight path between the front door and the driveway for better circulation.
Jeffrey Bokey-Grant gives his family’s traditional cottage an award-winning remodel that adheres to the original footprint. The original brick worker’s cottage is estimated to have been built in the 1920s. "The house had since been victim to neglect and a series of questionable improvements over the course of its life," says Bokey-Grant.
Nicknamed La Madriguera (The Burrow), this cozy, 538-square-foot home in Madrid is wrapped in lush greenery and mirrors that reflect the surrounding gardens.
The Lookout occupies the alley side of the lot. “It’s a white box hovering above all of the visual noise of the alley,” says Humble. “We [located] the circulation to that side, and have all of our primary openings facing away from the alley toward the tree.”
The 1,120-square-foot structure is compact enough that it doesn’t encroach on the kids’ play area.
"For most of us, this is the first home we’ve owned and the first house we built ourselves. These are all floating homes, with specific requirements for materials. It wasn’t easy,” explains resident Wouter Valkenier.
“For me, sustainability is a social aspect of the neighborhood. It was a huge investment of time, but together we helped each other through all the technical innovations. None of us could have done this on our own,
Of the 30 houses, 15 are inhabited by more than one household. One home has three floors, the lowest of which is underwater, with daylight entering through the small rectangular windows above the waterline.
The Buiksloterham area in northern Amsterdam is designated for sustainable building, which made it an appealing location for Schoonschip’s founders. The houses are oriented toward the water and each other, creating a neighborly feel.
The residents decided to build with a limited set of sustainable materials; for the facades, that meant wood, bamboo, or cork.
Residents of Schoonschip, a floating neighborhood in Amsterdam, designed their own houses, working with various architects and contractors. The water in the formerly industrial canal is now clean enough to swim in, but the opposite shore is still a landscape of warehouses.
The exterior of Site Shack is covered in steel panels that are bolted to the framing. Look closely and you won’t see any visible fasteners, as Powers Construction’s welder was fastidious, creating a seamless shell with just steel and glass.
The Nook exterior features shiplap cypress siding, a reclaimed oak deck, and an entranceway of oak blackened in the traditional Japanese method.
The micro home in Warsaw that architect Adam Pszczolkowski designed for his family and friends features expansive windows framed by plywood and white-painted HPL panels. "I chose white because of its modern and timeless character," the architect says.
Esperance Chalet Village is located in the southwestern coastal town of Esperance, Australia. The compound features a mix of A-frames and other structures updated by <span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">Fiona and Matt Shillington, who purchased the property after moving to the area from Sydney five years ago.</span><span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;"> </span>
“Without opening an umbrella, we can relax using the exterior long wood bench that’s shaded by the roof’s overhang,” Adam says.
The glazing in the kitchen area facilitates views of the lush gardens that surround the home.
“The main and side entrance doors were handmade using the same plywood we used for the interior walls,” Adam says.
The micro home in Warsaw that architect Adam Pszczolkowski designed for his family and friends features expansive windows framed by plywood and white-painted HPL panels. “I chose white because of its modern and timeless character,” the architect says.
The form of the 556-square-foot home in Tokyo that Tomoko Sasaki designed for her close friends inspired the name Milk Carton House.
The cabin and back deck are cantilevered over a slope in the property.
The ground floor is split between Gloria’s bedroom and the kitchen and living area, with a bathroom at the center.
Gloria Montalvo’s weekend getaway on a reserve in central Chile is just 580 square feet, but the entire forest is its living room. Designed by architect Guillermo Acuña, it features a transparent facade over a skeletal pine frame.
With his mother moving from Massachusetts to California to be closer to family, architect Peter Liang created a 265-square-foot tiny home, dubbed the Kleines Haus, behind his sister’s residence in Oakland for the matriarch to land in. “Since we are a mixed family, it’s key that my kids are close to their grandparents,” says homeowner Stefanie Liang Chung. “Now their German grandmother is teaching them, and I’m grateful that I have an Asian partner who knows that you take in your in-laws.”
"Uncertainty seems built into life these days. But ADUs give flexibility to the least flexible thing we have—this big, cumbersome investment of our home.,
With a new baby on the way and the soon-to-be grandmother moving in, Seattleites Ilga Paskovskis and Kyle Parmentier asked Best Practice Architecture to expand their detached garage into a 570-square-foot ADU, which they now call the Granny Pad. “We can see the joy it brings Grandma when the baby comes over to visit,” says Kyle. “It’s the best part of her day.”
The Dome House is the perfect place to achieve that socially distanced vacation. The circular structure sits isolated amongst the surrounding mountains and windmills. Throughout the home, large-scale windows boast uninterrupted, 360-degree views of the environment. If desired, in-home massages can be booked, or you can find further relaxation in the outdoor jacuzzi.
“Round windows felt like the most obvious choice. They don’t need any kind of lintel—they just work with gravity. The idea of this home as ‘a burrow’ called for a little rounded space to bring the outside in. The architecture enhances the garden, completing it rather than imposing on it.”
Pictured is a rendering of a 570-square-foot 2X lightHouse with a one-bedroom unit stacked atop a two-car garage.
Designed in the 1950s by British firm Chamberlin, Powell, and Bon, the Barbican Estate in East London is one of the largest examples of the brutalist style. Construction extended through the ’70s, and the complex was officially opened by the Queen in 1982. Today, it remains highly coveted for its unique aesthetic and convenient location.
"Radical sustainability
Constructed with sustainably sourced lumber and large, double-pane windows, Studio Shed’s all-season Signature Series units are popularly used as backyard offices.
At night, with the interior lights in use, the mirrored glass becomes transparent, exposing the interior to the outside.
The surrounding landscape was subtly modified to create a path to the bathroom, and to hide the columns on which the structure sits.
Smart storage tactics are combined with a U-shaped sofa to maximize space in this delightful tiny home.
After: The barn’s original framing was kept for its agricultural character. Faulkner Architects applied an exterior envelope of salvaged redwood and added a Cor-Ten steel roof that will patina over time.
If you’re traveling to Puglia in Italy, one of the most iconic sights are trulli (trullo is the singular), an ancient hut that's specific to the Itria Valley in the Apulia region of Southern Italy. Made with dry stone, trulli date back to medieval times.
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Zoom out for a look at the modern exterior. From your dream house, to cozy cabins, to loft-like apartments, to repurposed shipping containers, these stellar projects promise something for everyone. Explore a variety of building types with metal roofs, wood siding, gables, and everything in between.