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Friday, July 5, 2013

Chic secondary suites

Since I started posting about my "modernist nest," I have received many emails and comments on this blog, on Facebook and on Rate My Space from people who are interested in returning to the tradition of multi-generational living.

When I was a child, my great-grandparents lived with my grandparents. I have small town roots, so relatives also lived across the street and around the corner. As a result, I am no stranger to being surrounded by kinfolk. For most of my adult life, however, it never occurred to me that I'd live that way again.

For years, I had told my daughter that when I got old and eccentric, I was going to move into her back yard...but I never really meant it, because I was perfectly happy living alone. Then last fall my daughter and SIL decided that they wanted to move back to Fort Worth and started looking at houses here. I was out house-hunting with them one day, and someone revived the standing joke about finding a place with a back yard large enough for me to live in. Suddenly, and for a multitude of reasons, it actually seemed like a brilliant idea for my daughter, SIL and grandsons to take over my mortgage-free main house and for me to use some available cash to build a secondary suite for myself. (These structures are also commonly called accessory suites, mother-in-law's apartments, granny flats and guest houses...or, as my grandsons call mine, "Grammo's Little House.") Within a few weeks, construction had begun...and so far the arrangement has worked out beautifully for all of us.

Recently I ran across an item on the Forbes site about Michael Litchfield’s book In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats published by Taunton Press. The article included photos from the book of some beautiful secondary suites, including a few modernist designs I thought you might like.

From forbes.com
All images from In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats by Michael Litchfield


Northern California apartment with the back hatch of a Porsche 928 as the awning over the door

Treehouse apartment in Seattle, Washington

400-square foot barn converted to secondary suite in Oakland, California

Secluded accessory suite in Berkeley, California

Compared with these beautiful spaces, my small apartment project was done very inexpensively, but these photos show that the in-laws can live in grand modern style if money is no object.

18 comments:

  1. How nice is that Oakland secondary suite! Your a trail blazer...mr ouch will settle for a converted shipping container to have some peace! x

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    1. I think everyone should have a place where they can get away from the world and enjoy a little solitude.

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  2. how gorgeous are the windows in the Oakland house...sweet window seats. I think I like yours the best Dana....I wonder what happened to the rest of that Porsche?? x

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    1. I think those window seats are cool too. I would have never thought to go to a salvage yard to get car parts for my house. That was really clever.

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  3. After my Grandpa died very early my Parents and my Grandma lived with us in two seperated flats opended trough a common kitchen. So my sisters and I luckily have a childhood in a multigenerational house. You and your family must be very happy. Nowerdays one of my sisters shared the new house of my parents with them in a seperated flat, so my parents are well supplied if they get ill.
    The mother in law flats are great but to me yours are the best...

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    1. I think there's much to be said for multigenerational living. For a couple of generations, at least in middle class America, older family members have been sent packing to nursing homes, but it seems the trend is reversing and people are returning to the older practice of living with or near older relatives. I have wonderful memories of playing checkers with my great-grandfather when he lived with my grandparents, and I'm sure my grandsons will have good memories of our times together. I can't help but think that this sort of arrangement has the potential for enriching lives.

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  4. We are going to do a similar thing with our old brick back shed next year. Not for a granny though. We'll probably rent it out as a holiday let, or I might move in myself when the girls are giving me the you-know-whats! Quite excited about this (the shed and running away from the girls! Ha-ha!) gotta finish the 'big' house first.

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    1. I think having a retreat in the back that can generate some income too is a great idea. We are zones single-family, so we can't rent ours. Whoever buys the house will have to use it as a guest house or an office or studio...or for the mother-in-law.

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  5. Hi Dana,

    I looovveee your new space. It's stinkin adorable!! I haven't been blogging in ages but launched a new blog today cuz I missed it. I will be sharing about my love of mid century modern. I'm serious your place is so cute and how generous you are to give your house to your daughter and SIL. I'm glad you are happy in your new digs:)

    LeAnn

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    1. Welcome back, LeAnn! I'm super happy in my new place. My daughter is an only child, so the house is going to be hers anyway. I figured this just gives us some time together as a family. You know I love having those grandsons around!!! I just checked out your new blog. It looks great!

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  6. Oh....,my new blog address is www.midmodfarmhouse.blogspot.com

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    1. Found it already...and following already. :)

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  7. LOVE THESE! I think Richie should live in our house and I'll build one of these for ME in the backyard. HA HA HA!! I love your set up so much ... I think I could get use to it. (laughing)

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    1. I swear, everyone could find a use for one of these. Even if you just spent a week out there every once in a while, when you came back, he'd realize how much he missed you. ha!

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  8. Well, your secondary suite looks primary to me!

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    1. Honestly, as small as it is, I don't feel a bit less comfortable than I did in the main house. It suits me perfectly.

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  9. I like your new pad a great deal. We have a big patio in front of our house that was yard once, treehouse once, and now just expanse of pavers that isn't used for much. All the action usually takes place on the interior courtyard. I have thought this front yard would be a great spot for a secondary suite. I would like a blog post with your layout ... and the measurements. Someday I will do it. After the kitchen... I am not sure that we have enough room to do what you did which is a legit mini house, but I think we could come close.

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    1. I'll have to dig through my tattered folder that saw me through every step of the project. All I have left is a beat up hand-drawn plan that's been marked up by the contractor and me, but I think it might be legible if I scanned it. If not, I'll redraw it one of these days.

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