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Space-Saving Tips for ADUs

ADUs may be small, but they don't need to be cramped. See how a great layout and a thoughtful design are key to maximizing the space within your ADU.

January 1, 2018

Every home comes with unique design challenges, and this is certainly true for smaller spaces. However, ADUs can be bright, airy, organized, and spacious with the right approach and design expertise.

Here are some space-saving tips and tricks to help you better maximize the space in your ADU:

Tip 1: Utilize Your Wall Space

In order to save space in your ADU, you first need to utilize your wall space. Floor space is limited in small spaces like ADUs, but the good news is that your wall space doesn’t have to be. Just think about it—you have four walls in every room that you can use to your advantage.

The best way to take advantage of your wall space is to maximize shelving. Depending on the look you’re going for, there are floating shelves, built-in shelves, bookshelves, and cabinets that you can use for storage. If you don’t want all your items to be on display, you could go with cabinets with doors or frosted glass for more privacy.

Tip 2: Maximize Every Square Inch

Now that you’ve maximized your wall space, you need to maximize the space in the rest of your ADU. The odds are that there are hidden nooks and crannies that you can use for storage. For instance, even smaller ADU units can often fit small closets and/or washer/dryer areas in the interior of the space.

If you have tall ceilings, you can construct loft space that you can then use for storage purposes. Again, if you don’t want all your accessories or your kid's toys to be on display, you can opt to go with an enclosed attic space for storage.

Tip 3: Choose Multi-Functional Pieces

When it comes to your ADU, you need to make smart furniture choices to save space. One of the best ways to do this is to choose multi-functional furniture pieces that can help you limit the number of pieces in a room and cut down on clutter. There are many multi-functional furniture pieces to choose from.

For instance, there are coffee tables that can easily convert up into a dining table or a desk. There are also chairs and ottomans that fold out into twin beds ideal for accommodating guests in a small space. If you need more space for guests, there are even futons and fold-out sofa beds that come in full or queen sizes.

Tip 4: Select Pieces That Offer Storage Space

You also need to choose pieces that offer storage space for your ADU. A lot of these pieces offer hidden storage compartments that give you the freedom to hide your stuff away while still having a clean aesthetic.

For instance, you could choose a storage ottoman where you can easily store things like blankets, pillows, remotes, etc. Many beds come with storage space hidden underneath that may eliminate the need for a dresser altogether. Going back to the living room, there are even couches that open to reveal hidden storage space.

Tip 5: Go With Foldable and Stowable Pieces

Another thing that you need to think about when choosing the furniture pieces for your ADU involves folding capabilities. Folding and stowable pieces allow you to maximize your floor space while still maintaining functionality.

Perhaps the most common example of folding furniture is the space-saving Murphy bed. This bed and mattress essentially fold up into the wall, disappearing like they were never there. In addition to the Murphy bed, there are also folding tables and chairs that you can take out when you have guests over and put away afterward.

Tip 6: Incorporate Pocket Doors

One smart thing that you can do to save space in your ADU is to incorporate pocket doors. Using pocket doors instead of traditional swinging doors increases the amount of usable space within your ADU. Rather than swinging out and preventing you from using the surrounding areas, pocket doors slide right into the wall.

As a result, you can realistically use all the space surrounding the doorway. You can also attach a full-length mirror to your pocket door to increase functionality: perfect for especially small bedrooms with limited closet space.

Pocket doors first appeared in the Victorian Era, but there are ways that you can bring them into the 1st century. For instance, you can use glass pocket doors or even wooden “barn” pocket doors depending on the look you’re going for. The Cottage design team can help you determine whether pocket doors are a good fit for your home.

Tip 7: Mount Pieces To Maximize Floor Space

While mounting things like shelves is a given in a smaller space, there’s so much more you can mount to save floor space. For starters, you can mount your television instead of having an entertainment console that takes up valuable space.

You could also consider mounted wall lighting features rather than floor or even table lamps to save space. Finally, you can mount hooks and additional organizers on the walls for increased storage capacity.

Tip 8: Use a Rolling Kitchen Island

Lack of counter space and storage space in the kitchen can be a huge issue in small ADUs. However, one amazing solution for this issue is to use a rolling kitchen island. These pieces provide you with some much-needed counter and cabinet space when needed.

You can use the counter as prep space and the drawers and shelves to store kitchen essentials like microwaves, silverware, bowls, plates, cups, and more.

When the space and items are not needed, the rolling kitchen island can easily be put away and tucked aside so that it doesn’t take up your floor space.

Tip 9: Choose the Right Bathroom Vanity

Another thing to consider with an ADU is the bathroom. Oftentimes, ADUs come with smaller bathrooms that have pedestal sinks with minimal storage. However, you or your tenants will need a place to store your bathroom essentials like skincare products, hair care products, make up, etc. So what can you do?

As it turns out, it may be possible to incorporate a bathroom vanity with storage space into your small ADU bathroom. Instead of opting for a double vanity, use the extra space for plenty of storage possibilities.

If you’re still in need of storage in your bathroom, there are other solutions that you may want to consider. You could use a medicine cabinet that opens with shelves for amazing hidden storage. There are also storage cabinets that you can install around the toilet where you can store extra toilet paper, soap, and tissues. Simple things, like a shampoo niche or corner shower shelf can offer simple yet effective storage solutions.

Tip 10: Organize Closets With Bins and Shelves

Now that we’ve covered the living area, kitchen, and bathroom of your ADU, it’s time to talk about the closet. A great closet in an ADU is worth its weight in gold—so you need to take full advantage of this space by embracing organization. A great way to do this is to use baskets and shelves that easily hold your extra items.

There are also space-saving hangers that you can use to increase the storage capacity of your closet. You can also take advantage of your wall space by using open shelving that could even extend all the way up to the ceiling. You can also install hooks to hold things like purses, jewelry, and backpacks.

Small Room: Big Possibilities

If you want to save space in your ADU for a functional space that works for you, then you need to consult with the experts. Cottage has the best ADU design teams to help you come up with the best floor plan for your ADU to maximize your ADU space, whether large or small. Reach out to us today to see how we can help you take advantage of the space you have.


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