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Design

Cooking Up Your Perfect ADU Kitchen

By law, all accessory dwelling units must include a kitchen space. Learn more about the different options you have and how you can maximize your ADU kitchen space.
Updated Feb 07, 2022
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Choosing the Right ADU Kitchen for Your ADU

The kitchen space can be easily overlooked in your ADU space. But the Cottage team doesn’t think that it should be!
By law, every accessory dwelling unit must have a dedicated bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom/studio living space. Whether you’re a part time chef or looking to maximize the future rental income from your ADU, spending time thinking about your ADU kitchen space can pay dividends in the future.
Let’s go over the various types of kitchens to choose from.
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The Kitchenette Minimalist

If space is a premium, then a kitchenette may be right for you. For homeowners that aren’t looking to host dinner parties or have limited backyard space, minimizing the kitchen space in the ADU in favor of other spaces can be the way to go.
Cottage completed a 227 sq.ft. attached ADU studio in Palo Alto that showed that a kitchenette can accentuate a space and add to the charming character of the unit. All without taking up too much room:
The 2-burner stove saves space in this efficient kitchenette.
The shared kitchen and living room space helps accentuate this studio ADU.
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The Standard Kitchen

Cottage’s standard ADU kitchens we recommend are full-sized kitchens—four-burner stoves, full refrigerator, dishwasher, and sink. For most ADU spaces and homeowners without a strong cooking affinity, the standard kitchen works out well.
This works out well for smaller ADU spaces as well. For example, this 400 sq.ft. garage conversion ADU floor plan devotes one wall to all the plumbing utilities, including both the kitchen and bathroom:
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The result—minimized plumbing construction costs and a lower utility bill in the future. All without sacrificing a full kitchen space. The one trade-off of a kitchen like this: less upper and lower cabinet space than the next example below.
If storage is a must-have for your ADU, an L-shaped or U-shaped kitchen might do the trick well. By spanning two different walls, this allows for more upper and lower cabinet space in your ADU kitchen. In addition, this layout tends to work well for open floor plans, as it nicely frames a small dining table or kitchen island space in the center. Check out this floor plan example:
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In tight spaces, this type of layout can also come in handy. For this rental ADU property with limited backyard space, the U-shaped kitchen fits efficiently in the floor plan:
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The Spacious Kitchen

For larger ADUs, having a larger kitchen space with extra upper and lower cabinet space for storage can balance out the space nicely. This floor plan below makes sure to give ample storage space to support the 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ADU, and the U-shaped kitchen nicely frames a potential dining room table in the center of the room.
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\ Leveling up your kitchen space can help add to the appeal of your ADU space, even if you don’t necessarily intend on cooking in the unit right off the bat. Future renters and even the next person to purchase your house will be looking for features like these to add to the “wow” factor of the space.
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This kitchen from one of Cottage’s San Mateo project is a great example of a spacious kitchen.

The Eat-In Kitchen

Who doesn’t love the idea of cooking and eating with ease?
For homeowners building an ADU with future guests in mind, choosing an eat-in kitchen with a permanent island or peninsula may be the right decision to make. Adding in a dedicated kitchen island space along with a full kitchen and upgraded appliances can turn a nice space into an incredible space.
Check out this 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom ADU space—with an open kitchen/dining/living room space, it’s perfectly designed to host dinner parties. Combine that with the double French doors to give off a true California indoor-outdoor feel, and you can almost imagine the dinner parties happening already:
The kitchen island adds depth to the open space.
This 2-bedroom custom ADU was designed with the homeowner's property conditions in mind.
If your space can’t accommodate a full kitchen island, a peninsula can be an effective way to add in a small bar seating space for those quick breakfasts or midnight snacks. Because they’re attached or extend from your existing kitchen countertop space, they can be a budget-friendly to add a great dining room amenity to your ADU unit.
This shows in this Cottage 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom ADU in Castro Valley, CA:
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Kitchen peninsulas are also a great option for smaller studio and 1 bedroom ADUs that aren’t quite big enough to have a full dining room space (or you’d rather use that square footage in a bedroom or bathroom space).
For spaces where there would only be one or two residents at any given time, having a peninsula or island is a great way to keep your space as efficient as possible. This one bedroom Cottage ADU design is a great example of this:
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A Kitchen Built to Last

The Cottage design team takes pride in designing efficient and elegant cooking and hosting spaces for your ADU. Having designed hundreds of custom ADUs with homeowners, we’ve seen the common kitchen layouts that work for most homeowners, as well as the few small details that others may miss that we can highlight to upgrade your kitchen space without breaking the bank.
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