ADUs (accessory dwelling units) are small additional living spaces built on the same land plot where the main residential unit stands. ADUs may be attached and detached. Unlike room additions, both types have their own kitchen and bathroom, so they can be called living units independent of the main house. They have a long history in the USA and Europe but are now experiencing a surge in popularity due to the housing crisis and lack of cheap housing options. Their main advantage is affordability and ease of construction. Moreover, ADUs are popular among people who value sustainable lifestyles and co-living with their friends or family members.
However, all ADUs have one major disadvantage associated with their small size. In each state, there are some local size regulations according to which a homeowner cannot build a unit the size which exceeds a certain maximum established. In this article, we will share some tips and ideas on how to maximize the usage of the small space and create functional storage solutions of various kinds that you will definitely want to use in your ADU.
The first solution that will help you create additional storage space in an accessory dwelling unit is using all the possibilities of the layout. Are there any niches or spaces under the stairs or windows that seem useless at first sight? In fact, they are not! Any free space can serve as extra storage space. When it comes to some niches, you can place built-in shelves to keep stuff there. There may also be built-in cabinets in the kitchen. Free space under the stairs can serve as a closet or small library where all the books and important papers are in order.
If you want to make these built-in shelves and cabinets almost invisible, we will recommend that you paint them the same color as the walls to create a continuous space.
One of the best storage solutions that we recommend resorting to in order to maximize the use of small spaces and prevent clutter is the wall-mounted storage option. In small spaces, you can easily run out of free floor space. In this case, it's time to take advantage of the walls. How can you do that? Simply screw in hanging wall shelves on which you can store books, all sorts of important little things, or even clothes, and hooks on which you can hang not only clothes but also, for example, planters with flowers. If you feel like it is not enough, you can install a pegboard on the wall.
It is a special board that has numerous hollows into which you can stick pegs in a free order to make a unique storage solution needed in this particular case and change it later.
An accessory unit can be used not only as an additional bedroom with its own bathroom and kitchen but also as an office for doing your hobby or developing a local business. In order to place all the necessary supplies, you need to make your home office space functional and use every square foot wisely. To fit all the furniture in a small space, we recommend that you consider using hidden and built-in storage solutions.
For instance, if you run out of free floor space, you can resort to unusual solutions such as under-floor storage space and built-in shelves or cabinets. What is more, you can try using walls to hang various things and clear the floor from clutter.
If you plan to use an ADU as a living space where your relatives or other guests will stay, you will need to think through the closet space usage variants in advance. Due to the limited space, it may be hard to plan closets to contain all your clothes and match the entire interior design. Therefore, we suggest contacting a professional designer to make a well-planned project.
Obviously, you can purchase and install many shelves, drawers, and hanging racks yourself, but there is a chance that the result will disappoint you. When it comes to small closets, the main thing is careful planning, not just the number of shelves and racks that you are going to buy. Surprisingly, you can invest a small sum, but all the details combined will become a great functional system where you can fit in all your clothes and shoes.
Another task usually completed with the help of professional designers is creating multi-functional furniture. Nowadays, you can find some pieces at stores, such as sofas that easily convert into beds, but it is sometimes better to make unique furniture from scratch.
What are the benefits of this approach?
Creating designed built-in storage solutions in ADUs is a task that helps to solve two problems at once. Firstly, as a result, you get a piece of furniture that perfectly fits the interior design and layout of the ADU and provides an opportunity to maximize the usage of free space in it. Secondly, built-in solutions allow homeowners to save space while creating useful workspaces. For people staying in ADUs to work and do their hobbies, we recommend carefully planning their workspaces.
Prepare a thoughtful project, include built-in solutions such as shelves and cabinets to keep your workspace organized, and plan a seamless transition between storage space and the desk.
You may be surprised that a bed can also serve as a great storage space. For example, captain and Murphy beds provide usable space under the mattress surface. Obviously, it is not that convenient to lift the bed every day to get things out of there. Hence, we suggest that you store clothes and shoes that you do not wear during the current season under your Murphy bed and, therefore, unload the closet from clothes that are irrelevant at the moment. In addition, under-bed storage space can be used for storing some sports equipment or things that you use for doing your hobby from time to time.
Sliding doors are always a great solution when it comes to a small space, such as a studio apartment. By incorporating sliding doors that fold, you can temporarily divide space if necessary. For instance, when living in a studio, you may want to restrict access to the bedroom and divide it from the kitchen. As a result, an apartment can feel bigger and make your ADU a comfortable place for a few guests to stay in.
However, simple pocket doors do not really add any space to store your belongings. Thus, we recommend that you install sliding shelves or drawers. In this case, you build an effective storage solution and also divide the living space into various areas but let natural light come through it.
The fasteners for the sliding mechanism for a pocket door or sliding drawer can be attached to the ceiling and wall.
We have already mentioned that the best storage solution for a small living space is usually customized cabinets, closets, and drawers designed as special products for particular rooms and apartments. You may think that it will be cheaper and faster to purchase storage cabinets at a store than to design each piece. However, when it comes to small spaces, standard sizes may not fit in the existing layout. What is more, when designing cabinets for storing stuff and organizing space, you can make as many sections and adjustable compartments as possible and make sure that all your belongings will fit perfectly.
One of the most popular storage ideas that can be implemented in ADUs is storage baskets. The main benefit of these baskets is that they are cheap and customizable. Another advantage of this solution is that it does not really matter which things you are going to keep in the baskets and if you like to keep them in order or not, since they are invisible to all the guests. If you value privacy above all, we suggest purchasing baskets with covers.
While ADU is a great living unit that is a popular solution due to its affordability, there is one major disadvantage that is worth taking into account. We are talking about the need to carefully study numerous zoning laws and consider the maximum square footage allowed in your state. Usually, the maximum size of an ADU is relatively small (compared to the main house), so there is not enough storage and living space. Thus, ADU residents have to come up with various solutions for storing their belongings on the property.
The most popular tips that help create some extra space in living rooms and units to fit all the essentials in one place are taking advantage of built-in solutions, customized cabinets, Murphy beds, and sliding drawers. If you want to know about ways to expand the space in your ADU in the smallest detail, we recommend that you go through this article.
ADU is a living space built on your property that can become a new home for you, your relatives, or your friends. Moreover, you can rent it out and get an additional income for the rest of your life. However, some people have doubts concerning building an ADU due to its limited size. We hope that it does not stop you from creating a new accessory unit since now there are numerous ideas on how to add extra space for storing things and clothes.