ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit, which is a secondary housing unit on a single-family residential lot. These units offer a flexible living solution for homeowners, providing additional space for extended family, renters, or as a source of extra income. When it comes to designing an ADU, there are many creative and functional options to choose from. From tiny homes to multigenerational units, the design of an ADU should reflect the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner while also adhering to local building codes and regulations.

Some popular design styles for ADUs include studio apartments, tiny homes, modern farmhouses, eco-friendly units, multigenerational homes, and converted garages. Each style offers unique features and benefits, making it important to carefully consider the intended use and desired outcome before beginning the design process.

ADU Design Idea 1: Modern Minimalist

The Modern Minimalist design style is characterized by clean lines, simple shapes, and a focus on functionality. It values negative space and a neutral color palette and often incorporates natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal. This style aims to create a calm and uncluttered living environment.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Modern Minimalist design style for an ADU include:

  • A neutral color palette with a focus on whites, grays, and natural woods
  • Minimalist furniture and décor that prioritizes function over form
  • Large windows and sliding doors to bring in natural light and connect the interior with the exterior
  • Simple and clean lines in the architecture and design elements
  • Use of natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal to create a warm and inviting atmosphere

Example of a Modern Minimalist ADU project:

The “Park Slope” ADU by Open Building Institute is a good example of the Modern Minimalist design style. This small, modular home is designed with clean lines, a neutral color palette, and natural materials to create a calming and functional living space. Large windows bring in plenty of natural light, while the use of wood, stone, and metal creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. This project demonstrates how the Modern Minimalist design style can be applied to a small living space to create a comfortable and functional living environment.

ADU Design Idea 2: Rustic Charm

The Rustic Charm design style incorporates natural materials, earthy colors, and a cozy, warm aesthetic. This design style draws inspiration from traditional rural homes and cabins and often features elements such as exposed wood, stone fireplaces, and wrought iron fixtures. The overall aim of the Rustic Charm style is to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of a comfortable mountain cabin.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Rustic Charm design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal to create a warm and inviting atmosphere
  • Exposed wooden beams, stone fireplaces, and wrought iron fixtures to evoke a traditional rural aesthetic
  • Earthy color palette with a focus on warm, natural hues such as browns, reds, and greens
  • Use of natural textures such as rough-hewn wood and rough stone to create a rustic, organic feel
  • Cozy, warm lighting that creates a comfortable and inviting atmosphere

Example of a Rustic Charm ADU project:

The “Cedar Tiny House” by Tiny Mountain Houses is an example of the Rustic Charm design style. This small, modular home features exposed wooden beams, a stone fireplace, and wrought iron fixtures to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The use of natural materials and an earthy color palette creates a cozy and rustic feel, reminiscent of a traditional rural cabin. This project demonstrates how the Rustic Charm design style can be applied to a small living space to create a warm and inviting environment.

ADU Design Idea 3: Industrial Edge

The Industrial Edge design style incorporates raw, industrial materials such as concrete, steel, and exposed ductwork to create a sleek and modern aesthetic. This style draws inspiration from the look and feel of factories, warehouses, and industrial buildings, and often features open-plan spaces with high ceilings and minimal decorative elements. The overall aim of the Industrial Edge style is to create a unique and edgy living environment that is both functional and stylish.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Industrial Edge design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of raw industrial materials such as concrete, steel, and exposed ductwork to create a modern aesthetic
  • Open-plan spaces with high ceilings and minimal decorative elements to create a clean and spacious feel
  • Use of metal accents such as exposed piping, metal railings, and metal light fixtures to add an industrial edge
  • Neutral color palette with a focus on grays, blacks, and whites
  • Large windows and an open floor plan to bring in natural light and create a sense of spaciousness

Example of an Industrial Edge ADU project:

The “Factory Loft” by BAE Urban is an example of the Industrial Edge design style. This small, modular home features raw industrial materials such as concrete and steel to create a sleek and modern aesthetic. The open-plan space with high ceilings and minimal decorative elements creates a clean and spacious feel, while large windows bring in plenty of natural light. The use of metal accents such as exposed piping and metal railings add an industrial edge, making this project a great example of how the Industrial Edge design style can be applied to a small living space.

ADU Design Idea 4: Cozy Cottage

The Cozy Cottage design style incorporates a warm and inviting aesthetic inspired by traditional rural homes and cottages. This style often features soft, comfortable furnishings, muted colors, and natural materials such as wood and stone. The overall aim of the Cozy Cottage style is to create a comfortable and inviting living environment that feels like a home away from home.

Key features of the design

The Cozy Cottage design style incorporates a warm and inviting aesthetic inspired by traditional rural homes and cottages. This style often features soft, comfortable furnishings, muted colors, and natural materials such as wood and stone. The overall aim of the Cozy Cottage style is to create a comfortable and inviting living environment that feels like a home away from home.

Example of a Cozy Cottage ADU project:

The “Cumberland Cottage” by Best Little House is an example of the Cozy Cottage design style. This small, modular home features traditional cottage-style architecture such as a gabled roof and lattice windows and uses natural materials such as wood and stone to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The soft, comfortable furnishings and muted color palette create a cozy and relaxing environment, while the use of natural light and warm lighting add to the overall inviting feel. This project demonstrates how the Cozy Cottage design style can be applied to a small living space to create a comfortable and inviting home away from home.

ADU Design Idea 5: Contemporary Comfort

A. The Contemporary Comfort design style combines modern design elements with traditional comforts to create a unique and stylish living environment. This style features clean lines, neutral colors, and an emphasis on comfort and functionality. The overall aim of the Contemporary Comfort style is to create a stylish and comfortable living space that feels both modern and homely.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Contemporary Comfort design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of clean lines and neutral colors to create a modern and stylish aesthetic
  • Incorporation of modern design elements such as high-tech appliances and minimalist furniture
  • Emphasis on comfort and functionality, with ample seating and storage space
  • Use of natural materials such as wood and stone to add warmth and texture
  • Incorporation of technology such as smart home systems and high-speed internet to enhance the overall living experience

Example of a Contemporary Comfort ADU project:

The “Connected Cottage” by Modulous is an example of the Contemporary Comfort design style. This small, modular home features clean lines and neutral colors to create a modern and stylish aesthetic and incorporates modern design elements such as high-tech appliances and minimalist furniture. The emphasis on comfort and functionality is evident in the ample seating and storage space, and the use of natural materials such as wood and stone adds warmth and texture to the overall design. The incorporation of technology such as a smart home system and high-speed internet further enhances the overall living experience in this project, making it a great example of the Contemporary Comfort design style.

ADU Design Idea 6: Eclectic Escape

The Eclectic Escape design style is a unique and expressive blend of different design styles, textures, patterns, and colors. This style is characterized by its bold and unexpected combinations and is ideal for those who want to create a living space that reflects their personal style and individuality. The overall aim of the Eclectic Escape style is to create a living environment that is both visually interesting and comfortable to live in.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Eclectic Escape design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of a wide range of textures, patterns, and colors to create a bold and eclectic aesthetic
  • Incorporation of different design styles such as mid-century modern, bohemian, and vintage
  • Use of statement pieces of furniture and decor to add interest and character to the space
  • Use of unique and unexpected combinations of materials and finishes to create a personalized and individualistic look
  • Emphasis on personal style, comfort, and functionality in the overall design

Example of an Eclectic Escape ADU project:

The “Boho Bungalow” by Tiny Heirloom is an example of the Eclectic Escape design style. This small, modular home features a bold and eclectic aesthetic, incorporating a range of textures, patterns, and colors to create a visually interesting living environment. Different design styles such as mid-century modern, bohemian, and vintage are blended together in unique and unexpected combinations, and statement pieces of furniture and decor add interest and character to the space. The emphasis on personal style, comfort, and functionality is evident in the overall design, making the Boho Bungalow a great example of the Eclectic Escape design style for an ADU.

ADU Design Idea 7: Boho Beauty

The Boho Beauty design style is a free-spirited and eclectic approach that draws inspiration from bohemian, hippie, and vintage styles. This style is characterized by its use of natural materials, earthy colors, and a mix of patterns and textures. The overall aim of the Boho Beauty style is to create a warm and inviting living space that feels comfortable, relaxed, and carefree.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Boho Beauty design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles to create a warm and inviting aesthetic
  • Incorporation of earthy colors such as beige, brown, and green to enhance the natural feel
  • Use of a mix of patterns and textures such as woven textiles, patterned rugs, and embroidered cushions
  • Incorporation of vintage and bohemian elements such as macramé hangings, hand-painted accents, and repurposed objects
  • Emphasis on comfort, functionality, and a relaxed, carefree living environment

Example of a Boho Beauty ADU project:

The “Boho Retreat” by Tiny Living is an example of the Boho Beauty design style. This small, modular home features a warm and inviting aesthetic, incorporating natural materials such as wood and textiles, and earthy colors such as beige and green. A mix of patterns and textures, including woven textiles and patterned rugs, adds interest and character to the space, and vintage and bohemian elements such as macramé hangings and hand-painted accents further enhance the relaxed, carefree feel. The emphasis on comfort and functionality is evident in the overall design, making the Boho Retreat a great example of the Boho Beauty design style for an ADU.

ADU Design Idea 8: Scandinavian Simplicity

The Scandinavian Simplicity design style is characterized by its clean lines, neutral colors, and a focus on functionality. This style is inspired by the minimalist design philosophy of Scandinavian countries, where the emphasis is on creating living spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical to live in. The overall aim of the Scandinavian Simplicity style is to create a clean, uncluttered, and comfortable living environment.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Scandinavian Simplicity design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of clean lines and simple forms to create a minimalist aesthetic
  • Use of neutral colors such as white, gray, and beige to create a calm and uncluttered feel
  • Incorporation of natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles to add warmth to the space
  • Use of functional furniture and storage solutions to maximize the use of the limited space
  • Emphasis on creating a comfortable, practical, and efficient living environment

Key features of the Scandinavian Simplicity design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of clean lines and simple forms to create a minimalist aesthetic
  • Use of neutral colors such as white, gray, and beige to create a calm and uncluttered feel
  • Incorporation of natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles to add warmth to the space
  • Use of functional furniture and storage solutions to maximize the use of the limited space
  • Emphasis on creating a comfortable, practical, and efficient living environment

ADU Design Idea 9: Traditional Touch

The Traditional Touch design style is characterized by its classic and timeless aesthetic, drawing inspiration from traditional architectural styles such as Colonial, Victorian, and Georgian. This style is characterized by its use of elegant and timeless design elements, such as moldings, wood paneling, and rich fabrics. The overall aim of the Traditional Touch style is to create a living space that feels warm, elegant, and refined.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Traditional Touch design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of elegant and timeless design elements such as moldings, wood paneling, and rich fabrics
  • Incorporation of traditional architectural styles such as Colonial, Victorian, and Georgian
  • Use of warm colors such as gold, beige, and red to create a warm and inviting feel
  • Incorporation of ornate or decorative accents such as chandeliers, rugs, and artwork to add character and elegance to the space
  • Emphasis on creating a warm, elegant, and refined living environment

Key features of the Traditional Touch design style for an ADU include:

  • Use of elegant and timeless design elements such as moldings, wood paneling, and rich fabrics
  • Incorporation of traditional architectural styles such as Colonial, Victorian, and Georgian
  • Use of warm colors such as gold, beige, and red to create a warm and inviting feel
  • Incorporation of ornate or decorative accents such as chandeliers, rugs, and artwork to add character and elegance to the space
  • Emphasis on creating a warm, elegant, and refined living environment

ADU Design Idea 10: Nature-Inspired Nook

The Nature-Inspired Nook design style is characterized by its connection to the natural environment. This style is inspired by nature and incorporates natural materials and elements, such as wood, stone, and greenery, to create a warm and inviting living space. The overall aim of the Nature-Inspired Nook style is to create a living environment that feels connected to nature and to promote a sense of peace and tranquility.

Key features of the design

Key features of the Nature-Inspired Nook design style for an ADU include:

  • Incorporation of natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles to create a warm and inviting feel
  • Use of greenery, such as indoor plants, to bring a touch of nature into the living space
  • Use of natural light and a neutral color palette to create a calm and serene environment
  • Emphasis on creating a living environment that feels connected to nature and promotes a sense of peace and tranquility
  • Incorporation of organic shapes and natural forms to add interest and texture to the space

Example of a Nature-Inspired Nook ADU project:

The “Nature Retreat” by Tiny Living is an example of the Nature-Inspired Nook design style. This small, modular home incorporates natural materials such as wood, stone, and textiles to create a warm and inviting feel. Greenery, such as indoor plants, is used to bring a touch of nature into the living space, and natural light and a neutral color palette are employed to create a calm and serene environment. The overall aim of the design is to create a living environment that feels connected to nature and promotes a sense of peace and tranquility, making the Nature Retreat a great example of the Nature-Inspired Nook design style for an ADU.

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve discussed ten design ideas for an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). These design ideas include:

  1. Modern Minimalist
  2. Rustic Charm
  3. Industrial Edge
  4. Cozy Cottage
  5. Contemporary Comfort
  6. Eclectic Escape
  7. Boho Beauty
  8. Scandinavian Simplicity
  9. Traditional Touch
  10. Nature-Inspired Nook

Each design style offers its own unique features, materials, and design elements, allowing you to choose the design that best fits your personal style and needs.

When it comes to designing an ADU, the possibilities are endless. Whether you prefer a modern minimalist style, a cozy cottage look, or a nature-inspired nook, there is a design idea to suit your tastes and needs. The important thing is to choose the design that best fits your personal style and to ensure that the design incorporates elements that will make your ADU a comfortable and functional living space.

Now that you’ve explored these ten design ideas for an ADU, it’s time to start thinking about which design will best suit your needs. Whether you’re looking to build an ADU for additional income, to house friends or family, or simply to create extra living space, these design ideas will help you create a space that is both functional and beautiful. So why wait? Start planning your ADU project today!

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