Jenna and Philip's Newlywed Garden Cottage

Today I am excited to feature a lovely (and efficient!) garden cottage in Seattle that belongs to newlyweds, Jenna and Philip.  When I saw photos of their well-thought-out space on Facebook I asked if I could include it on the blog for us all to enjoy. 

The two bedroom, one bath backyard cottage, located in Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood, has a living space of 765 square feet with a small attached exterior shed. The square shaped house includes a kitchen, living area and table nook on the main level and although the upstairs is set up with two bedrooms and a bath, the rooms are divided by a barn door so Jenna and Philip currently use the space as one bedroom...genius!

How did the idea of the garden cottage come about?

P: I owned and was living in the main house for four years with some friends paying rent to me but when Jenna and I decided to get married I knew we couldn't afford the mortgage for the main house with just our incomes. So, as a contractor, I decided to tear down the existing garage and build a backyard cottage for us to live in so we could keep collecting rent from the main house. 

J: When it came time to tear down the garage, we had just recently gotten engaged and Philip surprised me by filling the whole garage with candles! We spent an evening sitting in there talking about our hopes for the new place and how excited we were to be getting married. (SO CUTE!

P: I salvaged the flooring from 100 year old garage and reused it for the flooring upstairs, all the built in's, the table, and the barn doors that hide the TV and divide the space upstairs. 

How did you met the challenge of fitting everything you wanted into a small space?

P: The more thought out the footprint is, the more functional and well designed you can make a space. I modeled the built-in dining nook after the layout in the big house because people always loved to sit there and it became a gathering space in the house. Also, a built-in table makes the most efficient use of space so it was a "must-have" for us. The peninsula of cabinetry in the kitchen also serves as a backstop for the couch and enabled the kitchen to be bigger than what you would expect in a small cottage. 

J: We can host eight people comfortably and at parties everyone stands in the kitchen anyway. So even though it's a small space, if we have a standing social hangout we can actually pack in quite a few people. We also have storage under all the benches and tons of space under the stairs in the storage canal. I love that the TV is placed in the wall and can always be covered by the barn door so that it's not the main focus of attention in the room.

What is your favorite part of the house?

J: I love that everyone can hang out in one area on the main floor, it never feels like there are two different parties because everyone is in same conversation. This builds a community feel that we wanted in our home. 

P: I saw the new cottage as an opportunity to showcase my work as a contractor so the whole project was very inspiring. The cottage is the fruit of my labor and it's fun to live there. On the design side, I am proud of how energy efficient the space is. The whole house is heated through the floors and we added extra insulation so our utilities are as cheap as they come and the house is always very warm. It's a treat to come home to a toasty house. 

What other design features are you proud of in the house?

P: I thought a lot about the practical use of the cottage and knowing it would be used by ME made it easier to design. The exterior of the shed looks like a garage door from the street but when you open the doors it is a shed with shelving for all of my tools and contractor equipment. The garage aspect gave the square cottage some dimension. I tried my best to maximize the space we have and didn't want hallways or dead space. You enter the cottage right in the middle of the footprint which is very efficient. In the upstairs the bathroom is at the top of stairs so guests don't have to go through bedrooms to get to it. The upstairs hallway has a slight angle to minimize hallway space but still get three doorways in. The master bedroom has a large closet built over the stairwell and vaulted ceilings to make it feel less cavernous.
Jenna and Philip at their wedding, so cute.

Any challenges along the way?

P: I originally thought it would be more simple because of practicality and timing to get the house done by the time we were ready to move in after the wedding... but we didn't get the occupancy permit until four days before the wedding! 

I LOVE THIS HOUSE! Thanks so much Jenna and Philip!

PS. Check out Philip's website here if you're interested in his design.

(Wedding photo by Lindsay Schuette, cottage photos by Philip) 


  1. I. am. obsessed. This has to be one of the most adorable little homes I've ever seen. It's exactly my style (seriously? barn doors?), and I love that it's so small and cozy. Thank you so much for sharing! I'll just be sitting over here, swooning over it for the rest of the day ;) xoxo

  2. Mmmm, what's that counter? Concrete? Soap stone? Paper stone?? It's fabulous :)