See an Eco-Friendly Backyard Cottage in 700 Square Feet
Anna and Donovan Watt had planned to build a studio rental in the backyard of their home just outside Seattle. Their builder, Sean Conta, showed the Watts that they could build a 700-square-foot, two-bedroom cottage. Once they saw Conta’s renderings they decided they would live in the cottage and rent out the house instead.
we live in shoreline which is the next town north of Seattle we just love the sort of outdoorsy lifestyle fishing for salmon and crabbing if you just sound there's so much to do out here the thing about shoreline is the lots are much much larger than in the higher density areas of Seattle and so it started from this inkling of an idea of just a simple studio square we can rent out you know make some side hustle cash on we originally talked about a smaller structure it's not gonna be that much more expensive to have it a little more livable you know have a little bit higher square footage and Shaun told us you know I'm starting this new company to build backyard cottages with green building and sustainable homes it made us start to think we can actually live in this versus we're just gonna use this as a rental for somebody else we were only living upstairs in the 900 square foot part of the home to lower our cost of living while renting out our homes who are able to save up more money now that we live in this space we're really changing the way we live in a really positive way the carbon impacts of this home is very low we don't have any concrete foundation here I used something called diamond piers so there's 23 of those underneath this house that is the foundation of the house there was no excavators no dust no diesel we were very impressed it was not a massive construction crew it was just Shaun and he was out here hanging off the rafters of the roof single-handedly nailing the boards in I framed this house out of almost all reclaimed lumber 100 plus year old mostly fir from the region not only does it feel good to bring it back to life again but also feature it whether it's the front wall of the house or the inside wall when you walk in you know the thing I love about reclaimed wood is you see all the nail holes and bolt holes and it's got some character to it there's actually some of the wood still has like tree sap coming out of it from a hundred years ago when it was first being framed out I was looking at it was like this is gonna be way too small two rooms one bathroom and living space but once the finishes started going in the flooring and everything it fell perfect you just feel cozy and you feel homey and most people say this doesn't even feel like 700 square feet and they haven't even seen the bedrooms of the bathroom yet I think the biggest way we made it feel bigger is the ceiling height when you first brought it to us and showed us the initial render these are gonna be 13 foot ceilings can be really tall yes absolutely do that you know having a bunch of windows to have natural daylight is so important here in Seattle it feels bright and warm in here at the same time our kitchen is incredibly functional and I was worried moving in here that downsizing to a small apartment kitchen would feel tight we cook every night and you know it doesn't feel smaller than the big kitchen that we had before there's a full pantry that you can open with these deep drawers that allow you to access and actually see your food this amazing spice rack which I've always wanted we have a 24 inch sink which I thought was tiny but the deep sink actually allows you to really use that space effectively these countertops are madrone wood the local sustainably sourced wood it's a very hard wood durable Shawn really brought the vision for this project he brought the design he brought the level of detail to the green materials we were just gonna put cheap vinyl plastic floors in here the cork floors I can't get enough of them I didn't think I would love them this much but I just do they're cozy they stay room temperature and they look really good and they hide all of the pet hair cork is a renewable resource they don't cut down cork trees they take the bark off they process it tree grows the bark back the cork is the bark house really allowed me to pull each room together in a really cohesive way I love that I can pull up inspiration photos find products that fit within my space I had a lot of fun as well just designing my homes so I found the perfect barstools at the right counter height our couch is one of my favorite things in addition to the rug with it and seeing those sort of parent next to each other on the idea book was so important the fabric is friendly we actually didn't have a couch this nice before and now I want to sleep on this thing all the time we didn't waste any space with hallways everything sort of right off the core here the bathroom there's heated floors I got my fun tile that I wanted and the sort of clean lines of the shower wall going up to a gorgeous window we have an office where Donovan works from home and then there's the bedroom which I love because the window upstairs up at least evergreen trees we knew it was going to be a smaller room so you want to make sure that everything you're bringing in is functional and beautiful we put in our own closet system living in this small space is really necessary to think about what you're buying and where it's gonna go it's a very functional use of space because of the items we've picked out and the design of this home with the tall ceilings and the natural light and the big open space I love that Shawn incorporated these French doors that open to the outside deck outside time is so valuable to people that live in the northwest believe it or not it does when the Sun comes out it does get warm here it does get up to the 90s and rarely the hundreds and so I'm really excited to entertain and host friends out on this beautiful deck in green building we want to build houses as airtight as possible add a layer of exterior insulation that wraps the house it's outside the plywood covers all the studs so think of like a blanket around your house right you're cold in the winter you want a stuff insulation between your ribs or put on the jacket so this house has a jacket okay it's two inches of mineral wool board for heating and cooling we're using ductless heat pump also known as a mini split in the bedrooms and we're using a radiant panel on the ceiling that creates radiant heat kind of creates that sort of campfire cozy warmth the way he vacuum sealed this house was very interesting basically vaporizes cocking blows it throughout the house and it Auto seals the house really it's like fix-a-flat for your house because it's the air tight we want to provide fresh air I'm doing that in this case through an ERV energy recovery ventilator the recovery part is that before that stale air which has been heated inside in the winter leaves the building it exchanges heat with the incoming air they don't mix but the heat is transferred to the incoming air so on a day like today where it's 45 out instead of bringing in 45-degree air I'm bringing in 63 degree air or something like that fresh air it's not creating heat but it's recovering a lot of it so it's more comfortable it's more energy-efficient so we built a really strong friendship with Sean when we worked really closely together we never felt like we had to compromise on details we would give him feedback and he would say oh I have a way to make that work it's very fulfilling to have that home finished home learners be very happy with it and walk into it like I just a nice cozy home and a nice space we went from 1,800 square foot to 700 square foot we decluttered our space sweetie cluttered our minds and we've been able to spend a lot more time doing the things we love and spending time with family and friends [Music] you